DARIA/STAR WARS: CHAPTER FOUR; RIFTS
QUINN MORGENDORFFER has been kidnaped. As rumors of DARTH TYRAN'S return
circulate, his former apprentice has vanished from the ship she and her sister, former Jedi
Knight DARIA MORGENDORFFER have been living on since letting it be believed they were
Worried that her sister's old master may have taken her, Daria has turned to the only two people
who knew she and Quinn were alive, Jedi Knights JANE LANE and JODIE MACKENZIE.
Unknown to Daria, the two Jedi have been seeking them in relation to a strange series of events
relating to their former classmates from LAWNDALE. One by one, they have been dying from
the effects of a mysterious beam that has pulled their life energy from them, killing them when
their hearts and lungs would stop. Quinn, who had major cybernetic replacements, is feared
perfect for Tyran's scheme.
Fearing for her sister's life, Daria has agreed to join her friends as they search for both Quinn
and for what the Sith Lord and his new apprentice have planned . . .
The Corellian Corvette was a design that had been in use for almost two centuries. In that time,
many changes had been made in armament, shielding and internal systems, but, somehow, they
always seemed to look the same. Diplomatic markings on the side identified this one as belonging
to a member of the Republic Senate. Other ships surrounded it as the fleet orbited at the outer
edge of the Tatooine system.
Finally, a small freighter made the jump from lightspeed to sublight, then turned to rendevous with
the larger ship. A docking ring with an enclosed ladder extended from under the Corvette,
allowing the freighter to attach itself. With a final hum, the smaller ship's engines shut down.
One man waited at the top of the docking ring. He was dark skinned, with a head of closely
trimmed hair. His uniform was immaculate and, if you knew where to look, displayed his rank of
Commander. Well-defined muscles pushed at the material of the uniform as he shifted slightly.
Finally, a figure opened the hatch and climbed up. She was shorter than average, with auburn hair
that was parted on the left and reached down her back to her shoulder blades. She had on a green
jacket with a black T-shirt beneath, black slacks and boots. As she stepped onto the deck, her
brown eyes turned toward the man in confusion for a moment.
"Mack?" she asked, surprised to see him.
"Hey, Daria," Commander Michael 'Mack' MacKenzie replied with a smile. "You okay?"
Daria Morgendorffer shook her head, "I will be when I find Quinn. I take it you were sent to herd
me to the slaughter?"
"I don't know about the slaughter part, but they are waiting for you in the conference room." He
gestured with a hand, "This way."
"Like I said," Daria told him with a shrug, "slaughter. They're going to attack me in a group."
"Now, now, you know Jane would rather do it herself." Mack grinned at her as they walked,
"And Jodie would just have blown up your ship."
"Oh, speaking of Jodie, I heard you two tied the noose. Congratulations."
"Thanks. It took a while to convince her, but I've tried to keep her happy."
"And as a wedding present, I'll let that straight line go commenting on what makes her happy."
Daria smirked as they reached a lift.
After exiting the lift a few floors later, Daria asked, "Where did you get this ship, anyway?"
"Senator Naberrie," Mack explained. "I think he and Jane have something going on."
"They have for years," Daria confirmed. "I'm surprised they haven't married by now."
"I wouldn't know. Jodie's very good at keeping secrets. For example," he frowned slightly, "I
didn't know you and Quinn were still alive until yesterday."
"Sorry about that. We just needed to keep who knew to as few people as possible." Daria
sighed, "Not that it did any good. Now that damn madman has Quinn. Again."
"Not for long, Daria," Mack assured her. "We'll get her back. Oh, here we are." He opened the
door, then stepped aside as Daria entered.
"To the slaughter," he heard her whisper as the doors closed behind them.
The group looked at Daria long enough for her to realize she knew only a few of them. To her
far left was Jodie, who was smiling at her, wearing the same Jedi clothing she had worn the last
time Daria had seen her. Beneath her brown robe, she had on a dark tan tunic with a black under
tunic. A loincloth the same color as the tunic extended past her black belt to her knees, partially
covering the black slacks. A pair of brown boots covered her feet.
Jane Lane smirked as she saw her old friend. She, too, was wearing her usual Jedi attire, which
consisted of a black robe with a tan tunic that was bloused out slightly at her waist before
extending almost a quarter of the way down her thighs. Beneath that, she wore a high-necked red
under tunic. Her boots were black and the slacks that were tucked into them were a dark gray.
Her raven-black hair was parted high on the left, with the right side cut slightly shorter.
She was holding hands with a tall man with dark hair. He was wearing brown robes and seemed
reluctant to look away from the raven-haired woman in front of him. Finally, he turned to see
who Jane was looking at. Must be Senator Naberrie, Daria thought to herself. As she scanned
the room, she didn't recognize any of the other half dozen people until her eyes came to rest on a
small figure sitting calmly in a chair, looking at her.
He was shorter than Daria by a few inches, with his scalp covered with thick gray hair. He was by
far the oldest person Daria had met, other than Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. But, somehow, Jedi
Master Yenchi gave the impression of infinite age and wisdom. Yenchi was one of the few people
to ever leave Daria in awe. He was also the only person who had finally been able to put up with
the constant questions Padawan Morgendorffer had asked. The old man's patience and
knowledge had allowed Daria to find her answers and become a Jedi Knight.
A knot of guilt suddenly wrapped itself around her stomach and twisted. In the few seconds the
two had spent looking at each other, the room had fallen silent. "Uh," Daria finally managed to
utter, "hello, Master Yenchi."
The man got out the chair and head to her, frowning. "Dead you are supposed to be," he told her.
"Mourn you I did."
Unable to meet his gaze, she dropped her head. "I'm sorry about that. But I --"
"Listen you will," he interrupted her. "To talk it is not your turn." He began to circle her as he
spoke. "Yes, mourn you I did. So much talent you had. So young you died. A lie it was." He
nodded, "A falsehood. Trust me you could not? Respect me that much you did not?"
Jane started to move forward, only to have Jodie grab her arm. When she turned to glare, she
was surprised to see Jodie smiling and holding a finger to her lips.
"No," Yenchi was continuing, "you could not. A member of the Council I am. Looking out for
your sister you were. Tell the Council I would have had to. The right thing you did." Standing
in front of his former Padawan, he smiled. "That you are alive . . . I am extremely pleased."
Daria looked up to see him smiling at her. "Thank you, Master."
"Thank me not, Jedi Morgendorffer. Punished you will be. Decide your punishment myself I
"I understand. But Master," she went on, "I hope you understand that any punishment will have
to wait until my sister is safe."
