RIFTS: A Daria/Star Wars Crossover

By: Ranger Thorne

Part Two

Clement walked into the throne room, then knelt before her Master. As she waited to be noticed, she basked in the power that radiated from him. "Rise, my loyal apprentice," he finally said. She stood as commanded. "You have news?" he asked without rising.

"The last of the major governments have fallen as you instructed, my Master. Only the smaller, less significant countries remain. And we will have them under our control within the week."

"Why so long?"

"There are many countries on this world. Some seem smaller than this ship. It is merely a matter of volume." She sighed. "Another sign of how archaic these Earthers are."

"Yes," he nodded. "But don't forget that their archaic nature gives them advantages as well. Advantages I will put to my own uses." He chuckled, "They are strong, and I will bend their strength to building my empire. Their strong backs will give me the ships I need to conquer two galaxies, while I turn their anger at being conquered upon each other." Turning his chair, Tyran looked out of the window and down at the planet circling below. "The homeworld of that traitorous Frost and her entourage is mine to do with what I please." Suddenly, he turned to his apprentice. "It bothers you that I mention her."

Clement began to protest, then nodded as she dropped her eyes. "Yes, my Master. She was unworthy of you."

"Because she betrayed me or because she held the place you thought was rightfully yours?"

After a pause, she admitted, "Both, my Master. What I worked so hard to attain she seemed to be given."

"I see." He looked away. "Your jealousy for the power she held is of no concern to me as long as it does not interfere with you doing your job. And do not concern yourself, for I have plans for her family that will more than even the score between myself and my former apprentice."

He didn't turn as he asked, "Now, have you found this 'Lawndale' as I instructed?"

"I received the report from your agent a few minutes ago. We found Lawndale. Not only that," her smile was not comforting, "but the agent was able to find the parents of my predecessor. And," she held out a portable reader, "there was a surprise."

Tyran read the message, then looked up at his apprentice. "Has he double checked his findings?"

"He is waiting for confirmation as we speak, Master."

"They have a third child." The Sith Lord looked away as he thought for a long moment. Finally, he turned to Clement. "When I conquer this galaxy, I will return to our own with a fleet able to destroy that pathetic Republic. When I do, I will want you beside me. For that," he smiled, "I will need to have someone loyal to remain here." He held out the reader, "I believe this girl will do nicely."

"Master, I don't understand," Clement said as she took the reader.

"I will have years to train her in obedience," he explained. "She will be loyal to me in every way. Unlike her sister, this girl will be broken." He held up a clenched fist as he continued, "I will not resort to implants, but instead will crush her will in a way I have not done before." He looked at Clement, "Bring her to me. I will test her to see if she has the same strength in the Force as her sisters. If so, she will learn to serve me."

"And if not?"

"Then she will be of no use to me." He waved a hand, "You can have her for sport, if you wish."

Clement bowed low, "Thank you, my Master. I will see she is brought before you at once."


"Well, we're here," Jane grumbled as the ship came to a relative stop. She and the others were standing on the bridge of the frigate, watching as the blur of hyperspace was replaced by the blackness of sub light space. "Now what?" she added.

"From what our advance teams picked up, Tyran is already well on his way to conquering Earth," Jodie said. She was leaning against a rail with her arms crossed.

"And we don't have the firepower to stop them," Brittany continued.

"Not to mention that a Star Destroyer is capable of laying waste to a planet from orbit." Jane sighed, then joined Jodie against the rail.

"And people use to call me a 'Misery Chick,'" Daria said as she shook her head. "Look, it's obvious we can't go toe-to-toe with a Star Destroyer. But, we have a major advantage."

"We do?" Quinn asked, looking at her.

"Despite whatever you might have told Tyran, we are from here. We have family and history with this planet." Looking at Brittany, she asked, "Captain Taylor, what can you tell me about the differences between how the Republic or Empire would fight a guerilla war versus the techniques that would be used on Earth?"

Brittany scowled as she thought. At first, she rubbed her hands together, but then smirked and reached up to twirl a lock of blond hair. The longer she did, the more the smirk became a grin. Finally, she looked at Daria and said, "No comparison. Earth guerillas are much more vicious. Where someone from the Republic might blow up a school, on Earth, secondary explosions would be set to get the rescue workers."

"Great example," Jodie commented dryly.

"Hey, I call them like I see them," Brittany replied.

"What I want to know is how are we gonna get down there?" Quinn asked.

"We?" Jane, Jodie, Daria and Brittany asked together.

"Yes, 'we,'" Quinn answered. "Like, it's my planet, too."

"Quinn, it could be dangerous," Daria began.

"Yeah, but this is my fault!"

"What?" Daria's eyes went wide. "How is this your fault?"

"If I hadn't told him about Earth, he'd never thought to come here." Quinn sighed, "I must have given him the idea or something. So you see, this is my fault. I have to fix it."

"It's not your fault, Quinn," Jodie argued. "We were all questioned about Earth when we arrived. And I'm sure he had access to all of that information."

"Besides," Daria said, her voice becoming a growl, "I'm pretty sure he had something to do with us being there in the first place." Jodie and Quinn nodded, but Jane looked confused.

"How did you make that connection?" Jane asked.

"He showed up awful fast to not know something was up," Jodie commented.

"Yeah," Quinn nodded. "And he, like hinted at it sometimes when I was with him." She shivered, "God, I can't believe I let him turn me away from everyone like that."

"You didn't know how to stop him," Daria reminded her. "But, now," she looked at the stars outside the ship, "you do." After a moment, she nodded, then turned to her sister, "You're right, Quinn, you do need to go. We all do."


Tyran had only been on the bridge of the Star Destroyer Indolent three times. Each time was for a major occasion, such as going through the rift. For him to suddenly appear was, for the officers on duty, unsettling. Sith, after all, had a habit of killing any officer who displeased them.

He stopped by a sensor operator. "Are there any unusual ships in the area?"

"No, sir," came the reply. "Although . . ."

"Although what, Lieutenant.?"

"I got a report from a TIE fighter a few minutes ago about a Tyderian Shuttle on the far side of the planet. He reported that they weren't responding to hails."

"And no one thought this was odd?" The Sith Lord looked around.

"My Lord," the ship's second officer said, trying to sound calm, "we had a shuttle in that area. The pilot of the fighter reported that its markings were ours, so I have a repair order put in for the --" he grasped at his neck as his breathing stopped.

"That shuttle," Tyran growled, "contained my old apprentice. I felt her presence. Now she and probably her Jedi sister have made it to Earth." As the man struggled for breath, Tyran turned to the sensor operator, "Lieutenant, it would seem I have a vacancy for second officer. That post is now yours." The body fell to the deck. "Contact Darth Clement, then patch her through to me."

"Yes, Lord Tyran," the officer stood and bowed at the waist. He waited until the Sith was gone before he turned to two junior officers and said, "Get this garbage off the bridge."


"You sure that worked?" Jane asked Daria as they stepped out of the trees.

"Jane, even if it didn't it bought us enough time. Besides, all I did was the same thing we do when we convince the weak-minded to agree with us." Daria adjusted her green jacket, "Just when I get use to one outfit, I'm suddenly changing them."

"Well, I think you made the right choice in clothing," Jane commented.

"I just can't figure out how you managed to keep that shirt all this time," Daria complained. Jane, too, had abandoned her Jedi outfit. Instead of her robe and tunic, she had donned a black V-necked T-shirt with a red man's dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up. The shirt was long enough to hide the lightsaber on the belt of her now-untucked black pants.

"It was a memento of my misspent youth," Jane replied. "Your saber okay in there?"

"I'm just not used to carrying it in a shoulder holster," Daria explained. She tugged at the collar of her black T-shirt, "It keeps pulling my collar against the back of my neck."

"You think it'll pull down far enough to see your boobs?" Jane asked with a smirk.

"I hate you."

