Title: Enter The Stalkers, A Star Wars AU Story

Author: Mike Wolfe
Author email: MWolfe2212@aol.com
Category: Alternate Universe or Rise of the Emperor

Keywords: Buffy/ Highlander/ X-Files/ Hercules: The Legendary Journeys/ Xena: Warrior Princess/ Beverly Hills Cop/ Bureau 13/ Blade (the movie)/ Ghost Rider (Marvel Comics)/ SERRAted Edge (by Mercedes Lackey)/ Aladdin/ Star Wars Episode 1/ Blackhawk Down/ We Were Soldiers/ Monty Python action, adventure, Qui Gon, Amidala,crossover

Spoilers: None
Rating: R (due to violence and language)

Summary: American soldiers, on a rescue mission to Africa, get shot down and find themselves fighting to liberate a conquered world in the Star Wars universe.

Disclaimer: All characters except those noted below with their respective rights, properties and copyrights are the property of their respective creators, authors, owners, producers and agencies. These characters are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended or meant, and no money will be made from this story. This story may be copied in its entirety, and may be distributed as long as all copyright information remains.

The characters Anthony "Saint" Christopher, Raymond "Wins" Winslett, Daniel McGyver , Earl Shepherd, Jack McCoy, and Admiral Jefferson are mine. Anyone wishing to use them may contact me at MWolfe2212@aol.com
The characters JD Heart and Katie Heart belong to Erica L. Marr
The characters Steve St. Wolf, Frank Iverson, Randi Jessup, Brian Jessup, Charlie, Marc Le Chevalier, and Joe N'Gato and the Knights of the Order of the Grail are property of Steve Pantovich, as is the universe in which this story takes place. Steve can be contacted at steve711@concentric.net.

Glossary:
Sikorsky MH-60L Blackhawk: Special operations version of the standard US Army assault helicopter
Super 6-4: Radio call sign used by the MH-60L Blackhawk flown by "Saint" Christopher.
Super 6-1, Super 6-2, Super 6-3: Other Blackhawks used in the evacuation operation.
Skinnies: soldier's nickname for native people of Mauritania
RPG: Rocket Propelled Grenade
Ready Room: Room onboard a aircraft-carrying ship where pilots receive the mission briefing
Feet Wet/Feet Dry: refers to an aircraft crossing over a major water feature (lake, Ocean) and land.
Delta Operator: Member of the US Army's Delta Force, an elite special forces unit.
Chock: A group of around twelve soldiers. One chock is assigned to each Blackhawk

Cast of Characters:
Anthony "Saint" Christopher: pilot of "Super 6-4"
Raymond "Wins" Winslett: co-pilot of "Super 6-4"
Daniel McGyver: Crew-chief of "Super 6-4"
Earl Shepherd: Delta sniper
Jack McCoy: Delta operator/sniper
Admiral Jefferson: Commander in charge of rescue mission

Dedications: 
First to Steve, for letting me get involved in the Wandererverse and suggesting that I backdate the story to 2000 instead of the original 2006. Of course, he will rue the day that he brought forth the idea of unleashing a teenage American helicopter pilot on the Star Wars universe and the resulting chaos.
Second to Erica Marr, who made the remark that Anthony "Saint" Christopher looked like another St. Wolf. Thus giving birth to the idea for having Christopher come from the Wandererverse and his relationship with Katie and JD Heart
Third to Tim Drake, who proofread the original draft and forced me to rethink many ideas that led to a better story.
Fourth to the men and women of the United States Army who provided the inspiration for this story
Author's Notes: The chapters will be noted as to which universe they take place in. Those chapters taking place in the Wandererverse will be titled as such. Those from the Star Wars universe will be so noted. The dates used in the Star Wars Universe refer to Before Star Wars (BSW), The original movie.


ENTER THE STALKERS: A Star Wars alternate universe story

Death Waits In The Dark / Night Stalkers
{Motto of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment}

Chapter 1: Into the Storm

Ready Room on board the USS Essex
Six miles off the Northwest coast of Africa
June 3, 2000, 1400 hrs
(Wandererverse)

The tension was thick in the ready room of the Essex, one of the Navy's newest amphibious assault ships, and the assembled men waited for the briefing to begin. Admiral Jefferson walked in as a sergeant called the room to attention.

"You may be seated", stated Jefferson as he pulled out his papers and stared the briefing. "Gentlemen, for the last few weeks the situation between the Arab masters, rulers, and underclass and slaves of African descent has been tense, to say the least. The State Department has issued a warning for all American citizens to leave the country immediately. Yesterday, riots broke out in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauretania and the situation has gone downhill since then. The ambassador has ordered an immediate evacuation of remaining American citizens from the country. Our mission is to protect the evacuation from armed bands currently running around the city. At 1300 hours today full-scale civil war broke out between the African underclass and the Arab overlords. The American government has supported the Arab leaders and this has generated resentment among the oppressed. Our mission is to provide protection for the evacuation. A detachment of four MH-60L Blackhawks from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (160th SOAR) will deliver the security force. Alpha Company of 1/75th Rangers will rappel from the Blackhawks and deploy to form a defensive perimeter around the embassy. Assisting the rangers will be a detachment of Delta Operators. After delivering the Rangers, the Blackhawks will orbit the area and provide sniper cover for the rescue mission. Close air support will be provided by two AH-6 Little Birds that are armed with rockets and miniguns. Once the evacuation has been completed, the Rangers will collapse the perimeter and retire to the embassy helicopter pad for extraction. Total time of operation will be three to five hours. Go Code for the operation is Brandy. God speed and remember, leave no man behind!

The soldiers stood at attention as the admiral left the room and got ready for the mission

*****

MH-60L Blackhawk "Super 6-4"
Sitting on the flight deck of the USS Essex
June 3, 2000, 1500hrs
(The Wandererverse)

Five words cut through the radios onboard the helicopters. "Brandy, I say again Brandy"

A loud whine filled the air as the pilots of the Blackhawks went through their pre-flight checklist and started the engines. Soldiers began to race out of the ship and board the sitting helicopters.

Anthony Christopher, at eighteen, was one of the youngest pilots and lieutenants serving with the ‘Nightstalkers'. This was to be his first combat operation and he did not intend to mess up. Upon completion of his preflight, the pilot of "Super 6-4" turned his head to the back of the helicopter and began addressing the boarding troops.

" Good afternoon gentlemen. My name is Anthony "Saint" Christopher and I will be your pilot for this flight. Federal regulations have designated this aircraft as a No-smoking Blackhawk helicopter. For those on our Nouakchott frequent flier program, you will be earning double mileage points for this operation. And as always, the air sickness bags are located on the back of the seat in front of you."

Multiple hands increased the power to the helicopters and began take-off procedures. Switches were thrown, systems checked, and power applied to the throttles. The Blackhawks lifted off the deck and formed up with the gunships, rose to 200 feet, and proceeded to fly inland.

"Super 6-1 feet dry"

"Super 6-2 feet dry"

"Super 6-3 feet dry"

"Super 6-4 feet dry"

Within minutes of crossing the coastline, "Saint" turns to the soldiers behind him and yells out "Two minutes". One soldier put away his copy of "The Last Command" and others checked their weapons one last time. The helicopter banked onto final approach to the target zone.

"One minute!!!"

A sudden rise to the nose and dip of the helicopter's tail signaled that they had reached their destination and the Ranger leader motioned for his men to begin their descent from the aircraft.

"ROPES, GO, GO, GO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Two ropes unrolled from the aircraft and the Ranger chock quickly slid down to take up defensive positions on the four corners of the embassy. The pilots of the Blackhawks signaled the Command and Control bird on the completion of their part of the mission.

"Super 6-1 troops deployed"

"Super 6-2 chocks on the ground"

"Super 6-3 rangers deployed"

"Super 6-4 chocks on the ground and moving into holding pattern"

The rangers secured the perimeter and settled down to await any threats to the operation. Within minutes, shots rang out as members of one of the local militias began to rush the soldiers. One Mauretanian ran into the middle of the street and emptied his rifle at the rangers, only to be thrown back by the impact of several bullets. As on a signal from that militia member, all hell broke loose. A massive firefight broke out between the Americans on the ground and the Mauretanians. Chock 4, in the process of assembling after being deployed from Super 6-4, became pinned down by automatic weapon fire. One of the soldiers cried out in pain and shock as a bullet knocks his M-16 out of his hand along with some of his flesh. A Toyota pickup with a Russian heavy machine gun mounted on the back pulled out from a side street and opened up on the Rangers. The Command and Control (CinC) bird radioed the orbiting helicopters and immediately ordered "Super 6-4" to move to a holding pattern over the embattled Rangers and provide sniper cover. "Saint" flew to the hottest part of the fight and the crew chief let loose with his mini-gun. The loud growl of the weapon filled the air, causing many on the ground to look up. Firing over 100 bullets per second, the miniguns put the truck out of action within seconds. The Blackhawk rotated to give the gunners a shot at an approaching mob. The locals now turned their attention to the biggest threat, Super 6-4. All of a sudden, one of the locals popped up with a rocket launcher. Sgt McCoy, one of the Delta operators, spotted some movement on the ground and shouted the warning to the pilot:

"Saint, Skinny with RPG coming up on your side WATCH OUT!!!!!"