"Understand I do." The two looked at each other for a moment before the ancient Jedi reached
out and pulled her into a hug. "Back to life you are welcomed, Daria. Missed you I have."
"Uh," Daria looked uncomfortable, "thanks. It's good to see you, too. Um, you can let go, now."
Leaning in close, Jane whispered, "You knew he was going to do that, didn't you?"
"He told me what he was planning so I would stay close enough to stop you," Jodie replied.
"I wish he'd told me so I could have had a camera ready."
"I heard that."
"Uh," Jane turned to see Daria had moved to be next to her, "hi amiga. Long time no see."
I'm alive, Quinn thought as she regained consciousness. But what happened? The last thing I
remember was some kind of shock running through the ship. My arms and legs hurt really bad,
then nothing. Hey, why can't I move them? Quinn's eyes opened as she tried to move.
"Can't move?" The voice was vaguely familiar. "Don't bother. We took care of that."
Quinn tried to take a breath so she could respond, but found that her breathing was no longer
under her control. Instead, her breaths were even and deep. She waited until she exhaled to ask,
"What's going on? How did I get here?"
"Oh, the usual way." A figure in a hooded black cloak leaned over to look down at her. "We hit
your ship with an ion charge. Which, of course, overloaded your cybernetic limbs. All in all, I
was just following my Master's will. You know what that's like, right, Frost?"
On her next exhale, she said, "My name is Quinn."
"You were Frost," they insisted. "You stood beside our Master at the edge of his triumph. Only
to let it come crashing down when you failed to realize there were three Jedi on that ship."
"Like," breath, "math was never my best subject."
Standing upright, the robed woman chuckled once as she began to pace around the prone figure.
"You're probably wondering a few things right now. Why are you here and why can't you move,
correct?" Without waiting for an answer, she went on, "Let's answer the second one first, shall
we? Your arms and legs, as we both know, are artificial. So, we've placed inhibitor bands around
them, shutting off all communication between you and them. As for the first," she stopped and
sat on the side of whatever Quinn was lying on, "you're here to open a doorway to your universe.
Think of it," she leaned closer, "as a way to make up for your treason."
Wait for the air, she reminded herself. Then, as she exhaled, "Like, would you take a check or
The laugh was without humor. "Good, you still have some fire. You'll need it to retain your
sanity for a time."
"You know," Quinn's voice was still calm due to the lack of control of her breathing, "you can
still turn away from the Dark Side."
"Turn away?" The figure laughed, "Turn away? It took me years to get Master Tyran to accept
me. All that time he had you following him around." The woman leaned over and got near
enough to Quinn's face for her to see that she was a blond woman with pale coloring. Her irises
were yellow, but rimmed with black and brown.
Like, my eyes never did that. She must really be into the Dark Side. "So, uh, like, do you have a
"Oh, I do. I had another one, once. But that one is as dead as the planet Danathrees." Pulling
back her hood, the blond woman smiled at Quinn. "You may call me Darth Clement."
"Darth Clementine?" Quinn furrowed her brow in confusion.
"No," Clement corrected, "Clement. Who is this 'Clementine,' anyway? You're the third person
to ask me that."
"It's from a song," came the reply on the next breath. "And who else would ask something like
"Oh," Clement smiled, "others from Lawndale. But don't worry, we won't be bothering any more
of your old friends. Now that we have you, we can go directly to the source." The Sith turned
away, "I'll leave you to rest for a while. We're not at the coordinates, yet."
As a door Quinn couldn't see opened and closed, she realized she was alone. Oh, this is just
freakin' great. I'm stuck here and I can't even move. Moving her head, she tried to spot the
inhibitors on her limbs, but failed. They've got my head elevated so I can't see past my shoulders.
This is really scary. The woman looked up, then flinched.
Pointing down at her was an array of small disks, none larger than ten centimeters, with most
being closer to two. Nothing else was visible in the dim lighting. Daria, Quinn thought, I wish
you were here. You'd know what to do.
"All right," Daria said as she and Jane left the conference room, "has there been any more news?"
"Not really," Jane admitted. "We sent you the information on what we think Tyran might be up
to, but we've not learned any more than that. You have any theories?"
"Only one, and it's stupid."
"Is it that he might be wanting to go to Earth?" When Daria looked at her, Jane shrugged, "Jodie
thought of that, too."
"Great, now it doesn't sound quite as stupid." Daria shook her head, "It doesn't make sense, Jane.
Why would someone from as advanced a civilization as this one want to go to Earth? It's not like
he has family there."
"No," Jane agreed. "But there aren't any Jedi there, either. Or blasters or starships. He'd have
the upper hand if he only had a lightsaber and a shuttle. The only problem," she went on, "is that
we've checked the Danathrees system. He hasn't been there." Daria looked away as if trying to
hear something in the distance. "What?"
"Something in the system . . ." Daria let her voice fade away. A crewman walked by them,
headed in the opposite direction. Standing still, she watched him until he turned the corner. "Oh
my god," she muttered. "Jane," Daria turned to stare at her, "the place hasn't moved. The galaxy
"Come on," she said, turning to walk away. Suddenly, she stopped. "Uh," she looked back at her
friend, "do you know how to find the map room?"
"Wakey-wakey time." Quinn came out of her slumber as Clement's voice reached her.
This time her robe was gone, revealing her waist-length blond hair. Her skin was smooth and
flawless. She wore a wrap tunic that became a ruffled skirt below her belt. The skirt began high
on her left hip, then dipped down to her right knee. Beneath the tunic was a blue under tunic that
was long sleeved and had a high neck. The same material covered her legs until they reached the
boots. The boots, Quinn noticed with shame, were the same type that she had worn as Frost,
black and reaching well past the knee. A lightsaber hung on the left side of Clement's belt.
Waiting for her lungs to exhale, Quinn said, "You took my boots."
Clement laughed as she looked down, "Ah, yes. I found them in the Master's shuttle. Who would
have thought we'd be the same size." Looking back at Quinn, she leaned her head to one side as
she asked, "You mind if I keep them?"
"Go ahead," Quinn replied. "I don't think they'll go with anything I'd choose to wear anymore."
"That and you won't be needing them much longer, anyway." Clement crossed her arms and
grinned, "We'll be there soon. Then we can send you on your way."
"Where am I going?"
"Crazy. But that's if you're lucky."
Daria would say it's redundant, Quinn thought to herself. "Like, why are you doing this?"
