The Photonovel Alliance
ALLIANCE INTELLIGENCEChapter 16PATHWAYS






    



On the Alderaan Dawn, the rebels’ flagship, a meeting has been called by Admiral Liberance Collett of the fledgling Rebel Navy. Hank Landow rushes to the briefing room to see what all the fuss is about.





“We have received a beacon from General Naht’s squad on Rocco 9,” the Admiral announces. “They have successfully captured the Imperial station. However, they are now trapped there with reinforcements closing in. We’re be sending in the tank cavalry. All crews need to be in the hanger in exactly four hours. That is all.”





As the Admiral turns around, Hank stops to think. Saigorr, Cracken’s Wookiee guardian has taken the “forced medical leave” very seriously, but Hank also knows that there is no way the injured Colonel will be kept from aiding his friends. But Hank himself had requested the leave, fearing for his friend’s welfare. In only a short time, his decision is made and he turns, heading down the hall to Cracken’s dorm.





Meanwhile, on Rocco 9, help has already reached Gen. Naht’s team, as Jaig and Master Qwa rr’s shuttle arrives at the captured station.





The general himself leads a group of rebels and freed prisoners to greet the Jedi as they exit their shuttle.





“Welcome, Master Qwarr, Agent Landow,” he speaks. “I’m General George Naht of Alliance Intelligence can’t tell you just how grateful we are for your assistance. I fought in the Clone Wars, after all so I know how much help 3 Jedi can be…”

——“Don’t I recall you fighting for the Seperatists?” Master Qwarr interrupts.

“Well, yes, yes I did. And I saw first hand the damage one Jedi could do alone, much less three…”






“And that’s another question, General,” Qwarr interrupts once more. “You keep saying three Jedi. I’m afraid I only see two”.





At this, the crowd of rebels parts as a towering, battle-scarred Whipid steps forward. Master Qwarr instantly recognizes the mysterious figure.





“K’Kruhk!” the Weequay master exclaims. “I thought you dead, old friend!”

—“The misconception was mutual, I’m afraid,” K’Kruhk replies.

“Well, it seems we were both wrong.”






“This is Jedi Master K’Kruhk,” Qwarr introduces the stranger to Jaig. “We were close friends before the Purge, and fought together on many battles”. He turns back to the Whipid. “This is Jaig Landow, a young rebel who is strong in the force. He and his friends rescued me, I’ve taken him on as an apprentice. We were in the midst of training when we received the distress beacon”.





“We have much to discuss,” K’Kruhk replies as he and Qwarr turn and begin to walk back to the garrison. Jaig watches in shock as the duo departs. He has never seen his master truly happy before.

“Have you told him about Kara?” K’Kruhk whispers.

——“No,” Qwarr replies. “The past is behind us now, we need not let it impede the present”.






Just a short distance away, the Imperial survivors of the assault mull unpleasantly in the prison cabins.

—“So”, Detective James Marquand breaks the silence. “Who’s up for another game of Sabaac?”






“Aaaagh!” Imperial Commander Kueller screams, kicking over the prisoners’ table. “No more Sabaac! No more games!”





“We have to get out of here,” he snarls, glowering at the unflappable detective.

—“The reinforcements are on their way,” Marquand replies. “They’ll get us out”.

“And we’ll be the laughingstocks of the army! Imprisoned in on own prison camp, waiting for rescue! Not all of us are content with being jokes, Marquand! Not all of us already are!”






“I resent that statement,” Marquand replies, in monotone.

——“Well guess what,” Kueller positions himself inches from the detective’s face. “I don’t care what you think! I am the highest ranking officer here and I am taking my command!”






“He’s right,” Shade, the commando tasked as Marquand’s escort, emerges from the corner. “We need to at least put up a fight. But first we need a plan”.





“Good,” Kueller backs away from Marquand. “But you’re right, we do need a plan”.





“But I already have one.”





Meanwhile, back on the Alderaan Dawn, Hank Landow returns to his Colonel’s quarters, only to find his fellow teammates Havi and Sila Kott already there.





Doc, the medical droid tasked with Cracken’s care comes running up to Hank.

——“Sir, please help me! They are trying to help the Colonel escape. I have orders not to allow him to participate in any strenuous activities, such as combat, wrestling, hard labor, …”

“Yeah, yeah, I know, Doc,” Hank interrupts the rambling droid. “Why don’t you run and get Saigorr to back you up?”

——“I’m afraid I can’t do that, sir. He left me with strict orders to…”






“Doc,” Hank growls, lifting the terrified droid into the air. “You’re going to go get Saigorr”.

—“Yes, sir. Of course.”






As Doc runs out of the room, Cracken stands up.

——“How do you feel, Colonel?,” Hank asks.






“Better than ever. Now what kind of trouble has George gotten himself into this time?”





