Beyond Star Wars: Knights of the New Republic: Return of the Sith

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by KnightRevan, Sep 5, 2012.

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  1. KnightRevan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Star Wars
    Knights
    of the
    New Republic

    Return of the Sith



    Summary: This is a New Jedi Order telling of the KotOR story also posted on FanFiction.net. After becoming a Jedi Knight, Ben Skywalker will do whatever it takes to gain victory over the Mandalorians. Even defying his family and the Jedi Council itself, but at the cost of becoming one of the most feared Sith Lords in galactic history.


    Prologue




    It wasm't often that the sparring chambers of the Jedi Temple were filled with so many occupants, especially high ranking masters as well as the entire Jedi Council. However, the two combatants were no ordinary fighters. Valin Horn, who was the more physically imposing of the two, had received the rank of Jedi Knight five years ago. The twenty-four year old was one of the Order's finest knights but even he was lost to the legend of his closest friend and current opponent Ben Skywalker.

    Ben Skywalker was the most promising padawan the Jedi had seen in generations. He was a born leader attracting followers like a magnet. He had never lost a duel since he learned how to wield a lightsaber and he also became an exceptionally talented strategist. Every duel he fought, spectators came including masters hoping to show their students the art of saber combat.

    Valin knew that he could not afford to make a single mistake or Ben would certainly exploit it. The duel had gone significantly longer than most of Ben's fights and that gave Valin a surge of hope. As they circled each other he saw that Ben was starting to favor his right leg. Upon seeing this opening, Valin lunged forward swinging high at Ben's left shoulder hoping to pin him with a counter strike on his left leg. However, Ben had his own game to play. He quickly reached up to parry the strike with a powerful thrust to Valin's shoulder causing him to step back and counter with a move to his leg. Ben sidestepped it and swung for Valin's wrist connecting with it sending his saber flying away.

    Jacen Solo stood watching the display with expectant awe and wonder at his cousin and apprentice. Ben had just disarmed one of the best duelists of the Order with with not much more than a sidestep. All he could do was shake his head in awe and beam at Ben as he walked toward the battle circle. Jacen engulfed Ben in a bearhug then turned away to address the crowd, "The match between Valin Horn and Ben Skywalker has come to conclusion. My apprentice is the clear victor, though both fought admirably and I hope the Council will take this display into consideration."

    With a quick nod from Jacen, Ben and Valin bowed and made their way to the refresher while they were bombarded with cheers from many of the young knights and padawans. As Jacen watched them go he couldn't understand why the council refused to knight Ben. Granted he was only fifteen years old but he had proven himself time and time again. Now with his latest attempt at passing Ben on to the trials he was as certain as he had ever been that his apprentice would be granted knighthood.

    "I thought I had you when I saw you limp," Valin commented after they had left the refresher. "Only now do I see it was a ploy."

    Ben looked over at his friend. "You shouldn't try to overpower your opponents so much . . . but if it's any consolation I did have a cramp back there so I didn't plan that."

    Just then a group of female padawans passed by them. Ben simply smiled at them and instantly they all began to blush as they quickly walked away. Valin couldn't believe how he could attract so much female interest. "I wish I could've attracted women like that when I was your age."







    "Are you sure he's ready Jace?" Jaina Solo asked looking toward her brother. The council had convened once again on the issue of Ben Skywalker's knighthood. The Solo twins were new additions to the council counsisting of Grand Master Luke Skywalker, with his wife Mara Jade Skywalker, Corran Horn, Kyle Katarn, Kenth Hamner, Kam and Tionne Solusar, Saba Sebatyne, Kyp Durron, the Mon Calamarian master healer Cilghal, and Leia Organa Solo. Some individuals such as Han Solo and Mirax Horn were permitted to attend meetings.

    Everyone gave Jacen their undivided attention. "Yes. He may be young but he has proven himself time and time again. His potential is unlimited. He has accomplished feats that many of us haven't even achieved. we all know this and cannot ignore it."

    Kyp Durron decided to join the 'Great Debate' as many now called it. "Ben has tremendous skills. Due to his youth no doubt, he has an ambition to learn anything of interest. Most, if not all of us, have been approached by him to instruct him." With a glance at Luke he added, "I think your son is ready."

    Luke was deep in thought about the whole matter. As a father he had wanted Ben to be a knight for some time now but after talking it over with Mara he had decided that he could not allow his fifteen year old son the rank of Jedi until the council was in agreement. He made it a point to stay away from the arguments due to his biased nature. He was beginning to ponder his decision when Leia broke him out of his reverie. "Luke, I'm sorry but don't you think this is a large responsibility to place on the shoulders of a fifteen year old boy."

    Jacen was taken aback by his mother's statement concerning her nephew. "Mom, Ben is a man not a boy. He has matured far beyond his years. Why are you and Jaina so protective of him!" Turning to address Luke he said, "There is nothing more he can learn from me."

    Jaina, however, shared her mother's concerns. "Jacen, you know we just want what's best for him and right now I can't help but feel overprotective of him. He's my little cousin after all."

    The atmosphere in the council chambers had gone sterile quite fast as the Solo's had relentlessly continued their family argument for hours without end. Fellow council members tried to intercede but failed. Finally silence fell on the group and Corran Horn took advantage. "I know that in many ways he is ready," he paused to gauge the reaction to his words and saw many nods in agreement. "But I give this warning. He is headstrong and proud. It wouldn't surprise me if he takes things for granted. He attracts followers wherever he goes and bonds with them quite easily. I don't want this taken the wrong way but Valin is ten years older than him and yet Ben is the leader and far more powerful of the pair. I believe he is close if not ready for knighthood but we must continue to teach him humility. Luke, Mara, you must forgive me for bringing this up but I feel that I must. If he were to fall to the dark side it could mean utter devestation for this galaxy and it could tear this Order apart. We must watch him closely."

    Luke, who had stayed silent throughout the meeting, had heard enough. "All in favor of this proposal," he paused, seeing the majority approve it, "Ben Skywalker shad=ll be a Jedi Knight."

  2. KnightRevan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Chapter 1: Day of Reckoning Part 1

    One Year Later

    Jedi Temple, Coruscant

    Luke Skywalker looked up from his datapad feeling useasy for the thousandth time. Over the past year, the Mandalorian clans, led by Mandalore the Ultimate, began a subtle invasion of the Republic. They had laid waste many worlds such as Cathar which were outside Republic jurisdiction. After the Republic sent minimal force to oppose him, Mandalore called the full might of his clans to battle in an all out invasion taking world after world forcing even the valiant Admiral Pallaeon into retreat. Now the Chief of State had requested Jedi support.

    Luke, however, knew something was not right about this war. "Why now? Why would the Mandalorians, after centuries of rebuilding their society, attack the Republic at the height of it's power? The Force is clouded but I feel something elsewhere . . . elusive."

    "Luke and I believe there is a greater threat than Mandalore," mara said eyeing as many of the councilors as she could to satisfy herself. "A threat that has yet to reveal itself."

    Tionne Solusar and her husband Kam shared a knowing look between them. Years ago during the Yuuzhan Vong War, they had stayed behind to care for the children while all the Jedi that were of age went to war. The two Jedi took the children to Shelter, a space station located in the ever treacherous black hole cluster known as the Maw. At one point in time many of the children grew afraid as they and the Solusars felt a dark presence within the Maw, though Kam and Tionne didn't feel it long enough to get a grip on what it was. Ben Skywalker was one of the children that felt it, though he was too young to comprehend it. As a result, he closed himself off from the Force which remained a mystery to this day. It took him years to open up to the Force again due in large part to masters like Jacen Solo. "I haven't felt something like this since Shelter," Tionne slowly announced.

    Kyle Katarn, like so many masters, had tasted the Dark Side before. But now he was afraid it would return once more. "Do you believe there is a connection?" Kyle asked the question on everyone's mind.

    "There could be," Kam hesitantly admitted, "though it couldhave just been the increasing darkness the Vong were unleashing . . . I hope." Although it was a well known story among the councilors, neither Kam nor Tionne could discern what they had felt. They had often spoken to the older children there such as Valin Horn but had never gotten any results.

    Jacen knew, like the others, that this war would be the most terrible yet. I would think there's a connection, Kam! Jacen quickly checked that thought. Starting a shouting match was not going to solve the situation. "I will have a talk with my old apprentice when he and Valin return from their mission." He wanted to speak with Ben before he addressed the council about their discoveries on the frontlines of the war to gauge his opinion on the council's decision. Now it was just who would bring up the question.

    Sitting queitly in his seat, Kyp Durron decided to just get it over with, though he knew the answer already. "Regardless, we must answer the Chief of State." Then he looked toward Luke and asked,"Are the jedi going to aide the Republic or not." Try as he might, he could not make his statement sound like a question.

    All eyes turned to Luke to say what they knew needed to be done. "The Jedi Order will not be involved in this war. We must be strong and ready for the true threat reveals itself. I know we may be looked upn hatefully but we must be ready to defend the Republic against this threat. I don't mean to say that they are not a threat, but the Mandalorians are not Force sensitive. This threat is quite strong in the Force."

    Corran Horn wasn't any happier than the others for leaving the Republic to fend for themselves but he knew waht needed to be done. "Then Force help us if we are wrong. the Republic's fate rests on this course of action as well as the Order."

    Dantooine

    Ben ran as fast as his legs could carry him across the rough terrain of Dantooine. Behind him blasterfire erupted everywhere. He and Valin had been assigned to this planet to oversee the Republic's military strategy to protect the planet's inhabitants. However, they didn't count on a surprise attack by a scouting Mandalorian fleet. Now the entire planet was under seige while the Republic fleet dogged it out with the Neo-Crusaders in the atmosphere. Over the past year the reputation of Ben Skywalker and Valin Horn grew to the stuff of legend. But neither one liked being publicly recognized so they left their assignments as soon as they finished. Due to his strategic mind, Ben was quickly whisked away to the Republic HQ to forge a battle plan. So far the battle was going well but he knew it was only a matter of time before hostile reinforcements arrived. Now he was running for his life in between mountain crevices as part of his plan to draw the enemy in while Valin led thetroops above him to encircle them. Alright Valin, you better not be dead now or I will throttle you if I don't live through this. He could only pray to the Force that he was around here somewhere.

    He leaped over another rock in his path. As he was in midair, he felt a warning from the Force and turned his leap into a somersault as blaster shots passed through the space he had just occupied. He looked up and saw a clearing up ahead. I'm out of space he thought to himself. He kept on running at full speed trying to make the clearing. He took a chance and looked back and saw his hope restored as Republic soldiers started pouring down the rocky slopes. The Republic soldiers continued to pour blasterfire on the crusaders. Now they were the ones on the run for the clearing. Right where Ben was waiting for them. Only four Mandos made it through and Ben took the offensive at the first opportunity. He took a swipe at the first man instantly bisecting him. The other two caught on to his strategy and drew their cortosis weaved vibroblades. Ben had hoped to catch them all by surprise. One Mandalorian is hard enough but two going toe to toe with me and another shooting. Blast it Valin, where are you?

    It would take the soldiers some time before they could get there and he had no clue where Valin was so he was on his own. His opponents were starting to maneuver him in between them. The one to his left raised his blade and struck out at Ben's head to decapitate him. He quickly brought up his blue saber to block. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the other Mando start to swing for his legs. He used the position he had on his adversary in the sword lock to force his blade down and kick out with his right foot, like his mother had taught him, connecting with the charging brute sending him backwards a few steps but not enough to make him fall. Kriff! These guys are well trained. At that moment, Ben looked back and stared at the lone Mandalorian with his blaster trained right on his head as he fired.

    Right as the shot was fired, Ben knew he was done for. But before the shot hit halfway, it was intercepted by a blue blade of light deflecting it into the grassy terrain. Ben quickly used the Force to push his opponent away to give he and Valin some room to work with. Valin ran to his side as they stood back to back ready to take on the best the Mandalorians had to offer. "Any ideas?" Valin asked. Now he wished he would have taken some of his men with him instead of leaving them finish up the crusaders in the trench.

    Ben saw all three of their enemies start to close in wielding their vibroblades and hoped he could defeat these murderers. He knew that these men had to be among one of the more distinguished clans due to their tremendous skill. "You take the one on the right." Valin simply nodded his head knowing that Ben truly meant the one heading for Ben not the other. It was an old trick of their's that they had perfected against many enemies including dueling ring opponents. As one of the Mandalorians attacked, the trap was set. Valin leaped high over Ben, who was starting to execute his lightsaber sweep at the two oncoming Mandalorians, and landed right in front Ben's potential killer. He parried the first two blows and delivered a difficult series of thrusts to the Mando's chest which assailant barely blocked.

    Ben could see that Valin was handling his situation well so he put his full concentration on the task at hand. He sweeped at the oncoming crusader with all his might and knocked him back while he itercpted the thrust to his back. He quickly spun around to face both his adversaries. They both moved in sync as they came at him at full speed. But as the closest one struck at him, the other veered off and headed for Valin's blind side. Ben attempted to unleashed a torrent of combos to gain an opening. As he did so, he saw Valin dispatch his foe only to turn around to be slashed across the chest. Ben felt his anger soar as his lifelong friend hit the ground. The Mandalorian stood over him and prepared deal the killing blow. Valin had been there for him ever since Shelter and he refused to lose his brother now. He looked at the Mandalorian before him and unleashed his fury quickly dispatching him with a strong blow to the head. He turned and threw his saber with everything he had at the unsuspecting Mandalorian.

    Valin felt extreme pain as lay at his foe's feet. The wound wasn't fatal but if not treated soon it could be. But when he looked up he knew it wouldn't matter anyway. The Mandalorian stood over him with his blade raised high and brought it down for the killing blow. He closed his eyes and waited, letting the Force's peace wash over him in waves, waiting to become one with it once more. But the moment never came. He felt like he had laid there for hours though it was only mere seconds. Am I already dead? He checked that thought as he heard the sound of a lightsaber clashing just above him allowing him to feel the blade's intense heat. The heat retreated from him and he opened his eyes to see Ben standing behind the rather large Mandalorian with his blue blade embedded in his back. Ben shut down the lightsaber as the crusader fell to ground in a heap. Ben could hear footsteps approaching as the Republic troops began to come out of the trench as he ran over to Valin to address his wounds.

    "How bad is it?" Ben asked, trying to keep the urgency out of his voice. He had come so close to losing the man that he called his own brother. What would he tell Corran if his son died here because of him? He already disapproves of me. He would surely kill me if Valin dies.

    "I'm not going to die if that's what you're asking," Valin took a deep breath in order to continue through the pain,"but I need bacta." He began to chuckle seeing Ben's face ull of worry. "Come on, don't worry so much. You're starting to look like my mother."

    Ben saw Valin's attempt to cheer him up and laughed with him. "I'd rather face her than your father." Ben quickly waved over to the commander of the squad.

    Valin closed his eyes and smiling, replied,"Yeah, he'd probably kill you but he doesn't have to know now does he?"

    "You've been hanging around me for far too long, my friend." He turned to address the commander standing behind him, "Sergeant, have your medical officer treat the wounded and Knight Horn as quickly as possible."

    "Yes sir," the sergeant saluted and ordered his men to carry Valin and the others over to the rocky slope, near the trench entrance, for treatment.