"Because, my dear predecessor, our Master has decided to forgo conquering this universe. Too
much history and too many Jedi. So, he's going for easier pickings. Like, for example," the Sith
leaned in and tapped the end of Quinn's nose with a finger, "your precious Earth."
Quinn tried to speak before she had air. "Earth?" she squeaked on her second try. "Why Earth?"
"You told our Master about the technology of your planet. They have nothing to equal what we
can find abandoned in space. In fact," she motioned around them, "the ship we're riding in is an
old Star Destroyer. It was abandoned near Endor when the Emperor was killed."
Great, Quinn thought, leftovers again. What she said was, "I thought they gathered up all those
"There's always a few left around. The Indolent, here was actually salvaged by a private
collector. Of course," she gave an evil smirk, "his collection is a little short these days."
Wishing she could sigh, Quinn looked at the disks pointed down at her. "I guess this stuff is
going to kill me somehow?"
Clement frowned as the former Sith changed the subject. "No, unfortunately, it won't. But it will
be painful. I've been told you will feel like you're being set on fire." The grin returned, "Won't
that be fun?"
"You have a, like, sick idea of fun."
"Well, it serves your right for betraying our Master."
Quinn wanted to yell, but could only continue in a calm voice. "He's not my Master."
"He will always be your Master," the Sith apprentice corrected. "Just as he will always be mine.
The only difference is that I am loyal to him. As I always have been."
"You keep him, then." Quinn closed her eyes and looked away. She ignored the other woman
until she was alone again.
"Jodie," Daria barged back into the meeting room, "what is the speed of the galaxy?"
"What?" Jodie was sitting at the head of the table where a serious discussion was obviously
underway. "The speed of the galaxy? Uh," she thought for a moment, "it revolves at two
hundred kilometers per hour, and moves at almost that in a line toward the Jervic Galaxy."
"Can this thing calculate how far a point in space can move in relation to a fixed point in space?"
Daria pointed toward the table.
"A point your questions have?" Yenchi asked.
"I know why Danathrees is empty," Daria told them. "The point in space has not moved,
although the galaxy has."
"You're telling me that the whole galaxy has passed this point by?" A blond woman in a Republic
uniform pulled at her hair as she thought. "That's weird."
"It's normal for plotting a hyperspace jump," Mack said from Jodie's right. "We should have
thought of that."
"Great," Jodie shook her head. She looked at the other end of the table, "Admiral Merro, let's
calculate just where we're going, so we can tell the fleet."
"Jedis MacKenzie," the admiral, a blue-skinned humanoid, said, "Certain are yous of this
Jodie glanced at Daria once, "I trust my friend, Admiral. Tyran's fleet will be there."
"Ready for your trip?" Clement asked.
"Only if it's a cruise to someplace nice," Quinn replied, wishing again that she could scream.
"Wait a minute, where are you?"
"I'm in the control room. You don't think I'm going with you, do you?" A chuckle was heard,
"After all, you're the expendable one, not me."
"I'm not expandable," Quinn argued.
"Expan -- never mind. We're in position, so you're going to go on your one-way trip." Her voice
dimmed as Clement turned from the microphone, "Release the drone."
The blackness around her suddenly seemed to move. Then, stars came out overhead. Now that
there was more to contrast it with, Quinn could tell that the disks over her head connected to a
machine that ended in what looked like a series of pipes pointing into the distance.
"Bring the power online," Quinn heard. A hum began in the room as coils on the machine began
to glow. Again, she heard Clement's voice speaking to someone else, "It's ready."
The next voice sent a shiver down her spine. It was the man who had forced her to turn to the
Dark Side. "Engage the portal," Darth Tyran's voice spoke.
"Come, on, Daria," Jane pleaded. "Just wear it."
"Jane, I don't want to." Daria was locked inside her cabin. "It wouldn't seem right, somehow."
"Look, Jodie and I all think it would help morale if you looked the part. I mean, Master Yenchi
said you were still a Jedi, right?" Jane leaned against the doorframe.
"Only until we get this straightened out," came the argument. "Then I'm probably going to the
spice mines or something."
"So enjoy it while you can. Look, Master Yenchi called you 'Jedi,' so you're entitled." Jane rolled
her eyes as she thought, I wish Trent were here, then I could use him to talk her into it. "How
about if I say 'please?'"
"Jane," Daria opened the door and stepped out, "I threw out my old Jedi clothes. That tabard and
. . ." she looked at the bundle Jane was handing her. Looking up, she said, "I should have
"Hey, you're the one who left spares back on Yavin." Pushing the bundle into her friend's chest,
she began to push Daria back into her cabin. "Now come on, we need to be on the bridge in five
minutes so we can detach and follow the fleet into hyperspace."
Tears ran from Quinn's eyes as she tried to scream. With her breathing regulated, however, all
she could manage was, "Aahh," in a calm voice.
"Frost," Tyran's voice reached her from somewhere, "you should have remained loyal."
"I did," Quinn managed to argue. "I was loyal to my sister." Through gritted teeth she added,
"And don't call me Frost. My name," she paused for air, "is Quinn."
"Very well, Quinn," Tyran sounded amused, "let's see how much you like full power."
Only the fact that she was unable to control her breathing kept her from gasping as the pain
"All ships, stand by to jump to lightspeed," Daria and Jane heard as they slipped into their seats
on the bridge. "Mary Celeste, stand by to detach." Jane had left the robe elsewhere, while Daria
was still in her jacket.
"Standing by," Jane replied.
"Detach." There was a slight jarring as the smaller ship came free.
"Hold on," Daria said as she pulled them away from the Corvette.
"You know," Jane said as she looked out the front of the ship, "this is a pretty big fleet." She
counted at least three of the new cruisers, along with a couple of older ones, an escort frigate, and
"They don't want him getting away again," Daria reminded her. "Sith Lords are nasty things if
you don't stop them."
"And that's what we're here to do," Jane said with a nod. "Well," she glanced at Daria, "that and
"Yes," Daria scowled, "rescue Quinn."
"All ships," came the command voice, "jump to lightspeed on my mark. Mark!"
"Still alive?" It was Clement, again. The two Sith had been taking turns taunting her since
Quinn's torture had started. "Just so you know, it's working wonderfully. In fact, we don't even
really need you anymore. But . . . don't worry, we're not going to stop the machine. Too bad we
won't be here to see your end, Frost. Oh, sorry, I mean Quinn. You're going to die out here all
alone. After all, why would anyone . . ." the sound suddenly cut, leaving the redhead alone again.