Before he could begin evasive maneuvers, the rocket sailed out and slammed into the tail of the helicopter. "Saint" and "Wins" began to check their instruments as the aircraft began vibrating. It felt as if the helicopter was shaking itself to pieces. A call went over the airwaves letting everyone else know that the Blackhawk had been hit by enemy fire.

The command and control bird radioed in, checking on 6-4's status. " Super 6-4, are you okay? It looked like you got clipped pretty good"

"Negative, we're good, all controls are functional," replied Saint.

"Well, go back to the Essex and get it checked out"

"Roger, Super 6-4 out."

The Blackhawk began a left turn while plotting a course returning to the ship. Five minutes into the return flight the crew began to notice some difficulties. "Saint" began to be worried over how the pedals were responding to his commands.

"Wins check the instruments, I'm getting some bad vibrations in the pedals"

The tail rotor, which had been oscillating since the rocket strike began to get even worse. Suddenly, the tail rotor broke off with a shower of sparks and the aircraft began to spin rapidly. Smoke poured out of the damaged tail section. Meanwhile, the cockpit became a scene of intense stress with red warning lights flashing on the control column. Emergency signals began a loud, constant beeping, warning of imminent disaster. The two pilots quickly fell back on their training. The collective was reduced. There was no time to be afraid. That would come after the aircraft had landed and if they were still alive. One of the Delta snipers began sliding out the door but was caught by the crew chief. The people in back of the helicopter grabbed onto anything nailed down and held on for their very lives. Saint, concentrating on his instruments shouted, back to the Delta snipers and the crew chief "Stay with it!!!"

"Wins, you want to pull the VCLs off line or what?" said the pilot.

Both pilots were pressed against the armored side of their seats by the spin. The men in the back said a few prayers and held on desperately against the gravity that threatened to tear them from the helicopter. "Saint" sent out a distress message over the airwaves.

"Super 6-4, going down" . . . . .

"Super 6-4, going down hard" . . . .

"6-4, going.................................

Meanwhile a bright blue light filled the air in front of the cockpit. A tunnel of air, blue with white electrical discharges crackling along its wall appeared and swallowed the spinning helicopter.

*****

Chapter 2: We're Here!!! Uhhhh, wherever that is.

A Galaxy Far Far Away
Planet Naboo
32BSW
1630 hours
(Star Wars Universe)

A bright flash of blue filled the sky. The resulting swirling tunnel of air and lighting seemed to spit out a wildly spinning object.

*****

A young boy was getting a drink of water when he noticed the atmospheric disturbance and turned to his companion.

"Master, what is that?"

Qui Gon Jinn gave a long look at the disturbance and noticed an unknown ship that appeared to have been spit out of the vortex. He motioned for his apprentice to come over and take a look.

Obi Wan Kenobi took a second look and commented "Master, I have never seen a ship of that type before. It appears to have some type of spinning airfoil on top."

"Whether it is from this world or another, that craft appears to be in serious trouble. We need to be prepared to offer our assistance" Stated Qui Gon as he took in the condition of the wildly spinning craft and the thick smoke pouring from its tail section.

Suddenly, Obi Wan noticed a tremor in the force that seemed to originate from the crippled craft. It was as if an untrained force user was using the force to lessen the damage to the approaching craft. "Can you feel that?"

"Yes, padawan, there appears to be someone on that speeder using the force to assist him with saving those on board. Either way, that craft will be coming down close to the forest."

*****

A young guard approached a group of people centered on a speeder, looking at a map. He came up to a teenage girl to deliver his message.

"Your majesty, we are picking up some unusual transmissions on the comlink. There appears to be some craft in distress. The unusual part is that it does not appear to belong to the Trade Federation or to us!"

The young ruler of the Naboo adjourned the meeting and was led to the communications post that had been set up within the woods. "Turn up the volume" ordered the queen as she and the rest of the party listened in.

*****

The sound of a craft in distress came in clearly over the comlink. The tension and fear was apparent in spite of the pilot's calm voice. This and the numerous warning beeps in the background conveyed a craft in its death throes

"Super 6-4 going down". . . .

"6-4 going down" . .

"We're going down", sighed the pilot.

"Do we have any craft using that call-sign?" asked the queen. Captain Panaka told her no Naboo craft used that type of call sign. They could only listen in growing concern as the disabled aircraft continued it's path to the ground and it's inevitable crash.

*****

Three hundred feet above Naboo, the atmosphere within the Blackhawk's cockpit was chaotic, to say the least. The helicopter continued its wild spin that had been induced by the loss of the tail rotor. Saint noticed the wormhole out of the corner of his eye. However, his attention was concentrated on the feedback from his instruments and the necessity for getting the craft down to the ground in one piece. He took a quick glance outside and blinked his eyes. For some reason, the scene outside the cockpit had changed from an African urban scene to a wide plain alongside a forest. Thoughts of <Man, what is going on here? Am I losing my mind?> ran through Saint's head as he went back fighting to save the lives of his crew and himself. The craft continued its wild spin on it's way to the ground. Wins monitored the altimeter and updated the aircraft's height

"Saint, altitude 300" . .

"Altitude, 200" . . .

"Altitude, 100, we're at 100"

The Blackhawk began its final rotation before hitting the ground. Saint continued to send his distress call over the airwaves, unaware that the Command and Control bird or even any American forces were nowhere near the crippled helicopter.

"Super 6-4 going down" . .

"We're. going. down, "

In the final minutes of the flight, Saint prayed that they would miss the trees and felt a wave of calmness wash over him. It was as if he was in tune with some higher power or force. He knew that they would make it down safely.

"HOLD ON EVERYBODY!!!!!!!!", shouted out the pilot

At the last moment, the craft paused in it's wildly gyrating descent. The right main landing gear struck the ground first, digging itself into the ground. Seconds later, the nose section of the helicopter crashed into the earth and the entire craft started to roll over on it's left side. Saint, reached into his inner being and as if by force of will, the roll stopped, and the craft stopped while upright. The engines were quickly turned off to lessen the chance of an explosion and silence covered the scene.

*****

The two Jedi watched, as the unknown speeder entered it's final descent. As the craft got closer to the ground they began to focus on the uniqueness of the craft. It was painted a dark green color that was almost black. It was quickly apparent that this was some kind of military craft, yet it was not from any world known to the Republic. The craft hit the ground nose first and began to roll onto its side. The main rotor blades touched the ground before finally ceasing all motion. Suddenly, there was a disturbance in the force that coincided with the craft righting itself.

"Master did you feel that?" asked Obi Wan

"Yes, it appears that one of the lifeforms on board that craft is strong in the force, yet untrained," replied Qui Gon. "Come, lets see if they can use our assistance. Anakin, go get some water, I feel that our visitors will have need of some after their adventure".

Anakin scurried away to get the water as the two Jedi approached the craft. A young male, apparently human, stumbled out of the pilot's side. He was wearing a tan jumpsuit, green vest, green flight helmet, and black boots. Obi Wan sensed a great deal of emotions pouring from the man and turned to his master. Qui Gon motioned for his apprentice to hold on and mentioned:

"Yes, Obi Wan, this one is strong in the force. In spite of being untrained, he is in control of his emotions particularly his anger. This will be an interesting meeting"

As they got closer, they could tell that the pilot was human. The pilot motioned to someone in the disabled craft, walked up to the Qui Gon and Obi Wan and began to speak.

*****

Chapter 3: Damn Boyscouts

Planet Naboo
32BSW
1640 hours
(Star Wars Universe)

The first thing Saint noticed was the complete silence in the air. It was as if time had stopped. He turned to his co-pilot to see if he was okay. Wins let out a moan as he attempted to move. "Not exactly, I think my leg is broken and my back feels funny." Saint told him to stay put while he checked up on his passengers.

"Hey, everybody back there all right?"

The two Delta Operators slowly sat up. Except for some bumps and scratches they looked to be in good shape. Sgt. Shepherd quickly checked over his fellow Delta operator and the crew chief and yelled back: "McGuyver is hurt pretty bad. It looks like he was thrown around a good bit during the crash. He's unconscious and is bleeding from the mouth. We must avoid moving him about so his internal injuries don't get any worse."

Saint turned to Wins and told him to send out a distress message with the emergency radio. He unbuckled his seat belt and got out of the Blackhawk. Stepping outside he immediately noticed that he wasn't in Mauretania or even Africa. <Damn, we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Everything about this is wrong.> He just stood there for a second while his brain considered the fact that they were not where they were supposed to be. His paralysis was broken when his co-pilot yelled out:

"Saint, I can't get anything on the radio except static. We are cut off from all radio traffic"

The young pilot looked to the tree line and noticed two figures approaching. <What were civilians doing in the war zone? They should have been at the embassy getting ready to leave Africa, courtesy of the US Army.> There was something strange about them. They appeared to be wearing dusters. However, they were Caucasian and not the expected Africans.

"Sgt. McCoy, cover me, I'm going to meet those two and see what's going on"

Saint took off his flight helmet, placed it on his seat, and unfastened the pistol holster. Better to be safe than sorry, he thought. He then approached the oncoming strangers.

*****

The Force does work in mysterious ways, thought Qui Gon. As he and Obi Wan approached the disabled craft, the pilot walked up to them and began to speak in Basic.

"What are you doing here? All Western Civilians are supposed to be at the American Embassy being evacuated."