    Ben was left there alone staring down at the corpse of the Mandalorian that he had wanted nothing more than to kill for nearly taking his friend's life. He had felt the darkness inside him flourish at that moment. He couldn't help but shudder at the memory. He had felt so alive and powerful. Is this what the dark side feels like? He threw that thought away as quickly as he could. He would have to talk to Jacen later, but first he would have a word with his first teacher, though she was not known by many , if any at all, to have been his first master. She knew what the dark side felt like more than many of the masters that had taught him. He would have a private word with her if he survived this. At that moment, a shiny object on the fallen Mandalore's belt caught his eye. It looked like a holorecorder. He was certain of this fact but not entirely sure he could decipher the code. He thought of his cousin, Anakin. Ben and Anakin both had an affinity for machines but Anakin had a special connection between himself and machines and far more experience. He remembered feeling his cousin's pain as he llaid there dieing ever so slowly on Myrkr. Fortunately for both of them he had miraculously survived the fight and was given proper medical treatment. Even now no one knew how Anakin Solo had lived. Some masters on the council believed the dark Jedi Vergerie had something to do with it but they had failed to make a connection. Then she had died during the last battle of the Yuuzhan Vong War causing many to believe other theories but for the Solo family, they just rejoiced that their son and brother was alive and well. Where is Anakin when I need him? He picked it up and began to work on it the way Anakin had shown him.

    After a quarter of an hour, he was watching the holorecording. Two figures stood together on the bridge of a Mandalorian vessel. One was unmistakably Mandalore the Ultimate while the other he recognized as the man he had killed not that long ago. "Mandalore, we are ready for battle," the unknown Mandalorian stated.

    Mandalore turned to face him directly."Good. You will lead the scout fleet's invasion. If you win this battle you will be amply rewarded. If not . . . your sacrifice will bring honor to clan Ordo. I will notify Canderous to join our invasion of Dantooine. We will follow a few days behind you."

    "Yes, Mandalore. Sir is it true Skywalker and Horn are on the planet?"

    "Yes. It would be an added honor if you could eliminate them. I want a real fight. The Republic without Jedi support will fall. I want to fight the best the Jedi has to offer. I had expected Master Skywalker to come with legions of Jedi to the Republic's aide. But they sit and cower in fear of us as their precious Republic burns around them. Perhaps the death of his son will bring him to action. Go now and die with honor brother."

    "Hail Mandalore," the projection of the dead man sathe holo came to an end. Ben sat there in utter disbelief that they would kill not only innocent civilians but him as well to draw the Jedi into fighting. He knew what the Mandalorians were capable of but this was madness. Anger started to rise within him at the thought. He had to fight hard to bring it back to a manageable level. Valin and the sergeant came to stand beside him. At the lost look in his eyes, Valin kneeled down to be at eye level with him. "What's wrong?" he asked concerned.

    Ben tilted his head to his right to look out at the beautiful Dantooine countryside. "We don't have much time." He turned to the sergeant, "Give me your comlink." The soldier obeyed the order and handehis comlink.

    "Skywalker to Admiral Pallaeon. Do you copy?" he nearly shouted at the small device in his hand.

    "Admiral Pallaeon here. We've just finished mopping things up here in orbit. Have you been successful?"

    "Yes. We have just operated another successful guerrilla attack. But I found information that is of the utmost importance. The fleet you destroyed was merely a scout fleet sent to exact as much damage as possible before a joint fleet would come in to finish the job. We must begin evacuations immediately."

    "What about Dantooine. We can still defend her with-"

    Ben cut him off,"Believe me Admiral, there are far too many reinforcements arriving to fight. Dantooine was lost before this battle even began."

    There was a heavy sigh on the other end of the com,"I'll order the evacuation. Can you and your men cover the sector you're in?"

    "Yes sir. We can handle it but we must move quickly. We don't have much time left."

    "Understood Skywalker and well done. Get those people out and report to my ship when you're finished. Pallaeon out." Ben heard the last words had a touch of nervousness to them. He could only hope that they could evacuate everyone in time and get out of here alive.
  3. Zer0 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    Interesting story, I very much like how it's done.
  4. Rainbow Knight Star Game Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 2005
    star 5
    I am enjoying this wonderful story. Please, update soon. Excellent job!

    :)
  5. KnightRevan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Chapter 1: Day of Reckoning Part 2

    Jedi Temple, Coruscant

    The mood in the council room was anything but tense. The full council along with the entire Solo family and others sat there listening to reports flooding in that the Mandalorians had invaded Dantooine. They sat watching the holo projection of the HoloNet describing the events taking place.

    "Initially the Republic fleet, under the command of Admiral Pallaeon, was able to fend off the invading Mandalorian forces. However, due to newly found information, Admiral Pallaeon has decided to evacuate the planet. This information that has been discovered is that a giant fleet of Mandalorian warships are closing in on Dantooine and will arrive at any time. The source of the information has been revealed to be Jedi Knight Ben Skywalker. Because of his reputation we have to assume it is true. The planet has been evacuated. However, Admiral Pallaeon's flagship is still in orbit around the planet and he refuses to leave until Jedi Knights Skywalker and Valin Horn are safely on board. There has been no word from Skywalker's squad in the last few hours. we must have faith that they will make it out in time."

    Mara tried to hide her fear behind a scowl. "Luke, we need to get to them!"

    Mirax Horn, however, was not a Jedi and displayed her fear for her son openly, "We need to send a group to find them now!" She was frightend for her son's safety as well as his closest friend.

    Corran and Luke shared a knowing look. Both knew what their wives wanted but they knew it would be impossible to get there in time before the invasion. They had to trust their children to get out while they had the chance. But Luke knew that Ben would never leave someone behind. He would stay until everyone had a way out and one day that compassion could be his downfall. He had inherited too much from his mother and father. Now it was all up to him and Valin.

    "I don't want to see my brother dead, Dad, Master Skywalker. Can't we do something. Anything!" Jysella Horn's voice cracked and she started to cry. She had been very close to her brother which meant she was also fairly close to Ben. Many Jedi believed she had a crush on Ben. However, it was fairly evident that Anakin's apprentice, Vestara Khai, also had strong feelings for him. She stood by her master trying desperately to keep a straight face.

    Luke hated to see everyone like this but he knew his hands were tied. "I don't like thsi any more than anyone else but there is nothing we can do. We must have faith that they will make the right decisions that will allow them to return home. I love my son. And I would do everything in my power to keep him safe but now we must trust them to handle their situation. Only they have the power to save the lives of those who cannot defend themselves on Dantooine. This is their trial that, sadly, they must face alone."

    No one could argue with Luke's statement. Jacen looked torn apart by all this. Corran was holding up better than expected but even that was just a well donned facade similar to what Mara was showing. Luke could feel his wife's turmoil over possibly losing her son. He sent feelings of encouragement to her that she took greedily. He'll come home. He'll come home.

    Dantooine

    The invasion began sooner than Ben ever could have anticipated. Admiral Pallaeon had informed them that a nearby tracking station had discovered a large fleet of warships anout to drop out of hyperspace. Ben and Pallaeon had argued that they had to leave but Ben insisted that they had to save one last family before they left so Pallaeon told them he would wait for them and monitor the situation behind the nearby moon. Ben had to admire Pallaeon for not leaving them behind.

    Ben led what remained of his team down the grassy hills as the Mandalorian ground troops started pouring down on the planet. Ben ran along the path as Basilisk war droids rained down blasterfire on them. They had to weave through the trenches in order to stay out of the open. Several dropships landed in their vicinity and the two Jedi knew the hunt had begun. Neither Ben or Valin could leave without getting to the last family known in the sector.

    Ben looked around and had to he was worried. "Are we close, sergeant?"

    The sergeant was the last surviving member of the original team. He had been through thick and thin with them and he had Ben's utmost respect. "We are currently only a few kilometers away . . . This reminds me too much of Cathar."

    Valin had to agree with him on that one. The longer they stayed the more they found dead bodies of the citzens of Dantooine. Now that the Mandalorians had fully invaded the system, any settlers that were still arond were most likely dead. Ben didn't want to admit it but he knew that this was it for them. Once they got this family secured they would hopefully find a ship to maybe break through the blockade. He had went over it with Valin and the sergeant. They all knew it was a foolhardy plan but it was all they had.

    They continued onward, meeting heavy resistance, but managed to break through to the farmhouse in the valley. They approached the front door cautiously, not knowing what would lie within. Ben waved the door open with the Force and walked in. The home was fully lit, nothing appeared out of place until they walked into the next room. Clothing, food and other supplies were strewn around the room. Furniture was overturned. Then they spotted what they feared the most. Blood. A blaster shot erupted from down the hall followed by the cry of a woman. He and Valin sprinted down the hall far ahead of the soldier. When they got to the end Ben's heart broke in two. Lying on the floor in a pool of blood were two human males. One looked not much older than Ben himself and the other must have been the young man's father. Valin held an angry scowl on his face as he took the sight in. Then the Mandalorian turned to look at them. He spoke in a low voice as he said the word that many people say to them. Jedi. In one lightning quick motion that could rival any Jedi's, he turned and plunged his vibroblade into the woman's stomach. The woman's eyes went wide as she fell in a lifeless heap next to her dead husband and nearly adult son.

    Ben and Valin instantly ignited their lightsabers and the sergeant trained his blaster on the lone Mandalorian. Ben felt an even stronger urge to kill this man before him. He had ruthlessly killed a family that had done him no wrong. He felt more than anger towards him. Very few people had ever had the effect that these Mandalorians had on him. He felt his hatred rise to heights it had never known. He felt Valin's own pain and anger but nevertheless, Valin reached out to him to help him gain more control over himself. It helped to a degree but he still had an incredible urge to torture the man.

    "All this is your fault Jedi. You could have prevented this. Instead you cower in your temple," the Mandalorian spoke with an angry tone.

    Valin took the first chance to speak,"Why are you murdering innocent people?"

    "The Jedi Council has decided to leave the Republic to fend for itself. We want to fight the best the Republic has to offer. You Jedi are the so called 'protectors of the Republic' yet you leave them to fight a war they cannot win. We want better than petty soldiers to fight."

    Ben couldn't believe what he was hearing,"So you will murder innocent people to draw the Jedi into this. You're a kriffing liar as well as a murderer! The Jedi would never leave the Republic defenseless."

    "Open your eyes to the truth. If you live past this day you will know that I am right. But it will be my honor to fight the great Ben Skywalker in combat. If I kill you then surely your father will finally enter this war as we always wanted." The Mandalorian's hand dropped to his belt but there was no vibroblade there. Instead there was a small cylinder. He grabbed it and ignited the weapon to reveal a green blade of light. Ben was taken aback by this man. He had to have killed a Jedi in combat and taken his saber as a trophy. The Mandalorian waved and two more Mandalorians came out of the shadows behind them, blocking their exit.

    "This belonged to Jedi Master Tresina Lobi. I encountered her during the beginning of our seiges. I slew her and now it it will slay you," the Mandalorain shouted.

    They were boxed in with no way out but to fight. For all they knew there could more elsewhere in the building. The sergeant quickly pulled out his own vibroblade. Though he wasn't nearly as strong as a Mandalorian, his stance showed that he had deadly proficiency with the blade. They stood together in a circle ready for them to make the first move. Then the Mandalorian leader charged at Ben, his lightsaber raised in a high guard position. Ben stepped forward ready to meet him head on. "He's mine!" he shouted bringing his saber up to block the first blow. Valin quickly turned to meet his own opponent. He had to admire their skill though he hated their means of showing it by murdering people that had done nothing to them. He looked over at the sergeant and saw him deal blow after blow to the Mando causing him to fall back. This thought spurred him on as he saw Ben in a valiant duel with the enemy leader.

    Ben blocked one bone rattling blow after another then delivered some of his own. He couldn't help but think about what the Mandalorian said. He just couldn't believe the Jedi would allow the Republic to fight alone. It's only an insult . . . but why would we have waited so long to go to war then? He lifted his blade to parry yet another strike to his head. This Mandalorian was not holding back so why should he? He quickly spun his saber and kicked him square in the gut knocking him back. He took that moment to steal a look at the others. Valin had just cut his man in two and he and the sergeant would make short work of the other no doubt. Now we end this he thought as he lifted his saber high to bring it down on his foe with all the strength he had. The Mando lifted his blade to parry and his blade instantly sizzled with the impact. The strength behind Ben's attack brought the Mandalorian to his knees. He heard a loud thud behind him and he pictured his two brothers in arms cutting down this brute"s clan brother. The Mandalorian got on one knee to raise himself from the floor but Ben had lightning quick reflexes of his own. He brought his saber up to parry then quickly reversed as he spun around the warrior cleaving his saber arm cleanly off at the elbow. The man started to swing his other arm around in retaliation but before it could reach him, Ben buried his saber in the warrior's chest. He shut down the saber with a small amount of satisfaction, but much regret, as he fell to the floor. Valin and the soldier were watching them with awestruck faces at what had just happened.

    The Mandalorian raised his remaining hand to his head and pulled off his helmet, revealing an older man of about forty standard years with black hair and growing stubble all over his face. Blood was starting to spurt from his mouth as he spoke in gasping breaths,"You . . have bested . . . me. Just remember . . to tell your council . . we will use any methods . . necessary to get what we want." He brought his trembling body to his knees and looked up at Ben, lifting what remained of his right arm and beat his chest. "You are a worthy adversary . . . Ben Skywalker . . I did not think it . . possible to fall to you. But . . I now see you have . . great battles to fight." He started to slump and with one final show of his great strength he stood tall and confidently proclaimed,"This war has only just begun!" With those final words he fell to the hard floor below and breathed his last.

    He looked to Valin who reflexively tried to hide the blood seeping from his old wound. "What happened?" Ben asked urgently. He couldn't lose him now. He refused to lose either of his friends.

    Valin was attempting to stand tall but he couldn't stand for much longer. "It's been reopened and I think it's infected." The sergeant stood behind him to give him support.

    Ben's mind went into overdrive trying to find a way out. If he recalled correctly, there was a Republic outpost not far from where they were. It was most likely overrun by now but it was their only shot at getting off the planet.

    Suddenly, his comlink beeped signaling an incoming transmission. "You still there, Skywalker?"

    "Admiral Pallaeon. It's good to hear you're still alive, sir. We're done here. We're heading to a Republic outpost less than a kilometer from our position," Ben quickly told the former Imperial admiral that he had a newfound respect for.

    The transmission began to crack with static. "You better get there ASAP, Skywalker. Your position has been reported in. The fleet is preparing to bombard your position."

    A quiet fear entered Ben as he thought of the possibilities of survival.They were minimal at best. "Understood Admiral. If we get in the air we'll need a quick getaway."

    "I'll see what I can do. Now get moving and-" The transmission was cut off with nothing to hear but static.

    He pocketed the comlink and picked up the fallen Mandalorian's lightsaber. He turned to the sergeant holding Valin upright. "Can you carry him?" At the man's nod, Ben started to lead them out of the building. "I'll cover you. Let's move."

    As they got out they met Mandalorian squads of various numbers. But Ben was too dialed into the Force now to even consider the odds. He attacked and brought them down in mere moments with help from the sergeant, who placed some very well timed blaster shots into Mandalorian skulls while carrying , a now unconcious, Valin Horn.

