Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Upcoming Works

This is a list of stories I'm working on, hope to work on soon, and am developing ideas for. Keep in mind that this list can and will change depending on what I'm interested in at any given time and what else is going on in my life.

Currently Working On:

Star Wars Original Trilogy Novel

Tales of the Gold Wookie (Alternative Universe 1930's Adventure) - It's 1939. Layla and Luke Skylark are fresh out of the University of Arizona and ready to change the world. She's an archaeologist; he's a reporter. While Luke is content to be an intern for world-weary veteran crime reporter Benton Kennally, Layla is far more ambitious. She wants to find lost treasures for her idol, museum owner Marta Mothma. Her current obsession is rescuing the (reportedly magical) lost royal jewels of the Kingdom of Alderaan from nasty General Tarkin and the Empire.

Luke convinces her to hire Harry Solomon, a pilot with a dilapidated plane who runs his own charter service, to take them to where the treasures were last seen. Layla's not happy with the idea at first. Harry is rude, arrogant, and only cares about getting his share of the treasure. Not to mention, some of his former bosses make Tarkin look like a kitten. Tarkin has his own formidable underling, the corrupt industrialist Derek Vader. After Kennally gets into trouble with Vader, Luke insists on bringing along venerable old Asian archaeology professor Takamashi Yoda as their guide.

Coming Up Next:

Star Wars Sequel Trilogy


Resistance Kids: The Last Good Cop (Alternative Universe - 1950's) - Rey is the first student at Luke's new police school, but he's wondering if he should give up teaching after the destruction of his previous school. Meanwhile, the First Order Gang is back on the street, including Ben Solo, and they're gunning for blood...and for Finn to rejoin them. Then Poe's beloved sports car blows to bits in front of his eyes, and Hank vanishes and his business is ransacked.

Hello Leia! (Alternative Universe - Musical-Inspired) - Leia Solo-Levi is the best-known matchmaker in New York City in 1907.  She's hired by her ex-husband Harold Solo to find a match for their son Benjamin, who can't make up his mind between the severe police chief's daughter and anarchic son of one of New York's richest men. What she wants is to re-marry her husband, but he has his eyes on a woman in town. Meanwhile, she engineers a meeting between Harold's clerks Poe and Finn and two cute girls in Manhattan, Rey and Rose. They all come together at Harmonia Gardens, the restaurant owned by Leia's brother Luke, for a most memorable evening. 

Star Wars Saga


A Star Wars Christmas Carol (Alternative Universe - 1840's/Christmas Carol) - Anakin Scrooge is the stingiest man in Victorian London. He barely pays his son Luke to work as his clerk and mostly ignores his strong-willed daughter Leia. He learns the importance of charity when he receives visits on Christmas Eve from four ghosts...and realizes that he may still have a second chance to save not only himself, but stop his grandson Benjamin from following in his footsteps.

Fairy and Folk Tales

Robin Hood

Remember WENN


Once Upon a Time In the Land of WENN (Alternative Universe Fantasy/Fairy Tale) - Even when Elizabeth and the others leave Port Harbor, looking for the Emerald Talisman, trouble follows. Lady Gloria Redmond has no desire to even discuss the magic that caused her so much grief. There's also the evil candy witch Pavla Nemcova, who has both Jeff Singer and Sir Victor Comstock in her grasp, to contend with.

In Development: 

Star Wars Original Trilogy


Superhero Story (Alternative Universe 1970's Superhero/Action Fantasy) - Leah O'Malley is an intern in corrupt Coruscant City by day in 1977. By night, she's Force Girl, a superheroine who is a member of the Rebel League, a society of superheroes and vigilantes who fight the regime of the evil Mayor Palapatine and the devious Chief of Police/super villain Derek Veder. Lucas Weston is a geeky college kid and major comics fan who discovers that the owner of a local book store/comics shop was once The Negotiator, a great World War II/Golden Era superhero...and that Lucas is the inheritor of a superheroic dynasty. Lucas seeks help from Harris Arietta, a carpenter and handyman whose dog Chewbacca always rides with him and acts as a Team Pet.

Original Snow Queen-Inspired Action/Fantasy - Set in the three years between New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, and my first story set within the regular Star Wars universe. Han, Chewie, Leia, and Luke are on a diplomatic mission to buy supplies from a snow planet that's remained neutral in the battle between the Empire and Rebellion. Leia's hoping to sway them to the Alliance's side. Unlike Hoth, this planet is inhabited, mainly by criminals and nasty goblins. It's queen is a shrewd magician with her own ice-based powers. The goblins, determined to make mischief, get slivers of a Force-sensitive crystal in Luke's eyes and heart. It turns him into the opposite of his usual self...making him cold and distant to his two best friends. Leia, Han, and Chewie have to dodge the planet's shadier citizens and a summer witch with her own plans in order to free Luke from the goblins' spell and find out just what the Snow Queen is up to.

Star Wars Sequel Trilogy

Fairy and Folk Tales

Little Red Riding Rose

Remember WENN 


Captain Victor, Man of Power (Alternative Universe Superhero/Action) - Set directly after the first season episode "There But Before Grace." Tired of dealing with (and being run all over by) sponsors and confused about his feelings for Betty and Grace Cavendish, Victor Comstock imagines himself as one of those new superheroes that have become popular with the kids, Jeff as his sidekick, Betty as the new girl reporter on the block, C.J as a scientist, Ceila as the daughter of a missing scientist and Victor's other sidekick, Hilary as a snooty actress-turned-society-reporter, Mackie as their boss, and Grace as a Dragon Lady-type villaness.