Gui Gon ignored the first part of the question and replied: "We saw your crash and were wondering if you needed assistance?" He then got a more detailed look at the pilot, he was human, his hair cut short like the padawan learner without the braid.

Saint's attention was on the strangers' manner of dress. It was obvious that what he thought to be dusters were in fact robes similar to that worn by his martial arts instructor back at Fort Campbell. The older gentleman's question brought Saint back to the present.

"Yes, ..uh..I.. I mean some of my men were injured in the crash landing. My co-pilot has a broken leg and is complaining about having trouble with his back. Also, my crew chief appears to have internal injuries and needs medical attention. Do you have a radio? All of the radios on my helicopter are out and I need to call for a medivac ASAP."

Qui Gon turned sent Obi Wan back to get the medics up to the crash site. He accompanied Saint back to the helicopter and looked in the unusual craft. The pilot was correct, the injured person in the back of the helicopter, as the pilot called it, needed medical attention immediately if he was going to live. In addition, there were two men armed with some kind of blaster type weapon keeping a watch over their injured comrades. One of whom was looking out the doorway of the shattered craft, observing the two Jedi. He pointed his weapon slightly away from the Jedi. However, that could change quickly. It was only now that the pilot remembered that he had not introduced himself and he did not know who the gentleman was.

"I'm sorry, in the excitement of the moment I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Lt. Anthony Christopher, US Army. My co-pilot, Warrant Officer Raymond Winslett, Sgts McCoy and Shepherd of the U.S. Army's Delta Force, and the injured man in the back is my crew chief Sgt McGuyver."

"There is no need to apologize", replied the Jedi. "It is obvious you have had a busy day. My name is Qui Gon Jinn and the person I sent back to get the medics is my padawan learner, Obi Wan Kenobi".

The last statement hit Saint like a ton of bricks. <Qui Gon Jinn, Obi Wan Kenobi, and this place that doesn't look anything like Africa. What is going on here?> The confusion and rising panic must have been obvious to Qui Gon as he placed his hand on Saint's shoulder. A sense of calmness washed over the confused pilot as he collected his senses.

"Okay now, just where are we? We are not anywhere near Nouakchott, or Africa are we?" asked Saint.

"No, my young friend", replied Qui Gon, "You are near the City of Theed."

Just then, Obi Wan returned with the medics. The two Delta operators stood aside to allow the medical personal do their jobs. They managed to get the crew chief stabilized inside the Blackhawk and carried him and the co pilot back to the camp on stretchers. Saint, the Jedi, and the two Delta operators walked back to the woods. Anakin was waiting at the edge and offered some water to the grateful Americans. Qui Gon looked at the Americans and realized that Anthony was the untrained force user he had detected before the crash. He motioned for the pilot to walk with him a short distance away from the group. They found a fallen tree and sat down.

"Qui Gon, are we even on Planet Earth?" inquired Anthony.

"You, my young friend, have landed on the Planet Naboo located in the Outer Rim. Now, I want you to trust me. I'm not going to hurt you. What I am about to do will make everything clear."

*****

"What is Master Jinn doing?" asked Anakin.

"I fear something reckless", replied Obi Wan.

*****

Saint closed his eyes and felt Qui Gon's hands on his head. The strange sense of calmness had returned and he began to see images in his head. It was as if Qui Gon was showing him this brave new world without saying a word. The history of the Republic, Jedi, the Trade Federation, Naboo, and recent events all flowed into his mind. Saint attempted to return the favor by showing Qui Gon, the history of Earth, America, and Saint's own experiences in school, home, and the army. Qui Gon went deeper into Saint's mind so that he could more easily relate that information to Qui Gon.

"So your nickname is Saint?" questioned an amused Jedi Master.

With a sheepish look, Saint replied, "Yeah, it was a play on my name and that of a popular religious figure, Saint Christopher. Also, I suffer from a Don Quixote complex"

"What is that?"

"I just can't stand by and let innocents suffer." A large grin appeared on Saint's face as he asked the Jedi master, "Somehow, I don't believe headquarters will believe the report that described a mission where a Blackhawk helicopter lands on a another planet, do you?"

"You are probably right", as Qui Gon understood the humor in his young friend's question gave a slight smile of his own.

*****

The two men returned to the main body. Qui Gon had to attend to some matter and left Saint by himself. Saint walked over to his co-pilot and crew chief who were attended to by the Naboo medics. Both men appeared to be in good hands. One of the medics told Saint that his men would live but they needed to be in a hospital. While Saint was attending to his men, a teenage girl came up to them.

<I wonder who she is? Man, if I was still in high school or if she were older, I would ask her for a date,> thought Saint.

Queen Amidala had been standing off to the side when the strangers arrived at the Naboo base camp. Qui Gon was talking to a young man, still a teenager, who was obviously a soldier of some kind. She talked to Qui Gon for a moment before deciding to speak to the pilot.

"Greetings, I am Queen Amidala, ruler of the Naboo" began the young ruler.

<Oh shit, thought Saint, I was thinking about the local ruler as future date material.> He shook his head and glanced over to Qui Gon. The older Jedi was looking at Saint with a slight grin on his face. It was obvious that somehow he had picked up on what the young pilot was thinking.

"It is a time of trial for Naboo. We are a peaceful people with no standing army who have been unlawfully attacked by the Trade Federation. Most of my people have been put into camps in the aftermath of the invasion and only a few guards and police were able to escape and resist the enemy. I know you are a stranger to this planet and have no part in this fight but..."

The queen was interrupted in mid speech by the injured co-pilot who yelled out to Saint,:

"Hey Saint, just let her know that you will be happy to help out and get it over with. You damn boyscouts just can't say no to a lady in distress."

A slight smile appeared on the queen's face as she looked down at Wins. "What do you mean by that last remark and why do you call your pilot a damn boyscout?"

"Well, Your Majesty, Saint is one of those people who calls all of his friends and drags them, and anybody that happens to be nearby, into helping him do a good deed," drawled Wins.

"I see, and have you been drawn into helping with any of these good deeds?"

"More times than I can remember, starting with flight training at Ft Rucker, Alabama"

Saint had a shocked look on his face as he listened to the exchange. <Wins, you had to open up your big mouth and interrupt a queen.> He looked over to the two Delta operators. Both commandos gave Saint a thumbs up to his unspoken question.

"Your Majesty, you don't have to ask. My men and myself will be happy to offer our services to the people of Naboo. But I do not know of how much help we will be. We don't have any experience with your weapons, or knowledge of the fighting capabilities of the enemy. And the planet we are from is not capable of beyond orbit space travel, and even that only at huge costs. The influence of space travel on warfare is an unknown to us. Nonetheless, we will do anything in our power to help you. If you will pardon me, I need to go back to the helicopter and get some gear. Sgt. Shepherd, let's move out."

*****

The two Americans went back to the Blackhawk. As they left, they overheard Amidala telling Qui Gon that he was right. Qui Gon joined the two on their trip back to the crash site. Saints curiosity got the better of him and asked him what he was right about.

"I told her that you had the soul of a Jedi and would help her if she asked"

<Wow,> thought Saint. "Sgt. Shepherd we need to take stock of our weapons"

"Roger, Lieutenant, lets see, we have two Colt M-4 carbines with fourteen magazines, one M-21sniper rifle with six mags, five 9mm pistols with ten extra magazines, and finally six fragmentation grenades"

Saint removed his flight vest and put on an infantryman's web gear and kevlar helmet. "Sgt. Shepherd, grab the weapons and ammo."

"Hey Lieutenant, what are you doing with web gear and a grunt's helmet in the chopper?"

"My old man flew scouts with the First Cav in Vietnam. He had been shot down a couple of times during the war and found himself having to defend himself. When I got assigned to the Night Stalkers, I got some advice that it would be a good idea in case I found myself on the ground with enemy nearby. It's an insurance policy."

The three men turned away from the wreck and began their return to the main party.

*****

'Author's Note: This fanfic is dedicated to the officers and men who died in the longest running firefight since Vietnam. The place, Mogadishu and the soldiers were members of the US Army's Night Stalkers, Delta Force, and Rangers. As September 11, 2001 and the counterattack fades into the history books, it does well for one to reflect on the servicemen going into harm's way and remember that Freedom Is Never Free.'

*****

Chapter 4: Training Day

Planet Naboo
32BSW
1700 hours
(Star Wars Universe)

Saint, Shepherd, and Qui Gon had just reached the edge of the woods when the strangest looking creature walked up to them.

"Hallo, whosa are yousa? Meesa be Jar Jar Binks", it said.

A look of shock spread over the faces of the two Americans. They had never seen anything like this except on the Sci Fi channel back home. <Oh shit, what is this? It looks like something Steven Spielberg would dream up after taking some bad acid. Even with the information obtained from the mind link, this was one weird creature.> He felt that calming presence his mind and the surprise faded into nothingness. He turned to Qui Gon and thanked him.

"Uhhhhh, nice to meet you, I'm Anthony Christopher and this is Sgt. Shepherd. You will have to forgive me but I have never been around sentient creatures that were not human."

"Yousa only been around humans? Sheesh," replied the Gungan "Wellsa I gotta go, bye, bye."

"Yeah, uhh bye," Saint said to the retreating Gungan. He turned to the Jedi. "Even with the info from that mind link trick we used before, it is still weird to meet aliens." A wide grin appeared on his face. "If only George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg could see me now."

