Chapter 2: Return to Kamino
Episode 6 Ch 2
Return to Kamino
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing - Lucas owns Star Wars, Whedon owns Buffy, Zahn owns Karrde - well, actually, I own Joyce. Boo-ya!
A/N: Thanks as always to my beta and editors Fallenstar2 and Winterd. As a special treat, I’m already working on the next chapter. I decided to finished this story before working on anything else - while it won’t be finished by the end of the year, I hope to have it finished by at least February. All in all, look for about 10 chapters.
Of course, more reviews equal faster chapters. And I promise to try and actually respond to reviews, something I haven’t been doing since FF banned responding in the stories themselves.
The stillness of space was disturbed briefly as a bright light flashed, revealing the smuggling ship Wild Karrde in its wake. The ship sped silently through space towards the frozen planet in the far side of the system.
“We’ll reach the target in about fifteen minutes,” Xander announced, sitting back in the pilots chair.
Karrde nodded, turning to his guests. Buffy, Anakin, Willow, Dawn, Obi-Wan and Joyce had taken over the various stations on the bridge; Olee Starstone, recently promoted to Master and placed in charge of the Jedi Archives, was present as well, standing next to Buffy. Karrde had given the normal crew leave, allowing the Jedi and their friends to fill in for the voyage. “Xander has been the most eager student I’ve had in quite a while. It took time to get him up to speed, but once he did…”
“Quite a departure from high school, if I remember correctly,” Buffy said dryly.
“Yeah, well your memories are a few years older, so…”
“Watch it!” Buffy teased. “So now that we’re almost here, why don’t you tell us exactly what in the Force you’ve been doing for the past few weeks?”
“It’s been a few months for me,” Xander said, gesturing at his unshaven face. “How’s Aayla been?”
“Worried,” Anakin replied. “She had an idea you’d try something like this, but still…”
“I couldn’t just sit around anymore,” Xander explained.
“Xander, you do more than that…” Buffy started, but was cut off by the carpenter.
“No, I do exactly that,” he replied. “I’m not super-strong, I can’t move things with my mind; I can punch bad guys and fix windows. And when the time comes for the Jedi to come back here - if me and Aayla get married, what would I do? I need to so something to get myself up to speed over here, otherwise I would have just been in the way.”
“Of course, he doesn’t give himself enough credit,” Karrde added. “He’s sparred with most of my crew and always does rather well. Of course, we’ve been able to teach him a few new tricks…”
“And now I can at least fly a ship like this, so I’m not completely helpless if I need to get around,” Xander finished.
“All right, so you’ve been training,” Joyce summarized. “Now what’s that have to do with my wedding present?”
“You really should have worded that differently,” Dawn groused, rolling her eyes.
“Well, it comes back to a few things I was reading about in the archives one night. There were references to a lost fleet of warships, which I thought, ‘If they could be found, could really help in the war effort’. But then I started reading more recent reports - stuff Karrde had gotten for us, to keep us up to date with what has been going on - they talked about a lost army, created in the early days of the Empire by the Kaminoans when they realized just how unnecessary they had become to the Emperor. Reports stated that they created their own army and threatened revolt, so the Emperor sent in the 501st.”
“Vader’s Fist,” Olee explained, “his elite squadron, hand-picked by the Dark Lord. Figure them to be equivalent to Earth’s Marines or the Green Berets.”
“Only this squad was led by your friend and mine, Boba Fett.”
“Makes sense,” Obi-Wan put in, “Seeing as how Boba was created on Kamino, with the rest of the clones.”
“Well, the Emperor had already started up new cloning facilities closer to home, so Kamino was no longer needed,” Xander continued. “The 501st wiped out Kamino’s army and the Emperor’s star fleet finished the job.” He gestured out the canopy to the frozen planet that was growing before them. “Behold Kamino.”
Obi-Wan stared in shock as the planet grew larger. Once a water world that had been continually wracked with storms, causing the seas to lash out harshly against the Kaminoan’s stilted cities, it was now a barren, frozen wasteland. High winds blew and endless stream of ice and snow around the world; once roiling oceans were now frozen solid. “How…”
“Well, before he had the Death Star, the Emperor had ships,” Karrde stated. “Lots and lots of ships.”
“From what we’ve been able to piece together, the Emperor called in the entire fleet and orbital bombarded the planet to such a degree that it was actually knocked off its orbit. The shift caused catastrophic, world-wide climate shifts that led to the oceans freezing. Everything - and everyone - down there died.”
“Then why would we even bother coming, if this army of yours is dead?” Joyce asked.
“Because they aren’t dead,” Karrde replied, pulling up a diagram of the planet on the main screen. “Along the equator I picked up energy readings. Upon further investigation, we discovered a Kamino cloning complex, still mostly intact, still holding thousands of Clone Troopers - in stasis.”