The stars returned to normal as the Mary Celeste returned to normal space. Around them, the
rest of the fleet also appeared. Jane looked up from the sensors she had been studying to say,
"I'm reading several ships ahead. None look friendly."
"That's not a first, Jane," Daria reminded her.
"I'm just glad we've got company this . . ." she leaned closer to the readouts. "What is that?"
"I'm reading a major distortion ahead." Jane tapped the sensor controls, "I'm not sure what it is,
but it's growing."
"I bet it's the result of whatever they're doing to Quinn," Daria said as she scowled. "Give me
some coordinates so we can swoop in and save the day."
"Only problem with that is that there's about a hundred fighters, and two old Star Destroyers
between us and it." Jane looked at her, "Maybe we should fly in backward so they'll think we're
A trio of fighters shot past the freighter. "I think we have a distraction," Daria observed. A few
seconds later, a voice sounded from the communications equipment.
"This is Rogue Leader to Mary Celeste. Daria, we'll escort you in to where that weird energy
signature is coming from. Jodie thinks that's where Quinn might be."
"Thanks, Mack," Daria replied.
"Just put your comms on our standard combat frequency. I gotta switch back, now."
Jane reached behind Daria and made the change as Daria fell in behind a group of fighters.
"Rogue Leader, this is Mary Celeste, we are on your frequency."
"Roger, Daria. Just hold your course and let us do the dirty work." The fighters began engaging
the older ships, clearing a path for the freighter. "Okay, fellows, let's clear a path for the ladies."
"He's such a gentleman," Jane observed.
"I heard that, Jane," Jodie's voice sounded in the bridge. "Don't forget, he's taken."
"Never thought otherwise," Jane said through the smirk.
"It's them," Clement turned to look behind her. In the dim lighting, she could make out the shape
of the hood her Master had pulled over his head. His left hand rested calm, while his right
strummed restlessly. "That accursed freighter is heading for the generator."
"Let them have her," Tyran ordered. "It is too late to stop us, now. Recall our fighters, then
order the ship through the rift. After that," he commanded, "take remote command of the other
Star Destroyer and set it to self-destruct in the rift itself. That should cause it to rupture and
"Won't we be too close to the other side?" Clement asked.
"By the time the other ship manages to reach its destination and explodes, we will be out the other
side and moving away." His voice chilled, "I am aware of your scientific expertise, my apprentice,
but do not question my orders again."
"Yes, Master," Clement bowed slightly as she realized that only the situation had prevented her
from being punished. "It will not happen again."
"Good. Now see to my orders."
"You sure Quinn is in that thing?" Jane asked as they slowed.
"She is," Daria informed her. "I can feel it."
"Okay," Jane nodded and leaned back in the seat.
"'Okay?'" Glancing at her, Daria frowned, "Is this an 'I believe you' okay, or a 'humor the
"Why does there have to be a difference?"
A smirk appeared as Daria turned her attention back to the controls. "You're twisted, Lane."
They were silent for a few minutes as they crossed the distance from cruiser to device. Then, Jane
looked up from the sensors. "It looks like most of the fighters are pulling back. And one of those
Star Destroyers seems to be heading for the rift."
"That can't be good," Daria replied. "Especially if they're using Quinn to open a portal to Earth."
"Wouldn't they just pop in at the paintball range? Oh, wait, let me guess, that point would have
moved, too." Looking over, she raised an eyebrow and asked, "Right?"
"Yep. And it would have moved less than this one did. Our galaxy is slower."
"You remember how fast the Milky Way was moving after ten years?"
"One hundred forty miles per hour rotation with a straight line speed of one hundred ninety."
"You're scary sometimes, you know that? Brilliant, but scary."
"Hush, we're here." The freighter pulled up alongside the container so that they could look down
through the clear panels. "Quinn?" Daria could make out her sister's face contorted with pain.
She reached for her straps as a hand came down on her shoulder.
"Daria," Jane said, "calm down. Let's see if we can dock with this thing or pull it aboard, okay?"
"Yeah," Daria put her weight back in the seat. "Good idea."
A clanging sound echoed through the room, but didn't register with Quinn. Then, the door
opened, allowing Jane to enter. "Quinn?" she asked as she moved next to the table.
Looking down, Jane could see what looked like a whirlwind of energy coming from the younger
woman's torso. Being sure to avoid it, she looked for controls of any kind. Not finding any, she
finally drew her lightsaber and hacked at one of the dishes. As it fell, she made sure it didn't land
on the redhead. The whirlwind seemed to weaken slightly, so Jane began to remove the rest of
them. Finally, the energy faded completely.
Now that she could look at her clearly, Jane could see shivers racing over the organic parts of
Quinn's body. A single band across her chest held her in place. Her shirt was gone, leaving her
clad from the waist up in a black bra. Her stomach had been opened, revealing that the skin was
fake. A mechanical device was pumping slowly up and down. Another device was attached to it,
with lights on top that lit to show if Quinn was inhaling or exhaling. Around her bare arms and
the legs of her slacks were metal bands with some kind of device built in.
"J-Jane?" The voice was calm and steady.
"Hey, Quinn. Long time no see."
"They took control of my lungs," the redhead told her as she exhaled. "They put inhibitor bands
on my arms and legs so I," she paused as she ran out of air, "couldn't move."
"Well," Jane looked at her stomach, "how about I see if I can give you your lungs back. Now,"
she looked at the plug, "if this doesn't work, I'll plug it back in, okay? You ready?"
Jane reached in and pulled out the plug. A massive gasp came from Quinn, followed by a
high-pitched scream. A few others followed.
"You okay?" Jan asked when the sound had subsided.
"Uh, yeah." Quinn looked embarrassed. "I've been needing to do that for hours."
"Ookay. Now, about these bands . . ."
"Quinn!" Daria appeared in the doorway. "I heard you screaming all the way from the bridge."
"Hey, sis." Quinn started to sit up, but was unable to. "Uh, could someone get these things off of
With help from her sister and Jane, Quinn managed to stagger from the container to the ship. As
she stepped from one to the other, she stopped. "What's that hissing noise?"
"We don't have a perfect seal," Jane told her. "We're losing air the longer we're connected."
"Oh." Quinn tried to hurry. As soon as they were aboard the freighter, Daria hit the controls,
closing the hatch.
"I'm getting us away from that thing," she growled as she walked past them. A few seconds later,
they felt the ship shift slightly as it accelerated away from Quinn's prison.