"At least I get to wear something normal," Quinn commented as she came up alongside Jane. She had on blue slacks and long blue jacket over a pink shirt.

"I'm still not sure about this," Jodie said from behind Daria. She had on her black under tunic with a black pleated skirt. Her usual brown boots had been replaced with a black pair.

"It's longer than the skirt you use to wear in school," Daria pointed out.

"I was younger, then," Jodie grumbled.

"I think you look great," Mack said as he put an arm around her waist. He had on his uniform pants and boots, as well as a borrowed white undershirt with a long black jacket.

"You're supposed to say that," she reminded him. Then, she leaned over and kissed him, "Thanks for saying it anyway."

"We'll need to avoid diabetics," Jane observed to Daria as the couple scowled at her.

"And any stormtroopers or spies," Daria added.

"You think there'll be spies?" Quinn asked.

"What do you think?" her sister replied.

Frowning, the redhead nodded, "Yeah. He'll be looking for Mom and Dad."

"That and we all came from here," Mack added. "And it was more than one person from Lawndale who upset his plans last time."

"Just try to not blow up the planet this time," Jane said to Jodie.

"Very funny," came the reply.

"We need to get under some cover," Mack reminded them. It's been so long I'm a little disoriented. Where are we, again?"

"The railroad tracks use to run over there," Jane pointed.

"Like, wasn't Lover's Lane over there?" Quinn pointed slightly South of the direction Jane had pointed.

"Uh, yeah," Jane agreed.

"And here I thought you'd never been there," Daria raised an eyebrow at her sister.

"Hey, I never stayed long. As soon as my date pulled up, I got out and walked home. I mean, it's not that far." Suddenly, she looked at Daria and said, "Oh, no. What are we gonna tell Mom and Dad?"

"Who says we're telling them anything?"

"Daria, we have to tell them something." Quinn suddenly looked like a teenager who had just been caught.

"Quinn, you are twenty-seven years old. It's a little late for Mom and Dad to ground you. Besides," Daria started walking, "we don't have to tell them anything if we don't see them."

"Don't see them?" Quinn got in front of her sister. "Daria, we can't just ignore them. They think we're dead or something."

"And showing up on their doorstep after all this time will help matters how? They'll think we've just been off on our own somewhere."

"Daria," Jodie spoke up, "we all vanished together, remember?"

"Yeah, amiga," Jane nudged Daria gently with an elbow, "we're all in this together."

"And I do want to see my family," Jodie admitted.

"Me, too," Mack added. "I mean, I think my Dad will be proud of the fact that I've got my own squadron." He smiled at his wife, "And I finally got Jodie to marry me."

"Okay," Daria acquiesced as she rolled her eyes at the kissing MacKenzies, "if we get the chance, we'll go see Mom and Dad."

"That's great," Quinn hugged her for a second, then let go.

"You know," Jane spoke up again, "I think my house is closest."

"If Trent still lives there," Daria added.

"He'll be there," Jane told her with a smirk. "I hid his car keys before I left."

Daria started to reply, then stopped herself. As the group started to walk away, Mack said, "You don't think I'm gonna carry all this myself, do you?" Turning, they saw a small pile of backpacks sitting at his feet.

"Uh, sorry," Daria said as she grabbed one.

"Yeah," Quinn agreed.

Once they had all lifted their packs, they started walking.


"What is thy bidding, my Master?" Clement asked the miniature version of the Sith Lord.

"A shuttle bearing my former apprentice has reached the surface," Tyran told her. "I suspect that her Jedi friends are with her. They will have landed in Lawndale, and will attempt to reach her parents before you. Leave them something to remember their trip by." The screen went blank.


"So," Quinn came up alongside Jane, "you think your brother will, like, freak out?"

"Trent? Freak out?" Jane smirked, "Nah. He'll say, 'Hey, Janey,' as I walk in the door, then go back to sleep on the couch. Unless," she glanced at Daria, "he sees her. Then he'll get up."

"Shut up, Jane," Daria instructed. "That was a long time ago. Besides, he's probably married to that girl you told me about."

"Monique?" Jane thought about it. "Yeah, I could see that. With me gone, he'd marry her or get a puppy."

"I like puppies," Quinn mused.

"Whaddya know," Mack said, pointing, "they still come here to make out." Several cars of unknown design were sitting along the edge of an abandoned quarry.

"And somewhere over there, a Ruttheimer is taking pictures," Daria stated.

"Better of them than of us," Jane reminded her. "Come on, let's get to good ol' Casa Lane."


With a sigh, Jane turned the knob and opened the door. "He's never locked a door in his life," Jane whispered. Stepping inside, she reached for the light switch. Incandescent light spilled forth, revealing an empty room. The carpeting had been replaced with hardwood flooring and the walls had been painted a soft tan.

"Uh, oh," Jane muttered. "Trent?" she called out. When there was no answer, she called out again, "Trent? Dammit, Trent, answer me!"

"Maybe he's out?" Jodie suggested.

"Could be," Jane admitted just before charging up the stairs. Turning the corner, she stopped as she reached the familiar door that led to the room she had slept in her last night on Earth. With a trembling hand, she started to reach for the knob, but stopped herself. "Find your brother, Lane," she admonished. Then, still watching her own door, she moved down the hall. At another door, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes.

You're a Jedi, she reminded herself, act like one. Reaching out, she reached out and took the knob in her hand. Opening her eyes again, she turned the knob and pushed.

"Daria," Quinn said, "you think someone should go check on her?"

"Uh," Daria looked dubiously at the stairs, "she'll be fine?"


"Jane?" Daria led the charge up the stairs, followed closely by Jodie, both with drawn lightsabers. As they turned down the hall, they stopped.

With her eyes wide, Jane was staring down the hall in their direction. The door was pulled closed, but Jane still had her hand on the knob.

"Jane," Daria approached her, "are you okay?"

"Huh?" Jane blinked, then seemed to come out of her trance. "Oh, hi."

"Jane," Jodie asked, "what happened?"

"Oh, that." She shrugged, "I saw my brother naked in bed with some girl." Daria then noticed that the door to the room was moving as if someone on the other side was trying to open in.

"Uh, shouldn't you let them out?"

"No," Jane shook her head and smiled. "Not until I'm sure they're dressed."

Leaning close to the door, Daria called out, "Are you dressed?" Someone pounded on the door a few times, then the movement of the door stopped.

"Are you sure it was Trent?" Daria asked as she and Jane stepped back from the door.

"He looked a little older, but it was -- Trent!" The door had flown open, revealing an upset Trent Lane. He had on a pair of red boxers with guitar shapes in white on them.

The man Jane knew had aged in the time she had been away. His hair was now cut short, and, although mussed by sleep, looked like it was normally neatly combed. His lean frame now had a harder look to it, as if he exercised regularly. The goatee he had sported, however, was unchanged except for the couple of gray hairs in it.

"What are you doing in my house?" he demanded.

"Trent?" Jane looked at him and waved, "Uh, hi. How are things with you?"

Trent looked at her. Then, he blinked and looked at her. Finally, he rubbed his eyes and stared at her. "Jane?"

"Yep. Got it on the first try."

"JANE!" Grabbing his sister in a hug, Trent spun her around in the narrow hall. The two held onto each other tightly for a long moment before he put her down. "Where have you been? What happened? When'd you get back?"

"Easy, big brother," Jane smiled as she held up a hand. "One explanation at a time. Oh, let me introduce everyone. You remember Daria," she pointed to her.

"Daria?" Trent's smiled widened a little and he hugged her.

"Trent . . . air . . . breathing good," Daria mumbled.

"Sorry," he backed off and smirked. "It's good to see you, Daria."

A slight flush appeared on her cheeks, "Uh, you, too, Trent."

"And this is Quinn, Daria's sister."

"Hey," Trent held out a hand. As Jane introduced the rest of them, he shook their hands as well. When they finished, he looked at Jane and said, "I have someone I want you to meet. Wait here." Slipping inside, he closed the door gently.