    They fought their way forward til they reached the outpost that was now crawling with the Mandalorian butchers. Ben took the lead and quickly swiped through the first enemy with two quick strikes from his dual blades. They mowed through wave upon wave of them until they closed in on the hangar. Ben entered and just as he had hoped, there was a freighter waiting for them surrounded by what seemed to be a battalion of Mandalorian warriors. "Get Valin to the ship," he ordered the sergeant as he leaped ahead to clear a safe path. The sergeant did as ordered and reached the ship unharmed. Ben heard the ship's engines begin to come alive as he continued to deflect blasterfire back at his enemies. Then a rumble from the ground shook them all off their feet. Ben's horror had manifested. The bombardment has begun. Ben took the time he had been given to scramble aboard the ship. He ran through the vessel's corridors toward the cockpit and found the sergeant waiting for him. "We're ready for takeoff sir," he stuttered out quickly due to the increasing amount of firepower being thrown down at the defenseless planet. "Is Valin secured?" Ben asked as he luanched himself into the pilot's seat.

    "Yes sir, we need to go now!" the man nearly shouted. Ben couldn't agree more as he lifted the old freighter into the air. They would be lucky if this thing even held together.

    Just as soon as they took to the air they were spotted by patrolling aircraft. Ben put the ship into a tight spin as the missiles passed through the space they once were in. "Get on those guns," Ben shouted as the ship screeched because of the strain it was now under. He didn't hear a reply or even footsteps heading out but he could feel the man, who he would gladly call his friend, run toward the slowly dieing ship's gun emplacements.

    He continued to dodge blasterfire and weave through ships as he entered the atmosphere. He once again felt hope start to drain away as he saw the massive Mandalorian warships closing in around them to blow them apart. He put the ship into a screeching dive under one of the massive vessels but it wasn't enough. Not even the sergeant could keep up with the hordes of hostiles that kept coming at them. The ship lurched forward as it took heavy fire from all sides. Ben did every trick he had, even the ones Uncle Han had shown him but the ship was falling apart on him. "You hear me baby, hold together. Just hold together a little longer," Ben tried pleading with the ship. In response the ship burst into flames as they barely got through the barrage of turbolaser fire. But now all they were was dead weight waiting to be blown out of space. Ben refused to admit defeat. He couldn't. Not after all he and the others had been through. The Force wouldn't abandon him now to have him die a death his family would never see, would it? A familiar presence rapidly started to grow around him through the Force and he couldn't help but smile as the Mandalorian warships' turbolasers began to pepper them with deadly firepower. Then at that moment a Republic capital ship came out of hyperspace right before them beginning to return fire on the Mandalorians.

    "Skywalker, it's now or never. We're prepping for hyperspace!" Admiral Pallaeon shouted over the nearly dead ship's com.

    "We're coming in for a rough landing sir." The ship continued to lurch to and fro from the beating it was taking. Ben flipped on the ship's intercom and ordered the sergeant, who he strangely did not know the name of, to get to the infirmary to strap Valin and himself down. He dove the ship under the belly of the massive star destroyer and entered the hangar bay in a screeching mass of burning metal. Ben felt his head whack against the console after the initial impact and watched helplesslly, before he blacked out because of the large gash that had been ripped open on his forehead, as what remained of the ship smashed into the hangar bay's far wall.

    The Bloodfin

    "They're aboard sir," a lieutenant in his thirties announced as he got word from the hangar bay control room.

    Gilad Pallaeon had been around long enough to know when to make an exit from battle. "Punch it!" he ordered the lieutenant and watched with relief as the forward viewport took in the stars of hyperspace.




    mulberry likes this.
  6. Rainbow Knight Star Game Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 2005
    star 5
    Yet another excellent post. Awesome work. Please update soon.

    :)
  7. KnightRevan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Chapter 2: Opposing the Council Part 1

    The Bloodfin bridge

    Hyperspace. There was something about it that soothed him as he stared at the streaking stars but that moment passed too fast for his liking as he recalled the events before they entered hyperspace. "Lieutenant, status report," Admiral Gilad Pallaeon ordered.

    Lieutenant Lon Shevu looked from his datascreen to his former mentor and longtime friend with a stricken look on his face. "Sir, Skywalker's ship crashed in the hangar. There's fire and debris everywhere," he spoke in a hurried tone, hoping that Pallaeon would take immediate action instead of taking his anger out on the crew.

    Pallaeon felt his face take on the look of absolute horror. "I want fire and rescue teams down there stat!" When he became an admiral all those years ago in his Imperial days, he knew he would be sending good men to their deaths. But now all of that fell away when it came to Ben Skywalker. He had stayed when he didn't have to, had fought to save lives while putting his own at risk. He would not lose this young man like so many others. If the Republic was to survive it would need heroes like Ben Skywalker and Valin Horn.

    The Bloodfin Hangar

    Squads ran rampant in the fire scorched hangar. Fire teams were attempting to stop the burning ship from exploding while the rescue team entered what remained of the ship to search for survivors. The squad split up inside to search as thoroughly as possible. Squad leader, Captain Lorn Menssk heard a beep emitting from his transmitter. "I've got two contacts . . . and something else. It's not much but it could be a life form. Move out."

    Two squad members journeyed farther into the smoke filled ship entering what seemed to be a common room. The scanner began beeping louder as they neared a smaller room off to the side. They slowly crept inside and saw a splotch of blood on the floor at their feet. Ahead of them lay a sight none of them wanted to see. "Sir, you need to see this. We found them."

    The Bloodfin Medical Bay

    Slowly he opened his eyes a mere millimeter. Bright light shined through his eyes causing him to instantly close them. Thoughts swirled in his head as he tried to recall all of the events that had taken place.He remembered fighting the Mandalorians and avoiding being blown to Coruscant in Dantooine's orbit. Then everything came roaring back to him and his eyes shot open. We crashed and I crawled to the medical bay and . . . Valin. Valin! Where was he? He quickly sat up and instantly felt a twinge of pain from his head. It wasn't as bad as it used to feel but it was still painful. By the time he refocused his thoughts, he was staring at a very concerned and startled Gilad Pallaeon. "Admiral, where are they, where is Valin!" he almost shouted at the elder man.

    Pallaeon had been pacing uncontrollably until Ben's outburst caught him completely off guard. He didn't want to respond but he felt he had a duty to do so, "Valin is in a bacta tank at the moment. He lost a lot of blood and his wound became badly infected. I've spoken to our top medical officers and they expect him to make a full recovery but it will take some time."

    Ben's brow creased in thought. "And the sergeant?"

    Pallaeon tried to calm him but Ben would have none of it until he had an answer. Pallaeon admired him for caring so much about those under his command. But Pallaeon knew something was wrong. His rescue teams didn't find anyone else on board the burning hulk of the former freighter but he suspected Ben would comment on that when he was ready. "Sergeant Rand is one of the elite fighters we have. he's not hurt as bad as Knight Horn, but he will be out of commission for awhile as well as many others."

    Ben could sense that there was something the admiral was not telling him. "So Valin and Sergeant Rand is it?" Ben said looking at Pallaeon for confirmation of the man's name. When he nodded Ben continued, "So they will be on the mend for some time while we are headed where? Because I know for one thing that we're not headed back to Coruscant as protocol states."

    Pallaeon was continually amazed by this man before him. He hesitated slowly before asking the one question he had longed for since Ben had arrived on Dantooine, "Are you fit enough to walk?"

    "Where to?" Ben asked suspiciously.

    "We're taking a rather long trip back to Coruscant. You'll see soon enough," Pallaeon's gaze held the look of pure and utter sorrow as he spoke those words. He somberly walked to the doorway then stopped and said, "Valin Horn is just down the hallway. Third door to the right. I will see you on the bridge as soon as we exit hyperspace." With that he walked out the door on his way to the bridge.

    Ben got up from his cot slower than he would have liked but soon he was walking down the hall with little more than a slight sway to his step. He stood in front of the room currently housing Valin reluctant to go in and see how his friend was doing. I can do this. He opened the door and braced himself for what was to come. Valin lay submerged in a bacta tank with cuts and bruises all across his bare chest. He had taken a real beating during the crash and it certainly showed. Valin I am so sorry. I couldn't protect you and now you're paying the price for my mistakes. I hope you can forgive me, my friend.

    He felt a warm sensation inside his mind and heard a rather weak, hoarse whisper. It's not your fault, Ben. I just need some rest and I'll be fine.

    Thank you, Valin. I will let you rest now. He turned to leave the room, then he looked back at his friend lying in the tank when he thought he heard a chuckle as the connection between them broke. He continued his journey out the door. He thought about all the lives that had been lost on Dantooine. They had barely made it out alive and now he remembered the Mandalorian's words: You Jedi are the so called 'protectors of the Republic' yet you leave them to fight a war they cannot win. And later, the warrior's dieing request had been to tell the council they would use whatever methods necessary to fight the Jedi. The Jedi would never leave the Republic's side in a war. He didn't know what to believe anymore. Perhaps Admiral Pallaeon knew if the Mandalorian had been right.

    While Ben was still trying to clear his head, the vessel's intercom system crackled to life. "Attention, this is Lieutenant Lon Shevu. Ben Skywalker, Admiral Pallaeon requests your presence on the bridge. We will be exiting hyperspace in fifteen minutes." The com checked off and silence came and went as the medical officers in this section of the ship continued their work. Ben knew Pallaeon had brought them here for a reason. But where are we? Ben thought as he quickened his pace to the bridge. Pallaeon's words came to mind when he reached the giant durasteel blast doors leading to his destination. You'll see soon enough. Well that moment had finally come. The doors opened to reveal a large room filled with consoles and men and women diligently working at their stations. On the command deck at the front of the room gazing out at the stars were two men who were deep in conversation. When Ben got closer he could see that one was Pallaeon while the other he assumed was the man on the intercom, Lon Shevu.

    Both men turned and watched him approach them with somewhat weary eyes. Admiral Pallaeon was the first to speak, "Skywalker, I would like you to meet my second in command, Lieutenant Lon Shevu."

    Lon reached out with his hand and shook Ben's firmly, "I've heard a lot about you. You should be honored because of the courage you've shown. Not many men would stay behind like you did. Without your help, many innocent people would have died on Dantooine."

    Ben held a ton of respect for the men standing before him. He knew he wasn't the only one that made a difference. "There were a lot of good men that were lost. I only wish I could have saved more," he paused in an attempt to change the subject, "But I've heard many stories about you as well. You should be congratulated for your success."

    "I'm just a soldier fighting to protect my family as well as the galaxy as a whole."

    Another officer trotted up next to Pallaeon. "Sir, we are about to exit hyperspace," he informed him.

    Pallaeon turned away from the officer and looked toward Ben and Lon. "Good. I want a thorough search for any hostiles nearby. Understood?"

    "Yes sir," Lon responded. He walked over to his station to begin his task.

    Then the ship shuddered as it exited hyperspace to reveal a planet before them. Even from space you could see the damage that had been done to this world. There was also evidence that there had been a skirmish of some sort in the atmosphere where a debris field now encircled the planet. Ben could barely comprehend this horror. He looked over at Pallaeon, who held a somber gaze. His eyes told a larger story however. Ben knew the admiral had seen this world burn. Is this what I think it is? He didn't have long to find out.

    Pallaeon looked toward Lon, "Is an enemy presence in this sector?"

    Lon shook his head, "No sir. We are the only ones here."

    Pallaeon turned to address the crew. "Skywalker and I will head to the surface. While we are away Lieutenant Shevu will be in command. If anything from Coruscant comes through, I want you to notify me and I will dictate a response. Are we clear?"

    "Yes sir," the crewmen said simultaneously. With that Pallaeon took one last look at Lon and the crew then motioned for Ben to follow him as he walked out of the command room and Ben found himself striding alongside him on their way to the hangar.

    Jedi Temple, Coruscant

    Luke, like all the others, had been glued to the HoloNet for what seemed to be far longer than the few days since the fall of Dantooine. When they heard that the Mandalorians had bombarded the planet he litterally had to try pin Mara down so she couldn't fly to Dantooine. Her son meant everything to her and she easily beat Luke. But his diversion worked to a degree, though he had to suffer her wrath before she calmed down. He had shown up the next morning with a bruised face and a slight limp in his stride. Now the Skywalker and Horn families all waited for a clue as to what had happened to their children. Mara had been a wreak and he was the evidence of that. The Solos were around everyday to help both families but it didn't help much. Jacen was trying to busy himself by spending more time with his wife, Tenel Ka, and their nine year old daughter, Allana. Luke remembered the day that Jacen was assumed to have died. Tenel Ka had thought long and hard about leaving the order and taking up her birthright as Queen Mother of Hapes but after speaking with the Solos and Skywalkers she decided to remain a Jedi. When Jacen was found alive the first person to greet him upon his return was Tenel Ka. Years later they had been married after the Killik crisis and had Allana. Those days were awfully hard on Han and Leia and now he and Mara had just begun to feel the same. During his reverie he felt Mara reach out to him and he brought himself back to the present to hear that the HoloNet reporters had received new information.

    "News has just been released by the Republic military that Admiral Pallaeon and his crew have indeed survived the assault on Dantooine. Jedi Knights Ben Skywalker and Valin Horn are onboard the vessel. Apparently the invasion began while Skywalker and Horn were still on the planet's surface. It is unknown how they managed to get off planet but we do know that the ship will be en-route to Coruscant as soon as possible. We have also been informed that Knight Horn was severely injured during this operation. From what we know he should be fine but will need further medical treatment upon their return."

    Luke tried to tune everything else out as he heard the commotion erupt in the council chamber. He was as shocked as everyone else but he couldn't get himself to move from his seat. He saw Mara and Jaina embrace each other warmly. The Horns were together with Leia, who was doing her best to console them. Then in the blink of an eye he felt the Force flow through him and overtake him. The Force swallowed him whole and there was nothing but darkness.

    Luke opened his eyes and saw a world he didn't recognize. Then the sound of battle raged in his ears. He followed the sound and suddenly before him appeared thousands of Jedi fighting against their long thought dead enemy. The Sith have returned! No that is impossible. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. He saw Jedi after Jedi fall to the blades of the Sith. Then the sounds of battle passed away and before him lay a massive graveyard. Bodies of slain Jedi lie at his feet as far as the eye could see. Then he saw one man, cloaked in shadow with the Dark Side pulsing around him slowly start to stalk toward him. He couldn't see anything underneath the dark shroud of the hood. He could make out a small outline around the man's head. It was possible he could be wearing a mask of some kind, Luke thought. The Sith drew closer until he was merely a foot away from him. Then the man brought up his hands to his hood. Just when Luke was about to see this mysterious man's face, the scenery disappeared plunging him into darkness once more.

    Then he heard a voice that he had never heard before. "Our time has come. For three hundred years we prepared, we grew stronger while you rested in your cradle of power . . . believing your people were safe and protected. You were trusted to lead the Republic, but you were deceived as our powers of the Dark Side have blinded you. You assumed no force could challenge you, and now . . . finally . . . We have returned." Then in a flash of light he saw the Jedi Temple and Coruscant as a whole burning before his eyes.

    Then he saw the cloaked man again, standing in the ruins of the Jedi Temple. Luke felt someone standing beside him. He turned and saw a tall, well built human man with a bald head a respirator around his mouth standing there gazing at the cloaked man. Slowly, he spoke in a low, but powerful tone, "He was strong in the Dark Side," Luke realized that this was the man that had spoken earlier. The man continued as though he didn't even see Luke, "But he rebelled and had to suffer. Now his story has ended." Luke took a look around and felt himself being pulled away from the vision. He saw the two men start to walk towards each other. The tall man took off his cloak and respirator while igniting his blood red lightsaber. Then the other man was about to pull back his hood when he felt the vision drift away.