The Best Radio Christmas Pageant Ever - A kind of "missing scene" story set during the early first season. Victor wants to present the story of the Nativity on the airwaves, but the kids starring in the show are unruly, Hilary wants a bigger role, the sponsor is turning the show into a commercial, and Ceila will have nothing to do with it. And there's reports of a major snowstorm heading for Pittsburgh...

On the Edge of the Precipice Series

The Fox and the Falcon - Betty finds herself head over heels involved in espionage when the true leader of the spy ring becomes known...and Victor Comstock returns with startling news...

Remember WENN Fairy Tale Series

Hilary's Story: Beauty and the Beast - Wrap-around segments set day after fourth-season episode "You've Met Your Match." Story based around third and fourth season. Angry at Scott and Jeff for their behavior the night before and in the past few months in general, Betty and Hilary concoct the story of two sisters who discover that the beastly owner and manager of a dilapidated theater may not be what they appear on the outside...or even inside...

Mr. Eldridge and Gertie's Story: The Man Who Minded the House - Set after and based around the fourth season episode "Work Shift." Mr. Eldridge recalls the story of how a man and a woman (him and Gertie) learn that the grass isn't always greener in someone else's work area when he takes over her household duties and she works in the fields.

Needs Work/On Hold: 

Star Wars Prequel Trilogy


The Road to Coruscant (Mid 20th Century Alternative Universe) - Ben Kenobi and Anakin Walker are singers taking their vaudeville act on the road. Anakin is forever coming up with moneymaking schemes that get them into a few little problems with the law, to the annoyance of Martin Windu, their long-suffering manager. They have no problems romancing the ladies, either...until they encounter beautiful, elegant dancer Patricia Amidala. Patricia, a genuine noblewoman, is in a heap of trouble with the nasty Count Dooku and Lord Palpatine. Anakin says it's up to them to get her out of it. Ben...wishes they could just go home to Los Angeles, but Anakin is his best friend, so he does it anyway.

Fairy and Folk Tales

Swan Lake

Star Wars Original Trilogy

Han Solo, Galactic Private Eye (Alternative Universe) - Han is a laid-back private eye in his dilapidated ship, with his wookie partner Chewbacca by his side. Old Ben Kenobi, who sometimes gives him work, finds him a doozy - help his friend Luke Skywalker find Leia Organa, the daughter of a prince, who was carrying some very vital information to Alderaan when she was kidnapped by a nasty war lord. (Haven't decided if this one is going to stay in the Star Wars universe, or be moved elsewhere.)

Western (Alternative Universe Western Adventure) - It's 1867 in the untamed plains of Coruscant, Idaho. Former homesteader Luke Walters longs to be a sheriff, like his late daddy Anthony was before him. He may get his chance at an apprenticeship when the current sheriff, Ol' Ben MacKenner, deputizes him to help rescue rancher's daughter Leia Ortez from the bandits who have raided and burned her home. They also get more dubious assistance from Harry Solo, a shady gunrunner, and his partner, Native American warrior Chewbacca.

The Music Han

Star Wars Anthology Series

Heist Story (Alternative Universe - Solo: A Star Wars Story) - In 1965, Henry Solomon grows up on the mean streets of Chicago as a poor pickpocket for a local mob. He's hoping to eventually make enough money to marry his girl Clara and head out west. He manages to get out via the Navy, but Clara remains behind. Now going under the name Hank Solo, he finds himself in Vietnam without a paddle, at least until he's helped to go AWOL by a gruff old Russian named Charrel. He's recruited by a gang to take a big armored car job, but it goes wrong, landing them on the wrong side of the big Vegas mob the Crimson Dawn. They hire smooth gambler Lance Caliss and his gorgeous vintage Falcon car to take them across the Vegas desert to the Kessel Iron Works, and then make the infamous run on the Kessel Highway to take down Dryden Vos at his Twin Blades Casino and Hotel. 

Star Wars Sequel Trilogy


The Wizard of Oz (Alternative Universe Fantasy-Wizard of Oz-inspired) - Rachel "Rey" Gale lives with her Aunt Leah and Uncle Harry and their two farmhands on a farm outside of Jakkuson, Kansas in 1939. She feels like her life is as gray as the world around her, especially after the nasty man who runs the First Order Manor near-by threatens to take her beloved Westie Terrier BeeBee to the pound and her grouchy cousin demands his share of the farm. A tornado whisks Rey and BeeBee over the rainbow and into the land of Oz. Oz is under the tyrannical rule of the Warlock of the West and his apprentice. Queen Leia was imprisoned in her own magic bubble and banished to the lands of the South, where she amasses an army to stop him. She once ruled with her husband and her wizard brother, but her husband vanished after he was attacked by her son, and her brother is hiding in the Emerald City. Rey has to go to the Emerald City to find the Wizard Skywalker, with the help of a cowardly lion-soldier, a scarecrow who had once worked for the queen, and the Tin Smuggler, who seems to know a lot more about the queen and the Warlock of the West and his apprentice than he'll let on...

