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Chapter 4

Cold rain streamed over his face, but Jacen didn’t care. With his head turned towards the sky, he let the water stream down his face and wash away the grief he had held for far too long.

“You aren’t angry cause we are leaving right when you need us?” He said, turning around to face his uncle.
“No. You need time to heal and to be with your family. Just go.” Luke Skywalker replied.

Unlike Jacen, he had his hood pulled over his head.
Lightnings sparkled across the almost black sky, occasionally lighting the Jedi Masters face.

“What about Brakiss?” Jacen asked.
Luke seemed to look into the future when he answered quietly. “You’ll be back when he attacks.”

* * * *

Jacen entered his room and took off his wet clothes. Of course, the rain had only stopped after they had gone inside again.
Now, the black clouds were slowly disappearing over the horizon and the sun started to warm him the jungle again.

He quickly changed and packed a bag. They’d go home.

A knocking on the door sounded loudly through the room when Jacen was feeding his various animals.

Anakin’s head appeared, grinning broadly.
“Ready, big brother?”
“Almost done.” Jacen replied, giving the last animal it’s exotic food.
“Do you’ve already found someone who’ll take care of them while we’re away?”
“No…..That won’t be necessary.” Jacen assured him.

He opened the cage of his crystal snake first and lifted the barely visible animal up. It wrapped itself around his arm and he sent calming thoughts into it’s little mind. Slowly, he opened the door and went through the corridors till he was standing outside. Then, he laid his friend down on the ground.

“Thanks for the time you’ve spent with me. You are free now, live in peace.”

In the next hour, Jacen set all of his animals free, feeling great peace coming over him as he let go of them.
They had found their freedom and so had he.
* * * * *

“Do you want to take one of your friends with you?” His mother asked when Jacen entered the ship with his bag. He hesitated, but smiled happily then and went to look for his friends after he had set down his bag.

Lowie has found easily, right in the hangar of the temple. He roared something that Jacen interpreted as a yes, though MTD gave a very long and polite answer that went over his head.

Tenel Ka was more difficult to find. It took Jacen twenty minutes, but finally he spotted her from one of the temple’s great chamber windows.
She was jogging through the forest on a direction away from the temple.

Jacen hurried down and ran right into the wood. He had to use his force senses to find her between all the trees and animals. However, he was already out of breath when he’d reached her.

“Tenel….Ka…?” He asked between his breaths.
“Yes, Jacen, my friend?”
She wasn’t even breathing heavily, he noticed.
“Would you….like to come…with…my family…to Coruscant?”
The young dathomarian warrior considered it without slowing down. Jacen wished she just would. He knew he couldn’t keep running any longer.

“Fact. I’d like to go with you.” With that, Tenel Ka changed the direction and headed back to the temple, still jogging.

“Tenel….Ka?”
“Yes, my friend?”
“Could…..we please…..slow down…a bit?”

The girl turned her head towards him and really slowed down till they were walking strolling.

“Sitting around for so long has been bad for your condition.” She noted.
“Seems….so.” Jacen said.
“Fact.” Tenel Ka agreed.
Jacen rolled his eyes.

* * * * *

Zekk sprinted through the dark.
Kriff. Who are these guys?

The abruptly turned right and into a side street.
Coruscant’s underlevels were full of secret ways and till today, he had thought he would be the only one who knew the streets down here so good.

He entered an abandoned building through it’s broken door and left it at the other side through it’s pen.

What do they want from me?

He stumbled, but caught himself and run even faster. Behind him, he could hear the footsteps of his pursuers.

Zekk risked a glance back. All tens were still behind him.

Jumping left, into a gap between two skyscrapers, he hurried down the stairs that lay hidden there. They weren’t visible from the street he’d just left and he really hoped his pursuers wouldn’t follow him there.

In front of him lay an opened square that he’d last visited with his friends, the Solo children. All sorts of junk were forming a wall that blocked the way, but Zekk knew how to get through it.

He had barely reached the center of the square when a cloaked figure emerged from an opening in the hull of an old freighter – the hidden way out and Zekk’s only chance to escape.

“What do you want from me?” Zekk shouted at the figure. When he heard the footsteps behind him stopping, he whirled around.
With the dark person in front of him they were thirteen to one now.

