Jedi Shander shook violently in his pilot seat. He could not tell if it were from the laser fire from the Kotokai defense ships that were raining on the Nagai star pod he flew through the Infinity Gate, or as a result of being teleported by the Gate itself!
He could not believe he had just experienced going through an actual Infinity Gate! Hyperspace was still amazing to him, having grown up in a small village on Corellia. But to experience the pod he was flying in start to break-up from all the barrage of weaponry from the Nagai in open space, to instantaneously emerge from another Gate to a serene spacescape was nothing short of magic to Rin Shander! And now, he was no longer in the Companion Besh satellite-galaxy. He was back in the prime-galaxy; in the Outer Rim Territories region. And the pod’s computer confirmed that Jedi Shander was in the Greater Javin swath of space...and the gas giant planet of Bespin, with a couple of its moons in clear sight, was where he was headed for!
The Corellian trade corridor ran the majority of the length of space out there, and at some point in their lives, all Corellian Humans had used it. So Shander knew the area well. It was basically his homeregion.
Jedi Shander had been to Bespin only a couple of times in his life. And on both of those occasions it was to the famed Cloud City--that permanently, floating mega-city which crowned a massive superstructure of nearly twenty kilometer high with an even longer super-shaft that plumb lined toward the planet’s surface!
Two things had bothered Jedi Shander as he flew the damaged Nagai pod closer and closer to Bespin: He was no expert on Infinity Gate technology, but he knew enough about the basics. There were ways to construct such structure with a high-end computer system that was able to track the traffic going in and out of the Gate...so, were the Nagai back on the planet of Nagi able to track Jedi Shander now, and therefore, follow him through the Infinity Gate?
Also, the fact that there was another Gate for Jedi Shander to teleport through very near Bespin was unexpected! Again, he had been to Cloud City before on more than one occasion. He had no memory of any Infinity Gates. Was it merely due to him being so young at the time and ignorant? Or was it later placed or constructed there since young Jedi Shander had been to Bespin?
Jedi Shander had finally reached Bespin’s atmospheric levels. It was yet daytime, and the orange sky filled with majestic, billowy clouds were a nice familiarity for Shander. But there seemed to be some shadowing with the clouds several miles up ahead. Perhaps a storm on the way? And it was right in the direction of Cloud City...
Jedi Shander remembered how his parents would audio-contact the authorities of Cloud City for permission to land, even when they were several miles away from the City. As charred and hole-riddled the pod was, the Nagai star ship’s communications was still in working condition.
“This is Jedi Rin Shander of the New Jedi Order, arriving from Coruscant...Requesting permission to land on Cloud City...”
There was a bit of static in the communications as Shander awaited for a response. Something was wrong. Indeed, the Force was now pulsating with a darkness and was growing stronger the closer he got to Cloud City! But the Nagai pod was not equipped for long-distance traveling. Jedi Shander lucked out, as it were, when he stumbled across the Infinity Gate and escaped the Kotokai attack ships! He had no choice but to continue to Cloud City.
“This is Jedi Rin Shander of the New Jedi Order, arriving from Coruscant...Requesting permission to land on Cloud City...” he repeated.
Again, nothing but the subtle static.
For over four hundred years Cloud City floated in the stratosphere of Bespin. Shander simply could not imagine such a pillar of civilization in the Galaxy could fall--just within a few years since he had last been there!
“This is Jedi Rin Shander of --”
“Permission granted, Jedi Rin Shander,” a Human female voice finally came over the audio-comm; urbane in texture. “We will send you the landing coordinates in just a few seconds...Welcome to Cloud City.”
Shander frowned to himself. In addition to his Jedi senses, his Human experiences suggested that there was a slight sarcasm to the woman’s voice. But that thought was quickly replaced as soon as the pod flew through the last large, cluster of clouds...
The very immediate surroundings of Cloud City was a soup of hazy soot mixing with some nearby clouds as three enormous columns of thick, black smoke churned out from three, equidistant ventilation holes the size of small townships! The structures emitting that triad of smog were three monstrous, cylindrical stacks that, each, projected downward from the underbelly of Cloud City’s superstructure. All three gigantic, stalactite structures were reinforced by a network of armature that connected them all to the base of the underbelly; where the very long shaft of Cloud City was connected to.
”By the stars...” was all that Jedi Shander could repeat to himself.
Despite such apocalyptic scene, Cloud City’s air and space traffic was even busier than Jedi Shander could remember!
“We’ve just sent your landing coordinates, Jedi Shander,” the same Human female voice said; shaking Shander out of his shock! “We will have an escort for you upon your landing.”