As Cracken prepares for battle, back on Rocco 9, Detective Marquand approaches the former prisoner now tasked with guarding the barracks.

—“Beg your pardon, sir, but my partner has taken ill. I saw in your file that you happen to be a doctor. Could you take a look at him?”






“I suppose so,” the guard mumbles. “A dead prisoner’s no good”. He cautiously approaches Detective Watts, who is lying upon his bunk.





“Now, what seems to be the problem?” the guard kneels down to examine the prisoner when…





Kueller leaps out of the upper bunk!





Before the guard can cry out for help, he is knocked unconscious by his assailant!





“Perfect,” Kueller smiles as he stands up. “First, we take the armory. Then, we get my Jedi back.”





Blissfully unaware of what has just transpired, the Jedi in question is inside the garrison, telling the tale of how he survived the Purge along with a small handful of loyal Republic agents and Jedi younglings.

——“And so we hid with the Younglings, changing location every now and then. But eventually Kueller got to close. I led him on a chase to throw him off our trail, but he ultimately captured me”.






-“Do you know if the others escaped?” Jaig asks.





——“No, I do not. Though it would seem Kueller would have told me if he had captured them. This is why I cannot join with you or your rebellion. I must return to my own path”.





“I respect that, old friend,” Qwarr replies. “But perhaps we could join our paths together. The galaxy needs Jedi more than ever, now”.





“Perhaps,” K’Kruhk muses. “But perhaps it is not yet the will of the Force. I shall meditate on the topi…” He is interrupted as a siren blare throughout the station.





The Jedi turn to see one of the former prisoners running towards them.





“The Imperial reinforcements have been spotted,” he reports. “They’ll be here within the hour!”





Master Qwarr rushes to the main gate, where General Naht is surveying the coming army.





“What do you think, General?” Qwarr inquires of the rebels’ battle plans.

———“Well, we’ve managed to block up the front gate, that was so carelessly blown open during the original battle. It should hold them for a little while”.






“You okayed blowing up the gate, sir,” the rebel pilot Davish “Pops” Krall interrupts.

—“Yes, but it was your idea” George replies.

“Well, anyway,” Pops continues, “We can’t put all of our defences on the front barricade. It may be the weakest point of attack, but they’ll figure that we’ll have more troops up there to counter it”.






“Of course, send troops to the back wall at once!” Naht announces.

—“Pardon me asking,” Qwarr asks, “But which one of you is actually the General?”

“I am, of course,” Gen. Naht quickly asserts himself. “Pops could never be a General. His plans lack finesse. Now send troops to the back wall!”






Qwarr turns to Jaig. “Go with K’Kruhk to the wall. You will be needed there”.

——“At once, Master”.






As Jaig leaves, the sound of blaster fire erupts from the Imperial forces.

—“Battle stations!” General Naht yells. The rebels draw their weapons…






Only to be distracted by pilot Porkins, attempting to climb into the watchtower along with a giant gun. “A little help here, guys?”





As the battle begins, Commander Kueller maintains his calm as he leads the escaped Imperials through the back alleys of the station. The armory in sight, he turns and gives his orders:

——“Marquand, Shade, come with me. We’ll clear the armory, then the rest of you can move in”.






However, as the three Imperials approach, two of the former prisoners arrive first, looking for weapons to fend off the impending assault.





Entering the armory, the duo begin to search for a weapon the suits their interest…





When Kueller, Marquand, and Shade charge in. Marquand immediately takes the first rebel down…





While Kueller promptly shoots the second dead.





Shade kneels over the dead Weequay.

—“The little nerf-herder was going to take my gun,” he mutters.






“Blasters, hmph,” Kueller arrogantly sniffs as he picks up his swords. “Anyone can use them. It takes true skill to wield a blade”.

—“Well, good look when you get shot by some rebel standing three yards away while your showing off your skill”. Shade mutters.






Suddenly, an explosion from the battle outside snaps the troopers back to attention. Kueller quickly regains his composure.

——“Let’s move”.






Meanwhile, the battle has begun at the front gate. Porkins screams gleefully as his newly found canon fires into the Imperial ranks.





“Incoming”, Orrimarko calls out from his battle station.





Turning around, the rebels dive out of the way as their position is attacked from the air by an Imperial Hunter-class Air Drone.





Swiveling quickly, Porkins opens fire on the mechanical menace…





Sending it crashing down onto the tower!





Master Qwarr quickly finishes off the drone with his lightsaber…





And clears the wreckage from the gate using the Force.

——“When are these reinforcements of yours going to show up, General?” Qwarr asks.






“Hopefully soon,” George answers. “I don’t think we can hold out much longer”.





Help is indeed on the way for, in the space above Rocco 9, the hanger of the Alderaan Dawn bustles with activity as the rebel forces prepare their tanks for landing. Sila Kott bids good-bye to his brother Hans…





When Col. Airen Cracken and Hank Landow run up to him.