1920's Melodrama (Alternative Universe - Roaring 20's Action/Adventure) - Rowena "Rey" Knight has traveled all the way from England to work with the great Luke Waterson, the most decorated and popular reporter to ever have written for the Hosnia City Daily Star. But when she arrives, Hosnia is under siege from the First Order Company, a criminal organization that uses a legitimate business as a front for everything from bootlegging to kidnapping to gambling. Luke Waterson has gone into hiding behind his desk at the Daily Star. His sister, Leia Waterson-Solomon, is the town's mayor, but she and her task force, including bush pilot Poe Damerez, can't hold out much longer against Arlington Snoke and his protege Kylo Ren. The arrival of Rey and former First Order Company worker Finn Finnegan may be what Leia needs to turn the tide. 

1980's Nightclub Story (Alternative Universe - Action/Comedy) - It's 1981. Poe Damerez, with money provided by his boss, Galactic Records owner and president Leia Wallace, has just bought the former Rebel Alliance nightclub in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, just a few minutes outside of Philadelphia. He's hoping to reopen it as a dance club and music showplace...and that his first act will be no less than Leia and the Falcons. The Falcons started as a jazz trio after World War II, before adding two more members and moving on to becoming a pioneering rock and folk group.

Poe has several headaches from the get-go. First of all, while Leia is all for playing a one-time-only gig, none of her former band mates agree. Harry "Han Solo" Shaw, the manager and saxophonist, is now a manager for several low-level groups who is known for his shady activities. Guitarist and dancer Luke "Skywalker" Wallace is living in retirement in Philadelphia and has no desire to rejoin the music business. Laurence "Lando" Craydon has vanished all together. There's also Leia's business partner Amilyn Holdo, who is wary of the entire scheme. Not to mention, the First Order Company is after the land to build a shopping center...and their vice-president Kylo Ren has his own reasons for not wanting the Rebel Alliance Club rise again.

Remember WENN

Maltese Falcon Film Noir Spoof II (Alternative Universe Film Noir/Mystery) - Wrap-around set during the late third or early fourth seasons. Hilary and Scott give two different sides of the tale of a dame who may or may not have gotten a private eye involved with smuggling and murder.

Ceila Short Story - Missing scene set during the first season episode "A Capitol Idea." Ceila says good-bye to the station after she's hired by the guy who wanted her to promote Blondie cartoons.

Fairy Tale Series

Jeff's Story - Aladdin and His Magic Lamp
C.J's Story - Jack and the Beanstalk
Victor's Story - King Arthur
Ceila's Story - Goldielocks and the Three Bears
Mackie's Story
Eugenia and Mr. Foley's Story

Original Children's Short Stories

Stories based after childhood memories, including:

Painting someone else's fence.
Little kids running through other people's yards when Mom and Dad aren't looking.
Beach frolics - walking home from the beach as a child

Introduction - Lady Leia and the Prince

This novella was inspired by a writing prompt at Tumblr that suggested Leia as a knight who rescues imprisoned Prince Han from a dungeon and helps him rescue the throne from his dastardly brother. I loved the "Leia rescues Prince Han," but the dastardly Brought this closer to the Star Wars universe by replacing him with Palpatine. This is also intended to be my version of several popular alternative universe fanfiction strains, including "Padme, Anakin, and/or Obi-Wan raise the twins," "Han/Luke/Leia switch places," and "Leia is trained as a Jedi."

I think I sort of lost this one in the end. It took a lot longer and got far more complicated than the simple "girl rescues boy" fantasy I'd intended! I've had this one in development for a long time. I believe this is actually the third Star Wars fanfic idea I came up with in the spring of 2016 after The Summer Strikes Back and the 30's novel. I was going to do it last winter after Leia and the Old Warlock of the Woods, but then Carrie Fisher died, and I just didn't feel like I was up to it.

Thought it was time to finally clear out some of my older prompts and actually work on this one. Hope you enjoy my first venture into hard-core sword-and-sorcery fantasy!

Lady Leia and the Prince, Part 1

Rating: PG-13 (violence, mild language)
Pairings: Han/Leia
Disclaimer: The franchise belongs to George Lucas and the Walt Disney Company.

Leia Skywalker could never remember a day when she hadn't lived in the cottage in the clearing in the Endor Woods. It wasn't the biggest cottage in Naboo, nor was it the most elaborate. It had four walls, a large stone fireplace for cooking, and beautiful wooden furniture her father made. Anakin Skywalker was a carpenter now, but years ago, he'd been a member of Queen Jania's fabled Jedi Guards. The towering oaks provided them with all the protection they could ever need.

She and her brother Luke spent hours listening to the stories of their father and his dear friend Obi-Wan's many adventures during their days as Jedis. Ever-restless Anakin had been a knight, preferring slaying evil Sith sorcerers and rescuing citizens in distress to arduous study. Obi-Wan, who was gentler and more of a scholar, devoted much of his time to becoming a master mage.

But why are there no Jedi anymore, Papa?” Leia asked Anakin once during one of their hunting trips.

Her father's still-handsome face fell. Leia thought Anakin was the most beautiful man in all the world, even with the scar over his eye and the ragged gold beard on his chin. “They were all wiped out by the Sith sorcerer Palpatine, my little warrior. He set his magic on them, tearing them apart or turning them to mindless beasts. Your mother, Obi-Wan, and I barely escaped with the two of you.”