“There are also ships, weapons - everything you need to outfit an army,” Xander finished, but then glanced to Karrde. “Well, almost everything.”
“So what are we waiting for?” Willow asked. “Let’s go!”
Cold didn’t begin to describe it.
The small group made their way through the frozen halls of the Kamino cloning facility, working their way around collapsed halls and ice-coated floors. Several time the Jedi had to cut open doors, or cut paths through walls, just to get by obstructions caused by time and the elements.
“Have I mentioned how much I hate the cold?” Buffy asked, not for the first time, as she stepped around an outcropping of solid ice.
“Only about fifteen times in the last five minutes,” Anakin replied glibly.
“Oh, shut up.”
“Here we are!” Xander announced, coming to a stop in front of a large set of blast doors. “Master Starstone, if you would?”
Olee nodded and moved to the computer terminal, plugging her data pad into the frozen interface. After a few moments her pad beeped.
“I’m in,” she announced. “It looks like almost all of the cryo-units are still intact and operational. According to this, there are approximately…” she stopped, then looked up at her fellow Masters in shock, “a little over One Hundred Thousand troops!”
“That’s nearly a sector army!” Anakin cried. “How could Palpatine have missed all of these troops?”
“The upper complex was all but destroyed and the planetary shift wiped out any remaining life on the planet.” Karrde replied. “This complex is actually deep under water, hidden from both view and sensors. It’s doubtful they even knew it was here and, if they did, they probably thought it to be destroyed. “
“I’m getting something… there’s a message in here,” Olee stated. “It’s pretty encrypted…”
“Can you retrieve it?” Willow asked, glancing over the Jedi’s shoulder at the pad. Olee pulled it to her chest and glared back at the witch.
“That’s why they brought me,” she replied coolly.
“Down, girl,” Buffy teased, trying to lighten the atmosphere. Olee looked back to her pad abashed.
“Buffy, Olee. Call me Buffy. We’re both the same rank, now.” Buffy smirked. “Besides, hearing a kid like you call me ‘Master’ makes me feel old.”
“And somewhere in the Force, Master Windu is laughing right now,” Olee joked. “Here we go…”
Over the door, a long-neglected holo-projector flickered to life, projecting a fuzzy image of the tall, lithe Kaminoan.
“Greetings,” the recording started, the alien’s head looking slightly down to where it had assumed its audience would be standing, “My name is Lama Su; and I am the last of my people. Over the past few weeks, after the Empire finally ceased firing on our planet, our climate shifted rapidly into the sub-zero. Our oceans froze, our aiwha’s died, our cites, already weakened by the Empires’ attacks, collapsed onto the now frozen wasteland. Only those of us, hidden deep under the oceans in these bunkers, survived; though the extreme cold and increased pressure on the structures by freezing water killed many more. Now, months later, I am the last survivor.
“The Emperor thinks he destroyed all of the troops we created to fight him. He is mistaken. In this center and the other three surviving centers scattered around this now-dead world, we have amassed a new clone army, one we had hoped to send against the Empire. Alas, we cannot. We only hope, whoever had found these troops, that you have seen the destructiveness, the corruption, the sheer evilness of the Empire and will put these troops to good use. If the Jedi have found them, like I had hoped, please be aware that they have been programmed to fight against the Emperor and his Empire; no trace of Order 66 or any other executive orders remain.
“Please, use these soldiers for the purpose they were created for,” the hologram pleaded as the image began to fade. “The Empire must be destroyed! Don’t let our race be forgotten, or our sacrifices be in vain. Please.” The image flickered and faded out.
Olee shook her head as if to clear it, then tapped rapid commands onto her pad. “I’ve got the door…opening now.”
With a groan and shriek of rusted metal and shattered ice, the massive doors slid open to reveal the cavernous structure inside. Lines and lines of cryo tubes stretched for meters, all containing fully-grown clone trooper in Clone War-era armor. Rows of old blasters and other gear lay ready in their racks; and at the end of the massive hall were two Venator-class Star Destroyers.
“Those ships are fully armed, fueled and loaded with fighters and troop transports - old ARC’s and Jedi starfighters both,” Olee announced, looking at her display. “According to these readings, the fuel should still be good. We’ll need to recharge the blaster packs, though.
“How many of those Star Destroyers do we have?” Obi-Wan asked with a frown.
“It says there are two in each complex, so a total of six, if all are still operational.”
“Then we have a problem,” Obi-Wan said.
“What problem?” Buffy asked, looking askew at her friend. “We’ve just evened the odds tremendously. With these troops, we can match the Empire in troop strength.”
“Buffy, you know that it’s more than likely that we’ll be facing them in space first and foremost.” Obi-Wan replied. “We have troops - what we, or the Rebellion for that matter, don’t have is ships.”
“And there are more troops here than there are ships for them,” Willow finished. “That could be a problem.”