"Any guesses who the girl is?" Daria whispered to Jane.

"Don't know," Jane replied. "She stayed in the room, though. Even hid behind the door."

The door opened, allowing Trent to all but shove a woman ahead of him into the hall. She was dressed in a white bathrobe like one would get at a nice hotel. The initials 'BL' were stenciled onto the left side of the chest. She was very nervous and kept leaning back against Trent. Her sandy blond hair was long, reaching nearly to her waist. As she looked the group over, her green eyes seemed to be looking for a friendly face. When they centered on Jane, they widened. She stepped away from Trent enough to turn and look up at him.

Instead of speaking, Trent brought up his hands and began to gesture. When he finished, the woman looked at Jane again, then back to Trent before she made gestures of her own.

"She's deaf," Daria said.

"Yeah," Trent looked from the woman to Daria. "Since birth." He looked down at the woman, then began to sign as he spoke. "Janey, Daria, this is my wife, Belinda Lane. Bee, this is my sister Jane." Belinda looked at Jane and gave a nervous smile. The smile was repeated as Trent introduced the rest of them.

"So," Jane looked at the woman, "how long you been married?"

The woman looked at Trent, who said, "Four years." He signed something to his wife, ending it by holding up four fingers.

"Cool." She glanced at her brother and asked, "How do I say 'welcome to the family?'"

Trent signed something slowly. When he finished, Belinda looked at Jane. Smiling, the Jedi repeated the gesture. Then, she held her hands out to her sister-in-law. Instead of taking her hands, the woman moved in and hugged Jane.

"I always knew you were a sentimental pile of mush, Lane," Daria told her friend as she smirked.

"Bite me," Jane replied. When the hug ended, Jane kept an arm around Belinda's shoulders. "Trent," she asked, "could you tell this woman that Daria a misery chick?"

"Not if he wants to live," Quinn stated.

Trent laughed, then signed something. A silent chuckle came from his wife.

"Look," Jane let her go, "we're going to go downstairs so you can get dressed. When you're ready, I'll give you the short form of what happened, okay?"

"Cool." Trent glanced down the hall. "Uh, Janey," he said, his voice dropping, "I think you should know something about your room."

"Uh, oh. Is it bad?"

"Sorta." He put a hand on Belinda's shoulder as he met his sister's eyes. "When Mom and Dad found out about the bus exploding, they got rid of a lot of your stuff."

"Define 'a lot.'"

"I kept some of your brushes and some of your clothes. They're in the attic in a box." He shrugged, "Dad turned it into a darkroom."

"Well," Jane looked at the door down the hall, "I guess I can't blame them. I mean . . . crap." She bit her lip and sighed. "How long after I left did it happen?"

"About six months."

"I guess that's a suitable mourning period." She shrugged, "Oh, well. I've been away, so it's to late to worry about it, now. Besides," she smiled, "I got a new sister-in-law to annoy."

"There's that smokey gray lining again," Daria commented.

As the others waited in the empty living room, Jane stepped into what had once been her bedroom. Her bed and belongings were gone, while the heavy drapes remained. A couple of tables had been set up, and a sink had been installed. Negatives were in a file cabinet that was now in the closet. A case had been set up where her bed had been. Behind closed glass doors were cameras that had once been stored in her father's closet. Jane stood in the center of the room and bowed her head.

"I think I preferred it the way it used to be."

"You think so, amiga?" Jane glanced around to see her best friend leaning on the door frame. "I kinda like the case. Think of the paints I could have avoided mixing by mistake."

"And yet you always found something to paint with it." Daria sighed, then said, "Hurts like hell, doesn't it?"

"Not as much as that, but yeah, it hurts." Jane wiped the lone tear that had escaped her eye. "I've been tortured, poisoned, nearly drowned and dumped out of a ship while miles above the planet. But this," she gestured to indicate the room, "this seems to be the worst that's been done to me."

"They thought you were dead," Daria reminded her. "They thought we were all dead."

"Only six months," Jane muttered. Then, she sighed. "You know, it's likely they didn't even know about it until it had been six months."

"It wouldn't help if it had been six years, Jane."

"I know." Jane smirked as she turned and walked to join her friend, "But I was taking the opportunity to feel sorry for my sad self."

"Ah," Daria nodded. "You mean it's time for the biannual grump-fest."

"Well, we're a few months early, but the opportunity was just too great to pass up." Reaching her friend, she nudged her lightly with an elbow, "You know, it's just as well. My home isn't here anymore." Looking up, she went on, "It's out there. I've missed Trent, but I'm already missing being home."

"You do know you're sick, right? Especially if you're calling those little closets they give us on Yavin a home." An evil gleam appeared in Daria's eye, "Or is it a certain Senator that you're really missing?"

"Well," Jane blushed, "he might have a little to do with it."

"I knew it couldn't be the accommodations on Yavin."

"Hey, it's a place to sleep. I mean, we can't all have our own starship."

"You have your own ship, Daria?" Trent's voice came from behind them. "Cool."

"You don't think that's odd?" Daria asked, turning to see him and Belinda standing there. They both had on jeans, with Trent having on a polo shirt with 'Radioactive Hangover' on the pocket on the left. Belinda had on a dark gray dress shirt with a black T-shirt under it. Black boots were on Trent's feet, with black sneakers on Belinda's.

"You haven't seen the news, have you?" he asked.

"Uh, you mean the takeover of Earth?" Daria sighed, "I guess it's pretty obvious they're not from around here."

"Belinda pointed it out," Trent said, smiling proudly at his wife as he signed the conversation.

"How'd you two meet, anyway?" Jane asked.

"We had the same English class at Lawndale State," he explained.

"Wait," Jane held up a hand, "you went to college?"

"Hey, the Spiral broke up. Besides, I was sick of doing the townie thing. So," he shrugged, "I decided to become a teacher." He smiled again at Belinda, who was signing something back. Whatever it was, he was blushing.

"Uh, oh," Jane grinned, "someone's being naughty."

"Uh," he smiled weakly, "she was just saying that I'm a good teacher."

"Sure she did, Trent," Daria mock-agreed. "It was probably a comment on what you've been teaching."

"Um," Trent tried to think of a response, then gave up. "Let's go downstairs."

"You do know there's no furniture down there, right?" Jane asked.

"Yeah, we moved everything into the basement so we could have the floor redone."

"It looks good," Jane told him. "Although I'm surprised you went with hardwood instead of carpet."

"Belinda can feel someone coming on a hard floor," he explained. "Otherwise she gets snuck up on all the time."

"Ah," Jane nodded.

"That makes sense," Daria agreed. "So, what do your parents think of what you're doing to the place?"

"I almost never see them. I think they live in Arizona, but they haven't told me anything for sure." Trent frowned, "Belinda and I both wanted to stay here and teach." He watched as his wife signed something, then said, "Yeah, that's right. We're thinking of buying it from them. We want a house big enough for the family we want to have. "

"Must be the private lessons," Jane said, glancing at Daria and smirking.

"Lots of extra credit," Daria added.

"Very funny," Trent commented with a blush and a scowl.

Quinn appeared at the top of the stairs, "Guys, a ship just flew overhead. It looked like it was slowing down." She frowned, "I've got a bad feeling about that ship. We need to stop it."


"Yes, Mom," Helen was talking into the phone. "No, Veronica is here, reading." She looked to the couch where her daughter was stretched out with a magazine lying on her chest. Her eyes were staring at the ceiling as if waiting for it to move. "Yes, I'm surprised the phones are working, too." She smiled at Jake as he handed her a cup of coffee and mouthed the words, "thank you," to him.

As she continued to talk, Jake walked over so that he was looking down at Veronica. "You okay, smidget?"

"Other than the mental trauma of trying to live down the nickname, 'smidget,'" she told him with a grin.

"Hey," he grinned back, "you can blame your Aunt Amy for that."