"Daria, this is Jodie, do you read?"
"Go ahead, Jodie," Daria replied as she took her seat.
"You get her?"
"I'm here, Jodie," Quinn said as she sat behind her sister and began to wrap her midriff with an
elastic bandage. A pink blouse was draped over the arm of the seat.
"Good. Look, I wanted you to know we have a problem. We're getting a call for help from the
second Star Destroyer."
"Help?" Jane looked out at the massive shape as it headed toward them. "What kind of help do
"It seems their 'master' has decided that they're expendable. He's set up a remote command that
has them self-destructing in the rift. They're abandoning ship as we speak, but that thing is still
going to blow up."
"Any ideas?" Daria asked.
"I was hoping you would have some."
Jane looked at Daria, "Are their shields still up?"
"Blow it up where it is," Jane advised.
"But the people -- "
"Jodie," Daria cut her off, "those people signed their lives away when they joined Tyran. It's too
bad more can't be taken into custody, but you've got to take that thing out now."
There was a pause. Then, after a sigh, Jodie said, "Admiral Merro agrees. Get clear."
"Oh," Jane muttered, "we're gone, alright."
The barrage was merciless. Missiles of all sizes slammed into the once cutting-edge warship.
Even as it neared the newly formed rift, it began to list, then to veer away from its target as the
engines began to fail. Finally, with a final burst of light and fire, the Star Destroyer exploded.
"At least they blow up pretty," Jane observed.
"Hmm," was the only response from Daria.
"Shouldn't there be, like, a soundtrack or something?" Quinn asked from her seat.
Following a young officer, the trio walked down the corridor of the cruiser. Letting him get a few
steps ahead, Jane looked at Quinn and asked, "Shouldn't you go to the infirmary?"
"I'm fine," Quinn told her. "All they'll do is run a bunch of stupid tests then seal up my stomach.
And I can do that on the ship."
"Okay," Jane nodded. "I just wanted to make sure you weren't about to lose your guts on the
"They frown on people making a mess like that without permission," Daria added.
"Ew," Quinn scowled at them.
"Ladies," the officer had stopped, "in here, please."
Stepping inside, the women saw Admiral Merro, Jodie and Master Yenchi sitting at a table. A
hologram of the battle was being replayed by the projectors in the table.
"Yes," Yenchi nodded, "through the rift they went. Follow we must."
"Follow?" Merro shook his head, "We've gotten rid of trouble, so why should we chase after it?"
"Because, Admiral," Quinn strode toward him, "if you don't, he'll be back. And the next time he'll
have a fleet capable of taking on the Republic and winning."
Looking at her, the Mon Calamari seemed to scowl, "And you are certain of this why?"
"Tyran's apprentice she was," Yenchi provided.
"A Sith? Here?" Merro started to stand.
"Not anymore," Quinn told him. "I left all that. Daria saved me from the Dark Side, but I still
know how he thinks. He'll come back, I know it." Glancing over her shoulder, she went on,
"He'll come back if just to get even with Jane. Uh, I mean, Jedi Lane."
"Who was supposed to have killed him the last time they fought."
Jane scowled as she calmly approached a chair, "Let's blind you and see how well you do with a
"Enough," Jodie waved a hand. "Look, the fact is that he could very well come back."
"Don't forget Earth," Daria reminded her as she sat on Jane's left. She glanced over to see that
Quinn was sitting on her left, then looked back at the people across the table. "He's going to
conquer Earth and use it as a base to build his empire on."
"And Earth can't defend itself," Jane stated. "They haven't developed past internal combustion
engines and rocket power."
"Yeah," Quinn nodded. "He'll crush them in a month, at most."
"Especially if he's managed to fully equip that Star Destroyer." Jodie sighed, "You know how
many troopers a Star Destroyer carries?"
"A few thousand, I think," Jane replied.
"Something like that," Jodie confirmed. "Now think of a group armed with blasters and fighter
support descending on Earth." Looking at the admiral, she explained, "Slug weapons and
atmospheric fighters only."
"Without even fusion power," Daria told them. "When we were there they were still burning
"Uh," Merro said, "hmm. Really, though, it's too bad. You see," he gestured toward the
hologram, which was showing the first Star Destroyer's entry into the rift, "this ship is too big to
go through the rift. Our design is more short and broad than a Star Destroyer."
"But we can still send in some ships to help," Jodie reminded him. "We've got that frigate, and a
couple of squadrons of fighters."
"We can not send our ships into a situation like this," Merro insisted. "There could be a trap on
the other side. Besides, the D-Wing fighters are needed here."
"What about the X-Wings?" Jodie asked. "Mack tells me there are floating warehouses filled with
them. And astromech droids are a dime a dozen."
"What's a dime?" Yenchi asked.
"Old Earth phrase," Jane told him.
"Ah." The Jedi nodded, then said, "A good point you have. Fit will the frigate. Near are
X-Wings. Soon can they be here."
"I will not order my people --" Merro began.
"Volunteers," Yenchi cut him off with a smile. "Yes, doable is your plan, Jedi MacKenzie.
Brilliant is your plan. If old ships Tyran wishes to use, with old ships we will fight him." His
smile turned into a smirk, "Explain it I will to the Jedi Council. Leave to you the planning and
logistics." Rising from his chair, he made his way toward the door.
He had barely gotten into the hall when he heard, "Master?" Turning, he saw Daria coming
"Yes?" He asked as he waited.
"Uh," she worked her jaw a couple of time as nerves got to her. Finally, she said, "I want to take
Quinn with me. She knows how Tyran thinks."
"Leave her there you wish to do," he stated. "Face her destiny she must."
"She will, Master," Daria told him. "I've taught her everything I can. If she hadn't been trapped
by Tyran, she'd be a Jedi by now."
"Taught her, you have? A Jedi she would be?" Yenchi shook his head, "More there is to being a
Jedi than technique."
"I have taught her all the lessons you taught me, Master." Daria scowled at him, "Test her,
Master. You won't be disappointed."
Yenchi sighed. "My best student you were. Honored I am that respect me you still do. My
journey this is not. Take with you that which you will need. But be careful. Good it is to protect
those you care for. But be certain who needs protecting." Gently, he placed a hand on her cheek,
"Like my granddaughter you are. Return to me I ask." Lowering his hand, the ancient Jedi
turned and walked away.
"I will, Grandfather," she called to him. "I'll be back."
He turned, "Hold you to that I will."
Daria gave him a slight smile before she bowed.