    He opened his eyes to see a very concerned Mara looking at him as well as everyone else in the council chamber. He tried to focus his mind. What have I seen? He was positive that the vision was of the future. When he saw the Temple he had recognized it as the one he had built on the foundation of the old temple. He couldn't fathom who the two Sith were and why he hever saw the face of the one. Mara's insistent shaking him brought him back to the world he never knew he had left. "Luke. Luke! Look at me," Mara said hurriedly. Luke slowly turned his head to look at his wife. The look in his eyes told her something was wrong. "What is it?" she asked.

    Luke slowly sat up in his chair. He looked at all the people in the room and realized that he could not reveal this information to any but the council and those he knew were completely trustworthy. "I'm sorry but we must have an immediate council meeting called to order. I would appreciate it if you could all leave until after the meeting." As the group was filing out Han looked over to Luke and said, "I think I will wait outside with Mirax." Then he gestured to Anakin who hadn't moved, "Come on, Junior. Let's go see your family." Then jokingly, he added, "I can tell when we're not wanted."

    Reluctantly, Anakin left with his father leaving the council alone for Luke to speak with. He took a look at all the faces around him and began to speak, "This meeting will not be put on record." He then told them everything he had seen.

    Cathar

    Ben could still smell smoke in the air as he and Pallaeon walked across the surface of the now barren world. He felt so much sorrow emitting from this place. Not that long ago, Cathar had fallen to the Yuuzhan Vong. But now the Mandalorians had made the Yuuzhan Vong look like a mercy to this world. They had razed the planet. No intelligent life was left alive on the desolate planet. If there were any creatures around the fires that still burned wildly kept them away. Pallaeon turned to him and spoke with a heavy heart, "They invaded at such a time where they had no defense against their assault. The Cathar fought valiantly but they were no match for them. Some managed to flee the system but not many. The ships you saw in orbit were destroyed trying to escape. I came here with the fleet to aide the resistance fighters . . . but we were already too late."

    The admiral stopped ahead as they came to a hillside which indicated a valley lay on the other side. Ben could feel the fear the Cathar had felt as they were mercilessly cut down by the Mandalorians. "I saw Mandalorians murder innocent people before my eyes on Dantooine. I will never forgive myself for not acting fast enough. For not being there sooner. They died because of me," Ben said heavily. He knew he had barely seen anything on this planet and it already had an effect on him.

    Pallaeon looked him in the eye and finally said what he had longed and dreaded to tell Ben, "The horror is far from over. Follow me up the hill and see what truly happened. Then we will leave." Ben followed him up the hill. When he came to the top he wished he had never even survived Dantooine. His gaze sweeped the valley in front of him. The valley was filled with the remains of thousands of bodies. Ben looked around and saw that large fires that had just recently flamed out had kept the native creatures away. The Mandalorians had slaughtered all these people here and left their bodies to slowly rot away. He had barely managed to keep a hold of his anger on Dantooine and nowhe had the same feeling all over again. He could almost see the Mandalorians butchering the Cathar. He could hear their screams and felt their pain as his own. Now he knew he had to make a decision and once again he remembered the Mandalorian's assessment of him. You are a worthy adversary . . . Ben Skywalker . . I did not think it . . possible to fall to you. But . . now I see you have . . great battles to fight. It felt like it had been years ago that he heard those words but it had only been a few days since.

    "The Mandalorian I killed said that they would use any method necessary to get the Jedi involved in this war." Ben hesitated, not knowing how to ask for what he wanted to know. "Admiral, that Mandalorian said that the Jedi will not fight with the Republic. Is it true that the council has decided not to aide the Republic?"

    Pallaeon took a deep breath before answering, "Yes. They gave their answer to the Chief of State while we fought on Dantooine. You must know that the Republic will die without Jedi support. Even with the Empire joining the Republic we never had a chance. All those years ago I thought true peace between the Republic and the Empire would never come. Then the Yuuzhan Vong came. We joined together and fought for a future of one government. After the war I wanted to retire and enjoy the peace we had. Now we are close to merging into one government with two different regiments. Your cousin's husband has been campaigning for Jedi intervention for some time but has had little success. Jagged Fel is a great leader for the Imperial regiment but it is only a matter of time until the Republic as a whole dies."

    Then Ben decided he could no longer allow these people to suffer. If he had to stand against his father and mother, the Jedi Council, the order as a whole, he would. "I will not abandon the Republic. You saved my life as well as Valin's, admiral. But you didn't have to stay behind. Now I make this vow with you as my witness. I will campaign for Jedi intervention. And I will not rest until the day the Mandalorians have been finally defeated. I know that many Jedi would rather fight than wait out the war. All they've lacked is a leader."

    Pallaeon held out his hand and Ben clasped it. "I will hold you to that. You honor me with this commitment and I will amply provide you with everything you need."

    Ben retracted his arm and said, "There is much to do before I join you on the frontlines. But you have my word, I will fight whether it be alone or with other Jedi, and nothing can change my mind after this." He gestured toward the valley, taking one last look at the destruction that had taken place there. The sunset had come and with that final look Ben Skywalker left Cathar with a new mission. One not authorized by the Jedi Council.
    Halos94 likes this.
  8. mattman8907 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 17, 2012
    star 3
    i like it, except jedi councils consist of 12 members not thirteen and please continue.
    Last edited by mattman8907, Nov 24, 2012
  9. KnightRevan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Chapter 2: Opposing the Council Part 2

    Republic Military Complex, Coruscant

    Years ago, Callista Ming had loved her former apprentice's father but because of her inability to use the Force she left to rediscover it on her own. She had been able to touch the dark side but not the light. Over time Luke had apparently moved on and married Mara Jade. This event left a large void in Callista that she doubted could ever be truly filled again. She later ventured out to the Maw during the Yuuzhan Vong War and discovered that the Jedi had brought the younglings to the space station, Shelter, to wait out the war under the watchful eyes of the Solusars. She had then volunteered to assist the Jedi Masters in caring for the children. During her stay on Shelter, she began to regain her connection to the Force. It had frightened her yey excited her at the same moment. She had spent much of her time with the young Ben Skywalker, taking an interest in him that sparked even her own surprise as well as the Solusars. They had expected her to stay as far away as possible from the son of her former lover, but no matter how hard she had tried, there was something about him that called to her. Though he was little more than a toddler, Callista began to teach him little tricks with the Force as their relationship began to grow into that of a master and an apprentice. She looked at him as the son she could have had had she stayed with Luke. After the war ended, she had felt compelled to stay close to Ben so she went with the large caravan to Zonama Sekot. There she reluctantly rejoined the order, even if her only reason was to watch over Ben Skywalker. Ben, meanwhile began to develop a close relationship with his cousin, Jacen Solo, which pleased the Skywalker and Solo families. She had continued to teach Ben everything she knew throughout his childhood as his unofficial master until Mara Jade Skywalker had had enough of her being around her son. Ben continued his apprenticeship under many masters until Jacen Solo had finished his training a year ago. Ben had met with her every now and then to update her on his progress. And now after being away from hi, for some time, she had received an encrypted message from Ben requesting a meeting at the Republic military headquarters on Coruscant.

    She sped up her pace down the hallway she had entered. She was eager to see her young protege again. She had been actively involved with the Jedi Council in war meetings over the past year. She had often been invited to many meetings by Luke and spent as much time with the Skywalker family as she could. When she had heard about Dantooine she had thought that Ben would need far more than his tremendous skills to get out of that jam. But yet again he had proved them wrong and now she had a feeling that something was changing in the air. She felt cold and shivered as she walked through the halls of this hallowed building. She reached the door in front of her and it swished open immediately and shut tight behind her.

    Towards the rear of the rather large room, she saw Ben conversing with another man in a military uniform with an insignia marking him as an admiral. She recognized the man as Gilad Pallaeon from the many holos that had been taken of him over his illustrious military career. Ben turned and smiled at his former teacher. Callista visibly flinched as she noticed how hollow the young man looked before her. His smile still held the charm that he had mastered but lacked the almost child like innocence it had held throughout his adolescence. "Master, I would like you to meet Admiral Pallaeon," he said indicating the man next to him.

    Pallaeon stepped forward, "It is an honor to finally meet you in person, Master Ming."

    Callista nodded to him, "And you, Pallaeon. But please just call me Callista. I hate titles."

    Ben decided to speak up at that moment, "Master, I have come to a decision that the Jedi must fight this war. I saw Mandalorians kill innocent people because we refused to fight them. They will do whatever it takes to provoke action. We cannot allow this to continue. I have decided to join the Republic war effort without the approval of the council if I must. But I will try to persuade them to aide me."

    Callista let out a breath she didn't know she ahd been holding and shook her head, "I believe that Jedi intervention is needed but the Council will not be so easily swayed. Apparently they have disovered new developments taht have steeled their resolve against Jedi involvement." She spoke carefully since Pallaeon was still present.

    Both men seemed to take the hint. Pallaeon stepped toward the door, "I will check on Valin. See if he's ready to travel."

    Once he left the room, Ben asked blatantly, "What have they discovered?"

    "I don't know. At the last meeting that I was present at, it appeared to me that your father may have had some sort of vision. After he awoke he called an emergency meeting for council members only," Callista replied heavily. It pained her to see Luke look so lost. Once it would have been her by his side. She had moved on just like he did but there would always be a place in her heart for him.

    Ben looked perplexed at this information. He now had to figure a way to gain the council's support another way. "I know of many knights that will join my cause. But I need more. I need masters to side with me. Master, will you join me?"

    Callista looked into his pleading eyes. So much like his father's she thought. Many years ago she had fought during the Clone Wars. She knew then, as she did now, that the Republic would fall without the Jedi. "You have my support, Ben, but I cannot fight immediately. Perhaps later I will join you on the front lines. For now though I will be your advocate to any Jedi that are willing to stand against the Mandalorians."

    Ben was grateful she had said this. Now he had someone on the inside to aide him. "There is something you can do for me though. It won't be long before I make my stand against the Council. I need you to gather those who would rather fight and try persuading them that I will personally lead them in battle. I don't expect them to side with me immediately but I will travel throughout the Republic to gain followers. Eventually they will have to join the fight when they see their fellow Jedi join my cause. I need you to do this for me."

    Callista thought about this for a few moments before knowing her answer, "I will do what you have requested."

    "Thank you, Master. There . . . is another reason why I called you here," Ben said hesitantly.

    Then Callista felt the change within her former pupil. She had wondered what had happened to him to make him so hollow looking. "What is it?" she asked earnestly.

    Ben lowered his head, not sure how to explain his brush with the dark side. "Valin and I were put in command of a squad to lure the Mandalorians into traps. On one such occasion, we were fighting three of them in single combat. Valin was struck down and I . . . I felt so much anger. I couldn't lose him and I used the dark to give myself the edge to defeat him. And before we left the surface of Dantooine, one Mandalorian murdered a family right before my eyes. I couldn't hold it in. Then this warrior took out a lightsaber and I just lost it. You've touched the dark side. How do you control it?"

    She honestly didn't have a very Jedi-like answer for him. "Ben, sometimes we are faced with choices that are not choices at all. You know this already. Everything I have taught you has come from my own experiences and knowledge that I have gained over the years. Remember one of your last lessons with me: there is a great difference between a fall and a sacrifice. The Jedi have never understood what falling to the dark side truly means. Just because you have used the dark side doesn't mean you have fallen. Throughout history, whether they were Jedi or not, Force sensitive or not, beings have sacrificed themselves to save others. I still feel the dark side to this day yet I am still on the path of the light. Am I following the Will of the Force, I doubt it, but I may never know the answer until I have passed on. You are willing to wage war to save others. Ben, I don't think you are wrong in doing this. Remember that the Force has a light and dark side but it's your choice what path to follow and what side to use during your life."

    Ben nodded his acceptance. He already knew all of this but it always seemed to calm him getting a refresher course from Callista. "Thank you, Master. I always appreciate your counsel."

    At that moment Ben's comlink chimed. He raised it to his mouth, "Skywalker here."

    "This is Admiral Pallaeon. Valin is ready to travel. We'll meet you on the landing pad."

    "I'll be right there," he said and pocketed the comlink. He looked back at the woman who was like another mother to him. He could see she had missed him so he put his arms around her in a gentle embrace which she returned eagerly. He pulled away and saw tears in her eyes. "What is it?" he asked slightly surprised by her emotional moment.

    She looked up at him and said, "I'm just glad you're alive." She swiped away the tears with her hand. "Well I suppose I should get back to the Temple before you do. But before I go, how is Valin?"

    Ben was glad she had changed the subject. She could always seem to know when he was uncomfortable. Must be something Dad used to do. His father didn't speak about his relationship with Callista to anyone except the adults in the family and close friends. Stilll Ben knew both his father's and Callista's sides of the story but he kept that info to himself. "He is doing much better and he'll be a hundred percent after Cilghal can have a look at him."

    Callista nodded her head, "I'm glad to hear it. But Ben, remember what I said." She turned to make her retreat down the hall.

    "I will Master," Ben said his usual farewell to her.

    Callista stopped mid stride and turned sharply to face him and said, "Oh, there is one more thing Ben. My name is Callista not 'Master.' I've told you this before."

    Ben laughed at his former mentor's annoyance at his use of her title. "Farewell then, Callista."
  10. mattman8907 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 17, 2012
    star 3
    question: i'm noticing some discrepencies between this version and the one FF.net. are you doing like a revision as you re-release the chapters?
  11. KnightRevan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2012
    "This belonged to Jedi Master Tresina Lobi. I encountered her during the beginning of our seiges. I slew her and now it it will slay you," the Mandalorain shouted.

    That was added when I learned more about the Dark Nest Trilogy and LOTF. I had been told that Lon Shevu would be more convenient than Carth Onasi which I have to agree with but then that would go back to my limited knowledge base at the time. I wouldn't say i am re-imagining the story but simply making subtle changes that make a bit more sense. In terms of characters there is no replacing HK-47. I am hoping to catch up here before I continue the story on both sites.
  12. mattman8907 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 17, 2012
    star 3
    well while i applaud you for trying to incorporate KOTOR characters into your story, HK-47 would be the only most logical choice from the games, i mean he's a droid he can be deactivated and reactivated whenever and upgraded with the latest technology.
    Last edited by mattman8907, Dec 1, 2012
  13. KnightRevan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Chapter 2: Opposing the Council Part 3

    Jedi Temple, Coruscant

    The shuttle ride to the temple was shorter than Ben would have liked to say the least. He had wanted a little more time to think about what he would say to the council. He knew it would only be a matter of time before he would appear before the council after they landed. Sergeant Rand was their pilot on the trip. Ben found that the more time he spent with him the more he liked this man. There was something different that he could not place about this man. He wasn't like other soldiers. He watched him land the craft with ease as the ship shuddered on the impact. "Who taught you how to fly?" Ben asked intrigued.

    "Well I've heard that you were one of the better pilots around so I requested some holos of you to work with. That and I had a cockpit camera on from the gun station to see what was happening. Those moves you were doing, I could only dream of ever trying."

    "Maybe one day you will," he said with a smirk that Rand had to imitate. "Help me with Valin," Ben added as he put his arm around his friend. Rand did the same as they walked toward the open landing ramp. When they got to the bottom, they saw a very large crowd waiting for them. He could see Cilghal and the other healers at the bottom of the ramp waiting patiently with the Horn family. His own family wasn't far from them but kept a respectable distance for the medical personnel, though he could see his mother wanted to run to him. They were all smiling and waiting as patiently as they could while he helped Valin. Cilghal and Tekli came forward and took Valin from them and laid him gently on a stretcher. As they took him to the healers he heard Valin whisper, "I'm alright Mom. Jys. I'm fine really." Ben chuckled at that. Valin was not someone who wanted to be forced to rest while he could be doing something else.