—“Did you get us a tank?” Hank asks.

“Of course. Right here, best one in the armada,” Sila motions to the tank beside him.






“Looks good to me,” Cracken moves to enter the tank. “I can’t wait to get back in action!”





Suddenly, Havi pops out of the tank’s turret.

—“And you’d better hurry, too! Saigorr’s coming this way and he looks mad!”






Hank and Cracken quickly climb in the tank and lock the doors, leaving Sila to fend off the furious Wookiee.

—“What? No, Saigorr, I don’t know which one they’re in”.

“Rooaaarghh!”

—“Of course I didn’t help him escape!”






“Looarg! Wunkalogga!”

—“You know Cracken, he’s not one to take no for an answer,” Sila begins to hastily walk away from the angry Wookiee. “Now, I’ve got to get to my tank, Saigorr. The battle’s about ready to start.”

“Naarrrlllll!”






On the south wall of the camp Jaig Landow and Master K’Kruhk valiantly lead the defense against the Imperial forces!





“Master K’Kruhk!” Jaig yells over the ringing noise of blaster fire. “There’s something I need to ask you about the Clone Wars!”

“Not now, Jaig, after the battle we can talk. Focus on the matter at hand”.






Meanwhile, the Imperial forces continue to press their assault.





The presiding officer motions to his supporting walkers…





Who concentrate their fire on the two Jedi!





Jaig and K’Kruhk dive for cover as the walkers pummel the South Wall.





Jaig turns to the rebels closest to him. “We need something with enough firepower to take out those walkers!”





“Will this do?” pilot Tiree runs up with the biggest gun he could carry.

—“It looks dangerous…” Jaig comments.

“Then let’s use it,” K’Kruhk growls.






The two job back atop the wall, charging into battle…





Only for another volley of blaster fire to destroy the South Wall, with them atop it!





As the smoke clears, K’Kruhk coughs. His fur singed, his bones aching, the Whipid Jedi rises to survey his surroundings.





“Where is Jaig?” he wheezes, still trying to catch his breath.





“Over there,” a bruised Tiree. K’Kruhk turns to the fallen apprentice, after which Tiree mutters: “This is the last time a take a ground mission”.





K’Kruhk rushes to his young friend, who is being tended to by Agent Hogan.

“Will he be all right?”

“Sure, but he’s pretty banged up. I’ll need to try and find some med gear…”






Meanwhile, the recently escaped Imperial prisoners have come to a disagreement:

“We need to get to the shuttles now,” Detective Marquand insists. “The rebels will have reinforcements on the way, we will not win this fight!”






“No!” Commander Kueller shouts. “I will not leave without the Jedi! Do you doubt the might of the Empire? I always knew you were weak!”

“I apologize if you confuse my superior intelligence and reasoning for weakness…”

“I ought to kill you right now, insolent whelp!”






“Stand down, Kueller!” Shade steps between the feuding officers. “We had orders to report directly to Inquisitor Dreyfus following this assignment. We will follow those orders, whether or not you choose to join us”.





“I will not leave without my prize,” Kueller reasserts his stance. “If you wish to choose the path of a coward, so be it. I shall live as a hero!” With that, he storms off, though only a few of the escaped troops follow him.





Watching Kueller depart, Marquand snips: “Eh, his company was getting boring anyway,”





As Marquand an co. flee to the ships, Kueller races through the compound. Turning a corner, he at last come face to face with K’Kruhk. Grabbing an unconscious Jaig’s lightsaber, the Whipid Jedi flees over the wall and into the battle!





Meanwhile, at the front gate, Gen. George Naht is leading the defense against the attacking Imperial troops.

“Your friends better get here soon,” one liberated prisoner shouts, “Or we’re all done for!”






“Wait!” George shouts, looking to the sky. “They’re here!”





Sure enough, down through the clouds is a fleet of rebel transports, each carrying a refurbished tank!





Sila Kott, rising out of the turret of one of the tanks, orders for the battle to begin…





And the rebel cavalry opens fire on the shocked Imperials!





The sudden arrival of reinforcements quickly turns the battle in the rebels’ favor. In a few short minutes, the Imperials are in full retreat!





Sila’s tank pulls up next to the front gate, where he greets Gen. Naht.

“You showed up just in the nick of time, boy,” George congratulates the young rebel. “Just like I planned”.






Before Sila can quetion George’s assertion, the troops at the front gate let out a cheer, their battle over.





Meanwhile, Master K’Kruhk stealthily makes his way through the battle field, ignored by the fleeing Stormtroopers.





Knowing his presence is a danger to his friends, the old Master searches for a vehicle on which to escape and return to his previous path.





Commander Kueller is also searching the battlefield. He comes across a group of troops preparing to depart in a tank.

“Troopers! Has a Jedi come this way in the past few minutes?”