"I know. And I've taken every chance to bug her about it." She sighed, "Dad, you ever feel like life was just waiting for the chance to jump out from behind a tree and go 'boo!?'"

"Oh, yeah," he scowled. "Like when you want to go to tennis camp and, suddenly, you end up going to military school. Lousy old crazy bastard! Thought I needed to be made a man!"

"Jake!" Helen had a hand over the mouthpiece of the phone. "Remember your blood pressure, dear. It might be a while before we can get more of your medicine."

"I'm okay," he told her. Looking back down at Veronica, he spoke in his normal voice again, "Anyway, it always seems that just when you know what life is going to do, it does something else." He frowned, "Why, you think something's going to happen?"

"I just," she sat up. "Dad, I feel like I should be getting ready to leave and never come back."

"What?" He sat next to her and put an arm around her shoulder, "You're not going anywhere, Ronni. Why would you think that?"

"Well," she gestured toward the blank screen of the TV, "with what's going on in the world, I guess I just feel like," she shrugged, "I don't know. I just feel odd. Like something wonderful and terrible is about to happen."


After charging down the stairs and into the back yard, Daria and Jane stared at the slowing ship as it began to orient itself over an unseen target on the ground.

"Daria, that looks like about where your house is," Jane told her.

"Crap." Daria sighed, then turned to Jane, "I think you're right."

"Come on, Daria," Quinn said, moving toward the street. "Like, who knows what they're doing, now."


"Hey," Jake said, standing, "what's that noise?"

"Sounds like someone is bouncing marbles off of the sidewalk," Veronica commented, sitting up.

"It's getting louder," Helen noted as she put down the legal brief she knew would never get to a court.

Without a warning, the windows into the living room shattered, causing the family to hide their faces as glass flew by them. Less than a second later, the door came off its hinges as it was blasted inward, the wood remaining intact until it slammed into the stair railing. Before it had hit the ground, white-clad stormtroopers charged into the home.

Bypassing the parents, the first stormtrooper grabbed Veronica roughly by the arm. "Let her go!" Jake yelled as he grabbed the man and pulled him to the ground. Two other troopers grabbed him and pulled him away from their companion. With a yell, he shoved one away, wrestling the man's weapon out of his hands in the process. 

Realizing the trooper's intent, Helen grabbed her daughter and shoved her toward the back door. "Ronni, run!" she called. As Veronica threw open the door and fled, her mother turned and saw two troopers converging on her. Scooping up her briefcase from beside the loveseat, she slammed it into the head of the first one, sending him flat onto his back. The second one grabbed the briefcase and wrenched it roughly from her grasp, causing her to cry out in pain.

Seeing only that his family was in danger, Jake had opened fire with the blaster. He had already taken down four of the invaders, and was about to fire again when he heard his wife. Spinning, he shot the trooper who was holding her briefcase, hitting the attacker in the back of the head. Jake was turning to find another target when a blaster bolt caught him between the shoulder blades. The blaster slipped from his numbing hands as he fell first to his knees, then over onto his side.

"NOO!" Helen screamed as she dove for her husband, just missing keeping his head from hitting the carpet. "Jakey?" she asked. Looking up, she saw the trooper in the window had raised his blaster. Helen saw the blaster her husband had dropped by her leg and reached for it. Her scream of rage startled the trooper long enough for her to bring up the blaster. Helen pulled the trigger once before it was ripped from her hands by an invisible force.

"Well, well," came a calm voice, "what have we here?" The blaster floated into the hands of a woman in a long black robe that had stepped through the door. Pulling back the hood, Clement looked at the weapon in her hand with disgust. Dropping it, she wiped her hand on her robe as she approached Helen.

"Sorry about the mess," Clement said. "We were in the neighborhood and thought we'd stop by to take your daughter for a ride. Or," she smirked, "to be honest, to just take her."

"Leave her alone," Helen ordered. "She's all I have left, thanks to you."

"Oh, please," Clement waved a hand as she rolled her eyes. "I've been threatened by people who actually thought they could do something. You do not impress me. Now," she held a hand out slightly, "where's the girl?"

Helen gritted her teeth as her throat constricted. As she clawed at her neck, trying to remove whatever was choking her, her eyes remained locked on the woman in front of her.

"Nothing to say?" Clement lowered her hand, and Helen fell to her knees, gasping for air. "I guess we can do this another way, then," the Sith said with a shrug. She gestured and sent Helen slamming into the entertainment center. "Where is your youngest daughter? I can keep this up all night." When Helen didn't respond, the blond smirked, "Have it your way, then."


Veronica came out three houses down from her own. Looking back, she could see a large gray shape had landed in front of her house. More white figures were coming out of it, but were beginning to spread out. They're looking for me! She realized. What did I do? Frightened, she turned to run, only to be stopped by the hands of the person she was about to run into.

"Aunt Amy?"

"Excuse me?" The woman asked.

"I-I thought you were my Aunt Amy," Veronica told her. "You look like her."

"Amy Barksdale?"

"Yeah. You know her?" The moment seemed surrealistic, as if time had stopped.

"She's my aunt." Daria looked at the girl. She's got Quinn's hair color, but I can see some Barksdale in her, too. Who is this? "What's your name?"

"Veronica," the girl answered, "Veronica Morgendorffer." Turning, she pointed toward the troopers, "They broke into the house and I think they killed my parents and now they're after me. What did I do?" The fear and worry suddenly hit her. Tears began to roll down her cheeks and she began to shake.

"Stop it!" Daria grabbed her shoulders and gave her a shake. "You don't have time for that right now. You need to be strong for Mom and Dad." Pointing back the way she came, Daria said, "You go down that way until you get to a yellow house with a mobile hanging in the yard."

"You mean Mr. Lane's house?"

"You know Trent?"

"He's my teacher at school."

"Uh, okay. Yeah, go to his house. Ask for Jane. Tell her your name and that Daria said --"


"Yes, it's me." Daria brought her nose close to the girl she strongly suspected was her sister, "I need you to tell Jane I said to keep you safe. Can you do that for me, sis?"

"Yeah," Veronica nodded. "I can do that. But what about --"

"You let me worry about the rest of it." Daria stood up and looked toward the troopers. "I promise I'll be okay. You just get out of here." She took two steps before turning back and waving a hand as she said, "Go!"

Daria watched the redhead run down the street before looking into the shadows and saying, "You know, you could have told her you were there."

"I," Quinn stepped out of the shadow as she watched the girl run. "Daria, is she . . . ?"

"We'll find out later," Daria said, pulling her lightsaber from her jacket. "Right now, someone is going to pay for making a mess of our house."

Helen could taste blood, and every breath hurt. Something was beneath her hand, so she grabbed it. The familiar feel caused her to look over and see that it was Jake's sleeve. Back beside Jakey, she thought. Where I've been for how many years, now? God, it hurts to think. A shadow crossed her vision, causing her to look up and see the couch floating over her head.

"You've shown remarkable toughness, Morgendorffer," Clement said as she positioned the couch directly over Helen. "But my Master wants that girl."

"I'll die before I tell you anything," Helen managed to say.

Clement scowled. "Fine," she said, dropping her hand. The couch, however, remained where it was. "How . . ." her next words were cut off as the furniture suddenly shot toward her. Ducking, she managed to pass under it, rolling to her feet as it slammed into the staircase behind where she had been standing.

"Humans," a voice from the widow told her, "have a tendency to die to protect their young." Daria did a dive roll through the window, coming up near the remains of the entertainment center. "And, in some cases, the young will return the favor."

"Daria?" Helen's voice was weak.

"Hi, Mom," Daria forced a slight smile onto her face. "I have to take out the garbage right now, but I'll be back in a second." The smile faded as Daria stepped past her parents and toward Clement.

"So," Clement smirked, "you decided to join the party. You like how we redecorated?"

"The place needed a makeover before I ever left," Daria said, sounding bored. "I'm thinking a blond head on a pike would make for a good conversation piece."