“Perhaps not,” Karrde put in, getting their attention. “As you know, I’m more than just a smuggler. I also happen to deal in information - and I have information that would be of particular interest to you, if the price is right.”
“What kind of information?” Anakin asked.
“And what kind of price?” Obi-Wan added.
“What would you say if I told you that I knew where you could get a fleet of warships – fully-armed and operational - just waiting for crews - though they don’t really need them.”
“What exactly are you talking about?” Willow asked, her eyes narrowed.
“The Katana Fleet.”
Willow inhaled sharply, even as Buffy let out a whistle. “I thought that fleet was destroyed,” she remarked.
“Lost, not destroyed,” Karrde corrected. “And I know where they are.”
“Those ships would definitely give us an edge against the Imperial Navy,” Anakin said, then turned to the smuggler. “What’s the price?”
“Simple,” Karrde replied. “Normally, in a situation such as this, I would tend to stay neutral. I have no interest in choosing sides or fighting for one government or another. And if the Jedi weren’t involved - and if I hadn’t developed such good trading relations with you - I would be sitting back right now, waiting to see who come out on top.
“But I have gotten involved, despite my better judgment. And I can see that the Rebellion has a very good chance of defeating the Empire and becoming the legitimate government in the galaxy. And if that were to happen, in exchange for my help here, I would want certain assurances.”
“I run an extensive operation. I’d like a guarantee that it wouldn’t be bothered - or that it wouldn’t be constrained by any rules, regulations or taxes your government would impose.”
“Done,” Anakin said.
“I’d also want to be handsomely compensated as well.”
“We can take care of that,” Buffy replied.
Karrde eyed the two Jedi warily. “You can speak for your government, just like that?”
“It helps that I’m married to a former Senator, who was friends with most of the Rebellion leadership,” Anakin joked, but then turned serious. “The Jedi always keep their word, Captain Karrde. The help you’ve given us over the past few years, even if you have been paid for it, has been enormous. We will do whatever we can to make sure that you are well compensated for your involvement, I give you my word.”
Talon stared at the Jedi for a few, long moments, then finally sighed. “Well, I had no use for the ships anyways. Let’s talk…” Karrde, Anakin, Obi-Wan and Xander moved off, talking in quiet tones. Dawn and Joyce joined Olee at inspecting the clones, which left Buffy and Willow alone at the entrance. Willow moved over to her friend.
“This will even the odds,” she spoke in hushed tones, “but it won’t be enough.”
Buffy looked at her eschew. “A hundred thousand clone troops and the freakin’ Katana Fleet aren’t enough?”
Willow shook her head. “No, it won’t. Buffy,” she gently grasped her friends shoulders, “it may win the battle, but it won’t win the war. Now, I have an idea, but I’ll need your help.”
Buffy sighed. “When we’re done here, I’m going with Dawn and Joyce back to Tatooine. Dawn and Joyce want to help Luke 'handle' negotiations with Jabba for Han’s freedom. Come with us; once we’re done there, I’ll help you. Deal?”
Willow smiled grimly. “Deal.”
On Tatooine, Luke gently placed the green crystal into the cylinder of his newly completed lightsaber. Very carefully, he selected a tool from Quinn’s kit and tested all of the connections. Satisfied, he closed the chamber and sealed it. Then hefted the weapon.
“All right, Luke,” he said softly to himself, “moment of truth. And if you blow up your hand, Leia will never let me live it down...” Gingerly, he hit the ignition switch-
And a bright beam of solid emerald light flared into existence. Luke exhaled in relief and smiled. He took a few experimental swipes, testing the weight and balance. Satisfied, he turned it off and hooked it onto his belt.
A beeping noise got his attention. Luke turned and activated the old holonet viewer. Switching it on, he saw the smiling face of his Aunt Dawn.
“Hey, squirt!” she said happily. Luke noted the steam coming off of her breath and wondered absently where she was. “Finish your lightsaber yet?”
“You do know that I am older than you, right?” Luke answered with a grin. “And yes, I’ve just finished.”
“Still got both of your hands? Don’t lie - I’ll know if you had to have another mechanical hand made.”
“Very funny. When are you due?” he asked, moving on to business.
“We should arrive in about a day,” Dawn replied. “Is everything set?”
“Lando is in place and says everything will be ready. Leia was talking about dressing as a Bounty Hunter and bringing in Chewie to get themselves inside…”
Dawn nodded. “Tell her to do it, but wait for us to arrive,” the younger Jedi smirked. “Trust me, when we’re finished, Jabba won’t ever bother Han - or any of us - again.”
“Not a very Jedi attitude,” Luke remarked.
“Well, on this mission, I’m acting more as a Watcher,” Dawn replied. “We gotta go. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Until tomorrow then. May the Force be with you.”
“”Back at’cha,” Dawn replied. “We’re out.” The image vanished from the screen. Luke turned and moved to the window and stared out at the expanse of empty desert, contemplating what tomorrow would bring.TBC…