From his link with Saint, Qui Gon understood completely what his young friend was talking about. He smiled back at his young friend. It was refreshing how at ease with whole situation the American was. " I understand, however, the Queen is calling everybody together to plan our counterattack on the Trade Federation and we should be there"

"Lead on".

*****

Queen Amidala, Obi Wan, Anakin, McCoy, and the rest of her command group were assembled around a speeder when the trio showed up. A map was spread out over the hood of what looked like a fifties car without the wheels and floating in mid air. <I will never get over the contrast of high technology and nostalgia on this planet.>

Anakin and the Queen turned around and were surprised in the change of appearance in the pilot. He now had some kind of camouflaged harness on his body that held ammunition pouches, pistol holster, knife, canteens, and green orbs. Hanging off his shoulder was what appeared to be some kind of blaster rifle. Sgt. Shepherd took a similar weapon off his shoulder and tossed it to McCoy. He kept another weapon that had a wood stock in place of the plastics or composites used by most blaster rifles. All in all, they gave off the impression that here were two professionals. Saint took off his K-pot off his head, walked up to Captain Panaka, and saluted.

"Lt. Anthony Christopher, US Army, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, I heard you guys needed reinforcements."

Panaka had been fully briefed by the Queen. He returned the salute, reached out, and shook Saint's hand. "Queen Amidala briefed me on your arrival, and indicated that you might have skills we can use. However, I feel we should get to know each other before joining forces."

Saint gave the guard captain a once over before replying. "I'll introduce my men first." The young pilot pointed to McCoy and Shepherd. "Sergeants McCoy and Shepherd are members of one of my nation's elite army units called Delta Force. They are experts in small unit tactics, demolition, hostage rescue, and crack shots. Prior to their service with Delta, they served with another unit called the Green Berets. They advised other countries on the training of their own militaries."

The black Captain of the Guards nodded. "That is impressive. However, you appear to be rather young."

Qui Gon turned in Saint's direction as he caught the young man's irritation through the Force.

"Captain Panaka, I may be young. I am however, a fully trained member of my nation's military. I joined the US Army with my parent's permission and was quickly enrolled in O.C.S. I graduated top of my class and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant before my eighteenth birthday. Prior to joining the army, I was taught to shoot firearms and fly aircraft by my father." Changing the subject, Saint inquired about the state of the Naboo forces. Panaka had a serious look as he related that they only had a few police and palace guards with them.

Saint had and incredulous look as he replied "Palace guards and police? You mean you guys don't have an army. How do you defend yourselves?"

"Lieutenant, Naboo has been at peace for centuries. There hasn't been a need for an army of any kind. The palace guard's training concentrates on protecting the queen from outside threats. The police are of course, focus on law enforcement. None of us thought that we would be facing an all-out invasion from a large army."

Saint looked up at the sky, deep in thought. After a few seconds, he turned back to the Palace Guard. "Let me see if I get this right. You are technologically superior yet have no training or experience in fighting a real war. My people, on the other hand come from a technologically inferior world yet are highly trained and experienced in combat operations. I believe we can combine our strengths and help each other out."

"We will help you get acclimated with our weapons and the technology from this universe and you share your experience and training in tactics."

"You got it. Oh, by the way. What kind of forces does the Trade Federation have?"

"Lt. Christopher, the Trade Federation uses mass produced battle droids to make up their army. They are cheap and controlled by a central control ship orbiting the planet. They do have some heavy armor in the form of hover tanks and personnel carriers. They do not have any artillery and rely on droid fighters for close support and atmosphere superiority. If all goes as planned, the enemy will be concentrating his heavy stuff against the Gungans while we infiltrate the palace and capture the Viceroy. For the raid on the palace, we will be using blaster pistols, an energy weapon and light artillery.

The Gungan delegation arrived shortly and the group got down to planning the assault. It was decided that the Gungans would launch an assault that would divert the majority of the droid army away from the city of Theed. At the same time the Queen would lead a small group of Naboo guards, police, and the Americans into the city. They would enter the palace through a secret passage, free the pilots, capture the Trade Federation viceroy and force him to get they occupation forces off the planet and break off the blockade. Queen Amidala turned to Saint.

"Lieutenant Christopher, you and your men have the most experience in conducting military operations, what do you think?

"Well, ma'am, the basic plan is good. I would recommend that you have at least one of the Delta operators with each group when you split your forces in the palace."

Captain Panaka chose that moment to speak up. "What kind of weapons do you have?"

Saint held up his weapon: "This is a Colt M-4. It is a more compact version of our standard battle rifle. It fires a semi-armor piercing projectile of .223 caliber that is effective to about where that tree over there is." He ejected the magazine, took out a bullet and showed to Panaka.

"Looks messy," stated the Naboo.

"It is effective." Saint shrugged, "That's all that counts. Well, at least on our planet. The projectile tumbles on impact in a human, making a really nasty wound. The weapon has a magazine with thirty rounds and can be set to semi automatic or three round burst. Sgt. McCoy has a M-21 sniper rifle as his primary weapon. It is a sniper version of an older battle rifle and fires a heavier projectile, which is more accurate at longer ranges. In addition, we each have a 9mm Beretta as a secondary weapon. How effective do you think they will be against the droids?"

"The battle droids are cheap mass produced weapons. So, they will not have top of the line armor. But our metallurgy is more advanced than yours, so even cheap armor will have some effect. Your bullets, I believe that's what you call them, may do some damage. The rifles, at least. I doubt your pistols will have sufficient power. To be on the safe side you might want to carry a blaster pistol. One shot from this will definitely take out a droid." He handed an example to Saint. Two of the present soldiers handed the two Delta operators their spare blasters.

Saint took the offered weapon from Panaka. It was no heavier than the Beretta and seemed to operate the same way except for the fact that it fired a energy bolt instead of the usual bullet.

" If you don't mind, my men and I would like to get off a few shots getting used to these weapons before we leave. Will that be detected?"

Panaka shrugged. "I don't think so."

Saint stared at him, "What d'ya mean, you don't think so? That's a hell of a thing to have to guess." Panaka just shrugged again. Saint then turned to the other matter. "Captain Panaka, normally, I would have Sergeants McCoy and Shepherd train your people in modern combat tactics. However, we just don't have the time. Therefore, it would be best to have one of us advising your main groups."

Captain Panaka, recognized that his people didn't have training or experience in this type of operations. "Lt. Christopher the Queen wants you and Sgt. McCoy to be with her group. Sgt. Shepherd will accompany the other force in the palace. Lets get your people checked out on those blasters."

*****

The three Americans walked out to the edge of the woods and prepared to do a little target shooting. Saint went first, pulled out the blaster pistol, used a two hand grip and shot at a boulder about fifty yards in the distance. A flash appeared at the mussel of the weapon and a beam of light shot out to the boulder, blasting it into pebbles.

"Wow."

Panaka grinned at the American's reaction. Saint then spotted a line of boulders. Choosing two of them, he double tapped both while walking briskly to them. The two Delta operators joined him and began shooting at their targets, as soon as they stood beside him. No matter what world they were on, or what weapons they use, security protocols during live firing existed for a reason. Looking over his shoulder, Saint noticed his audience growing with the inclusion of Amidala, Qui Gon, and Anakin. <Okay, can't afford to miss while people are looking.>

Obi Wan commented, "Master, do you remember how we seem to be continuously picking up strays?"

"Somehow I do not think these people would appreciate being considered pathetic life forms," Qui Gon answered.

Obi Wan blushed slightly. "You are right Master. No pathetic life form could shoot like that."

The three Americans spent the next ten minutes target shooting and getting used to their weapons. They stopped in surprise at the spontaneous applause that greeted their return.

Captain Panaka walked up to them and asked Saint,

"That was some of the best marksmanship I have ever seen, how did you do it?"

"Before starting flight school I was on the path to becoming an infantry officer. Believe it or not, even officers are expected to know how to shoot," Saint answered with a smirk. "However, the Night Stalkers works closely with the Rangers and Delta Force. I spent a lot of time at the ranges practicing my shooting. Generally, Delta operators are crack shots. As for Sergeants McCoy and Shepherd, in addition to being Delta operators, they are also snipers." Pointing to a tree a thousand yards away from them, Saint continued, "McCoy is so accurate with his M21, he can pick off the smallest branch off that tree. Shepherd is as good as McCoy. They are two people you do NOT want to be your enemy."

Panaka nodded his head and suggested that they meet their respective groups before leaving.

*****

Saint walked up to his group as the Queen introduced him and Sergeant McCoy to the rest of the Naboo. It was an image of camaraderie. Both American and Naboo were intermingled, sharing experiences and tactics. The young American was lost in thought as he looked over the assembled party. His expression was noticed by the Queen.

"You have the look of a person deep in thought. What are you thinking about, Lieutenant?"

Saint shook his head, smiled and replied to Amidala.

"I was just thinking about the creed of the group of soldiers I've spent a lot time around. It's called the Ranger Creed. Oh, you can call me Saint or Anthony"

"Well Saint, why don't you relate this Ranger Creed to the rest of us."

Saint stood up in front of the group, smiled, and motioned for their attention.

"As you command your majesty, it goes something like this.

"Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers

Acknowledging the fact that Ranger is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle be land, air, or sea, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster, and fight harder than any other soldier.

Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some.

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress, and care of equipment shall set the examples for others to follow.

Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor."

"That was a moving speech. Thank you, Saint. Now lets get going. It's time to leave".