"Sounds like the Jedi is having a temper tantrum," the smirk became a smile.

"Sounds like you've forgotten that I haven't been a Jedi in a couple of years. If I want to get angry, I will." Daria's lip took a slight upward turn, "And getting angry sounds pretty good about now." There was a hiss as she ignited her lightsaber.

Clement's smile faded. She drew the lightsaber from her belt, but did not activate it. Instead, she moved along the wall, keeping distance between herself and Daria. Daria's pace was constant. As they moved, the sounds of blaster fire accompanied by cries of panic and pain began to reach them from outside.

Seeing the Sith's reaction to the noise, Daria said, "Sounds like Quinn is making short work of your thugs, Darth Second-string."

"That's Clement."

"Why would Tyran name you after 'My Darling Clementine?'" Daria asked, seeming to be confused.

"What is it with you people?" the Sith screamed. For a second, Daria thought the Sith was going to attack. Instead, she moved away a little faster, then dove out of the broken window.

Clement came to her feet and looked around. Troopers littered the area, with a few clustered around the base of the transport ship. Down the street, she could see two lightsaber blades, one blue, one reddish-pink. Clement frowned and pulled up the hood of her robe as she headed for the ramp. As she reached the ramp, the troopers below followed her inside.

Quinn and Jodie watched as the transport lifted off. Then, Quinn looked at the house. "Daria?" she called out.

"Get in here, Quinn," came a shout from her sister.

The house had been thoroughly wrecked. Shards of glass were everywhere, and the door was impaled on the stair railing. The entertainment center had fallen over, and something had thrown the couch into the wall by the stairs. The coffee table had been knocked into one of the loveseats, with both ending up near the fireplace.

"Here, Quinn." Daria was kneeling next to two still figures. Her stomach began to twist as Quinn recognized them.

"Mom? Daddy?" Quinn said, her voice shaking.

"Sweety?" Helen's voice was very weak as she turned to look at her middle daughter. She raised her bloodied hand toward her, "You both came back?"

"We're here, Mom," Quinn said as she moved to kneel by her mother and took her hand. She glanced at her father's still form, then at her sister. A single head shake was her answer. "Mom, are you okay?"

"I am, now," Helen whispered. A tear leaked from her eye, "My babies are all home."

"Mom," Daria, who was holding her other hand, leaned in close, "did you have another kid?"

"Ronni," Helen answered, looking around. "Where's Ronni?"

"She's with Jane," came the answer. "I sent her to Jane to be safe."

"Jane." Helen closed her eyes and nodded, "I like Jane. She's a good friend, Daria."

"Better than I deserve," Daria replied. Reaching out, Daria put a hand on her mother's head and closed her eyes. After a moment, she opened them again. "You just rest, Mom."

Helen seemed to relax, but then turned to look at her oldest daughter. "Daria," she muttered, squeezing her hand.

"I'm here, Mom."

"Promise me something."

"It can wait until you're better."

Helen shook her head, "No. Promise me you'll take care of Veronica."

"I'll make sure she's safe," Daria promised. "Now you rest."

"Rest." Helen closed her eyes and leaned back. "Rest sounds good."

As Helen seemed to slip into unconsciousness, Quinn looked at Daria, "So that was our sister."

"It seems so." Daria sighed, then looked over at her father. "It looks like he got a few of them before they got him." She rolled him onto his back, then put his arms across his chest.

"I don't I've ever seen him look so peaceful," Quinn commented.

"He doesn't have to worry about Grandpa anymore," Daria replied. A shiver went through her as she fought down tears.

"Is Mom gonna be okay?"

"I don't know," Daria admitted. "I've bought her some time, but I don't know if it'll be enough for her to heal." Looking toward the door, she saw Jodie looking around the room in shock. "It's usually a little neater than this," she told the Jedi.

"I guessed that." Coming into the house, Jodie saw the bodies. "Are they . . . ?"

"My father is dead," Daria stated. "Mom is badly hurt. Clement worked her over pretty bad."

"She did that just to get at you two?"

"This has something to do with our sister," Quinn said, her face grim. "I can feel it. He wants her for some twisted reason."

"All his reasons are twisted," Jodie stated. "The Sith are like that." Moving next to Helen Jodie knelt and gave her a quick examination. "She has internal injuries. We need to get her to a hospital."

"Are the hospitals still working?" Daria asked as she glanced around the room.

"I can use the equipment if no one's taken it." Jodie watched as Daria went into the kitchen. A few seconds later returned with a ring of keys in her hand.

"Oh," Jodie said, standing, "I told Jane and Mack to stay with Trent. I figured that way we would have a place to go if things went badly."

"They couldn't have gone much worse." Daria looked down at her mother. "I'll go open the garage door." Looking up, she told Quinn, "You go see if there's anything you think Veronica might need."


The pounding on the door, as well as a girl yelling "Mr. Lane!" brought Trent to the door quickly. As he opened it, he saw that Jane had something in her hand as she hid behind it and nodded. Opening the door, he was confronted with a frightened girl.

"Mr. Lane they came and attacked the house and I think they killed my folks." She grabbed his shirt as she continued, "Mom told me to run and then I ran into my sister, but my sister's been dead since before I was born. She told me to come here and find someone named 'Jane.'"

"Wait," Jane stepped up to them and knelt so that she could look the girl in the face, "who's your sister?"

"Daria." Veronica shrugged, "But she died a long time ago. Her bus exploded."

Jane smirked, "No, it didn't. It's a long story, but she's alive. Both of your sisters are. Now," she put a hand on the girl's shoulder, "what's your name?"

"Veronica. Veronica Morgendorffer."

Jane looked at her for a few seconds, then nodded, "Yeah, I can see a family resemblance. You're Jake and Helen's kid, all right." Standing, she said, "You'll be safe here."

"But what about them? And, and my folks?" She could feel the tears starting to come as reaction to the events began to hit.

"Daria and Quinn are survivors, Veronica." Jane led the girl to the kitchen and set her in a chair. "Let's worry about you right now."

"Yeah," Trent said, as he followed. "Would you like something to drink?"

"Whiskey, neat."

As Trent looked surprised, Jane smirked, "You're Daria's sister, all right. Hey, Trent, you got a couple of sodas?"

"Coming right up." He opened the fridge, allowing Jane to see the amount of food inside.

"You got more stuff in there than we had the entire time I was living here," she observed.

"Belinda likes to cook," he explained. He took out four sodas, handing two of them to Jane, then heading for the doorway. "Speaking of whom, I'd better go tell her we have a kid running loose."

"She's not going to try to teach me something, is she?" Veronica asked. "Last time I had to come over she tried to teach me some sign language and my hand was stuck making an 'l' for a week."

She's using humor as a coping device, Jane realized. Good, we can use a few jokes. "I'll try to protect you from her, for a little while, anyway," she smirked. Jane sat across from her and slid the soda across the table. "So, tell me about yourself. You have any boyfriends?"

"Jane!" As Veronica blushed and looked away, she reminded the Jedi of her best friend,


The hospital, to everyone's surprise, was still operating. As they pulled up to the emergency room doors, a nurse looked out of the glass doors at them. Seeing Helen's condition as they tried to ease her out of the SUV, she had two orderlies and a stretcher ready by the time they had gotten to the doors.

Jodie placed a hand on the sisters' shoulders, "I'm going to go back and try to gather those weapons. If we can, we need to contact any resistance movements out there and help them."

"That sounds like a good job for you and Mack," Daria told her, handing her the keys. "We'll see to Mom, then meet you back at Jane's house."

"I really hope she pulls through," Jodie told them.

"Thanks," Quinn said, a few tears escaping. She hugged Jodie tight, then stepped back.

Jodie watched them vanish into the hospital before she pulled away. On the drive back to the scene, she wondered at how the power had stayed on and, it seemed, order was in place. Has Tyran somehow kept the bureaucracy in place or are people just too scared to leave their houses?