Leia got along less well with her mother Padme and Uncle Obi-Wan than her brother Luke did. While she was wild and free, always riding horses and exploring the woods, Luke enjoyed quieter pursuits. When he was outside, he helped Mama with her fruit trees or Obi-Wan with his garden. Though he enjoyed riding and could swing a sword almost as well as she, he was happiest when Obi-Wan was teaching him a new spell or showing him how to make potions that would heal the sick and wounded.

No one who saw them believed they were twins, other than they had their mother's petite stature. Leia's dark hair was usually only done in elaborate braids and buns because that's how her mother's people had done their hair when she was in the Naboo court. If left to her own devices, she'd throw it up in a bun or leave it down, and that would be that. She had inherited her mother's outspoken nature...but also had her father's explosive temper. Luke knew that when his sister's brown eyes flashed and her button nose flared, it was time to run very far away from her, possibly to the other side of the kingdom.

Luke, on the other hand, had his father's long golden hair, tanned skin, and glowing blue eyes, but he had Padme's compassionate heart. Leia had seen her brother cry when he stepped on an ant hill. Anakin completely supported his children when Luke said he wanted to train as a mage and Leia was more interested in learning the skills of a knight. There had been many male mages and warlocks in the Jedi order, and several women whose abilities with weapons were unparalleled.

Leia spent as much time as she could working on her skills with her father. He taught her to wield a blade and a bow and arrow as well as any man. They raced each other and Luke on foot and on horseback. Luke would occasionally join them, and though he became fairly proficient with a blade and a passable archer, Leia was better. By the time she was 16, she was winning cash prizes for her archery in town.

On their 17th birthday, Anakin and Obi-Wan brought Luke and Leia down to the little cellar in the cottage. Hidden under a pile of Mother's ceremonial gowns from her days as a counselor was a heavy oaken chest. The two men slowly flipped the top open, as if they were touching something spiritual.

We wanted to have these, when you were old enough,” Obi-Wan explained. “Every member of the Order gained the tools of his trade when they were 17.”

Luke's sweet smile shined like the sun beaming through the window. “Does that mean we're ready to be knights?”

Does that mean I can finally go out and start slaying dragons?” Leia added, no less delighted.

Not dragons, my little warrior.” Anakin chuckled. “They're so few in number nowadays, most humans just leave them alone. But there are other monsters that still pray on our kind...including the human variety.”

Obi-Wan lifted a set of books out of the dark oak chest. “These are the sacred texts of our order. They contain all the wisdom of our past masters, and everything you must learn to be able to perform magic.” Luke cradled the books to his chest like they were a lover.

Anakin revealed a long, flat box, carved with knights on horseback. Leia watched, her eyes wide as he revealed the most beautiful sword she'd ever seen. Its hilt was pure gold, finely etched with phoenixes and flames. The sharp crystal blade glowed with an unearthly blue fire.

Is that...” Leia traced her finger down one of the phoenixes. It looked real enough for it to sit on her finger. “A real Jedi Light Sword?”

Yes, my daughter.” He gathered it from the white velvet lining. “Every Jedi usually made their own Light Sword from khyber crystals at the old forges at the Mufasar volcano, but since the forges were destroyed when the Jedi died, I bequeath this one to you.”

Obi-Wan took a smaller green sword with a less-elaborate silver handle from another box. “I want you both to kneel before me.” As soon as the twins did so, Obi-Wan stood over them, touching Luke with his sword. “As the oldest remaining Jedi Master, it is in my authority to dub thee Sir Luke Skywalker,” he touched Leia, “and Lady Leia Skywalker, of the Skywalking Clan. Arise, my Knights.”

Our old armor is in there too,” Anakin added. “It should fit both of you by now.”

Thank you, Uncle Obi-Wan!” Luke flew into his arms. “You too, Father.” He gathered them both in a hug, tears streaming down his rosy cheeks. “I'm so happy!”

Leia put her arms around all of them. “Me too. Thank you. This is what I've always wanted.”

I'm proud of you, too.” Padme stood in the doorway. “You'll both make wonderful knights. Now, come upstairs, before your dinner gets cold. I've made all your favorites.”

Leia knew Padme was concerned for her children. Most of Naboo's nobility was not in favor of the Jedis' return after Palpatine claimed they'd been conspiring against Queen Jania and her court. They'd been able to hide from him successfully so far, but along with being a sorcerer, he was a shape-shifter who could take any form...and his favorite was a crow. He could be listening to their every conversation in the woods. She'd heard Uncle Obi-Wan and their parents argue about it enough at night, when they thought she and Luke were asleep.

She forgot her mother's worries the next day, when her father started training her with the Light Sword. Even Anakin, who had been one of the best swordsmen in the entire order, was impressed with his daughter's skill. “Careful, Leia,” he warned her in their little yard out back. “You can't let your anger influence your thinking. Use it, but don't let it control you. Obi-Wan warned me about that enough. That will lead you to dark magic. Not to mention, allow your opponents an opportunity to get the better of you.”

Leia ducked around him. “How will I be able to tell the good side from the bad?”

Obi-Wan says you'll know when you're at peace.” Anakin gave her a grin that looked a lot like her brother's. “Personally, I think it's a load of horse manure. Maybe that works for him, but I think it has more to do with knowing right from wrong. Palpatine tried to get me to join him, but I left instead. He claimed he could help your mother, but I think he wanted to help himself.”