    He turned to Sergeant Rand, who looked nervous around the Jedi, and said, "Thank you for taking us here."
    Rand seemed to loosen up a little, "You know I never did thank you for saving my life on Dantooine."

    "You did the same for me," Ben said putting his hand on Rand's shoulder, "If you hadn't been on those guns none of us would be here would we."

    The sergeant shrugged, "Well you know I am a pretty good shot. I don't mean to brag but blowing holes in Mandalorians is what I do best at the moment."

    Ben was about to leave when a thought struck him. "You know Sergeant Rand, I'd just like to know what your name is?"

    Rand started up the ramp again and turned around to give him a final look. "The name is Jaq Rand. Good luck with your mission Skywalker," then he lowered his voice and whispered, "I think you'll need it." Having said his piece, he walked up the ramp and flew the shuttle into the ever treacherous waves of Coruscant traffic.

    He had just enough time to turn around before he was engulfed in a breathtaking hug. He returned her embrace as she brought her hands up to cup his face. "Ben I'm so glad safe. You're home." If there was anything that could make Mara Jade Skywalker show so much emotion in a public setting it would be her son. She had almost lost him as well as her own life before his birth due to the Yuuzhan Vong disease that had rapidly spread through her. Now she had been reunited with her precious boy. Soon after this, his father embraced him and the family crowded around him. He was slowly ushered into the temple. He saw a large crowd following and then he caught sight of Callista near the back. As soon as his eyes locked with hers, she turned and disappeared into the crowd. He always wondered why she preferred to be known as an oddity among the Jedi. She was by far the oldest Jedi around but he felt that there was a friction between her and his mother.

    The Skywalker and Solo families were a rather close knit group. As they walked down the hall they passed by all of their rooms until they got to the Skywalker residence. The two families entered the Skywalker home and began to recline. A few seconds of awkward silence ensued. Ben could see that they all wanted to ask the questions that he had purposefully neglected to answer since his return. But he could tell that Jacen was just itching to speak with him privately. About what he had a fairly good guess but Jacen was notoriously known for taking you off guard.

    Luke continued to stare at his son not knowing what to say. He was overjoyed that he survived but now that he was here his mind kept going back to his vision. Who was the mysterious Sith? He remembered the utter devastation that had eclipsed the temple. Han and Anakin had been informed of the vision shortly after the unofficial meeting as well as Tahiri, Anakin's wife, Tenel Ka and Jaina's husband, Jagged Fel. Should he tell his son now or later during his briefing before the council. He looked over to Mara who gave him a hard look. He decided that he would break the silence but Ben himself beat him to it. "I've rather enjoyed everyone staring at me but I'm a little tired. If it's alright with you I'd like to get some much needed sleep."

    Luke nodded, "You deserve to get some rest. The council will convene in a few hours." Then he flashed a small smile at his son, "Try not to be late."

    Ben rose from his seat and showed him a version of the Solo grin that he had put so much time in perfecting, "You know me. I'm never late, everyone else is simply early." He walked away to his room glad for the respite from his family. He had hid the pain in his soul as well as he could but he knew that they had felt it. I'll think about this later. He got into his bed and thought about what he was going to say yet again as sleep took him.

    He awoke far earlier than he would have liked. He had then found himself pacing for what seemed like hours until the door to his room opened to reveal Jacen on the other side. He walked toward his cousin and sat down on the bed and patted the bed by his side. Ben sat down next to him and Jacen softly said, "We need to talk."

    Ben had a pretty good idea what this was about. "What about?"

    Jacen sighed deeply before asking his question, "What did you see on Dantooine?" He knew this would be a personal question but he had to know if he and the council had made the right decision.

    Ben didn't want to divulge everything he knew just yet, "Let me ask you a question. Do you support the Council's decision?"

    Jacen looked slightly surprised by this but was able to recover quickly, "I had campaigned for Jedi action early on during the start of the war a year ago. But now after recent discoveries I feel we should stay away." If Jacen had been persuaded to back down then that meant they must have some credible information.

    But Ben wasn't satisfied. Now he knew that Jacen was against him. Though if he presented his case well enough then he could gain Jacen's support later on. Ben took a moment before he responded, "I saw a lot of terrible things. But you all will know soon enough." He decided to study his feet for a while. "How is Valin?" he asked.

    Jacen put his hand on his shoulder causing Ben to look at him as he spoke, "Valin has fully recovered and he will meet you outside the council chamber." He looked at his chrono and stood up, "I have to go now. Don't be late." Ben watched Jacen walk swiftly out the door and he began to think Callista and Jaq Rand were right. I'm going to need a lot of luck now.

    Not long after his conversation with Jacen, Ben was walking to the council chamber and the moment that could decide his fate was quickly approaching. His stride was confident as he continued his journey. He came to a stop at the elevator when he saw Valin standing there waiting for him. "It's good to see you up and about Valin," Ben said by way of greeting.

    Valin made a mock bow to him, "I feel good. Cilghal patched me up and now I'm ready for more action."

    Ben didn't want to hide his ideals from his friend so came out with it, "Valin, I believe the Jedi must get involved in this war. If we don't the Republic will fall and the Mandalorians will murder everyone standing until there is nothing left for them to kill. The Jedi must make a stand."

    Valin looked down trying to hide his fear and guilt at his own thoughts. He didn't understand why the council was letting people suffer and die while they sat isolated in their temple. He knew that going against his father would be wrong but he knew that if someone took a stand he would be the first volunteer. He looked at Ben and saw a very familiar sight in his eyes. He saw Ben's raw determination shining through those bluish-green eyes. But there was also an intensity to them that he had never seen before which slightly shook him a bit. "I believe that action must be taken. We cannot stand by and watch people suffer any longer."

    Ben smiled at his friend and motioned with his hand to the elevator, "Shall we go?" Valin nodded and entered the elevator followed by Ben and took the ride up to the council spire. The turbolift came to a stop at the summit of the High Council tower. The doors opened to reveal the thirteen council members seated in a circle. The pair of knights walked to the center of the chamber and bowed respectfully before the council facing the grand master. Luke looked at the two young men before him and smiled, "Welcome Valin, Ben. We are grateful to see that you are completely healed Valin." Valin looked at his father and mother, who had also been invited to this meeting. Corran smiled at his son but remained silent waiting for Luke to continue. "We have called you here to discuss your mission on Dantooine."

    At his father's nod Ben and Valin recounted the events surrounding Dantooine in purposeful detail though Ben kept his brush with the dark side out of it. He could see the outright horror on some of the masters faces as he told the story of his fight with the Mandalorian with a lightsaber. "He was one of the hardest opponents I've ever faced." Ben paused trying to choose his words carefully, "They killed all of those innocent people. There must be something we can do?" He took a look around and saw many faces begin to crease in worry. Luke's jaw began to move ever so slightly and Ben knew what he was about to ask.

    "Ben, Valin, the council must confer about these developments. We will summon you when we are ready for you," Luke said trying to mask his intention of working on a way to present their case to the two knights before him, "May the Force be with you."

    Valin bowed and started to walk away. When he got to the turbolift he noticed that Ben was not beside him. Looking back he saw Ben firmly rooted to the floor. Valin tucked his hands in his sleeves and waited for Ben to follow him. But Ben didn't so much as look in his direction. He stared straight ahead at his father. Luke was beginning to feel nervous as he looked into his sons determined gaze. He cleared his throat to speak, "Do you have more to say Ben?"

    Ben took a look around at all of the venerable Jedi Masters seated there. He wished he didn't have to do this but now he had no choice. He looked back to his father, "With your permission, I believe the Jedi must enter this war. I've seen the dire situation of the Republic, they will not hold out much longer without our help," he said in a deathly calm voice.

    Luke should have expected this coming from not just his son, but a man who had been on the battlefield. He shared a look with Mara and he could see in her blazing green eyes that he had to tell them of his vision. "Ben, there is a greater threat out there than the Mandalorians. The Council has felt it as well as many other masters including Callista. Just a few days ago, I had a vision of the Jedi being slaughtered and the temple and all of Coruscant in flames. We must be ready."

    Ben didn't give him any time before he struck back, "I saw families being slaughtered for no other reason than to pick at the Jedi's resolve. Before that Mandalorian died, he told me that they would use any methods necessary to get the Jedi involved. Their original plan was to kill me and Valin. They had hoped that you would aide the Republic and give them the fight they want. Sooner or later if we don't act, there will be nothing left for the Jedi to protect." He was trying to get some sort of gauge on the masters opinions. So far he could see that most were against him. At the moment, it appeared that Jacen was his strongest supporter. This isn't going to end well.

    Corran Horn had heard enough from his son's upstart friend. He wanted to defuse the situation before it got any worse. "Ben, I agree with your father. We must be ready to face this threat. If the Jedi fall then the Republic will quickly follow," he said with a hint of anger at Ben's stubbornness.

    But Ben was far from finished. He still had some more ammunition. He kept looking toward his father as he said, "And if the Republic falls the Jedi will soon follow. The Jedi have been involved in nearly every war since the birth of this order. You speak of a future threat while you ignore the immediate threat. We need to stand and fight or the Republic will die. Even Admiral Pallaeon knows this. We have to help them!" He had to fight hard to reign in his temper. It was times like these that he knew he had inherited much more from his mother than his father.

    Mara was amazed at her son's outburst. When she was younger she would have run headlong into the heart of the battle and she still did now. But after witnessing Luke's vision for herself she was convinced this was the way to go. Now the hard part would be to get Ben to see it that way. She steeled herself, as she so often did, to reprimand him before things got out of hand. "Ben! You are out of line. Listen to what your father is saying," she said in the commanding voice she donned when she was angry at her son.

    At any other time, Ben would have backed down but now he was more determined than ever before. But he knew that the Council would not be dissuaded. But neither would he. "Will anyone take a stand against the Mandalorians?" he said, waving his hand for emphasis.

    He saw many of the Council members exchanging glances. He knew that Jaina was torn in two because her husband was the leader of the Empire but she still held on to his father for guidance. Then all the councilors turned their eyes toward their undisputed leader. Ben watched his father lean forward with genuine sorrow in his eyes as he said, "Ben I am sorry. None of us want to leave the Republic to fight alone but this Council is united and firm." Then his features hardened slightly in determination, "We will not enter this war."

    Ben knew that he would get this answer. Now he knew the Council was against him. But he could wait no longer. Ben stood tall and spoke the most defiance he had ever had the guts to show, "Then I will."

    Luke bolted upright as he heard those words spoken by his own son. He felt Mara standing beside him and noticed that many of the councilors were now standing in utter disbelief at Ben's utterance. "What!" he exclaimed. He had never seen this coming. He had always thought that Jacen would be the one to openly oppose him, but never had he thought that his own son would.

    Ben remained firmly planted where he was. He would not back down now. Too many lives were at stake. "I will go to war without the approval of the Council if I must. I have seen what they did to Cathar and I will not allow that to happen again. And I will gladly welcome anyone that wishes to join me," he said in a hard voice.

    Valin had been deeply moved by Ben's words and now that someone had stood against the Council he was certain that more would follow. But it would greatly benefit Ben's cause that he was now leading it. He marched back to stand beside Ben and boldly announced, "I stand with Ben. The Republic needs our help and I will gladly support them."

    Now it was Corran and Mirax's turn to look on their son in pure betrayal. Valin had been one of the most respected knights for years and now he had sided with Ben against Corran, against his family, and everything he had striven for. "How can you do this Valin. You side with Ben, he is only a naive sixteen year old boy. As your father and a Jedi Master I order you to stay," Corran shouted at his only son.

    Valin turned to his father and said with irritation, "I will fight for what I believe in not what others tell me I should. Ben is a natural leader and there is nothing you can do to stop us." With that being said Valin and Ben retreated to the turbolift before anyone could reach them. They rode it down in silence, both wishing that things could have been different.

    Undoubtedly, some of the councilors now thought they were renegades by going against the Council's will. Ben knew his family didn't want him to do this but they gave him no choice. Valin broke the silence as they neared the bottom, "You know they won't allow us to leave the temple. I can see why the Council would be cautious about this war but I think it's ludicrous to stay out of it! They can't risk us rallying others to our cause."

    Ben delved into the Force and saw all the loyal followers of the council waiting for them at the bottom of the spire. Once they exited the lift they would be "arrested" and brought back to the council. He relayed the news to Valin, "They're waiting for us at the bottom."

    Valin looked at him in defeat after uttering a few Corellian curses before looking at the floor again, "Alright we've got the Council above us and their followers below us. We're completely sandwiched in with no way out." He looked up to see a broad smile on his friend's face. He remembered the countless times he had seen that grin. They had always been able to get into a bit of mischief now and then, and as always, when things looked bad Ben had that grin on his face as a plan formed in his mind. Just like old times. That thought brought a grin to his lips as well. "Unless you have a plan, of course."
  14. KnightRevan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Chapter 3: Heading to War


    Ben reached for the lightsaber hooked on his belt as he kneeled on the floor. He looked up at Valin with mischief in his eyes as he spoke, "You remember that service tunnel that we discovered right?"

    Valin didn't understand Ben's glee at the situation. "Yeah, but that tunnel ends in the kitchens. What is so great about the floor?" he asked in frustration. Ben was brilliant but it frustrated Valin that he had to catch up with him all the time.

    Ben was his usually calm self as he explained it to him, "At the bottom of this lift there is an emergency hatch. It was made so that if there was a lift malfunction or something like that, you could use that to escape the spire. It leads to the kitchens not far from the tunnel we found. So start cutting."

    Daylight dawned on Valin and he got down and helped Ben cut a whole in the floor o the lift. They cut a circular block out as they neared the bottom. Ben looked down at the bottom of the lift tube approaching. He saw the hatch that would lead them to a temporary freedom. He turned to Valin who was also gazing through the hole they had made. "Alright we got only one shot at this. You go first and I will follow before the door opens. Got it," Ben said. Valin nodded and leaped through the hole on Ben's command. He flew downward at a faster rate than a normal person with the assistance of the Force. He landed with a soft thud and quickly opened the hatch and slipped inside. Now it was Ben in yet another trying situation. As the lift scooted to the inevitable stop it would make, he noticed that he was slightly off in his calculations for cutting the hole. It would be an extremely tight fit. The turbolift was mere meters from the durasteel bottom as he swung his legs down through the lift. With his legs safely inside the access tunnel he let himself fall through the hole. He felt a rush of pain enter his side as he crashed into the side wall before slipping inside the tunnel. On the way down he used the Force to pull the block he had cut out of the floor back into place as the door of the lift opened.

    He could only guess what happened above him as he flew down the tunnel. He didn't dare try to grab the ladder within the tunnel for fear of slowing down. He felt Valin's Force signature approaching faster as he fell and decided that it was time to grab on to the ladder. He came to an abrupt stop, hovering about ten meters from the bottom of the tunnel. He let go and fell the rest of the way landing with a soft thud. He saw Valin crouching on his hands and knees in the adjacent tunnel. Valin grinned at him as he crawled in to join him, "I was beginning to think you didn't make it."