"You failed me." The three words sent shivers of fear down Clement's back as she knelt before her Master. "I ordered you to collect the girl and not only does she escape but you have been chased away by a former Jedi." Bending over so he could be closer to her ear, he whispered, "I am embarrassed at how poorly you did." Standing, he resumed pacing in a circle around her, "Frost would not have failed me so badly. Perhaps I should try to convince her to return to my service."

"There were three of them, Master," Clement told him.

"But only one in the house."

"Yes, Master. But I knew if the one was near, so was the sister. One I could have handled, but both of them together would have kept me from completing my mission."

"But you failed your mission," Tyran reminded her.

"It was temporary," she replied. Daring to look up, she went on, "She escaped me because of the parents sacrificing themselves. That and I believed that the troopers were professionals." She scowled, "A mistake I will not make again. I will find her and bring her before you, Master."

He looked at her for a long moment before nodding. "Very well. But failure is not something that is easily forgotten." He returned to his seat, "Besides, with her parents out of the way, she will be with the Jedi, now." A slight smirk appeared, "Perhaps they will begin her training for us." The smirk vanished, "For now, we can let her get to know her sisters. But you," he raised an eyebrow, "will begin to visit the prisoner camps. I want to begin recruiting these humans into our forces. Even a Star Destroyer cannot control an entire planet for long. We need more people, and these know the languages."

"Yes, Master."

"Just be certain of their loyalties, Lady Clement." Tyran waved a hand, "Go. I wish to be alone."

"Yes, Master." Clement rose and left the chamber. Once outside, she let the anger surface. "Frost again?" she hissed as she headed down the corridor. "Must he always throw her in my face?" Her rage was obvious enough that the people she encountered not only avoided her, they turned and headed the other way.


Jodie was surprised to see Mack standing in the living room when she returned to the Morgendorffer house. The weapons were piled near where the entertainment center had been set back upright. He had a blaster in a holster on his belt, and a broom in his hand.

"I thought I'd clean up some of this mess," he told Jodie without her having to ask. Glancing at the mangled room, he frowned, "Someone had a hissy fit."

"It was Tyran's apprentice, Clement."

"Sounds like that old song," came the comment.

"That's what I thought. Anyway, they're looking for Daria and Quinn's younger sister." Jodie looked at the wall next to the stairs. Three framed pictures hung there, one for each of the Morgendorffer children. The pictures of Daria and Quinn were from their last year before the bus incident. The other was of a redheaded girl in a blue dress. Her eyes were serious, despite the slight smile she wore.

"That must be Veronica," Jodie said, pointing. "Daria told me she was born after we left."

Mack put an arm around his wife, then rested his head on her shoulder. "She looks well-adjusted," he said, looking at the picture. "You sure she wasn't adopted?"

Jodie chuckled and swatted at him. "Stop that," she ordered.

"Sorry, too easy to pass up." Mack looked at the room, "So, what do we do, now?"

"We need to find someone with the resistance," Jodie told him.

"I thought about that, too. The only question is, how do we find them?"

Jodie sighed, then said, "Brittany told me that her uncle was in the military. I figure a lot of them probably went into hiding when it became obvious that they couldn't win."

"Or waited to join Tyran," Mack told her. "I mean, there's always going to be some that are just mercenary enough to join up with whatever madman offers them a job."

"Bullies and thugs," Jodie agreed. "There's some in every group. But there are also patriots in every military. Those are the ones we need to find."

"Any ideas where to look?"

"Not yet. But we can't leave yet, anyway. We have to wait for Daria and Quinn." She looked around, "Uh, where's Mr. Morgendorffer?"

"I wrapped him in a sheet and put him in the utility room." Mack frowned, "You know, despite everything, I think those two really love their parents."

"They do," Jodie told him. "But, Daria was cynical enough to believe that their working all the time showed a lack of parental involvement. And Quinn just thought it was unfashionable to have them around."


"Yeah." Jodie sighed and looked at the weapons, "Look, I've got the keys to their car. I think we can use it to transport all this to Jane's house."

"A good base of operations," he agreed.


Veronica looked at Jane as if she had grown an extra nose. "You mean that both of my sisters can do stuff like that?"

"Yep." Jane tossed a kernel of popcorn into her mouth, then said, "And I'm willing to bet you can, too."

"Yeah, right." Veronica rolled her eyes, "I can't do stuff like that. I'm just a normal girl."

"You're the sister of two of the most powerful Force-sensitives I've ever met," Jane pointed out. "And this kind of thing runs in families. I'd almost bet money you're about as powerful as they are." Looking at the popcorn bowl, Jane smiled. "You know, I think I can prove it to you."

"That smile looks evil, Jane," Veronica said, narrowing her eyes in suspicion.

"Hey," Jane grabbed the bowl, "this'll be fun."


It took Jane a few minutes to dig out a scarf from the closet in the hall. Then, she blindfolded Veronica and stood her in the middle of the living room. "Now," Jane picked up a piece of popcorn, "I'm going to toss the popcorn and you're going to catch it."

"How? I can't see anything." The girl frowned.

"Your eyes can lie to you, don't trust them." Jane tossed one kernel, and it bounced off of the girl's chin. "You can do this, Ronni."

"I can't. Jane, this is silly."

Jane's voice took on a hypnotic quality. "Let yourself feel your way, Veronica. Let go of your concern for how you look or how silly you think this is. Reach out with your feelings. Trust me . . . and trust the Force."

Veronica became very still. Jane tossed first one, then two other kernels of popcorn. With a minimum of movement, the girl caught them one at a time in her mouth. She whipped off the blindfold as she chewed. "I did it!"

"Don't shout with your mouth full," Jane said, smirking. "And yeah, you did it."

"Can I do the stuff you were talking about?" She asked as she reached out and picked up some popcorn. "Can I learn to be a Jedi Knight?"

"Do you want to?" Jane asked. "It's not an easy life. People have been wanting me dead for ten years. From the moment you make the commitment, your life is no longer your own. You have to learn everything your master has to teach you. You dress the way they say, you keep your hair the way they tell you, and obey their every command."

"Sounds like slavery," Veronica commented.

"In some ways. But in others it makes sense." Jane took a deep breath, "Some of the things the Jedi do are so steeped in tradition that most of them don't even remember why they do them anymore. But your sister, Daria," she smirked, "refused to take it at face value. She went through two masters before she found one who could answer all of her questions. But once she did, she quickly became one of the best we had. After that, she did a lot to change the way Padawans are trained."


"Padawan." Jane handed over the bowl as she gestured toward the kitchen, "A Padawan Learner is the apprentice to a Jedi. He or she is pledged to learn, and the Jedi is pledged to teach. It is only after the Jedi says your ready that you can undergo the trials."

"Trials. Does this involve a judge and jury?" Veronica returned to her seat.

"It involves the Jedi Council," Jane replied. "They evaluate the results and give the okay or tell them they need more training."

"How many times did you take the trials?"

"Just once. Same for Daria, if that's your next question."

"How about Quinn?"

Jane's face fell. "Uh, Quinn was never a Jedi."

"But she knows about the Force," Veronica pointed out.

"When we first arrived in the Republic, Quinn was turned to the Dark side by the man who's up there right now," Jane told her, pointing up. "She didn't know how to defend herself, so she was easy pickings. We didn't find out until year later, and when she did, Daria dedicated herself to turning her sister back to the Good side of the Force."

"You mean Quinn was like that woman at the house?"

Jane hesitated for a long moment. "She was, once. But," she held up a hand, "she turned her back on that. She and Daria went away for a couple of years so she could learn from Daria how the Force really works."

"Really works?"

"Daria is the expert on the philosophical stuff," Jane admitted. "I'm more of the action heroine type." She smirked, "Let me tell you about what I did just before I went for trials. I was helping to guard this Senator . . ."