Then why is he still the Queen's head counselor?” She ducked under his swing. “Queen Jania's not stupid. You'd think she would have figured out about him.”

Queen Jania is getting on in years.” Anakin was just barely able to duck away from Leia's lunge. “She doesn't have too many people to rely on since King Josiah died and Prince Henry left home as an envoy for his mother.”

Leia wrinkled her nose at the mention of Queen Jania's only child. “Prince Henry is a useless idiot. I've heard that he drinks, gambles, and has more bad debts than the kingdom has taxes.”

I wouldn't be too hard on him. No one ever truly found out what happened to his father King Josiah, only that he was dead. Henry left home after that, joined the Naboo Army.” He managed to get a good lunge in, making his daughter stumble. “It didn't last very long. He was drummed out. Something about a wolf they were attacking and not letting them harm him.”

Maybe you can feel for him, but I can't.” She finally managed to hit him in the chest. “Got you!”

Anakin smiled. “You're getting better, my daughter. Perhaps it's time we went into the woods and sought larger game.”

Which is what they did. For the next two years, Leia and Anakin traveled throughout Naboo's lake country, selling his wooden chests and furniture and teaching her how to slay smaller monsters that terrorized the locals, such as the two-headed dogs and miniature orcs. They even beat off a few soldiers stealing property from farmers and craftsmen. While they traveled, Obi-Wan and Luke tended to Obi-Wan's herb garden and taught Luke all the wisdom that was contained in the older mage's books.

Padme was more concerned for her daughter's future. “I love you, dear,” she told Leia one morning when she was brushing her long, tangled brown hair, a few days before Leia and Luke's 19th birthday, “but when are you going to settle down?”

Settle down?” Leia laughed. “Why, when I find the right man, I suppose.”

Most girls of your age are already married.” She wound her daughter's hair into two buns on either side of her head. “I was older when I married, but that's because I was a council member. Your Aunt Breha wed Uncle Bail at 15.”

I love Aunt Breha, and I love you, Mother, but I'm not you.” She sighed. “I've barely met any young men out here. Most of the boys in town are idiots who would rather talk about hunting deer than helping people or arguing about how Palpatine is driving people out of their homes.”

I'm just scared for you and your brother.” She kissed her daughter's forehead. “I don't know how much longer we can stay out here, undetected.”

We'll be fine, Mother.” Leia jumped up the moment she finished and looked in a piece of polished glass they used as a mirror. “You are so good at doing hair. I could never figure this out.”

I've been doing this all my life.” Padme gave her daughter a hug. “I love you, Leia, no matter what you choose.”

You too, Mother.” She gathered a woven bag. “I'm going to go into town to buy some supplies and sell a few chairs Father just finished. I might do some hunting after that. I heard a band of Wookie wolves were seen outside of town. Some folks are worried they may try to eat their cattle.” The girl shuddered. “ you think I should go? I have this feeling, like we're being watched by something terrible.”

Wookie wolves mostly keep to themselves, though some people have tamed them as watch dogs.” Padme nodded. “We'll be fine, dear. Your father is already here, working on his next project.”

Luke was coming in as Leia went out. “Hi, sis!” He gave her a hug. “I'm here to talk to Mother and Father. Obi-Wan and I just found out in town that Palpatine has been more openly attacking his enemies. Three counselors who disagreed with his new higher taxes a few months ago have either died in mysterious house fires or vanished all together.”

That man needs to be stopped!” His sister narrowed her eyes. “Someday, I'm going to stick my crystal sword right down his skinny throat of his!”

Luke looked so distressed, she wished she hadn't said it. “Oh no, Leia! You know Father and Obi-Wan say that our powers and weapons should only be used in defense!”

I'd be defending the kingdom,” his sister grumbled. “I'll be back in a few hours. We're really low on supplies, and a few people are waiting for these chairs.” She gave her worried twin a hug. “You take care of Mother and Father, all right?”

He laughed. “Of course! I'm a big boy, Leia. I know how to handle myself.” He helped her hitch their horse Twilight to their old cart, and even waved to his sister as she snapped the reins and drove down the path through the D'Qar Woods.

As he returned to his family's home, Luke swore he saw a mangy old crow staring at him like he was trying to figure out if he'd seen him before. The crow was a rather odd critter, with beady yellow eyes and rusty, molting feathers. When he turned around to look at it closely, it was gone.

Lady Leia and the Prince, Part 2

Leia spent the next few hours in town, mostly haggling with old Watto over the price of the chairs. Father and Grandmother Shimi had worked for him as virtual slaves for many years, before Father entered the Jedi order and Grandmother married Grandfather Clieg. Watto was the same nasty old grouch as ever, refusing to pay half of what he owed her. She had to threaten to reveal some of his more odious business practices before he'd give her even part of the money.

She moved on to the marketplace next. While her mother did want her to pick up some fresh peaches and apples for their birthday dessert, she was mainly there to listen to gossip. Merchants from Coruscant, the main seat of Naboo, frequently passed through, bringing with them stories of happenings in the capitol.

He's getting worse,” Leia's friend Shara Dameron complained as she browsed through her family's produce stand. “Ever since Queen Jania fell ill, Palpatine's been tyrannizing everyone. The taxes were raised by ten percent on all food and toll roads. I don't know how we're going to be able to afford to stay here.” Shara rubbed her swollen belly. “Kes and I need to find a better place to raise our child.”