*****

Chapter 5: Into The Fire

Planet Naboo
32 BSW
1800 hours
(Star Wars Universe)

Obi Wan sat back in the speeder to mentally prepare himself for the approaching battle. Anakin was enjoying the ride in a manner available only to a young child. <I'm glad one of us is oblivious to what is about to occur,> thought Obi Wan. He looked at the Americans. Now, they were something different. The two Delta operators with their camouflage battle dress uniforms, black helmets, and weapons looked like they could take on the Trade Federation by themselves and win. Saint, on the other hand, was an enigma. Obi Wan chuckled at the contradictions shown by the young pilot. On one hand he had a cocky, almost arrogant attitude that was common among pilots in any universe. Yet, by his own words, he could never stand by and let innocents suffer. Then, add in his untrained force abilities, Qui Gon was right; Saint definitely had the soul of a Jedi. He laughed at himself, at the thoughts running through his head. Even I am calling him by his aviator call sign, Saint. It was an appropriate title. Although he barely held off laughing his head off at the co-pilot calling Saint a 'Damn Boy Scout'. The padawan's thoughts were interrupted by Saint's directions to their party.

"Okay people listen up. According to Queen Amidala, we are close to Theed so here are some things you need to know. First, when in combat, DO NOT bunch up. I know being close to your friends reassures you when the lasers start firing. Remember, one man is a waste of ammo, five men is a juicy opportunity. Second, when fighting in the city stay close to the walls, but not touching them, and dash across the streets in small groups. Just follow my lead and you will do all right. Also, when crossing the street, have at least one back to provide cover fire if necessary. Since infantry officers are trained to lead from the front, my men and I will take point"

Both Jedi felt a tremor in the force and it seemed to originate from the American pilot. Obi Wan turned to his master and asked him if he felt that.

Qui Gon whispered back, "Yes, our young friend is even more powerful than we thought. Even though he does not know it, he is very powerful for one untrained. However, he uses that power for only good. It will be interesting to see what will happen."

"Master, he is rather old to begin Jedi training. Do you think the council will want him tested and perhaps trained?"

"The ways of the Force is often hard to decipher and the future is never clear. However, I do know that times have just become interesting."

*****

The Naboo freedom fighters and their American allies swiftly approached the City of Theed in their speeders. Saint could not get over the vehicles they were riding in. The floated in the air, moved at speeds usually reserved for aircraft, yet looked like something out a fifties B' movie. <Man, sometimes I still wonder if I'm dreaming and will wake up on a US Navy hospital ship,> thought Saint. He looked over at the older Jedi and noticed he was observing him with a slight smile on his face. It was as if their mind link in the woods had opened some kind of connection between the two men.

In the short time they had been together, the older Jedi and young pilot had become friends. Saint thought about and realized that the only person who had a similar relationship was his father. <Wonder what Dad would think if he knew his little boy was on another world helping to free an oppressed people from robot conquerors.>

He was jolted out of his introspection when Qui Gon spoke to him,

"I believe your father would be very proud about what you are doing."

The American blinked in surprised. " How did you know what I was thinking?"

Qui Gon replied in that calming voice, Saint had begun to associate with the older man. "You were broadcasting your thoughts through the Force rather forcefully. Any trained force user would have picked it up. If you like, I could show you how to shield your thoughts?"

"Thanks, I would appreciate it." Qui Gon placed his hands on the sides of Saint's head and showed him how to shield his emotions and thoughts through the force. Soon afterwards, the speeded reached the outskirts of one of the most beautiful cities Saint had ever seen. It looked like a cross between a Renaissance city, which Saint had learned about in high school and something out of the mind of Stephen Spielberg or George Lucas.

*****

The Nubians, Jedi, and Americans got out of the speeders. Saint motioned for everybody to hold up. Queen Amidala nodded her head in unspoken agreement to what Saint was about to say.

"Listen up, when we enter the city. Stay out of the middle of the street. Do not bunch up. While we have to get to the palace quickly, we will leapfrog the streets. In other words one group will provide cover for the other crossing the street. Remember, when fighting in a city, be aware that threats can come from in and out of the surrounding buildings. Pay attention to your surroundings. Most people who are shot in combat never knew what hit them. Your Majesty, did I leave anything out?"

"No, Lieutenant, you covered everything that needed to be covered."

Saint looked over to Sgt. Shepherd who nodded an affirmative to him. The Nubians and Americans began their infiltration of the city. Saint and Sgt. Shepherd accompanied the queen in the lead. The Americans influenced the actions of the Nubians by their example. They started out into the city with rifle buts to their shoulders switching where they aimed their weapons from the street to the buildings and back. It was apparent that they were ready for an attack in any direction.

The Nubian guards followed suit by having their blasters out and mimicked the actions of the Delta operators. The Delta operators had hit it off with the Nubian guards and police from the start. They were looked up to as an example of proper soldiering.

The party reached the square, which had been designated as the jump off point, in no time. Still undetected, they waited for the signal to begin their attack.

*****

Meanwhile another part of Naboo saw the convergence of two massive armies. One, a low tech David, faced off against a high tech droid Goliath. The droid army filled the horizon and began to advance on the Gungans. They started their attack with a bombardment of the Gungan lines. The droids quickly noticed that their fire was bouncing off the shields generated by devices mounted on the backs of some huge four legged beasts. The droids advanced by foot and hover tank and moved within the shield, to attack the Gungans in close action.

*****

A speeder unmasked from it's concealed position behind a building and knocked out a hover tank with it's cannon. Queen Amidala yelled out for her forces to get going. "That's it, lets go!!"

The scene was one of complete chaos. Laser blasts filled the air. The Nubians were shooting from the hip as they ran across the square to get to the palace. Battle droids were falling left and right from blaster hits. Saint ran to the corner of the building and crouched behind a planter. He sighted his carbine at the approaching droids, selected single shot mode, and popped off four shots at the nearest droid. The semi-armor piercing rounds struck the droid in the chest and torso. Sparks marked where two rounds had struck the breastplate and bounced off. However, the other two hit the space between the pelvis and chest and the droid went down in a shower of sparks.

"Shepherd and McCoy, aim for torso between the legs and chest plate. Those things are vulnerable to rifle fire there!!"

The rest of the party ran past Saint while he provided cover fire for their dash. McCoy, covering the rear stopped at the corner of the building across the square, sighted on the droids, yelled out to Saint.

"I've got you covered, go, go, go!!"

Saint raced across the square. Droid laser fire bounced off the square inches from his feet. <Shit, that was close.> Qui Gon sensed the growing fear in his young friend through the force and sent waves of calmness in his direction. Saint relayed his thanks to Qui Gon as he calmed down. Both Americans ran to catch up with the main party.

*****

On the other side of Naboo, the tide of battle had turned against the Gungans. The battle droids had advanced under the shield wall and were steadily pushing back the Gungans. One by one, the shield generators were taken about by enemy fire. It was not going well for the good guys at that point.

*****

Meanwhile the Nubian raiding force had paused under the increasing volume of enemy fire just short of the palace. Something needed to get done if they were to enter the palace. Saint and the two Delta operators ran at a crouch to the front of the party. Queen Amidala and Captain Panaka were trying to think of a way to get their people across the street safely when Saint came by. Saint took one look at the situation turned to Panaka and yelled out over the laser blasts.

"Captain Panaka, we gotta move or be pinned down!!!"

Panaka yelled back that the untrained guards were having too much trouble with some droids holed up in a nearby building and Saint should stick to his job. Finally, Saint had had enough. He looked at the two Delta operators who nodded at him and turned back to Panaka.

"Fuck, I'll take the threat out in the window. We'll rally in the palace. MY GUYS, LETS GO!!!"

Before Panaka could say anything the three Americans were racing out to a wall in front of the building.

Saint, stood up, pulled out a hand grenade and yelled "COVER ME".

With the two Delta operators laying down fire on the droid position, Saint threw the grenade and dropped back down. With a little help from the force, the grenade flew through the window. Three seconds later, the window blew out in a massive explosion and quiet filled the area. Saint and the two Delta operators took a covering position while the rest of the party poured into the palace.

*****

Queen Amidala was at the corner of the building wondering how they were going to get across the street when the American pilot came up to them. She listened to the conversation between Panaka and was surprised when Saint had muttered a curse and started running across the street. The other Americans quickly ran behind him.

Obi Wan felt the tremor in the force. It was amazing how such an untrained force user could restrain his anger in such a manner. Many experienced Jedi would have lost their own tempers at this point. He also noticed a look of anger come over Panaka during the exchange with the American. When the American ran across the street, oblivious to the droid shooting, he thought, <Those Americans must either be very brave or stupid to expose themselves in such a manner.>

Once again, he was chided by Qui Gon: "My young padawan, they are not stupid. They have been trained to face their fears and do whatever is necessary to achieve their objective. All three are scared, but they are suppressing it until the danger is passed."

Both Jedi looked on as the young pilot suddenly stood straight up and threw a green orb into the window. A moment later, a large explosion ripped through the floor. The windows blew outward, showering the attackers with glass. The rest of the Nubians got up and ran into the palace.

*****

Saint emptied a magazine at the approaching battle droids. He ejected the spent magazine, popped in a fresh magazine and continued to shoot. Right after the last Nubian passed his position, Shepherd tapped Saint on shoulder and motioned it was time to rejoin the main group. He got up and ran after the Delta operators into the palace.