    "Let's get out of here," Ben told him as he crawled ahead. Valin quickly followed him through the twists and turns of the tunnel. Ben could feel an increase in activity as they neared the kitchens. He could only hope that the cooks were the only ones there. He came to the hatch and opened it seeing no one nearby he lifted himself out of it followed by Valin. "We are almost there," he said under his breath. They darted to the other side of the room and opened up the hatch of their favorite tunnel. Valin entered first and began to speed away. Ben was just about to enter when he saw his family running toward him with hard looks on their faces. "Hurry they've found us!" he cried as he launched himself into the tunnel. He could hear them scurrying down the small tunnel behind him.

    When he finally came out he saw Valin standing on the edge of a platform overlooking the entire waterworks of the temple. At the bottom there was a giant lake of water that had a hatch for excess water that would lead them outside the temple. He started to run toward him and shouted, "Jump! I'll be right behind you."

    He saw Valin disappear behind the giant spews of water. When he got to the edge he heard his father's voice over the noise of the falls. "Ben don't do this. This is not the right path."

    The voice seemed to get closer and closer. He turned around to see his parents and the Solo family standing only a few steps behind him. Kriff! They are good. He felt his heart break at the sight of his mother, her face a mask of pain. He looked straight into his father's eyes when he spoke, "And you believe your plan is? I can't believe that. The Republic will die if we don't save them!"

    Jacen attempted to calm his former apprentice but to no avail, "Ben just listen to reason the threat we feel is legitimate. You know this. Why can't you see that we must remain strong and ready." He instantly regretted his words when he saw Ben's features became a tight scowl.

    Ben's anger was ignited by his cousin's inability to see the Republic for what it was. The Republic was a dieing beast just trying to survive. He had thought that Jacen of all the councilors would have supported him but now he could see that the council was completely united together. "Why can't you see that there will be no republic to defend if we don't act now," he nearly yelled at them all.

    Mara dared him to jump as she took a step forward. She looked on the son that she loved so dearly and spoke words from her heart as she said, "Ben, please don't do this. We love you. I can't lose you!" The last part she shouted out taking everyone off guard. She had only been able to have a single child and had nearly lost him on several occasions. She could see Ben was a man on the outside but in her heart he was still her precious little boy.

    Ben's features softened but he would not let down his resolve. He loved his mother more than anything but he could not stay with her. "I love you too Mom," he said with a heavy heart, "but I cannot stay here. Goodbye." After he had said his farewell he flipped himself over the edge and into the water and his escape. Mara was the closest one to the edge as he fell. As she stood there she could feel water being sprayed on her face. She was just glad that it hid her tears.
    Over the coarse of time, Ben and Valin traveled to many worlds, such as Ossus, campaigning for Jedi to join their cause. Many Jedi, mainly knights and padawans that were of age, flocked to their side. Though he had already fought many battles, Ben was far from done. He knew unlike the Jedi Council that this war would be decided by Jedi and Jedi alone. Admiral Pallaeon was providing him with everything he needed in his quest and soon he would fulfill his oath and enter the war. He only needed a few more people that were quite close to his heart.

    They had just arrived on Coruscant only a few hours ago to the chanting of thousands of people soldiers and civilians alike. Over the three months he had been on this quest the HoloNet began to call him the Revanchist, claiming that he would avenge those the Republic had lost during the war by annihilating the Mandalorians. He had since adopted the name to rally the troops. They had gone over a briefing of the war effort before having a word with Pallaeon. "How many more will you attempt to recruit?" Pallaeon asked him.

    Ben looked the admiral over. Pallaeon looked like he had aged a few years since their last meeting. He could feel the agony this man had been through the last few months. His heart quenched at the thought of all his men dieing for possibly no reason at all. He spoke with an ease that could only come from experience, "This is my last stop Admiral. Then I will devote my full attention to the war effort."

    Pallaeon looked between Ben and Valin trying to decide what they were up to. He hadn't heard much from them in the past few months due to the Mandalorians efforts to make a push to the Core worlds. He had lost many men in those battles and now the Republic would surely fall if the planet Duro fell. The elderly admiral nodded his head before subtly saying, "Do you have a plan?"

    Ben looked at Valin then turned back to address Pallaeon, "I have a plan that will require your fleet," he paused to allow Pallaeon to express his thoughts, but he said nothing so he continued, "Callista has arranged for us to speak to a large congregation of Jedi at the temple. I will try to persuade them with a speech. Then I will return here while Valin speaks to those that remain. Once they join the "Revanchists" as I have heard people call us, we will board your flagship and head to Duro. There they will either be cemented in their resolve to fight or they will walk away. But I believe they will be convinced to stay once the battle begins."

    Pallaeon shivered at the mention of Cathar but he knew where his duty lied. "I can do that but please hurry. Duro is the last defense of the Core. We need you for that battle."

    "You have my word Admiral, we will not abandon you. We will be victorious," Ben declared as he and Valin walked out of the room. One way or another he would get what he needed, he had no doubt of that. He and Valin were stride for stride down the hallway. Then Ben looked at his friend to say what was on both of their minds, "Are you ready to face them?"

    Valin kept walking as he replied, "Yes . . hopefully you can convince most of those present to follow us. I know that if you succeed then they will listen to me but if not then we may have lost already."

    They neared their transport that would take them to the Jedi Temple that they had not set foot in since they left. It truly was a magnificent building but one that recently held bad memories. He remembered the days that he had been greeted with large crowds and people he had never met congratulating him on another successful mission. He could picture his family waiting for him with open arms. But after all that had happened what would they think of him now? What would the council think of him? He tried to rid himself of these pointless thoughts. If everything went according to plan, he wouldn't see any of them. "Have faith Valin. Have faith."
    Anakin Solo stood in the center of the council chamber waiting for his uncle to address him. He was here because he was troubled with his apprentice. While Ben was still with the order, Anakin had seen Ben and Vestara share a few affectionate looks here and there. There could have been even more to their relationship that he did not know of. Another fact was that he had a very strong relationship with Jysella Horn also. He had been very concerned for both young women because of the increasing number of Jedi joining the Revanchists.

    Luke was a little surprised that Anakin had come before the Council. He had been trying to keep Ben and Valin's departure as ow key as possible but it did not last long. Now the councilors were conferring on how to keep the younger padawans from being swept away by Ben's speeches. He was thankful for Anakin's presence but also dreaded what it could mean. He had always loved him like the son he wouldn't have until many years later. He smiled at his nephew from his seat as the Grand Master, "Anakin, what brings you before the Council today?"

    Anakin looked around the chamber that he had frequently visited over the years. His family was present as well as many friends. He brought his attention back to his uncle as he replied, "I'm sorry if I am intruding, but I have an issue I would like to discus with this Council."

    Luke looked toward Leia to see if she knew anything but she shook her head. He leaned forward and looked back at Anakin. "Please continue," he said.

    Anakin shifted his feet under the scrutiny but remained calm as he began his story, "As you know by now, Ben has returned to Coruscant. I am concerned for my apprentice. When Ben was still here, she had a deep emotional connection to him as does Jysella Horn. It seems to me that they have all been very close friends but I wonder if it is something more for both Jysella and Vestara. I am concerned that, should Ben decide to make an appearance, they may both join him."

    Corran shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He had seen his son leave to follow a sixteen year old boy to war. He did not want to see his precious daughter join them. He had faith that Jysella would stay with the Jedi. Her emotions often got the best of her but her commitment could not be challenged. He cleared his throat before speaking, "I have faith in Jysella. She is completely loyal to the Jedi."

    Jaina leaned forward at the mention of her apprentice. Jysella had been Jaina's apprentice for many years now. They had grown a bond together unlike most master-padawan bonds. The Horn family had always been fairly close to the Solos partly because of their shared Corellian heritage. Though they were born over a decade apart, Jaina viewed Jysella as her younger sister. Her curiosity piqued, Jaina had to get involved, "She has come a long way since I've known her. She has a hard time controlling her emotions but she is quite capable. Anakin, do you truly believe there is any kind of relationship that could push them to join him?"

    Anakin shook his head. He only had a theory without solid proof. It was a fact that both Jysella and Vestara had feelings for Ben but it was difficult to say if it was any more than that. Still Anakin had a bad feeling about Ben being on Coruscant. "I can't say. But I do know that their feelings could be influenced to get them to follow him. Only time can tell."

    Luke watched Corran's reaction to this. He could see that he was still hurting from Valin's departure as he was his own son. "Regardless, we should keep an eye on them and keep them in a public setting. Where are they now?"

    Anakin felt all eyes on him as he replied, "They are currently in the cafeteria."

    "Good. Well I believe this council is adjourned. However, we should stay near them. Ben has to be here to recruit more Jedi. I am heading to the cafeteria. Will anyone join me?" Luke asked while he stood from his seat. As much as he loved Ben he couldn't allow him to get a foothold on any more Jedi.
    Vestara Khai was one of the most talented padawans in the Jedi Order. Many believed that she would be knighted before the age of twenty much like her closest friend Ben Skywalker had, though she was nowhere near his potential. She had felt lonely since Ben's departure and had never been able to fill that void. She loved Ben and she wasn't afraid to admit it. At times she thought he had feelings for her when he stared at her but then she had seen him look the same way at Jysella Horn. Jysella irritated her like no one else. They had never been friends but in the few times they had spoken, Vestara had deduced that she was an astute follower of the Council. Her own master Anakin Solo was involved with many council meetings and had assured her that they knew what they were doing. But as time dragged on her faith in the Council had weakened. She still respected them but their decision no longer made sense to her. Now Ben's speeches started making more and more sense to her.

    The cafeteria was unusually full. Most of the time there was a large group eating but today there was an overabundance of people, some she had never met. What is going on here? she thought. Suddenly there was a great commotion on the far side of the room. Vestara began to look around as more and more people began to stand. She stood up as well trying to gain a better view. Then she saw a group of men stand on the podium at the front of the large room and she understood what all the people were here for.

    At the head of the group stood Ben Skywalker with his hood over his head and by his side was Valin Horn. They were flanked by many Jedi and Republic soldiers. To Vestara, Ben looked like he had been through many battles. She was well aware that many had begun to call him the Revanchist. But what was he doing here? She watched with anticipation as he began to speak.

    "Fellow Jedi, I stand before you today to ask you what you believe is right. The Jedi Council may have good intentions but is it right to sit inside this temple completely sheltered from the war that wages beyond these walls." He waved his hand as a gesture as he continued, "while innocent men and women are dieing trying to protect this republic that they had fought so hard to build."

    Ben could see that some were being moved by his words while others were holding steadfast to their superiors counsel. He had to admit that Callista had far outdone herself with this crowd. He had not expected this many. He had to work fast for he knew there was only a matter of time before the Council interfered. "Innocent lives are being taken while we, the guardians of peace and justice, sit here and do nothing. I am asking you to take up arms with me to fight the threat of the Mandalorians before it is too late."

    Just at that moment the members of the Jedi Council along with Anakin Solo and others came through the door. Grand Master Skywalker was at the head of the group with his wife at his right side. The councilors came straight through the crowd. At the mere sight of them every Jedi made way for them. When they got to the front Luke was beyond angry at his son. How could he do this to me! He stepped forward and was only a feet away from Ben as he said, "Ben stop this nonsense immediately." Then he got even closer to him and half whispered, "This is not the way to act."

    But by now Ben had been firmly rooted in his beliefs. He would not turn back now. "By the time you act it would be too late," he answered his father's private question with a slight sneer. Then, raising his voice for the crowd to hear while taking out a Mandalorian mask, he exclaimed, "I found this mask on the burning fields of Cathar on one of my many trips there. When I touched it the Force surged around us as me and my followers were catapulted into a vision. We saw what happened on Cathar though I already knew. This mask belonged to a female Mandalorian who opposed the ongoing genocide of the Cathar people. She was killed by her own people while she attempted to show her people the truth and now our time has come to rise up and fight this madness. Now, before all of you, I take this oath and refortify my old one. This mask will remain on my face until the day the Mandalorians have surrendered." He slowly placed the mask over his face and proclaimed in an electronically altered voice, "So swears the Revanchist, Ben Skywalker!"

    Ben knew that the Council was more interested in him than Valin so he quickly swung around and, after giving a stiff nod to Valin, he began to walk toward the door that would take him to the Great Hall with the Jedi masters in hot pursuit.
    As soon as Ben had left Valin took action. Ben hadn't counted on the council being present but now with most of them following him Valin had complete liberty to say his piece. "Do not heed the words of the Jedi Council. The Republic will fall if we do not act now. Already the Mandalorians have have taken most of the Outer Rim. Now they are making a push for the Core. They will only grow more powerful with time. Come stand with me. We will use our might to help the Republic in it's time of need. Join Ben and I. Together, we will battle this menace."

    Vestara had moved her way to the front of the crowd. She stood merely a few feet from Valin along with five others. After Valin had said this one Jedi on the front row marched over to Valin's side. Following her many more Jedi from within the crowd followed. Vestara felt an urge to go forward but she couldn't. At least not yet.

    Meanwhile Valin shook her out of her reverie as he once again began to speak. He would not fail. Normally it would be Ben that tried to recruit others but now it was all on his shoulders. "The Jedi Council is wise, but will take too long to deal with this threat. We must act now to stop the Mandalorians," Valin looked ahead of him as he said this and saw Vestara Khai, a very skilled padawan. He made the decision to speak to her outright. "I have heard of you. Your masters speak well of you, of your skills in battle. Join us."

    When he had said this, he saw her walk toward his side with a few others. From his position on the podium, he could see that many Jedi had left while others were busy contemplating his offer. He heard some Jedi grumbling about going against the council. To this he decided to change tactics, "The Jedi Council is wise but can make mistakes. History has proven this time and time again." He took a quick breath to continue his speech, "The Council seems content to watch, to debate, while entire systems fall to the Mandalorians. If we don't act now, there may be no Republic army to assist in the future."

    At that moment Valin felt a spike of doubt in the Force. He turned to the source to see a human female who was starting to shift on her feet. He would apply pressure on her just as he did the other two. He looked at her straight in the eyes and asked, "I sense you will join us. What are your reasons?"

    The young woman lowered her head before answering, "I can't sit here. There is so much suffering."
    Valin was pleased to see that there were so many Jedi that were as like-minded as he and Ben. "A good reason. Delay will only bring ruin, and there is so much suffering. You have to act." She followed like the others, with a group following her, and stood by Valin's side.
    Ben had walked halfway down the Great Hall before the council members caught up to him. Luke put his hand on his shoulder to turn him around to face them. Now that he had a perfect look at his son, he could see how terrifying he would look to any enemy. And the mask was glowed with a fierceness that could make just about anyone feel fear. However Luke was a Jedi master as well as Ben's father. He would not be intimidated. "Ben stop this now!" he pleaded to him. He and Mara had felt an empty void in their lives without Ben and now seeing him leading a rebellion against the council, he couldn't understand where he had gone wrong.

    Mara looked at her son with longing in her eyes as she said, "Please take off that horrible mask. We want to see your face."

    Ben stiffened at this and anger started to slowly fill him. "You expect me to break the oath I have sworn. I keep my oaths, especially the one I took up to be a Jedi. I took an oath to protect those who couldn't protect themselves. To uphold the Republic and now you ask me to throw all that away by removing this mask. And I assume you will continue to try dissuade me.?" He was not interested in continuing this conversation but for Valin's sake he would.

    Jaina took the initiative as she spoke with determination, "Why are you doing this Ben. It doesn't have to be this way. We need you here. With us!"