I wish you didn't have to leave. You're one of the only friends I have.” Leia slammed her tiny fist on the booth's counter. “I should ride to Alderaan Manor and talk to Uncle Bail. Maybe Father could come with me. My uncle is one of the Queen's closest counselors. He might be able to do something.”

Shara shook her head. “Fewer people have been speaking against Palpatine lately. Not since Counselor Satine of Mandalore was killed in her own home by phantom archers in red robes. Who knows what Palpatine will do when he takes the throne?”

He's not there yet. Queen Jania has an heir, even if he's not a very good one.” Leia brought an armful of fruit to the counter. “Has anyone heard from Prince Henry? Is he still off carousing at Mos Eisley and Nar Shadda?”

Shara bit her lip. “The prince is dead. It was formally announced yesterday that he was murdered on the road just outside of Nar Shadda by brigands he owed money to.”

Well, I'm not going to say I'm surprised.” Leia sighed as she handed Shara her few coins. “He's probably had it coming to him for a while now. I do feel sorry for his mother...and more to the point, for us. He wouldn't have made a very good king, but he'd still be better than Palpatine.”

Shara took the coins, then gave her friend a hug. “You'll keep an eye on yourself?”

I always do.” Leia patted her friend's shoulder. “I really have to go. Mother's waiting for this fruit. Say good-bye to Kes for me...”

Suddenly, she reeled back, pulling out of Shara's arms. The light around her seemed to go wavy and soft, and then...the vision. She saw it. Her home, flames licking around the edges of the cottage walls, scorching the thatch roof. Her parents. The orcs...the phantom archers. Their red robes matched the color of the fire that consumed her home. Luke held on the ground by two fiendish goblins, while a shape in a dark robe, its bony white hand standing out in stark relief against the brilliance of the flames, chanted a guttural incantation she couldn't understand. Dark light writhed around Luke, who screamed in agony...his body twisted, changing...

Are you all right, Leia?” Shara's hand was on her shoulder. “You just stopped, and then you turned pale. Is something wrong?”

Yes. That's all I can say. I have to get home.” Leia dashed for the cart, parked in the near-by grass. “I wish you and Kes all the luck in the world! Give my love to the new baby!” The cart was flying down the road before Shara had the chance to reply.

She hoped she wasn't too late. She'd never had a vision like that before. Not that intense. Her parents...Luke...they were all she had in the world. Them and Obi-Wan. Thank goodness he lived at a separate cottage about twenty minutes from them. A rusty crow cawed overhead as she careened down the dirt path into the Endor Woods. “Strange,” Leia muttered. “I swear that's the same crow I saw when I was talking to Mother this morning. Nosy little fellow! I wonder why he's so interested in this part of the woods? Probably trying to get into Mother and Luke's vegetable garden.”

The smoke was visible well before she made it to the path that lead to their home. It was thick and black, and it obscured everything. Twilight wouldn't get near it. She left them on the end of the road, glad that she'd brought her armor and Jedi weapons, just in case of emergencies. Her fingers grasped the hilt of her sword as she leaped from the cart, ducking into the smoke.

Her home was destroyed. Nothing but cinders. They burned everything. Her father's workshop, where he had been working on a cradle for Shara's baby. Mother's kitchen, with its drying herb bundles and smell of cooking vegetables. The garden she and Luke had lovingly planted was trampled and blackened. The chickens and cow were gone, probably stolen by the phantom archers for their master.

Mother!” Her voice was raw and choked. “Father! Luke!” Fingers reddened from clutching her sword threw scorched boards aside, ignoring splinters and sharp edges. Where were they? They couldn't...they wouldn't...her vision...

She found Mother and Father together, in what had once been the main room. At least, she thought it was them. Mother's body was so mangled and blackened, it was hard to tell. There was a pile of ashes and bones next to her that may have been her father.

Leia stumbled into the remains of the garden and promptly threw up everything she'd eaten that morning and in town. After wiping her mouth, she managed to stumble to her feet. One person was missing. “Luke?” Leia closed her eyes, trying to remember the vision. “Luke? Are you here?” He was alive. Her brother was alive. She could feel it. He was alive, but not...himself. Not right. As she concentrated, she felt the darkness all around her, cloaking her brother. It was a deep, thick evil, a concentrated corruption like she'd never felt before. It shielded Luke, whose light in the Force normally shined like a beacon of purity.

It was nearly dark when she finished digging a grave for her parents in the remains of her mother's garden. She buried them together. They would have wanted it that way. “I miss both of you already,” Leia gulped. “I...I loved you both more than anything. You two and Luke were my world.” The distraught young woman thrust her blue blade into the ground before them. “I swear on Father's sword, I will find who did this, and they will pay.”

Without another word, she sheathed her blade, then climbed into the cart and rode away, not looking back. The golden light deepened into pink, then red, then purple. The hot golden sun was replaced by a soft moon, round like the cheese many people claimed it was.

Obi-Wan's cottage was smaller than her parents'. It was still wood and thatch, but it had only one small room with a few sticks of furniture, including a large bookshelf. Leia had never been so happy to see it. Usually, Luke got along better with Obi-Wan than she did, but she liked her uncle well enough.