"Heads up, friendlies coming through!!" shouted Saint as he reached the palace entrance.

Captain Panaka was trying to keep his anger in check and approached the Americans. <How dare the pilot act that way. I will not have anyone overstep my authority like that.>
"Just what were you doing out there?" asked Panaka.

"My job," replied the American as he moved over to where the Queen and two Jedi were located.

*****

The Gungans had enough. The battle droids had surrounded a large portion of the army and had taken out the shield generators a short time before. The tanks began shelling the defenders with telling effect and Gungan resistance broke. Retreat was sounded and those Gungans who could not get away were forced to surrender.

*****

The Nubians rushed into the palace hanger. The queen freed the pilots who proceeded to run to their fighters. Qui Gon turned to Anakin and ordered him to find someplace safe and stay there. He was not to leave unless someone got him. Anakin climbed into a parked fighter and waited.

Saint rushed into the hanger and took out three battle droids, hitting each with three rounds of .223 NATO apiece. With the pilots being freed, he paused and stared at the fighters.

"Dang, where is the landing gear on those things? Also how can they fly? They certainly don't have much of an airfoil to keep them up."

He hadn't realized he was speaking out loud until Qui Gon brought his attention to it. Suddenly, three different droids entered the fight. They looked like big balls and rolled into a few yards from the group. They unwound and began to shoot at the Nubians.

<Damn, what the hell are those things,> thought Saint as he fired three bursts at the nearest one. To his amazement, the bullets and some laser bolts from the other seem to bounce off some kind of energy barrier. One of the Nubians shouted out that these droids had shields. Saint dove behind some boxes and tried to come up with a plan as he emptied the rest of his magazine in frustration. Finally, he yelled out at the top of his lung, "GRENADE!" He pulled the pin, released the spoon, and threw his second grenade at the droid. The hand grenade sailed over to the droid and exploded. It appeared to shake up the droid, and it paused it's shooting.

McCoy, understanding Saint's plan, threw another grenade that landed next to the droid. The ensuing explosion shorted out its shield and it was destroyed by several blaster hits. Saint, Shepherd, and some Nubian guards teamed up to take out the remaining droids. One of the Americans would hit the droid with a grenade and short out it's shield. The Nubians would then finish off the target with blasters.

*****

Anakin saw the destroyer droids roll in and pin down the Nubians. He looked throughout the cockpit to find the weapons. He fired up the engines and finally located the fire control. A short burst from the fighter's guns eliminated one of the droids. As he targeted a second droid, the droid shot a fuel cell next to Sgt. McCoy.

*****

McCoy had been moving to a position where he could throw a grenade at the remaining droids when a massive explosion lifted him up and threw him across the room. Time stood still as McCoy wondered why he couldn't feel his legs. He looked to where his legs should be and could not find them. The pain hit him and he could not focus on anything else. He vaguely noticed someone crouching down beside him and grabbing his right hand. A wave of blackness was closing in over him. So this is what it is like to die, thought McCoy. He grasped the offered hand with his remaining strength and raised his head to speak with the man. He now realized it was Saint, who was struggling with his emotions while trying to retain his composure.

*****

Amidala was leading her group out of the hanger when the Destroyer droids struck. Three of the droids had been taken out by the American tactics and another had been destroyed by the fighter when it happened. An American, named McCoy, was moving around a fuel cell when the laser bolt struck it. She watched in horror as the explosion threw the Delta operator across the hanger. The bile rose in her throat as she realized that apparently the blast had severed the body below the torso. Saint, disregarding the enemy fire, rushed to his comrade's side and knelt down beside him. She would see that the American who was giving his life for Naboo's freedom would have a hero's burial. Her group continued its path out of the hanger.

*****

Saint rushed over to McCoy when the explosion caught his attention. With tears forming at the corners of his eyes, he grabbed McCoy's hand and leaned over to hear him.

"Tell... my... daughter... that I love her," gasped the dying man.

Looking over his fallen comrade, Saint began to feel ill. But he controlled himself as he told his comrade "I promise, when I get back, I will tell her that. But there is something even you didn't know."

Confusion took over McCoy's face as he wondered what Saint was referring to.

"Your daughter will be taken care of, I promise."

Qui Gon showed up in time to hear the promise and see McCoy passing away in peace. Saint stood up and shouted at the top of his lungs: "MEDIC!!!!" He stood up, looked Qui Gon in the eyes and said, "I really meant it when I said I will see his daughter taken care of."

With a look of understanding, Qui Gon simply said, "I know, Anthony, I know"

With a look of determination, Anthony slapped a fresh magazine in his M-4 carbine and joined Qui Gon and Obi Wan. A medic arrived to take care of McCoy. Meanwhile Saint and the two Jedi prepared to rejoin the party.

*****

Anakin felt the autopilot take over the starfighter's control. Despite his attempts to stop the craft, the ship left the hanger, and proceeded to the battle raging above the planet.

*****

Both Jedi felt the disturbance in the force moments before the Sith came into view. Saint noticed that something was bothering the two Jedi and he looked to the corridor. He saw a figure, dressed in black, with a red and black tattooed face. He was following the Jedi when Qui Gon put his hand on Saint's shoulder to stop him.


"We will handle this. Anthony, rejoin the others, they have greater need for your abilities."

For some reason Saint could feel the evilness pouring out of the stranger and did not want to abandon the Jedi. He had to begun to consider the two to be family. Thus, he attempted to follow anyway, but Qui Gon said, "Don't worry, we'll be okay. When this is over there are some matters we must discuss. Go now, the Queen needs you."

"Okay, Qui Gon, but if either of you gets yourself killed, I will bring you back to kill you myself," stated the young pilot. Saint gave the two one last look and rushed out to rejoin the main party.

*****

Chapter 6: The Rising

Royal Palace
Planet Naboo
32BSW
1630 hours
(Star Wars Universe)

Sgt. Shepherd accompanied Amidala through the halls on the way to the throne room. Spotting movement up ahead, he shot off a three round burst of fire aimed at the group of battle droids up ahead. The bullets resulted in one less droid. He shoved the queen out of the line of fire and leapt behind a pillar. Bolts of light slammed into the surrounding walls. One droid after another fell to the Delta operator as used up another magazine.

Seeing that another force of battle droids had taken position behind them, Amidala realized that she needed to do something to salvage the situation. She tapped Shepherd on the shoulder and pointed at the window.

"Sgt. Shepherd, we need to get to the throne room. Use the blaster pistol to break the window and follow my people onto the ledge. The secondary feature on the pistols is a grappling hook. We will shoot a grappling hook to the floor were the throne room is located, bypassing the droids. Are you with me?"

Shepherd looked at the young queen, and gave her a nod. <This girl has guts.> The remaining members of their group would keep the droids distracted. Amidala, Shepherd, and the select group of Nubians shot out the window and assembled on the ledge. A flurry of grappling hooks shot out of the blasters and the freedom fighters shot up to the desired ledge. They then shot out the window and climbed back in.

*****

Saint ran through the hall in an attempt to catch up with the Queen. He glanced around a corner and spotted another group of battle droids. Taking his last hand grenade, he pulled the pin and tossed it among the group of machines. The explosion destroyed of damaged many of the droids nearest to the blast. Saint leaned out and emptied another magazine into the group of droids. As he stepped around the corner a previously unseen droid fired a shot at him. It was as if he could sense the shot before it was made and he was only grazed by the shot.

"Dammit," started Saint as he quickly reloaded his rifle. He mentally noted that he was down to two mags for the M-4. It was turning out to be a hard fight. Another bolt slammed into his thigh, which caused him to stumble. With one hand on his thigh, he shot the remaining droid firing his carbine one handed. He felt that feeling of calmness flow into him as he took out the last droid.

Taking the time to slap a field dressing on his wounds, Saint stumbled along the hallway in search of a path to the throne room. He soon realized that he didn't know where he was going. He turned a corner and just stopped in shock at the sight that filled him. Qui Gon and the unknown intruder were using, what did Qui Gon call them, oh yeah, lightsabers in a fight to the death. He attempted to fire his carbine but nothing came out. Apparently, a round was jammed in the extractor. He stumbled into the room while pulling out his Beretta.

*****

Darth Maul was feeling like everything was going according to plan. In fact, he felt really good. He had the two Jedi separated and was going to take them out one at a time. He was beating the older Jedi and knew it was only a matter of time before he killed him. He was jolted out of his thoughts by the appearance of a third figure on the scene. The figure looked like he was suffering from a bad day. From his dress, it was apparent that he was a soldier of some kind. Looking closely at the person, Maul noticed the dressing on the young man's neck and leg. That combined with his stumble told Maul that this man was wounded. However, in spite of his wounds the soldier was pulling out a pistol from his holster. The Force radiated from the figure. He was strong but untrained and would be little challenge for the dark lord.

Obi Wan, trapped behind the force shield, could only watch his master and the Sith fought it out. It was apparent that Qui Gon was on the defensive and about to lose. As he meditated during his wait for the shield to open up, he noticed a figure appear in the doorway at the other side of the room. What was Saint doing here? A slight smile appeared on face as he remembered the injured co-pilot describing Saint as one who could never turn down the chance to do a good deed. The 'boy scout' strikes again.