“Yes, sir! He drove by on a speeder bike just before you showed up. But we’ve been ordered to retreat…”






“Nonsense,” Kueller orders. “I can see your ranking officer is dead. Therefore I am in command now!”





Without further ado, the furious commander climbs onto the tanks…





And tosses down the body of the fallen officer.

“Get moving! I want that Jedi!”






Back at the front of the base, Havi is surveying the battlefield from the turret of Cracken’s tank when he sees a flash on the horizon!





Turning to look, he sees K’Kruhk racing up a nearby cliff…





With Kueller right behind him.





“Hey Colonel!” he shouts over the tanks speakers. “Looks like we’ve got a Jedi in distress on the cliff!”

—“Well, let’s go introduce ourselves, shall we?” Cracken smiles. “It’s good to be back in action”.






Cracken’s tank roars to life, and with a single blast of its turret lays ruin to Kueller’s commandeered tank!





However, K’Kruhk is not free of trouble. A Hunter drone swoops out of the sky to attack him!





In the speed of the assault, a rockslide starts, burying both Jedi and droid beneath debris!





Kueller scrambles up to finish off the Jedi…





But K’Kruhk leaps out from beneath the rocks, ready for a final showdown with his nemesis!





As the duel begins, Cracken steers his tank up the mountain in pursuit, ignoring the protests of its archaic propulsion system.





K’Kruhk’s lightsaber flashes through the air against Kueller’s specialized swords. The two master duelists are so intent on the fight that they don’t notice the tank coming up behind them!





K’Kruhk, seeing the tank first, shoves Kueller up and onto its deck…





But loses his footing, sliding to the edge of the tank, now teetering dangerously close to the edge of the cliff!





Just in time, Cracken swings the turret around, knocking Kueller out and over the edge of the deck.





K’Kruhk leaps up to safety but, as he swings out over the chasm, the tanks engines begin to give way!





“We’re losing power!” Hank yells over blaring alarms in the tank’s cockpit. Cracken struggles to keep the vehicle from falling off the cliff.





Struggling to maintain a grip on the faltering tank, K’Kruhk looks over to see Kueller, who managed to grab onto the cliff face!





As his hand slips away, K’Kruhk leaps towards Kueller, taking his foe with him down into the abyss as the tank bursts into flames!





Hank, Cracken, and Havi scramble out of their burning vehicle.





The trio approaches the cliff, where Cracken retrieves Jaig’s lightsaber, which has come to rest at the very edge.

—“Who do you think he was?” Hank asks.

“I don’t know,” Cracken replies. “But there’s no use looking for him. No one could survive a fall from this height”.






Shortly later, the battle over, Cracken returns Jaig’s lightsaber and is filled in on what has transpired in his absence.

—“I’m sorry about the loss of your friend, Master Qwarr”.

“Thank you, colonel,” Qwarr replies. “But I do not believe he is dead.”






“What do you mean?” Cracken asks incredulously.

—“I would have felt his passing in the Force if he was truly dead. And I did not”.

“Then we should launch a search party to find him. Someone of his knowledge would…”






“I’m afraid not, Colonel,” Qwarr interrupts. “K’Kruhk has departed on his own path. It is not for us to choose for him”.





Meanwhile, Hank is having a conversation with his brother.

—“I suppose you’ll be leaving again, now?” he asks.

“I’m afraid so, Hank,” Jaig replies. “I have to continue in my training”.

——“Blast your training!” Hank snaps. “I promised mother that I would protect you Jaig! How the hell am I supposed to do that when you’re gallivanting across the galaxy training to be part of an extinct cult?”






“Hank,” Jaig reaches out his arm, attempting to calm his brother. “I’m older now. I’m doing this training so that I can protect myself. You’ve spent your whole life watching over me. It’s time for you to let me go”.

——“Jaig…” Hank pauses, trying to think of a reply. “I’m not going to stop you from doing what you want. But please, think about it before you choose”.

“I have. And I’ve chosen the path of the Jedi”.






As Jaig departs with Master Qwarr, Cracken pulls Hank aside.

—“I heard your conversation with Jaig. He’ll be fine. Master Qwarr is very accomplished. This is what your mother would have wanted”.

“I suppose. But where does that leave me? All my life I’ve been his guardian, and now he’s left on his own path. What am I supposed to do?”






“Carry on.”, Cracken answers. “All of us have lost something, something that set us on a new course. Jaig may have gone on his own path, but you’re part of a bigger family now. The whole rebellion is your family, and we look out for our own”.

“Even Tiree?” Hank manages to crack a smile.

-“Well, Tiree might have been adopted”, Cracken laughs as the two friends walk back to the sound of celebration.




ALLIANCE INTELLIGENCE
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ALPHAS
 
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THE SECRET ORIGIN OF MASTER QWARR
 
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