“Leia!” The old mage's cape fluttered behind him as he rushed out. “Get inside. Hurry!”

What's going on?” He lead Leia inside. Her uncle's normally neat cottage was a disaster. Most of the furniture was in splinters of the floor. His cookware lay dented next to the fireplace, and his books were in ashes.

I was in the garden when they attacked.” Obi-Wan pulled a small wooden chest out from under the floorboards. “Thank goodness I was able to fend them off.” He took out a soft satchel and dropped several dusty books from the chest into it, along with a few clothes and personal items that hadn't been smashed. “They'll be back soon, though. I know they already got your parents. I saw the smoke.”

It wasn't until then that she noticed the tears in the old man's eyes. “Your father...Anakin was practically my brother, and Padme was one of the dearest, sweetest women I ever knew. I didn't have the chance to go to them when the demons came and tried to take my energy.”

Is that what happened?” Leia handed him an extra cloak. Uncle Obi-Wan was always dropping and losing his. “I found them dead and our house burned to the ground.” The girl wiped fiercely at her own brown eyes. “And Luke...he's alive, but something is wrong...”

Palpatine has Luke.” Obi-Wan took a long oaken staff off the wall and swept a pile of blankets into his arms. “I had a vision...”

So did I.” She gathered two of the less-dented pots. They were going to need something to cook with. “You said they tried to take your energy.”

Her uncle dropped the pots and a spoon in a burlap bag, followed by several bags of herbs. “Like all black magic beings, Palpatine feeds on corrupted magical energy.” His hand rubbed at his chest. “I could feel him drain the life from your father. It was like a torture device clamped on my heart. When a demon has finished draining the magic from a creature, the creature turns to dust.”

That's why Father's remains were dust and bone.” She nearly choked at the thought of it. “He...he took his energy...” Her little fists slammed against the wooden walls. “I will kill Palpatine! I swear it! He can't go around, taking whatever energy he wants! If he's done it to Luke, too...”

No, he can't handle Luke's magic. The boy is an innocent, his magic pure as moonlight. He'd have to find a way to corrupt it, make it easier to remove.” Obi-Wan sat on the satchel, but the metal clasp refused to close. “Palpatine stripped every Jedi in our order of magic but us and our elder. I have no idea where our elder is now, or if he's even still alive. To my knowledge, you, I, and Luke are the only ones left.”

Leia plopped next to him. “Why does he need all that magic?”

Knowing him, I'm sure he's planning some scheme to wrestle the kingdom from the royal family, and has been for years.” He signed in relief as the clasp gave that tell-tale click.

I'll bet he's the one who had the prince killed, not some brigand.” Leia hefted the satchel into her arms. “And he's probably been poisoning the queen, too.”

Obi-Wan nodded. “I wouldn't be surprised if he at least initiated the queen's illness.” He shouldered the staff in its holder. “Prince Henry isn't dead, though. He's very much alive. I can feel it. Besides, that brigands story seemed a bit fishy to me.”

All right, Uncle Obi-Wan.” Leia sighed. She didn't entirely believe the prince had avoided his fate, but it was obvious her uncle thought he did. “Where to now?”

Death Star Fortress, on the Salt Cliffs of Crait overlooking Calamari Bay.” Obi-Wan pulled a map out of the bottom of the chest and tucked it into his robe. “It's remote enough for Palpatine to keep a magic-user hidden.”

Leia was about to ask him how the hell they were going to break into a guarded fortress when the ground under her quaked. He heart twisted in her stomach as the sound of grunts and screams joined falling trees and the smell of freshly-decaying meat.

Orcs!” Obi-Wan leaped aside as the back window of the cottage was smashed in by a needle-studded mace the size of her head. “Get out of here! Get to the cart!” Leia didn't need to be told twice. She and Obi-Wan ducked outside, just as a second massive fist slammed into the roof, bringing it down on shattered furniture.

Three massive creatures with muscles thick as muskmelons lumbered over the remains of the cottage, searching for any humans that might be left inside. “Hey ugly,” she yelled, “what was that all about?” She stabbed him in the foot and smirked when he jumped up and down, clutching his wounded toes. “You shouldn't go around wrecking houses that don't belong to you!”

Owwww!” The orc massaged his cut toe. “Bad lady! That hurt!” He reached for Leia, who managed to duck away. “Hey, stop that! Master say he wanted girl with magic! She's the cub of the Knight we kill!”

Leia was about to leap at him when long, slightly more willowy arms reached around her. The lone female orc grabbed her from behind, holding her tightly and keeping her from reaching for her sword. “You will come with us, human girl,” the orc purred. “You have good magic. Our master likes good magic. He will take your magic, and we will feed on the remains.”

Leia kicked the orc at the same time a staff came down on her head. The orc screamed as Leia pulled away. “I'm afraid we don't have the time to deal with you.” Obi-Wan ducked the swipe she took at him with her thick green fist. “We have a very long trip ahead of us, and we must get going now if we're going to beat the morning cart traffic.”

The orc let out a shriek and collapsed...revealing Leia and her blazing blue crystal sword. “Don't you dare try to touch my uncle again!”

Thank you, Leia. I'll handle the other two.” Obi-Wan moved back, concentrating. A green light circled around his hand. She kept them busy, barely managing to dive under their legs and deflect their maces with her sword, as her uncle worked his spell.