Qui Gon was tired and on the defensive. He realized that the Sith had him and he would probably die. Just as the Sith prepared to run Qui Gon through with the light saber, a figure stumbled through the doorway.

"Anthony, I told you to stay out of this." Chided the older Jedi.

However his young friend ignore the Jedi's order and pointed his rifle at the Sith only to drop it when the weapon would not fire. To Qui Gon's surprise, Saint did not leave when his weapon would not shoot and instead began to draw his pistol and continued toward the Sith.

*****

Amidala, Shepherd, and the rest of their group stormed into the throne room to capture the Trade Federation Viceroy. Shepherd took out one of the battle droids with two shots from his rifle. The other droid was taken out by a blaster bolt.

Amidala approached the Viceroy and stated, "Now, we will discuss a new treaty."

"Not so fast, Your Highness." Responded the Viceroy as other battle droids filled the throne room and surrounded the party. The Nubians and Shepherd were quickly disarmed. "I believe now you will sign the treaty, Your Highness"

Suddenly, the other Nubians led by the handmaiden mimicking the Queen appeared outside the throne room. The Viceroy, thinking that this was the true queen, sent most of the droids after this second group. In short order, Amidala opened a secret panel in the throne, took out two blasters, throwing one to Shepherd, and shooting one droid. Shepherd quickly took out the other guard,

"As I said before, we will discuss a new treaty."

*****

The battle above the planet was not going well for the Nubian fighters. There were just too many droid fighters to take care of. Anakin found himself in the midst of the battle and somehow managed to gain control of the fighter. He flew into an open hanger on the control ship and landed in front of several droids. With the droids closing in on him, Anakin fired at them, missed, and hit a fuel cell. The fuel cell went up with tremendous explosion and began a chain reaction that threatened to engulf the control ship. Anakin turned his fighter around and raced out of the ship. As he emerged, the fireball that was threatening to engulf his fighter shot out into space. Anakin looked around and saw the ship tear itself to pieces in one massive explosion.

*****

Out on the field, where the droids were rounding up the captured Gungans, something happened. Acting as if someone threw a switch, every droid stopped and shut. The Gungans warily approached the disabled droids. Concerned that they were faking it, Jar Jar touched one. When it fell over and did not get back up, the Gungan were sure of their victory.

*****

Darth Maul looked down and decided that the old Jedi was no longer a threat and could be eliminated at his leisure. He smiled and turned toward Saint. Saint had pulled out his Beretta when he noticed that the Man in Black was focused on him.

"Oh shit," muttered Saint, "I've got that bloodsucker's undivided attention"

Without saying a word, the Sith lord force leaped at the American intending to cut him in two with his light saber, when he heard several cracks and felt something hit him.

Saint saw the enemy coming at him and emptied his pistol at the Sith. Unlike a blaster, there was no recharge time for the pistol. The young American was able to get off all fifteen rounds before the Sith got to him. He felt a white hot pain in his left side as the lightsaber nicked him. He fell to the ground, looked up at the Sith, standing over him. Time seemed to stand still as he waited for the death stroke.

Darth Maul was about to deliver the final stroke when he looked down at his chest. There were four little holes in his tunic and they were beginning to leak blood. A rage filled his very being. How dare this mere human hurt a Sith Lord in such a manner? As he began the final swing a look of surprise came over his eyes. Obi Wan had managed to rush in and struck the Sith with his saber. The dark lord fell into the pit and his body separated into two halves as he fell.

Qui Gon moved over to the fallen pilot as quickly as he could move. Saint was fighting to stay conscious as Obi Wan joined his master in a new battle. One that was even more important to them on a personal level. The fight to keep Saint alive. Qui Gon and Obi Wan placed their hands on Saint so they could use the Force in keeping Saint alive.

"Concentrate on my voice, my young friend. Hold on to my presence." Ordered the Jedi master.

"Qui Gon, is that you? It feels like you are in my head along with Obi Wan."

"Yes, Saint, I'm here as well. Hold on to our voices, it is not time to leave."

"What are you two doing? It feels like the pain is going away. I can even feel both of you. It's as if your presence is within me."

"Anthony, that is the Force you feel. We are using it to help you stabilize yourself. Now go to sleep we will keep the darkness away from you."

"Yeah, Qui Gon, I do feel sleepy. I think I will take you up on your offer," sighed Saint.

The American pilot drifted into sleep being watched over by the two Jedi. He felt safe knowing they were there. It was like having family watching out for you.

*****

Captain Panaka entered the power room to find the two Jedi kneeling over the fallen pilot. In spite of the earlier disagreement with the American, he still liked the young man. Panaka recognized that Saint had only done what he thought necessary to achieve the objective. He was fulfilling his role as a leader of soldiers. Like that Ranger Creed, he had recited prior to leaving the woods. Saint had done whatever was needed to complete the mission. Thinking quickly he ordered the medics to get in here. The tone voice he used promised great misfortune if they did not get here immediately. Putting his communicator to his lips he relayed the situation to Amidala.

"Your Majesty the Sith Lord has been defeated but Saint is seriously injured."

"Have him taken to my private medical facility." came the prompt reply.

*****

Anakin landed his fighter to the cheers of the victorious Nubians. His joy was cut off when he spotted Amidala, Qui Gon, Obi Wan, and Sgt. Shepherd escorting a stretcher across the hanger.

"Hey, wait up. What happened?" inquired the young boy.

Qui Gon answered for the group, "Saint has been seriously injured by the Sith and is being taken to the medical facility. Didn't I tell you to find someplace safe and stay there?"

"But I did," whined the young boy. "I stayed in the cockpit like you ordered but when the droids attacked I had to do something to help out. Then the ship took off by itself and I found myself destroying the control ship".

"The Force does move in mysterious ways. You were lucky this time. However, if you want to be my padawan, you need to follow instructions," chided the Jedi as he patted Anakin on the head.

*****

A few days later Saint opened his eyes to find his new friends surrounding his bed. He tried getting up but quickly lay back down on his bed. <I hope somebody got the license of the truck that ran me over.>

"Easy, my young friend. You must conserve your strength."

"Qui Gon, did we win?" asked the pilot.

"We most certainly did, thanks to the efforts of you and your men."

"Qui Gon, what I said,...back in the hanger...to Sgt. McCoy. I meant every word."

" I know you did Anthony, as did McCoy. You allowed him to go on to the next level in peace."

"What did you want to talk to me about?"

"We'll go over it once you have recovered from your injuries."

There was a knock at the door. Saint told whoever was on the other side to come on in. The door shot open as a blond haired bundle of energy rushed in followed by Amidala, Captain Panaka, and Sgt. Shepherd.

"Hey squirt, where's the fire," Saint asked a very excited Anakin.

"Saint I've got so much to tell you about flying a star fighter and taking out the control ship."

Qui Gon gently pulled Anakin back from the bed as the doctor told everyone that the American needed his rest. The rest of the group wished Saint a fast recovery and left.

*****

A few days later Saint had recovered enough to go outside for short periods of time. The doctor had him confined to a hover chair for the next week so his leg could fully heal. Today, Saint was sitting in the Queen's personal garden looking over a pond and thinking about all that had happened since that morning two weeks ago over the skies of Africa. Queen Amidala and Qui Gon had gone searching for the young man and found him in a meditative state, looking at a locket of some kind.

"Once again, I find you thinking deep thoughts, O hero of Naboo," joked the Queen.

Saint, who had been lost in his thoughts, jerked his head up, looked up at his friends, and smiled.

"Yes, you could say that."

"And what were those deep thoughts, my young friend?" asked Qui Gon.

"Well, I've been going over all that's happened since being shot down. I just realized, unless we can find a way back to Earth, I'm out of a job."

Amidala broke in, "I'm sure we can find something for you to do here. There's a whole galaxy waiting out there for you. Then, there's your trip to Coruscant when you are fully recovered. Can I see it?"

Saint reopened the locket and showed it to her. A picture of Saint and a young woman had been placed inside it. The young queen leaned over to examine the picture more closely. The picture showed Saint embracing a pretty, brunette, young lady with sparkling green eyes who was a little shorter than the young American. Pointing at the picture, the queen asked "Who is she?"

"That is Katie Heart. She is the daughter of my first teacher. She gave me this locket right before I shipped out. It sorta gives me a reason to find my way back home as soon as possible."

Amidala handed the locket back to her friend. "I insist that you invite me to the wedding."

Saint jumped back. "Wedding, uhhh what wedding. I mean sure we dated but we're only close friends."

The queen cocked her head as she considered his reply. <Yeah right, you are definitely still in love with her.>

Qui Gon decided to bring his young friend back to reality. "Those are deep thoughts indeed. However, I sense that there is something else on your mind," prodded the Jedi master.

"I can't keep anything from you, can I?" grinned Saint. "Well you are right, there is something else. I was thinking about the recent victory celebration and remembered a conversation I had with an old high school classmate right before heading to Africa."

"Go on."

"We were at a local hangout we used to frequent when we were teenagers and he asked me a question that got me thinking. You see, he had become one of the youngest lawyers in town, was fairly wealthy by this time. He asked me; ‘Why are you doing this? You want to be a hero or something?' Now I think I have an answer for him."

Both Qui Gon and Amidala motioned for him to continue.

"The answer I have decided on after much reflection is this; nobody wants to be a hero. It just happens sometimes."

The three friends stayed at the pond and watched the sun go down, each in their private thoughts.