"I should have known." Daria rolled her eyes as Jane stopped in front of her. Jane was astride a
speeder bike. The bike had been painted black, with stylized red flames.
"Known what?" Jane asked as she shut off the power.
"That you'd bring this silly thing along."
"I might need it," Jane replied. "Besides, I'd hate for all the work you and Quinn did on the
engine to go to waste."
"And I suppose you want to put that on the M --" she sighed, "the Cynic's Gamble?"
"Going back to the old name, eh?"
"I'm using my real name again, why not do it for the ship? And you didn't answer my question."
"I was hoping to snag a little storage space, yes." Looking over to where the ship was resting,
she asked, "Doesn't it make you nervous to have all those people going over your ship?"
"Well, since I'm going to be hauling a load of weapons, they want to make sure the ship can carry
that much mass and still be flyable." Daria looked away, "And that's not what is making me
"Oh, what it?" Jane asked as she climbed off of the bike.
Daria glared at her, "It's been two weeks, Jane. He could have wiped out Lawndale by now."
"Why would he? I mean, come on," she shook her head, "how important is Lawndale? Really."
"Only to us," Daria admitted.
"Yeah, and we're not there. Until we are, he has no reason to spend any more time on it than any
where else." They were silent for a minute. Then, Jane asked, "You think your folks are still
Daria's voice was subdued, "I don't know, Jane. Mom was working to make partner, and Dad's
business was just starting to catch on. If time had passed at the same rate as here, they might be
pulling in the dough by now." Raising an eyebrow, she asked, "How about you? You think your
family is okay?"
"I wonder if they even know I'm gone," Jane admitted, looking annoyed. "With as little time as
anyone in my family spends at home, they might not have noticed that I haven't been there in ten
"Yeah, but he'll think I've wandered off to join the great 'Wandering Lanes.' Which, in a way,"
she smirked, "is true."
"I suppose so," Daria agreed. "Look, you better get that thing stowed before they start bringing
in the cargo."
"Think I can get this thing into the guest room?"
"Not while riding it."
It's been almost a month, Quinn thought to herself as she pulled on her pink jacket. God, why did
Daria have her old Master give me a going over like that? At least he seemed satisfied with how
I did. I guess I had a good teacher, she looked at the door to where Daria was talking with Jodie
and a blond woman that seemed familiar. Her crisp uniform was of a Republic Captain. Her hair
was pulled back into a ponytail as severe as her posture. She looks so familiar I can almost name
her. But how many Republic officers do I know?
Quinn took another look at her sister. Daria was now wearing a black robe over a green tabard.
Beneath that, she wore a mustard-yellow tunic with slightly flared sleeves. Her obi had two
sections, the top was the same green as the tabard, while the lower half was black and served as a
belt. Below the belt, the tabard became three-inch wide pieces of cloth that extended to just past
her knees, two in the front and two in the back. While the boots were the same, the pants were
now tucked into them and flared slightly. I'm glad Jane and I finally talked her into wearing her
old Jedi clothes. She seems more at home in them than she does that jacket. God, how could
anyone be at home in that jacket?
Quinn sighed as she turned from the ramp and made her way to the bridge. As she sat in her usual
seat, she looked out at the activity of the cruiser's landing bay. X-Wing fighters were everywhere,
it seemed. Only the entry and exit strips were clear of the old ships. Many were gleaming after
their first cleaning in a century. Around them, technicians of every race were working along with
the small astromech droids that would go along.
One fighter in particular caught her eye. In addition to the technicians and the droid, she could
see the pilot standing beneath the ladder that would lead him to the cockpit. Beside him a Jedi
stood, with a hand on his shoulder. Recognizing Mack and Jodie, Quinn smiled. I'm glad they
got married, she told herself. They've had it bad for each other since before I met them.
"Hey," the voice gave Quinn a start. Jane slid into Daria's usual seat as she looked out and
spotted the couple. "They're good for each other," she observed.
"You okay?" Jane looked at the controls, but was careful not to touch anything.
"Scared witless," came the admission. She smirked, "And anyone who isn't scared is stupid."
Quinn found herself grinning, "I guess so."
"You know," Jane glanced back over her shoulder toward the doorway into the bridge, "I
probably shouldn't say this, but Daria's proud of you. You've had some chances to run but you've
stayed right here. Facing all this with the record you have would have given me the urge to split."
"And go where?" came the question. "Jane, that madman will go after my parents. If not now,
then later. And he will come back to overthrow the Republic at some point."
"That might not be for centuries," Jane reminded her.
"He won't wait that long. Remember," Quinn did her best impression of someone wise, "the Dark
Side is impatient. That is why power comes faster to those who follow it."
"Very good," Jane nodded. "Who told you that?"
"Daria." Quinn shrugged, "She told me lots of stuff about the Force."
"She drove her first two Masters nuts with questions." The smirk returned, "I think her second
one was about to kill himself over them."
"Daria had more than one Master?"
"Three. In fact, Master Yenchi was her third. I'm just glad he had the patience to put up with all
her questions." She glanced back at the doorway again, "Here she comes. We'll probably be
Stepping onto the bridge, Daria saw her friend and her sister staring at her. "What?" she asked.
A few minutes later, the freighter made its way from the bay and into space. As Daria manned the
controls, she glanced over at her sister. Then, turning her head some more, she saw Jodie sitting
behind her. Glancing the other way, she could make out one of Jane's hands as they rested on the
"All ships," came a voice over the comms, "our order will be: First, fighters; second, support
ships; then the Vigilance. All ships wait for command before proceeding. Fighters in position."
"And try not to run into each other," Jane muttered.
"I heard Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie joined a squadron," Jodie told them.
"Then they'd better be real careful not to run into each other," Jane amended.
"Fighters proceed through the rift. All support vessels into position."
Daria brought the freighter closer to the rift. Alongside of the Cynic's Gamble were a medical
ship, a Corellian Corvette, and a few other ships used in support of larger vessels.
Daria looked around and said, "Any last words?"
"I wanna die with my boots on?" Jane quipped.
"I'd really rather not die, thank you," Quinn shot back.
"Killjoy," Jane returned.
"Oh, god," Daria rolled her eyes.
"May the Force be with us," Jodie muttered just barely loud enough to hear.
"Amen," Daria said to herself.
"Support ships, you are cleared to enter the rift."
"You know," Jane whispered to Daria as they headed for the swirling disk ahead of them, "I've
got a bad feeling about this."