The largest orc had just gotten her on the ground when a glistening green beam mingled with the moonlight, writhing around the orcs. Their shrieks of terror shook trees to their roots and sent several skittish night animals into hiding. Eventually, the shrieks vanished as the orcs seemed to blend into the ground. When it subsided, they were now trees themselves, great black columns with fat twisted limbs rising into the sky.

My god.” Leia's eyes widened. “I've never seen a spell used like that!”

Obi-Wan stumbled. “I haven't used magic like that in twenty years.” He took Leia's hand. “Let's get out of here, before Palpatine sends more creatures after us.” The girl leaped in and grabbed the reins, shaking them so hard, her uncle nearly fell off the driver's seat as the cart bounced into the woods.

What happened back there?” Leia asked as she directed Twilight to the main road. It would probably be empty at this time of night, and she wasn't about to stay in the forest after running into those orcs. “I've never seen monsters that size in this part of the Kingdoms. I thought they only lived in the Hinari Mountains.”

They're members of Palpatine's squadrons. His powers allow him to assemble whatever fiendish beasts will do his bidding. He has control over everything from demons to dragons.” Obi-Wan rubbed his rear as they went over a rut in the road. “I think we should stop for the night and camp out in the cart. We've had a busy day, and we have a long ride tomorrow.”

Leia let Obi-Wan sleep in the cart. His back wasn't as strong as hers. Besides, she didn't mind sleeping on a blanket on the ground. Father used to take her on trips into the woods all the time when she was younger. They'd lay on a blanket together and count the stars until they were too sleepy to talk anymore. She couldn't help the tears that fell as she thought of Father and Mother.

Slumber didn't come easy that night, or for the next few days. Her dreams were plagued by orcs and crows that transformed into devils with long talons and wrinkled white skin. She'd see Luke on his knees, reaching out to her before a dark light would engulf him. Chapped lips would cry out to him, but not a sound emerged. Slender arms reached for empty air. Brown eyes trained into the inky darkness of the forest fell on a slender figure. A man in a dark silk cloak...was it Luke? But the figure was too tall to be her brother. He cried out to her, but the words melted into the warm summer air. When she got closer, his helpless pleas had blended with the growls of a wounded wolf...a wolf that was poised to spring...

She shot out of her blankets, her mind still groggy with sleep. They were now on the edge of the Endor Woods, just outside the Salt Cliffs of Crait. The sun was just peeking over the tops of the trees as the growls became louder and more frightened.

Obi-Wan had just emerged from his own blankets as Leia took off into the woods. Ignoring his groggy calls to her, she followed the sound through the dew-soaked underbrush. The creature sounded like it was hurt. Probably an animal caught in a poacher or hunter's trap. They usually did their work early in the mornings.

Indeed, when she crept into a small clearing, she found a huge brown wolf with its paw caught in a heavy iron trap. “You poor thing!” The big dog looked up at her with large, pained blue eyes. “I won't hurt you. I want to help you.” It whimpered as she stroked his silky ears. It had the softest, thickest fur she'd ever seen. Between the fur and the massive body, it was easily twice the size of most wolves. It was more like a furry mountain than a wolf! When she put out her hand, it bared a set of sharp fangs that gave it a ferocious look.

I won't hurt you! I promise!” The creature tilted its head as Leia scratched around its ears. “I'm going to have to leave you for a minute. I'll be back as soon as I can get my uncle.”

Obi-Wan was packing up their camp when she emerged, sticks and leaves caught in her hair. “Uncle Obi-Wan, you have to come with me. There's a wolf caught in a trap out there. I can get him out, but I don't know any healing spells.”

I did feel something out there.” The older man made a face as he pulled out a bag of herbs. “I was never fond of poachers. It's one thing to shoot at the Wookie wolves to keep them from livestock, but I disapprove of hunting for sport or to sell them as pets. These are wild creatures, and they should be free in the woods, where they belong.”

The wolf looked up expectantly as they arrived. Leia managed to force the trap open with her sword blade. Obi-Wan petted the creature's back, whispering gently into its ear. Leia took over petting him as her uncle rubbed the herbs around his badly cut foot. They moved aside, allowing the wolf to test out its feet. He limped a little before going over to Leia and giving her a big lick on her cheek, then doing the same to Obi-Wan.

Leia couldn't help laughing. “Hey! You're awfully friendly, for a wild animal.”

I'm wondering if someone tamed him.” Uncle Obi-Wan returned the bag of herbs to the pocket of his robe. “Most Wookie wolves are shy creatures who would rather roam with their own kind, but he's seems to like us.”

We can't leave him out here.” Leia patted the wolf's head as he nudged her leg. “Could we bring him with us, Uncle Obi-Wan? He's a dog, or at least canine. He might be able to sniff out Luke.”

That's not a bad idea.” Obi-Wan chuckled as the wolf rubbed at his leg. “And we wouldn't have to feed him. Most wolves are expert hunters. If anything, he might be able to share some of his catch with us.”

Leia rode in the back with the wolf as Uncle Obi-Wan took over the driving. She had to admit, she sort of liked the walking carpet. They'd had dogs and other domestic pets at her parents' cottage, and she missed having a furry friend. For his part, the wolf didn't seem to mind her attention. Obi-Wan smiled as the two fell asleep, Leia pillowed on the wolf's soft back. They needed the rest, he decided. They had a long day ahead of them.