The waiting room was dim and empty of all but two people. Daria and Quinn sat opposite the door, with a chair between them. Neither had spoken much since they had come into the room. Finally, however, Quinn asked, "Like, can't you do anything?"

"I did," Daria replied. "I channeled some of my own energy into Mom back at the house. I might have given her the strength to survive surgery."

"Oh." Quinn looked away for a second, then looked back at her. "You never told me we could do that."

"It never came up." Shrugging slightly, the older woman sighed, "I'll show you later if you want."

"Of course I do," Quinn snapped. "Daria, I want to learn everything I can from you. And not just about the Force."

The look Daria gave her was one of surprise. "What are you talking about?"

"You have more control than anyone. I can feel Jodie and Jane when they do things. Even my m, uh, Darth Tyran gives off more clues about what he's doing than you do."

"I picked up the habit when we were kids," Daria explained. "It helped me cope when you and Mom were telling me how to live my life."

"Oh." Quinn rubbed her hands together, then looked at them. "You know, there is a difference between real and artificial hands."

"I didn't know that."

"Yeah, the real ones are much more sensitive." She looked closely at the back of her palm, "That and I have some hair growing on them. Ew."

A slight smirk appeared on her sister's face, "You'll be surprised where hair will turn up on people, Quinn."

"You mean? Oh, no." Quinn pulled up the leg on her slacks and looked at her legs. "Ugh, I gotta shave my legs." Looking back at her sister, she saw that Daria was shaking with silent laughter. "That's not funny, Daria."

"It's all in your perspective, Quinn," Daria replied when the laugh had subsided.

"Yeah, well my perspective is --" she stopped speaking when the door opened.

The man was wearing surgical scrubs, but without the gloves and mask. His hair was gray but full. He had a bit of a paunch, but carried the weight well. His green eyes seemed slightly dulled, as if he hadn't had enough sleep or coffee. He closed the door behind him, then leaned against it.

"Dr. Stephens," Daria stood, followed closely by Quinn. "How did it go?"

He took a deep breath and released it before he said, "She's still in bad shape. But, we were able to repair the damage. What happened to her, anyway?"

"We had a run in with some thugs," Quinn offered. "They broke into our house and found Mom downstairs." She gestured to her sister, "Daria and I took some self-defense classes, so we managed to scare them off."

"Is she gonna be okay, Doctor?" Daria asked.

"It's too soon to tell," he told her. "To be perfectly honest, she shouldn't have survived the surgery. She is going to need blood, however."

"I can give," Quinn said. "Mom and I have the same blood type."

"And what about you?" the doctor asked Daria.

"I have Dad's blood type," she replied. "It's rare, AB negative."

"She can't use that," he said, biting his lip.

"I know. That's why I didn't offer." When he nodded, she asked, "Can we see her?"

"I'll let you know when she's in a room. But it'll only be for a minute. She needs rest." Stephens opened the door and stepped out. "She's a strong woman, so she's got a fighting chance."

After he left, Daria scowled and turned to her sister, "Quinn, I want to show you how to give Mom some of your strength. That way you can do it when we see her."

"Okay." Quinn nodded, "That sounds like a good idea."


Jodie hadn't had the chance to knock when Belinda opened the door for her. The deaf woman held a finger to her lips as she nodded with her head for them to enter. Curious, Jodie and Mack stepped into the living room, then stopped.

Veronica was in the middle of the room, blindfolded. Jane was walking around her, holding a bowl of popcorn. Occasionally, she would toss one at the girl, who would then swoop in and catch it in her mouth. Every time she did, Veronica would giggle.

Seeing the couple, Jane said, "Okay, Ronni, we've got company."

Veronica pulled off the blindfold and looked at Jodie and Mack. "You seen Mom and Dad?" she asked.

"Yeah." Jodie frowned and looked at the floor.

Seeing the solemn mood, the girl felt herself shiver. "Are they," she shook her head. "No, don't tell me. Please don't tell me."

"Your Mom is in the hospital," Mack said. "Daria and Quinn are there."

"And-and Daddy? What about my Dad?" Veronica grabbed Mack's shirt. "Please tell me he's okay." When Mack dropped his head, she began to cry. "No," she shook her head as she felt her knees go weak. "No, not my Daddy. Please not my Daddy." Mack caught her before she fell and eased her to the floor. For a long time she sat there and cried into Mack's shirt as he gently stroke her hair.

Finally, she sniffed and pulled away. "Uh," she looked at him, embarrassed, "sorry about your shirt."

"Don't worry about it," he told her.

"Can," she sniffed, then tried again. "Can I go see Mom?"

"Good idea," Jodie said. Looking at Jane, she motioned toward the kitchen, "Jane can take you after you get cleaned up a little."

"Okay." Veronica stood with help from Mack, then went to the bathroom.

"What's up?" Jane asked as they entered the kitchen.

"Her mom is in really bad shape, Jane," Jodie told her. "I think all three of them could stand to have someone there for them."

"To have them come all this way only to have their mom die like this would be rough," Jane said through a scowl.

"Not to mention their father. Mack said he was shot in the back, but it looked like he took some of them with him. The man probably died a hero."

"He was to Daria," Jane said around the lump in her throat. "I think she regretted not telling him that."

"If you don't have regrets you haven't done anything," Jodie stated. "My gramps told me that once."

"Your gramps would have made a good Jedi Master," Jane told her with a smirk.

"Yeah, he loved being cryptic. Anyway," Jodie sighed, "Mack and I won't be here when you get back."


"We decided on the way here that our best chance to find members of any resistance is to hit the road and head toward a military base." Shrugging, she added, "We're gonna find something big enough to carry the equipment we brought with us, then out."

"So the shuttle will be empty if we check it, eh?" Jane smirked.

"There are no hubcaps on a shuttle, so don't even bring it up," Jane pointed and scowled.

"I didn't say a word," came the protest.

"I know you, Lane. It was going to be the next thing you said."

"You know me all to well." Turning serious, she said, "Look, you two be careful, okay?"

"We will. I figure you people are going to have your hands full here for a while. Tyran is bound to know you're here by now. So he's got to be planning something."

"As long as it's not orbital bombardment, we'll manage. I'm more worried about you two. You're going against a few thousand stormtroopers."

"Actually, the numbers are on our side. They have a few thousand, while we'll have a few million people from militaries across the globe we can recruit from."

"Hmm, good point," Jane admitted. "But don't forget that they can recruit, too."

That seemed to give Jodie pause. "I'll think of something." As they heard footsteps in the hall, Jodie put a hand on Jane's arm and said, "May the Force be with you, Jane."

"The Force be with you, Jodie."

"Hey," Veronica looked at them from the doorway, "I'm ready."

"Great," Jodie replied. She held out the keys, "The red SUV parked outside. And try not wreck it."

"Hey," Jane frowned, "I'm not that bad."

"Tell that to Captain Torenaga."

"The right of way was out of order!"

"Yeah, right. At least you only have to pilot in two dimensions here."

"Do I want to know?" Veronica asked.

"No," the two Jedi agreed.

The door to the waiting room opened, allowing Jane and Veronica to enter. The two older siblings stared at the third until she spoke.

"How's Mom?"

"She's out of surgery," Daria told her. "We're waiting for her to get out of recovery and into a room."

"Is Daddy really . . ." she bit her lip and looked away. Two pairs of arms wrapped themselves around her. Jane moved aside as Jake Morgendorffer's children held each other. After a few minutes, Daria and Quinn pulled back and looked at her.

"So," Quinn smirked, "you're the youngest now?"

"Uh, yeah." She tried to smirk back, but failed. "I'm the youngest."

"Then you're the middle sister," Daria said to Quinn. She looked at Veronica, "This is Quinn, by the way."

"Hi," Veronica felt like an idiot when she held out her hand, but was grateful when Quinn shook it.