    Ben had heard this before but he would endure it. "The Republic will fall soon if I don't act now. While you have sat here waiting for an enemy that may not show itself for years, people have been putting their lives on the line. More and more are dieing each day as the Mandalorians push forward. It won't belong until they attack Duro. Once Duro falls the Core will follow. Can't you see that we must take up arms and fight. Dad, you always taught me to fight for what I believe in. Well I believe in this cause and there is nothing you can say or do to dissuade me!" he shouted at his all the people standing before him, many of whom he loved dearly.

    Luke did not wish to lose his son and now he had no other choice but to do what no father should do. "Ben as your father I forbid this. But now you leave me no choice. As Grand Master I hereby place you under the custody of the Jedi Order. This is for your own protection."

    Ben smirked beneath mask. He would have laughed but he thought better of it. Oh, Dad you have another thing coming. He straightened as much as he could show how much he had grown over the months he had been away. He spoke in tone that could almost be called mocking, "Well as much as I would like to stay around here, I have been made completely untouchable. I have been promoted to the rank of general so if you even try to detain me you will have the entire Republic clawing at your throat."

    They all stood stock still completely stunned by the sudden turn of events. Now Ben was the one that held all the leverage in this argument. They could no longer keep him away from the war by any means. Luke looked at Mara with dismay. He could lose his son at any time now and he would be powerless to stop it. Ben stood there watching them in triumph.

    Corran Horn had been listening intently to the exchange between the Skywalker family when a thought struck him. You treacherous boy Corran said to himself. He couldn't believe they had all fallen into his trap. "You led us all away from the cafeteria. Now Valin will-" he cut himself off when another name came to his mind.

    Anakin beat him to it as he realized his own mistake. "Jysella and Vestara," he nearly whispered before he and Corran ran down the hall followed by a few other masters.

    Mara turned back to her son with hurt all over her face. She knew that he would leave and there was nothing that could keep him there but she took a few steps toward him and held him tightly which he almost seemed reluctant to return. "Be safe," she said as he wedged his way out of her arms and turned toward the temple exit.
    Time to wrap it up Valin. Corran and Anakin are coming your way. Valin heard this message from Ben but he wouldn't bother to reply. He would finish this before they came. "It is within our power to end the war. And the Council chooses to debate behind closed doors while planets burn."

    Jysella Horn was present during all of this. An accurate assumption of her was that she was a loyal follower of the Council. She believed in them. To her Ben and Valin were wrong. She didn't want to lose them but now it seemed inevitable that she would lose her brother and her closest friend. Ben meant more to her than she would admit and now he would be heading to his possible death. "You haven't given them a chance. We have to trust in their wisdom," she said to her brother. She was hurting seeing him on the opposite side. They had always been very close knit but now he was breaking her heart.

    "The Mandalorians are planning their final assault to crush the Republic. We must stand and push them back," Valin declared. He had never wanted this to happen but he knew that they needed more Jedi if they were to beat the Mandalorians. He saw more Jedi join him, but he was disappointed to see Jysella with her arms crossed over her chest. He wanted her with him but that hope faded to nearly nothing when he saw his father and the entire Jedi Council following.

    "That is enough Valin!" Corran said harshly to his son. He loved him but he could not allow this to go on. He would not lose Jysella too. "Jysella, don't go with him. Stay with us while we sort this out." He put his arm around Mirax when he said this. He didn't want to lose his family.

    Jysella looked back and forth from her parents to Valin. Valin's face dropped as he heard her answer, "I can't go with you Valin. I'm sorry. I love you brother." She went to stand by her parents who gladly embraced her. Out of the corner of his eye, Valin saw Anakin run up to Vestara. He knew she was set on her path. He wouldn't worry about her.

    Anakin couldn't believe that Vestara had sided with Valin after all they had been through together. He and Tahiri had trained through the ups and downs of life and now she was leaving them. "Vestara why? Why have you joined them?" he asked her emotionally.

    Vestara looked on her master and felt her eyes moisten but refused to let them fall. She loved him dearly but she had chosen the path that she thought was right. "I'm sorry Master, but I feel that I need to be with them. I will always have everything you taught me to guide me."

    "Is this truly what you want?" Anakin asked her walking closer to her.

    "It is. I've made my choice," she answered.

    Anakin embraced her followed by Tahiri then backed away from her and said his farewell, "Goodbye Vestara and be careful."

    Valin had been watching all of this unfold and now he knew it was time to go. "All that have joined me and Ben, we will be leaving to meet up with the Republic fleet at the military headquarters. Take what you need and meet us there," he announced before turning with a crowd following him as he left the temple to meet up with Ben. Now they had an army as well a faction of the Jedi Order backing them.
    When Valin met up with Ben at the Republic HQ he was congratulated by many of the high ranking ranking officers of the Republic military for his success in recruiting Jedi. Now they were ready for war. Admiral Pallaeon had been discussing strategy with Ben by the time he got there. Ben was easily recognizable with his dark robes and mask. He had to admit that even he was intimidated by his appearance. "Ben, we're ready for war."

    Ben looked up from his datapad and looked at Valin through his mask. He was delighted to hear this news. "Congratulations Valin. You did far better than anyone could have expected. Valin, we are preparing for an assault to meet the Mandalorians head on at Duro. From there we have worked on a strategy that will push them back to the Outer Rim."

    Admiral Pallaeon had to admire this young man's skill. He was a far better strategist than any of the men he had. "We will need your Jedi forces to be in the thick of the fire for this maneuver to work. I trust that you have chosen wisely on who to place in command?" he asked. He had heard stories detailing Ben and Valin's achievements but he was interested to see how many warriors they actually had.

    Ben was confident in his decision even if she was young but so was he. "I have Admiral. Here she comes now," he said confidently as Vestara Khai strode up to them. He had chosen her for many reasons. She was a great fighter and had a leader's spirit but she was also a close friend of his whom he could fully trust and rely on.

    She stood before them and said curtly, "We are ready to move out on your order Ben." She was truly grateful to Ben for giving her this position but she also knew that with it came a large responsibility which she didn't know if she could uphold.

    As if he read her thoughts, Ben set a sympathetic hand on her should. "I have faith in you Ves. I know you can do this. We will all be tried and tested but we will prevail." He meant every word he said to her and was rewarded when her face lifted into a smile. "Now General Khai, inform the Revanchists that we are moving out. They will each be given a designated ship to depart on."

    "Yes Sir!" she said as she strode off the way she had come.

    "So what is the plan Ben?" Valin asked intrigued. He thought that they would try to overwhelm them at Duro and keep pushing them back with strikes at military targets but he saw that Ben had other things in mind.

    "Actually I was thinking about getting inside Mandalore's head. Surely we can use their own tactics against them. I think they would appreciate the enemy if they would meet them head to head in combat. We will do so but we will attack multiple targets that they wouldn't even think we would attack. The whole point is that we must be unpredictable and that is what we will be. Soon the Mandalorians will know that you cannot defeat a Jedi Knight so easily. The fate of the galaxy rests on our hands and we will not fail. Though it looks like the Republic is on the verge of defeat you must know this. The war has only just begun."
    Author Note

    I just remembered about the copy/paste option so the story will look similar to the one on FF.Net from now on.
  15. smash128 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 9, 2008
    star 2
    Wow things are getting intense. Ben, Valin, Vestara and the Jedi Ben recruited, things are looking to get interesting. The Jedi Order's need to not get involved with this sort of reminded me of Jacen's pacifistic ways in early NJO. Looking forward to your next update.
  16. KnightRevan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Chapter 4: The Path of Blood

    Four years later

    It had nearly been four years since the Revanchists had joined the Mandalorian Wars. Since then, General Skywalker or now commonly known as the Revanchist, had been given direct command over a third of the Republic fleet. His influence continued to spread throughout the fleet. Many of the soldiers began to put their faith in him as he ferociously began a Republic counteroffensive that rocked the Mandalorians to their very core. So far the Republic had paid a heavy price for their victories but many could see that an inevitably dreadful conflict was ahead that would end the war for one side or the other. Hope had begun to rise within many spirits as the Mandalorians were pushed back farther toward the Outer Rim.

    Now aboard Admiral Pallaeon's flagship, the Bloodfin, General Skywalker looked out at the planet before them. Taris. It had been taken years ago during the first Mandalorian assault but now the Republic had come to take it back. In his hand was a datapad of the latest intelligence reports regarding the Mandalorian strength on Taris. The battle had begun a few days ago though Ben had decided to stay aboard the ship and gave command over to Valin. Ben had directed the space battle and won with an undeniable victory. Now he would join the fray down on the surface.

    He turned to see Pallaeon waiting for him to speak. "I will be heading to the surface soon, Admiral. How long will it take for the men to be ready?"

    Pallaeon stroked his mustache with his finger before answering, "They will be ready by the time you get to the hangar."

    Ben looked on Pallaeon with a sense of irony. Here was a man that had saved his life many times already as well as many others yet he had been an Imperial, a man who had killed innocent people in the name of the Emperor. Meanwhile his father was a Jedi Master dedicated to helping the weak yet he would not intercede in this war. How ironic he said to himself. "Thank you Admiral. If General Khai reports in I want to be notified immediately." He saw Pallaeon nod and Ben started his trek to the hangar.

    The Upper City hadn't been badly damaged from his perch on the landing pad but Ben knew that a fight had taken place here. There were many scorch marks along the streets as he and his squad made their way to the Lower City. When they got to the Republic controlled elevator, the squad guarding the entrance saluted him before the leader spoke, "General, the Mandalorians are deeply entrenched down there and they have been operating raids now and then, sometimes near the elevator exit. General Horn has been able to get some of the swoop gangs to help our troops but the Mandalorians are just too strong. Also they have attempted to stay away from the Under City. Some of the locals have said there are creatures down there that feed on people. Whether this has any merit is anyone's guess but be cautious."

    Ben returned the salute and responded firmly, "Thank you. I will heed your warnings." Having said this, he and his men entered the lift that would take them to the battle. From what he had heard over the past few days Valin was doing well but all that had been achieved was a stalemate. Now Ben had come personally to end this battle. Over the years he had learned much about different cultures and societies as well as many new battle techniques. The Force flowed through him stronger than it ever had before and he was beginning to believe that the Jedi Council had been wrong in more things than just the war. His faith in them had been severely shaken. Since he left Coruscant he hadn't so much as seen a holo of his family. Their conflicting views of the war had not gone unnoticed. The Senate had even gotten involved. Many Senators had started to lend their support to him though it seemed unlikely that they had only one reason to do so. Politics was just a big game for power. Still Ben wondered how many politicians actually did support him.

    The elevator brought them to the Lower City in a matter of moments. The door slid open to reveal a devastated cityscape in the lower levels of the planet-wide city. Walls had been utterly demolished, buildings collapsed, and bodies were strewn all over the streets. Heavy fighting had taken place here but according the soldiers guarding the elevator the fighting had moved on, but raids were still common. Ben unhooked the lightsaber from his belt ready for action at any moment. They continued on until they heard blaster shots echoing down the corridor. Ben lit his saber and turned the corner with Force induced speed. When he reached the other side, he saw a group of about two dozen people of varying species in chains being guarded along the street heading toward a narrow corridor by ten human men and five Mandalorians. So far the Mandalorians hadn't seen him.

    "Here is the payment. Have the next shipment ready for us by tomorrow," the lead Mandalorian said to one of the humans.

    "If you are so satisfied with our work perhaps you could give us a larger payment," the man said with greed in his eyes.

    The Mandalorian stopped in his tracks and in one swift motion grabbed the man's throat and held him in the air. "You are fortunate that we even have a use for you deranged slavers," he said before throwing the man down, "We pay you to give us slaves and it will remain that way and another thing-Wait." He turned around to see Ben standing there with his saber raised waiting to strike. "It's Skywalker. Blast him!"

    Ben rushed forward and rolled as the first shots flew over his head. He came up and in a fluid motion struck out at the first man taking his head clean off. The Republic soldiers rounded the corner and began to supply counter fire on the vulnerable humans. Seeing their strategy, Ben leaped toward the Mandalorians who were starting to brandish their vibroblades. Letting his emotions fuel him, he charged at the nearest Mandalorian locking blades with him before turning his momentum into a spin around his adversary and swept his lightsaber clean through his torso. He turned to block a strike aimed at his neck and countered by moving around the Mandalorian to strike at another, wedging himself in between them. One Mandalorian had already been shot down and Ben would make sure to deal with the others quickly. He saw the Republic soldiers dispatching the humans and a few were already engaged with the third Mandalorian so he again went on the offensive. He kicked out with his leg connecting with the Mandalore's gut on his right side while turning effortlessly to parry the other Mandalorian and unleashed a counterstrike leaving the Mandalorian without a head. He swung around to see the Mandalorian he had kicked struggling to get up. Ben didn't give him the chance. He threw his lightsaber at his neck decapitating him.

    Ben was too overcome with adrenaline to even consider giving the Mandalorian a chance to fight. He turned around to look at the scene before him. The last Mandalorian had fallen as well as all of the humans save one who was cowering for his life while the soldiers trained their weapons on him. He looked over at the far wall and noticed that three of the slaves had been killed in the firefight. They were all huddled in a corner when he came over to them. He checked on their wounds before motioning for the medical officer to inspect them. He came to a Twi'lek girl who could only be around ten years old looking straight at him. He crouched down and retrieved a cloth to wipe the blood that had been splattered on the girl's face. "Hello there my young friend. Don't be afraid," he said quietly after calming down.

    The Twi'lek girl nodded and spoke with a half-frightened, half-mature voice, "Sure thing. Um . . Thanks for saving us."

    Ben was thankful that at times like these he wore his mask. He could feel so much pain from many of these slaves but this girl was different. "How long have they been holding you?" he asked calmly.

    "Not long they just recently caught me. I was separated from my friend and that's how they got me but a lot of people here have been slaves for years!" the girl nearly shouted.

    Ben tried to calm her down before asking his next question, "Do you know where the slave trade is located?"

    "No. They always kept us in a tiny, dark cell. That guy might know where it is though," she said as she pointed at the prisoner they had.

    Ben was relieved to hear that he may have a lead to destroy this despicable organization before they took any more lives. "We will be taking you to the Hidden Bek base that is currently serving as the Republic base. There you will be given treatment and then you will be free to go." Ben saw her face light up at the mention of the Hidden Bek base. Perhaps her friend is there he thought.

    He quickly unlocked her chains and left to converse with the squad leader, "Captain, inform HQ to send a squad out here to escort us to the base and inform them that we have a prisoner."

    When they had entered the Republic base Valin was instantly there to greet him. Valin received some new scars since the invasion began. "Ben, it's good to see that some of us still living. This assault has cost us dearly but their sacrifice will not be in vain."

    Over the years of constant warfare, Valin had grown to be all business. He rarely exerted his easy going nature anymore unless they were in private. The same had happened to many of the Revanchists. They had been hardened by the acts of horror committed by the Mandalorians. Ben himself had his priorities shift from saving as many lives as possible to winning the war before they ran out of soldiers. Both the Mandalorians and the Republic were reeling from the losses in battle but Ben was going to keep up the assault. If he could corner them on a world then the war may truly end.

    "Yes it has been costly but we must finish this fight. Victory is the only option. We have personally seen that they will not surrender. Now there is the matter of the slave trade. I have a prisoner here who was selling slaves to the Mandalorians. They were also saying that there was to be another shipment of them tomorrow." Ben could see Valin's face contort in shock. There was so much wrong with this world. Ben doubted that the Senator of Taris even cared at all about the people of his planet. That only made him angrier. Did no one care about the suffering that was taking place? Ben composed himself before asking Valin, "Would you care to join me for the interrogation?"