*****

Heart Residence
Los Angeles, California
June 5, 2000
1730 hours
(Wandererverse)

Somebody began knocking on the front door.

"Jessica, could you get the door, If it's Alex tell him to hold on. I'm almost ready."

Jessica got off the couch and went to the front door. When she went to look through the peephole, all color seemed to leave her face. <Oh my God, not again.>

Katie, getting ready for her date with Alex walked into the living room. Noticing her friend's condition, she went over to the door and opened it. Standing at the door were two men in Army uniforms.

"Hello, can I help you gentlemen?"

The younger soldier replied, "Good evening ma'am, my name is Captain O'Connoll. Is this the residence of Katie Heart?"

"Yes, it is. May I ask what's it about?"

A serious look came over O'Connoll's face. "You should be sitting down. May we come in?"

*****

JD Heart and Steve Sloan turned the corner into the subdivision. As they got closer, they noticed the US Army sedan parked in the street. Steve turned to JD. "I thought Katie had a date with Alex tonight?"

"She did. Wonder why the Army has decided to pay us a visit?"

Steve began to remember to the time he served during the Vietnam Conflict. <Hmm. The only time the Army sent a official car to private residences was……. OH SHIT.> "JD can you speed it up? I've got a feeling that something's wrong.

They arrived at the house within moments. Getting out of the car, they heard somebody scream out "NO, NO, HE'S NOT….." The two policemen looked at each other <Katie> and rushed into the house.

JD raced up the stairs with Steve following close behind and barreled through the front door. Inside, they noticed Katie on the couch, sobbing in disbelief. "It's not true, It's not true." The female detective rushed over to the soldiers and had them against the wall in seconds. "Give me one reason to not break every bone in your bodies for making my daughter upset." Steve placed his hand on JD's shoulder and joked. "JD, let them down. They need to breathe to talk." JD let down the two soldiers telling them one word "Talk."

The two soldiers looked at one another. A chaplain named Mabery rubbed his throat as he explained.

"On June 3, 2000, the Blackhawk helicopter flown by Lieutenant Anthony Christopher was shot down during a combat operation in Northeast Africa. Search and Rescue teams were dispatched to the crash sight but were unable to locate any debris or bodies. Therefore, the Department of Defense has listed him Missing In Action."

Captain Connolly turned to the detectives, "I had the honor to serve with Anthony in the Nightstalkers and he asked me to let Katie know if anything happened to him. Look, I understand how you feel. Anthony was one of the rising stars in the unit. He was a gifted pilot and showed serious leadership potential. Not only that, his sense of humor kept the unit in stitches. This is the one part of the job, that I hate the most. He was a close, personal friend and if you need anything just call me. It's the least I can do."

JD took a deep breath before answering. "It's nice to see Anthony has such loyal friends who will do such a hard task." Holding out her hand, she continued "I'll let you know."

Steve moved from behind Heart and thanked the two for letting them know and he would take it from there. He closed the door after the two left and turned back to see JD comfort Katie on the couch. He walked over to Katie and crouched down "Look Katie, I know it's hard right now. But you have to keep faith that Anthony is alive out there and trying to get back home."

JD looked up from her daughter and snarled. "I don't know what's going on. But I'm going to contact a few people and get some answers."

*****

Alex got out of the car in time to see the two soldiers leaving. Noticing the open door, he walked in to see Katie crying on her mother's shoulder. He turned to Steve.

"What's going on? I drive up for our date and I find Katie on the couch crying her eyes out."

"Katie just learned that a close friend, Anthony Christopher was shot down in Africa and has been listed Missing in Action."

Alex remembered that Katie had talked about an old boy friend from Sparta and jealousy clouded his face. <She's that broken up over an ex-boyfriend? What am I chopped liver?> Without saying a word, he turned around and walked out the door.

Steve watched the expression on Alex's face as he walked out of the house without saying a word. <Looks like the dates been called off.>

*****

Chapter 7: After the Fire

Planet Naboo
31 BSW
(Star Wars Universe)

It had been a hectic six months since the liberation of the Naboo from the Trade Federation.

Obi Wan had become a full Jedi and was away to mediate a dispute between two warring factions. It was his first mission without his old mentor and all knew he would succeed at his endeavor.

The Jedi Council had allowed Qui Gon to take on Anakin as his new Padawan.

The victory celebrations had lasted for days. The doctors had stated that Saint was could attend the celebrations as long as he did not push himself too hard. Amidala had assigned one of her handmaidens to the pilot's recovery. The Queen and her handmaidens made sure that the American did not over exert himself.

The dignitaries from the Republic, Naboo, and the Gungans had assembled in front of the palace. The Queen and Gungan leader exchanged gifts to show the unity of all sentient races on the planet. Following, the exchange, the two leaders faced the crowd. Saint had been wheeled out on his hover chair sat off to the side of the proceedings along with his remaining crewmembers.

<It still seems strange to be on another planet after all that has occurred,> though Saint.

He had gotten to know the Queen and her handmaidens pretty well in the days following the liberation. One of them was always at his side since he became conscious. Everyone got a huge laugh when Wins commented that he was amazed at the lengths Saint would go to in order to be around beautiful women.

Now, he and his men were attending the ceremony as honored guests. The Naboo tailors had even fabricated accurate versions of the US Army Class 'A' uniforms that they were wearing. Saint was once again deep in thought when the queen motioned for him and Sgt. Shepherd to approach the podium.

"In addition to our native sons and daughters who were involved in the liberation, I would like to honor five men who came from another world and stayed to free ours. This was not their fight. They did not have to stand with us against the Trade Federation. Yet, when asked they pledged their lives to this fight for Naboo. One of their number paid the ultimate price and another was seriously wounded. Lieutenant Christopher and Sergeant Shepherd, it is my honor to present you Naboo's highest award for the courage you showed in the fight for the palace. This award is also given posthumously to Sgt. McCoy, who died in action. With the powers invested in me as Queen of the Naboo, I am happy to make all of you honorary citizens of this planet. Be assured that no matter where in the Galaxy you decide to go to, you will always have a home here."

The Queen motioned for Saint to say a few words to the people of Naboo. He directed his hoverchair to the microphone and spoke.

"Thank you, Your Majesty. There are a few words I would like to say. Let me begin by honoring the true heroes of the liberation. They are those who will never grow old, never know the love of family, or the joy of seeing their children grow up. I speak of those Naboo, Gungans, and of course Sgt. McCoy, who are not with us today. They gave their lives so that you would no longer be oppressed. I come from a world that is a miniature version of your galaxy. It is a world divided into many nations. There are dictatorships and republics, tyranny and freedom, aggressor and defender. In such a world the freedom loving people must always be vigilant and stoic in their defense of that freedom. I remember one point that was driven into my soul in school and military training. That point is that Freedom is never ‘Free'. The price for the freedom I enjoyed while living in the United States of America, and now this brave new world of Naboo, is the blood of those who gave their lives in defense of that freedom. Tell you children and your grandchildren what went down that day, and the price paid. So that future generations will be spared the destruction of war. Never take your freedom for granted, and always be ready to defend it."

The cheering and applause continued for several minutes after Saint drove his hoverchair back to the rest of the Americans. Amidala, motioned him to stop for a moment, leaned down as softly said,

"That was a powerful speech, not one person was unmoved."

"Thanks, there's one more thing to do."

*****

A large group assembled in the royal cemetery in Theed. Here were buried the kings, queens, and heroes of legend. One more would be laid to rest this day. A large crowd of Nubians, Gungans, Jedi, and Republic officials had gathered to pay their final respects to a hero. The coffin was draped with a flag never seen before in this galaxy. It had a blue square adorned with fifty stars in one corner. The rest of the flag had thirteen red and white stripes. Saint had marveled in wonder when the flagmakers were able to faithfully recreate the Stars and Stripes. On one side of the coffin sat the people closest to the dead American. Qui Gon, Obi Wan, Anakin, Captain Panaka, Jar Jar Binks, and the remaining Americans occupied the rows closest to the coffin. Representatives of the Republic and the handmaidens followed them. Saint moved his chair to the head of the coffin and gave his elegy. Amidala, Qui Gon, Obi Wan, and the Americans went to the podium to say a few words in memory of the fallen Delta operator. Three Americans and four Nubians marched to the side of the coffin, raised their weapons and fired three shots apiece into the air. A royal musician played taps on a bugle like instrument in honor of the fallen hero.

*****

Qui Gon waited patiently for his companion to join him at the ship. Saint was wearing his flight suit as he said his good byes. Being nursed back to health by the handmaidens was okay for a while. However, it got old in no time. He exchanged hugs with the Queen and her handmaidens, shook hands with Panaka and boarded the ship. He couldn't help overhearing the words traded between Panaka and Wins.

" I don't get it. Even leaving for a short time, he gets the beautiful women. How does he do it?" asked the co-pilot.

Captain Panaka finally gave in to the laugh he was desperately holding in when he heard Saint's reply. "Some guys just have it, my good friend, just some guys."

"So, Anthony are you ready to meet the Jedi Council?"

"I am now. Do you really think I could become a Jedi, Qui Gon?"

"You do have a medichlorian count. As to becoming a Jedi, the future is in constant motion. We shall see what will happen. Either way, it will be interesting". The old Jedi laughed softly. <Interesting times, indeed.>

Saint settled in the cockpit as the ship took off and left the atmosphere.

 

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