"Hello, Veronica, it's nice to meet you." Leaning close, she looked at her kid sister's face, causing Veronica to flinch back. "Hmm," she muttered, "good coloring. Same color hair as mine, that's good. You have a lot of Daria's facial features, though. And those glasses, ew."

"Hey," Daria and Veronica complained. They looked at each other and this time Veronica's smirk matched Daria's.

"You look like you get some exercise," Quinn said, going on.

"I do lots of stuff," Veronica told her. "I play basketball, football --"

"You play football?" Daria looked worried. "I didn't know they had a girl's football team."

"Not at school," the girl rolled her eyes. "There's a bunch of us that get together in the park and play." She raised her chin proudly, "I like to play wide receiver."

The older Morgendorffer siblings looked at each other. "Tomboy," Quinn stated.

"And what's wrong with that?"

"Nothing, Veronica," Daria replied. "It's just that you're very different from us."

"Yeah," Quinn explained. "When we were your age I was into fashion and Daria was a brain." She smirked, "Still is, too."

Daria mock-glared at her, "Brat."

"Ronni," Jane said, "why don't you sit over there with your sisters and tell them all the stuff you were telling me. I'm sure they'd love to hear it."

"Ronni?" Daria raised an eyebrow.

"My friends call me that," the girl said. "Mom and Dad do, to sometimes." Suddenly, she looked upset again, "I'll never have Dad call me 'smidget' again."

Daria led the girl to a chair, then sat on one side while Quinn sat on the other. Leaning in, she said, "He use to call me 'kiddo.'"

Nudging her arm, Quinn asked, "So, what have you been telling Jane? Come on, I want to hear everything."

"Yeah," Daria agreed, "spill."


Clement sat in her shuttle, alone. Elsewhere, she knew the crew was powering up the engines and getting ready to move to the next location. But for her, only one thought was going through her mind. How do I get that girl? Several plans had come to mind, only to be discarded. Sweeping through that little town would be a waste of time. Blasted Jedi and their mind tricks. They'd slip through and we'd never know it. If it wasn't for the fact that my Master wants the little twerp alive, I'd just level the place from space. She sighed, "How do you catch children?"


Veronica talked for a long time. She talked about how her mother had been depressed when she was younger, but had recovered by the time Veronica had started school. She told them about how she enjoyed playing with the boys, and how much she enjoyed the way it made other girls mad. Her sisters were surprised when she told them that her father had closed his business so he could be with her every day. She spoke of how they took vacations and how their mother had cried when Veronica had first discovered Daria's old glasses in the attic.

"Mom said I looked like both of you at once," she explained.

Veronica talked of how she liked to read, which got a smirk from Daria. Then she mentioned how she had once thought of being a model, which got a smirk from Quinn.

"But I really, really wanted you both to come home," she finished. "I mean, what's the point of having sisters if you don't get to know them?"

"Yeah," Quinn looked over at Daria, "what's the point?"

"Now," Veronica looked from one of them to the other, "it's your turn."

"Excuse me?" Daria asked.

"I told you about me, now I want to know what's going on in your life. Uh, I mean, lives," she amended, looking from one to the other.

"Well," Quinn began, but was interrupted when the door opened.

"Morgendorffer family?" a nurse asked.

"Yes," the sisters replied.

"Your mother is in a room, now. But we can only allow two of you at a time, okay?" The nurse gestured with her head, "Room 423."

As the group moved down the hall, Daria looked down at Veronica, "Quinn and I need to go in first, okay? I promise I'll be right out so you can go in."

"Uh, okay."

Looking at Jane, she said, "I'm showing Quinn how to give some of her strength to Mom. I forgot to teach her before now."

"Oh. I see." Jane put a hand on Veronica's shoulder and, when the girl looked up at her, said, "It's a Force thing."

Daria scowled slightly, "You told her about that?"

"She's even showed me how to catch popcorn blindfolded," Veronica said, smiling a little.

Daria shook her head, then smirked, "I've got see that, sometime."

They stopped out side the room, then Quinn and Daria went inside. The two caught their breath as they saw Helen lying on the bed. Two IV's were in her arm, and a tube was going down her throat to help her breathe. Quinn looked at the ventilator and shivered.

"Just like I showed you," Daria reminded her.

"Yeah," she whispered, "just like you showed me." Moving next to her mother, Quinn reached out and put a hand on her head. She took a deep breath, then focused on the technique she had been shown earlier. Opening her eyes, she said, "I did it. I could feel my strength flowing into her." Looking at Daria, she smiled, "She's gonna make it, Daria. I can sense it."

"Good." Daria moved to Helen's other side. Leaning in, she said, "Mom, I'm here. So's Quinn. I'm going to go now, so Veronica can be with you for a while. But I'll be back soon." She gently brushed her mother's hair back from her forehead, then turned and left. "Okay," she told her sister, "you can go in, now."

As the two women stood at the door looking in, Jane asked, "Now, why exactly do they limit the number of guests?"

"I think it's to lessen the chances someone will trip over something," Daria replied. Then, she tugged Jane's sleeve and pointed down the hall. Curious, Jane followed her back to the waiting room. "I want to talk to you about Veronica."


"I'm not sure it's a good idea to be teaching her about the Force."

"Why not?"

"What happens when we leave?"

"Leave?" Jane leaned away from Daria as if she had suddenly broken out with a mutating rash. "What are you talking about? We've been trying to find out way back for a decade."

"I, uh," Daria shrugged. "Hey, you said your home wasn't here, anymore."

"Well," Jane smirked, then looked away. "Hell, you're right. But I still don't see why you're so determined for Veronica to be stuck without learning anything."

"Jane, I don't want her to be left here only halfway trained." Daria began to pace, then stopped herself, "She'd be better off ignorant of what she can do."

"Now, Daria," Jane held up a finger, "I disagree with that. In fact," she crossed her arms, "I was thinking of naming her my Padawan Learner."

"Don't you dare," Daria growled as she frowned. "There's too much going on for you to be taking a Padawan."

"Is that it, or are you really worried that something will happen to her?"

"If you must know," Daria put her hands on her hips, "the answer is 'both.' Jane, the Sith are after her. If she's a Padawan, she goes where you go. So, if you go to fight the bad guys, she goes too." She leaned forward slightly, "Right to the bad guys that are after her in the first place."

"Hmm," Jane rubbed her chin, "you do have a point."

"Look," Daria held out her hands, "let's compromise, here. Let's wait until we get this mess straightened out. Then we can decide what to do about training Veronica."

"If she wants to learn, I'm going to teach her," Jane insisted.

Daria sighed. "Look, I . . ." she trailed off, then sighed.

"Daria," Jane held out her hands in an imitation of Daria's previous pose, "is it that she's being trained or that you're not the one doing the training?"

"Excuse me?"

"You trained one sister," Jane pointed out, "so it's only natural that you would want to train the other."

"That has nothing to do with it," Daria insisted. "I'm just worried about her."

"Then don't make the same mistake you keep thinking you made with Quinn. Now hold on," Jane held up a hand as Daria started to snap at her, "let me explain. You keep saying how Quinn fell in with Tyran because you left her behind. This is, of course contrary to what the fact that she, herself, said that she was in training before you even met a Jedi. But, you are now saying that it would be better for Veronica for you to just the thing you claim left Quinn open to Tyran."

"I don't want her hurt, Jane."

"Then teach her yourself," Jane suggested. "Look, if you want to hold off naming her your Padawan, I'll agree. But I'm not going to let her resent what we can do when she knows she's capable of learning it, too."

"I wonder if that's why Tyran wants her."

"Could be."

Daria wrapped her arms around herself and looked down. A few deep breaths later, she said, "Okay. I'll see about teaching her some things. But we don't name her Padawan. At least until she's able to defend herself against some troopers."

"Sounds like a plan."

"No," Daria corrected, "a way to sneak onto that Star Destroyer would be a plan. This is just an idea to buy me some time so I can figure out what to do about Veronica."


Concluded in Part 3