"I hate it when you say that," Daria whispered back. Then, the ship ahead of them vanished into
the rift, leaving the freighter next in line. "Here we go," she warned as she urged the ship
"At last," Tyran looked out of the windows at the blue world below. "Now I can begin to build
my empire without anyone standing in my way."
"Master," Clement asked from where she knelt, "are you certain the Republic won't send a fleet to
He looked over at her. "Those fools will believe that I am finally out of their hair. If they choose
to send anyone, they will have to use ships smaller than this one. None of their capital ships will
fit. No, we will have, at most, a token force to overcome." Tyran looked downward again, "I
will enjoy conquering this world." Smiling, he asked, "Is everything ready?"
"Yes, my Master."
"Good. Go and send the first wave of troopers down. I want the capital cities of the strongest
nations under my control by nightfall. And Clement," he turned to glare, "I will accept no
"Yes, my Master." The robed woman stood and strode away.
The sensation was, Daria thought, similar to being forced through a strainer. As she struggled to
make her weary limbs obey, she forced her eyes to check the controls.
"Evberyone okay?" fumbled Jodie.
"I'm alive," Jane griped, "but otherwise okay."
"I'm here," Quinn commented. "But I feel funny."
"Daria, what about you?"
"I'm okay, Jodie. Are you alright?" Looking back, she could see that Jodie was rubbing her arm
"My arm hurts where the prosthetic is connected. It's like --"
"Ow!" Quinn grabbed her middle.
"Quinn?" Daria looked at her sister.
"AH!" Jodie called out as she grabbed her arm.
"Daria," Jane said as she unbuckled, "get us to a safe location while I take these two to the back."
"Good idea," Daria agreed. "We don't need them hitting something by accident."
Jodie was able to walk on her own, although she leaned against the corridor walls to do so.
Quinn, however, was convulsing as if she was coming apart. Jane finally had to resort to using
the Force to move her. She set the girl down in the lounge as she watched Jodie collapse into a
"My arm feels like it's on fire," Jodie told her. "It didn't burn like this when I lost it." Without a
warning, her artificial hand fell to the deck. Jodie and Jane looked at it, then at the limp sleeve.
As they did, Jodie groaned again.
"Uh, Jodie," Jane told her, "your arm is getting longer." As she watched, the amount of limp
cloth was becoming shorter as the arm under it seemed to grow.
Behind them, Quinn let out another cry. Turning, Jane could see that at least one of her artificial
legs had come loose. Jane grabbed both it and the other and pulled. Both slid out of the legs of
Quinn's slacks. Jane dropped them in shock as Daria came into the lounge.
"What are you doing?" Daria asked as she saw the legs.
"They're coming off on their own," Jane replied, motioning toward Jodie's hand. "Hey, wait,"
Jane looked back at Quinn, "if artificial stuff is coming off, what about how Quinn breathes?"
Daria was beside her sister in an instant. "Quinn, can you breathe? Quinn?" She looked up,
"She's stopped breathing."
"Look!" Jane pulled the young woman's hands from her midriff, revealing the bulge beneath the
"What in?" Daria stared as Jane stood and pulled her lightsaber.
"Hope she isn't having the devil's baby or this will be messy," Jane muttered. Then, she slashed
down. The artificial skin on Quinn's stomach split, allowing the cybernetic diaphragm to fall to
the deck. As it did, one of the artificial arms came out of the sleeve.
"You okay?" Jane asked, turning to Jodie. "Wow," she muttered.
"Yeah, wow," Jodie replied as she looked at the hand that was now coming out of her sleeve.
"Quinn, breathe," Daria told her sister. Then, she checked her sister's airway before giving her a
quick breath. Not receiving a response, she did it again. "Come on, breathe."
"Daria," Jane removed the extra arms and legs as she spoke, "it could be her body is trying to
regrow stuff like Jodie did."
"And she needs time for the diaphragm to grow back," Daria guessed.
"We'll take turns," Jodie offered.
"Thanks." Daria turned back to her sister and continued to breath for her.
Jodie watched as Daria gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Jane, however, was watching Quinn's
sleeves and pant legs. "She's growing them back," she observed.
"Here," Jodie knelt on the other side of Quinn's head, "I'll take over for a few minutes." Daria
nodded and leaned back just as Quinn coughed and took a few breaths on her own.
Reaching up, Quinn rubbed her face with her hand. Opening her eyes, she saw everyone staring
at her. "What happened?"
"You dropped those," Jane pointed to where Quinn's artificial parts were stacked.
"Huh?" Quinn looked at her hands, then at the feet that were sticking out of her slacks. "Then
where'd these come from?"
"The limb fairy?" Jane guessed. When everyone turned to stare, she shrugged and said, "Hey, it's
as good a guess as any right now."
"Mom!" The girl came through the door with her backpack in one hand and a pair of broken
glasses in the other. She was four foot ten, with a thin build that was just beginning to show signs
of the woman she would grow to be. Below her blue jeans where white sneakers with dust on
them. The girl was wearing a white T-shirt on under a blue pullover. Her red hair was pulled
back and held in place with a headband. Her brown eyes peered out at the blurry world as she
repeated, "Mom, are you here?"
"Keep it down, sweety," came her mother's voice. "I'm in the kitchen."
"Mom," the girl dropped her backpack and used that hand to feel her way into the kitchen, "I
broke my glasses again."
"Veronica Morgendorffer," the woman chided, "you've got to be more careful. We can't just up
and go buy you a new pair of glasses every month."
"It wasn't my fault," Veronica told her. "Jack stepped on them when they fell off."
"Were you playing football again? I told you that was dangerous."
"Mo-om, I wasn't playing football. We were on the swings." She set the frames on the counter.
"I'm gonna get my spares." With her vision blurred, she didn't see her mother cringe.
As her daughter left, the woman sighed. "Face it, Helen," she muttered, "she's just too much of a
tomboy to wear fancy frames." Picking up the remains of the fashion-label glasses, she shook her
head and tossed them into a drawer. "I just wish she didn't remind me of both of her sisters when
she wears those old frames she found."
Veronica glanced down the hall at the two empty rooms as she always did when she reached the
top of the stairs. Then, she felt her way to her room. The plain white walls held a few sports
posters and a picture of her parents. Her bed was a simple full-sized one, and was unmade.
Sitting on the side, she opened the drawer to the nightstand and felt around until she grunted and
pulled out an eyeglass case. She pulled out a pair of black round frames and slid them onto her
face. With everything in focus again, the girl stood and went into the hall.