Not good. He decided.

The shadowy figures surrounded him and came nearer. Zekk didn’t like it.

“Who are you?” He screamed afraid at the person that had come through his secret exit.

“Don’t you recognize me? Zekk, Zekk, Zekk…..I had expected more from an old friend.”
The voice of the person in the black robe caused Zekk to take a step back. He shivered though he was sweating from the pursuit.

“Jaina?”

* * * * *

“Why don’t we visit my friend Zekk?” Jacen suggested after lunch.
His friends agreed, hoping to do something that was more exiting than listening to C-3PO’s and MTD’s conversation about what their owners called “irony” and how it confused the two droids.

“Mum, we’ll visit Zekk.” Jacen announced when they passed by their parents room.
“Okay.”

They left the Solo’s apartment and made their way into the lower levels of the capital, taking lifts and occasionally stairs downwards.
Jacen’s mouth worked the whole time, telling Tenel Ka and Lowbacca everything about Zekk and the adventures the twins did have with him.

After that, he tried to make Tenel Ka laugh by telling her one of his jokes, but she seemed to pay more attention to their environment.

“…..how you can find a Sith-Lord without using the force?” He was asking her now.
“I’m sorry, Jacen, my friend. I have no idea.” Tenel Ka stayed alert and examined every dark corner they passed by.
And there were a lot of them.

“You just have to follow the dead bodies!” Jacen said triumphantly.

This time, even Lowie groaned.

They reached an old building and Jacen entered it without hesitating.
“Strange. Zekk said we should meet him here if we’re back and want a tour into the lower levels.”
He looked around worried.

“It looks like your friend isn’t here, Jacen.” Tenel Ka commented dryly.
“That’s a fact.” Jacen said, using her saying. He didn’t even seem to notice the angry stare she gave him – or more, his back.

Under Jacen’s lead, they left again and spent the next five hours looking for Zekk in the labyrinth of the Coruscant’s lower levels.
It was already dark when Lowie said that he felt uncomfortable.

All three stopped and looked at each other unsure.

“It isn’t like Zekk not to show up when we are waiting for him.” Jacen murmured.
“Something isn’t right, I can feel it.” Tenel Ka agreed.
Lowie roared his approval.
“Wait….Last time Jaina and I were walking around with Zekk, we’ve found a square with lots of junk. Zekk might be checking that place again.” Jacen said.
“Do you still know where this place is?” Tenel Ka asked.
Lowie added that all squares they had seen on their way had been full of junk.

“Yeah, I’m sure.” Jacen replied.

Three lifts further and two more stairs down they reached the secret stairs and jumped them down.
All three froze in their movement at the scene in front of them. One, a black cloaked figure, was just disappearing through an opening in the remains of a freighter, while ten more figures in black combat suits were standing around Zekk’s unconscious body.
Two lifted him up.

Jacen wanted to shout at them, but Lowie pulled him back into the shadow at the bottom of the stairs.
“No, my friend. They have blaster rifles.” Tenel Ka explained to him. Out of nowhere, two small knifes appeared in her hands and she dropped into a defense posture, bringing her body between her friends and the figures.
Luckily, the latter hadn’t noticed them yet and one after another, crawled into the freighter.

“We can’t just sit here and let them kidnap him!” Jacen said, fighting against Lowie’s grip on his arms.
“We’ll follow him.” Tenel Ka assent him.

She counted down a minute and then followed the figures. Lowie released Jacen and both followed her carefully.

They had to crawl through the opening in the freighter and found themselves in the mountain of rubbish. Over and on both side was junk.

Jacen was relieved he had his friends with him, he felt better with them at his side. Alone, he would have never gone into the junk hill.

They reached the end of the “hill” just in time to see the figures enter a ship that was standing on the middle of the street.

“NO!” Jacen screamed when the ship began to lift off and the ramp was slowly closing. Tenel Ka and Lowie had problems to hold him back.
Inside the ship, he could see Zekk’s body being dragged away and the figure that had been the first to disappear standing at the top of the ramp, supervising everything.
The figure in the black robe turned around when it heard him scream.

It had it’s hook pulled on and nothing of it’s face was visible except for a glimmer of light in it’s eyes.

Jacen heart stopped beating when he looked into his own eyes.

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