She glanced again down the hall, but something stopped her from continuing. As she stared at the
empty hallway, she felt a wave of dizziness come over her. It seemed to be nothing until Veronica
realized she was flat on her back, staring at the ceiling.
Okay, she thought, that was weird. Maybe I should just go downstairs and do my homework in
the living room until supper.
The smoke was thick in the blaster-scarred hallway as the black-robed Sith strode through it.
Bodies lay, unmoved by the white-clad troopers. How amusing, she thought to herself. When we
took the ship we found it had the full complement of stormtrooper armor. An armor that, when
used properly, can make the troopers very resistant to slug-throwers.
"Lady Clement," one trooper said, saluting, "we have them in here."
Stepping into the room, the blond looked at the assembled people. There were two women, one
was, it appeared, the daughter of the older. Both had brown hair and blue eyes. Their clothes
were simple, as if they had been disturbed while sleeping. The man, however, was her target. He
glared at her with an intense gaze that some would have found unnerving. The Sith, however,
smirked back at him.
"So," she stated, "you are the President of The United States."
"I am," he admitted. "And you are?"
"I am Darth Clement, the humble servant of my master, Darth Tyran."
"What, is Darth a family name or something?" the younger woman asked.
"It is a title," Clement replied. "Now shut up."
"I'm not going to --"
"Mary," the older woman turned to her, "be quiet."
"I see your offspring has respect. I hope the two of you do as well. My Master will demand that
of his servants."
"You have me confused with someone else," the President said. "I am not a servant to anyone but
"Ah," Clement put a finger beneath his chin, "but the only vote that matters is now my Master's.
You will abdicate your power to him at once."
"Sorry," he shook his head, "can't do it. You see, I have restrictions on my power laid down by
the Constitution. And nowhere does it say that I can abdicate those powers to anyone."
For a few seconds she just stared at him. "You mean your government does not have the power
to surrender its power?"
"That's exactly what I'm telling you."
"How amusing," She chuckled. "My Master will appreciate the humor." Turning to leave, she
looked over at the nearest trooper and said, "They are of no use. Kill them." As she strode back
up the hall, the sound of three blaster shots reached her. "I guess we'll just have to take power,
then," she muttered as she tipped over a flag stand that had, somehow, survived intact.
". . . As to who these armored men are, is anyone's guess." Veronica came into the living room
and sat next to her parents as the news continued. "Our man, Carl Cameron, is still
broadcasting from D. C. Carl?"
The screen changed to show the reporter standing some distance from a burning building that was
barely identifiable as the Capitol. "That's right, Shep. From what I can tell, we seem to be the
only news crew still able to get their signal out. I don't know how much longer we'll be able to
do so, so I'll be brief. As you can see," he turned to point at the building, "the Capitol Building
is a smoldering ruin. Reports from people fleeing the scene indicate that everyone these
invaders encountered were killed on sight." A roaring noise was heard, and the camera panned up
quickly. Three craft with a ball in the center and a panel attached on each side flew by. Then, the
camera panned back to the reporter. "Shep, those ships don't look like a lot, but they've been
taking down every aircraft that's dared to challenge them since this began a few hours ago.
They've also been strafing -- uh, oh." Carl looked past the camera, "I'm seeing a group of the
invaders heading this way. I don't think it'd be a good idea to wait for them to arrive. Back to
The anchor returned to the screen, looking pale. "Get out of there, Carl. We've lost enough
good people today." He took a breath to collect himself, then spoke again, "If you're just tuning
in, it seems that the end of the world is nigh. Four hours ago, large groups of men in white
armor descended on Washington, D.C., London, Moscow and Beijing. Using weapons right out
of a science-fiction movie, they slaughtered their way into the halls of power. We now believe
that the British Prime Minister, the Russian President, and our own Commander-In-Chief are
dead. As to the fate of the Chinese Prime Minister we can only guess. There has been no
statement from these attackers."
The mood in the room was somber as Jane entered. Daria and Jodie were seated next to a woman
in a military uniform. Her hair was blond and pulled back into a ponytail. Her rank insignia
identified her as a captain. Where do I know her from? Jane wondered.
"Hey," she asked as she all but fell into her chair, "what's up? What's happening? What's new?"
"Can it," Jodie snapped.
"Gee, it must be serious. Care to let me in on it?"
Daria looked at her, then sighed. "Jane, we have no idea where we are."
"Lost in space, eh?" Raising an eyebrow, she asked, "How'd that happen? I mean, I thought we'd
be where Earth had been ten years ago."
"Well, we were off by a little. We think." Jodie shook her head, "There are over a thousand stars
within the range of distance Earth might have traveled."
"And we're drawing a blank on how to pick it out," Daria glowered at the table.
"You're kidding," Jane said, her jaw falling open.
"Hey, we screwed up," Daria admitted. "And Earth is going to pay for it."
"No, no," she held up a hand and shook her head, "I mean you two brainy-types didn't think of the
easy way to find it?"
"Easy way?" the unnamed captain asked. The voice reminded Jane of . . .
"Uh," the blond rubbed her hands together, "yeah. Didn't you know I was here?"
"Hey," Daria interrupted, "do the reunion thing later. Do you know how to find Earth or not?"
Bringing up her hand, Jane tapped herself on the forehead with her palm twice. "Duh, radio."
"Radi . . ." Daria glared. "Crap."
"Radio." Jodie scowled.
"How does radio help?" Brittany asked.
"We can look for radio broadcasts from Earth," Jane told her. "That way we can find the
direction to go."
"I think I've been away from the old-fashioned FM band for too long," Daria admitted. "I knew
Earth didn't have subspace transmitters so I forgot to check for the ones they did have."
"Oohh," Brittany nodded. Then, standing, she said, "I'll have the scanning department get on it.
We'll have Earth located within the hour."
"We're receiving word from our overseas correspondents that other capital are now under
attack. Paris, Cairo, and Riyadh are just some of the cities now under attack from these
invaders. We'll keep you informed as long as we can, as we understand some our competing
netwo --" There was a moment of static, then the screen went dark.
"Oh my god," Helen whispered in the darkened room.
"This has got to be the worst movie I've ever seen," Jake commented. "I mean, did you see those
"Jake!" Helen snapped, "That was real!"
"Real?" He stared at her, "That couldn't be real. Things like that don't just happen, Helen."
"They do today, Jakey." Helen gave the screen one last look before her voice began to tremble,
"They do today."
Veronica watched the blank screen as the reality of what had happened began to set in. "I've got a bad feeling about this," she muttered to no one.