    Valin did not hesitate as he answered, "I would love to."

    They walked together until they reached a small storage room and Ben locked the door behind them. He walked over to the force cage that the snickering man was being held in. This man held an aura of pure greed. He remembered that the man had nearly got himself killed by asking the Mandalorians for a higher price for the slaves. Perhaps he could use that to his advantage. He neared the man and shut down the force field containing him. The man looked at him curiously as he did this. Good. The more curiosity the better. "I will not harm you if you answer my questions. Do you understand?" he said with hint of loathing in his voice.

    The man stared at him with a sneer on his face as he replied, "I don't believe a word you said. You will kill me anyway."

    Ben decided to ask his questions without any delay, "What do the Mandalorians want with all these slaves? Where is your base? I want answers!" Ben let his voice rise. This man seemed to have many different personalities. He would have to think of another method.

    "Forget it Jedi," he spat out, "I don't know anything that you want. Even if I did you'd never get anything out of me!"

    Valin's patience was wearing thin already, "You would take innocent individuals and sell them into slavery and of all things sell them to the Mandalorians! You are insane. Tell us what we want to know now!"

    The man had cocky smile o his face when he answered, "It's just good business. But no you can't get anything out of me. I don't care if you are the most famous Jedi in the galaxy right now you've got nothing on me!"

    His boasting set off Ben's anger and in a shocking move he reached out with his hand and gripped the man's throat with the Force while simultaneously lifting him off his feet and out of the chamber. He started to place a gentle squeeze on his throat, constricting it. The man began gasping for breath but managed to whisper hoarsely, "You don't scare me . . Jedi . . If you kill me . You gain nothing."

    Ben was far from angry at this man, he hated him for what he had done to those poor people. He would make sure he was given a deserving punishment. He thought of his father at that moment. Would he approve of his actions? The Jedi Code forbade this kind of punishment for anyone but he was doing this to save the weak wasn't he? Dad doesn't understand what is happening here. He would do the same thing I am wouldn't he? I mean it's only the right thing for them to pay for their actions. Ben knew that he had to do this or this man may end up on the loose again. He would not let that happen.

    He applied more pressure to his victim's throat. All the while Valin was looking on in wonder trying to decide what to do. He had known the Jedi Code and lived by it his entire life. Over the years he had begun to reason that if they were doing this to protect the weak then this man deserved what Ben was doing to him. If this man had to die for his evil then so be it.

    The man started to clawing at his throat. He was desperate to claw away the invisible hand that was choking him. He was able to barely wheeze out, "Not . . . happening."

    "If you won't tell me then I will drag it out of your mind," Ben stated. Then he let the Force flow through him and he attacked the man's mind. He began to see into it, all the memories that this man had, all the things he had been through. He broke down barrier after barrier and he forced him to feel as much pain as possible. The man cried out in anguish. Ben left his mind knowing he was ready to talk. He also slackened his hold on him allowing him to speak.

    "Alright, I'll talk, I'll talk! The Mandalorians are buying them for use in the battle. They'd use them as a distraction to go out in front while they picked you off or something. I don't know much more! The slave trade is located in a large complex underneath the cantina. Just please don't kill me!"

    Valin still wasn't satisfied with his answer. Things still didn't add up. For one how were the Mandalorians transporting these slaves to their territory. He knew this man wanted to keep his trade in tact. He hadn't told them everything. "How do they transport the slaves to Mandalorian territory?"

    The man had changed from confidence to fear rather quickly as he was now cowering in the air before them. "I don't know!"

    Ben then peered inside his mind again ever so subtly so as not to alert him of his presence. The barriers shielding the man's mind had been completely broken down by his earlier assault and now he could see everything clearly. He could see a route from the Under City sewers going up to the Mandalorian battle lines. "Liar!" Ben shouted at him. His anger had been fired up yet again but now he had had enough. This man would tell them about the slave trade but apparently he was more afraid the Mandalorians than him. Ben was about to change that.

    Ben intensified his grip on the slaver's throat again causing him to yelp and gasp in pain. When he had gained enough strength to speak, he said, "You said you wouldn't harm me."

    Ben knew the Jedi wouldn't approve but then he went back and thought on Callista's teachings. She had taught him that it was his choice what path to follow and how to use the Force whether light or dark. His father may not understand but he did. He would do what was necessary to win even if that meant that he had to sacrifice one for the good of all. He choked the slaver harder and harder then, after sharing a look with Valin who had come to terms that this man had to pay for his wrongs, he whispered in a deathly hollow voice, "You forfeited that offer by keeping your silence." Then he clenched his outstretched fist harder squeezing the life out of him until he heard a loud crack. Then he let the slaver fall to the ground dead with a broken neck. He couldn't take his eyes off of the corpse lying before him. He had just killed the slaver in cold blood. He brought his eyes up to look at Valin who had a hard look on his face. Ben could see that Valin was struggling with Ben's decision to kill him. He looked at Ben's face with much sorrow but a lot of anger as well and said, "I know that he was an inhumane slaver and he deserved death but . . . was it right?"

    Ben closed the distance between them and placed his hand on Valin's shoulder. If not for his oath he would have taken off his mask. Now it was times like these when he wished he could take it off and show true human sympathy but he could not. "Valin, there are times when we must make choices that will define us. I did not do this because I wanted to. I did it because it needed to be done. If this man were to escape he could enslave countless other lives and there suffering would be on our heads because we did nothing. The Republic doesn't need men like this," he said gesturing to the slaver's corpse, "They need men that are strong and will do what is necessary."

    "I . . You're right. I just need some time. But on the other hand did you find what you were looking for?" Valin asked weakly. Ben knew he would be alright. He would have to adjust but Valin would be strong again as he always was.

    Ben was glad he changed the topic because he didn't want to dwell on it either. "Yes, I found out that there is a passageway in the Under City sewers leading to the Mandalorian base. Now we can use that to our advantage. We will divide our forces,one will head out to the battle lines while the other will enter the sewers in the Under City to attack from behind. Soon the liberation of Taris will be over and we will be one step closer to ending this war."

    /Loading/

    The Under City of Taris was dark place with no light. The sun didn't even reach this place and seeing it for himself, Ben couldn't imagine who would live here. On the report he had received from Republic Intelligence the inhabitants of the planet were separated by class. But no one ever mentioned anything about the state of the Under City. The place looked like a graveyard. Due to the time he wouldn't associate with any of the people but he could see they were living in poverty. Their clothes were nothing but rags and their homes weren't much better but still he moved on. Ben had personally assigned Jaq Rand to his team as a scout. He had sent him ahead while his men geared up. He noticed that Rand had suddenly appeared out of thin air by his side as they neared the gate. "Apparently Intelligence was dead wrong about this place," he said unpleasantly.

    "What do you mean ?" Ben asked him suspiciously.

    Rand hesitated before replying, "It appears that the Under City is where all the outcasts are sent. They are the criminals or those who are not wanted anywhere else. Some of these people have been here all their lives as well as their forefathers. I guess the senator has been hiding quite a bit from us General."

    Ben stopped in his tracks and took one last look around. Seeing all of these unfortunate people suffering brought a cold rage into his heart. Was the Republic truly this corrupt? Did senators even care about the people they represented?Did they even know? All these questions kept piling up in his head. Another question was did the Jedi Council know? He shook his head clear of these useless thoughts. He had a battle to win and the fewer distractions the better. He once more began walking after seeing that his troops had stopped their march as well he continued his conversation with Jaq as quietly as possible. "what have you heard about these stories telling of cannibalistic creatures?"

    Jaq rarely displayed his fear without disguising it behind sarcasm but here Ben could see his friend was, if only slightly, afraid. "The outcasts say that beyond these gates there are such creatures called rakghouls. They are a mutation that effects many species. There is no cure to it. It may only be matter of time after you're infected that you transform into one of those mindless monsters."

    Ben approached the gate where a certain man was standing there watching them. From the look in his eyes the man must have been saying silent prayers for them. "Open the gate," Ben ordered.

    The gatekeeper looked at him sorrowfully when he answered, "If you go beyond this gate you must know that if any of you are infected you will not be able to return."

    "We don't plan on returning. Now open the gate."

    The gatekeeper did as ordered and soon the Republic forces were off on their quest. There were skeletons littering the landscape as far as the eye could see. They continued on and now they were completely out of sight from civilization. Then they found a group of Mandalorian bodies lying by a support beam. Ben brought his troops to a halt and bent his knee to inspect the corpse. He turned the body over and found there to be blood pooled underneath it. A fresh kill. Ben saw a few items on the deceased Mandalorian's belt. He picked up a few items then came across a datapad. Before he could inspect it his senses flashed him a warning clear as day. They were not alone. Without anyone seeing, he stashed the datapad in his utility belt and stood up to address his men. "We are not alone. Men, prepare to defend yourselves!"

    After he had finished speaking, hordes of demonic creatures that could only be the rakghouls swarmed them. Ben ignited his lightsaber and slashed through a rakghoul that had lunged at him he looked around and saw the soldiers begin to pepper them with blasterfire while others drew their vibroblades. He noticed that many soldiers were going down and he upped the tempo of his attacks. He had to have a decent sized force to fight the Mandalorians. He pounced on a rakghoul that had begun to feed on a fallen soldier and hacked it to pieces. Then he leaped in the air to avoid one pouncing on his back and turned it into a roll. As he came up he swatted one away while kicking another then sliced through it. By this time the soldiers had gotten their fighting spirit back and were dropping rakghouls like flies. In a matter of moments there were only a few left that were cornered between them and a building. As one they charged forward at the Republic soldiers but before they reached their mark, Ben called the Force to him and pushed them as hard as he could into the building, completely crushing them.

    Ben turned around to see soldiers gathering around the wounded. Because of the gatekeeper's warning, no one dared get within an arms length of them for fear of their infection. Ben went through the crowd and came to the infected men. He studied them closely seeing how long they had. "There is no cure?" Ben asked to no one in particular though it was meant for Jaq.

    Jaq, being a rather brave man or a fool, sidled up beside him as he responded, "No." He paused and looked back at the others before turning to Ben again, "What do we do Sir?" Jaq was at a loss for what else to say to his superior.

    Ben could hear the infected men calling out to him for help. Some saying they had families or others begging for their lives but he knew that there was no cure for it so he would do what was necessary. He walked over to one and he could see he was beginning to transform. Quickly he turned to the soldiers on their feet and said with as much power as he could, "Would it be right to let these men suffer an even greater agony than they are in now. It would be a far greater evil if we let them become such vile creatures. We must do what must be done." Then he turned to one man who had heard the whole speech he had given and started grovelling at Ben's feet. "Your sacrifice will not be forgotten." His hand ignited his lightsaber once more and he plunged it into the man's gut and he crumpled to the ground. Ben nodded and soldiers used whatever weapons they had and killed their infected brethren, some being relatives and friends.

    Ben silently watched with an emotion that surprised him. He did not feel sorrow or grief nor mourning but rather an irrational anger at those who were not strong enough to defend themselves. He was furious, because of those men he now had fewer than before for his assault to wipe out the Mandalorians. Now he had to completely rethink his battle strategy. He had an idea but it was risky he had to admit but in the end it would be worth it. He would just let Admiral Pallaeon write out condolences.

    /Loading/

    A few hours after they had successfully navigated the sewers, while facing off with more rakghouls, they had come up behind enemy lines and wee now waiting for Valin to move into position. The plan was truly quite simple. The Mandalorians had purchased slaves to join their ranks and anyone who didn't join willingly were to be put at the front of the army as decoys. So Ben had concocted a plan to rescue them while winning the battle altogether. Ben had lost many soldiers to get here and he knew that he would lose countless more but if they won the fight it would be worth it. From his dwindling troops a small task force would be split into two teams. One would make a distraction near the middle of the enemy ranks while the other would run out to rescue the slaves. This would all take place while Ben and his troops attacked from the rear while Valin would take on the front. Valin's front line troops were to equip energy shields though they both knew it would only take a certain amount of hits until the shield gave out. A risky and definitely costly plan but it would work. He knew at least that much.

    He reached for his comlink as it began to chime indicating an incoming transmission, "General Skywalker here."

    "General Horn to General Skywalker, we are in position. Repeat we are in position."

    "Good, begin the assault. We will be standing by. Skywalker out."

    Ben tucked the comlink back in it's pouch on his utility belt. The battle was about to begin. He made a hand signal to a group of soldiers who were a few feet away from him. Jaq Rand had argued with him insistently to join one of the squads. At first Ben was against it because he knew that not many soldiers ,if any at all from either team, would make it out but in the end he relented. He didn't want to lose Jaq. There was still something about him that nagged Ben but he would have to let him go if he didn't make it. He saw Jaq nod to him and wheel around around and soundlessly ran off with his group of ten men went to their position while the other group that had almost no chance of survival ventured off to make a distraction.

    The way Ben had planned it, all the Jedi they had on Taris were with Valin. Now he wished he had at least one with him. The Mandalorians were gunning for the Jedi as their main targets so he had reasoned that it would be better if Valin had them. He waited patiently for the something to happen. Against his better judgment he had allowed the squad to use whatever methods they wished to complete their task. He felt it first through the Force then his eyes caught sight of the huge blast erupting from the Mandalorian ranks. He could see mass chaos was ensuing. He could not allow them to reorganize. He ignited his lightsaber and raised it high for all of his troops to see. At his signal, as one the Republic soldiers stood and charged at the enemy forces.

    The battlefield had been chosen in an extremely open area. Ben had had to hide his men a few hundred meters from the Mandalorian encampment so now all they had to do was get close enough to fight. Ben had posted his best snipers in the highest buildings he could see and now they were going to work. The Mandalorians that noticed them approaching were quickly shot down before they had a chance to reveal their location. Ben could feel the adrenaline of the upcoming battle raging within him. He fought internally against thinking about his father too much but now he had an eerie sense of awe. Is this what you felt like, Dad? Did you feel the excitement of battle? He had to toss those thoughts away. No, Luke Skywalker would never feel that way or at least never admit to it. He cleared his mind of all these thoughts and focused on the Mandalorians who had finally taken notice of him. He had crossed over two hundred meters and now he was staring a Mandalorian in the face.

    He used the Force to enhance his leap that covered the last few meters and struck out with his saber connecting with the blade of the Mandalorian. All at once the sounds of battle came to him as the two forces collided. Explosions erupted from everywhere causing his ears to ring. Soldier after soldier ran up to the Mandalorian ranks blasting their way through. They had achieved the element of surprise. Ben brought his attention back to the here and now. He disengaged with his opponent and swiftly blocked his mid level strike and countered, effectively slicing clean through his arm. One by one he continued to drive through the Mandalorians. His blade was a blur to all that saw him, his body in constant motion as fought, swinging his lightsaber right and left, high and low. He delivered a quick kick to one and brought his saber up to cut down another. The Force was intensely flowing through him. Nothing would stand in his way.

    /Loading/

    Valin had watched the entire episode and now it was his time to join in the fun. At first he thought the plan was suicidal but in the end it was the best option they had to root out the Mandalorians otherwise they could be here for months trying to breach their defenses. He looked over to one of Ben's more trusted generals, a human woman by the name of Brisha Syo. Valin had always thought there was something odd about her. A similar feeling that Ben had about Jaq Rand. Nevertheless she had proven herself time and again. "Begin artillery fire. Order the assault," he ordered. The woman nodded her head and went to fulfill his orders.

    /Loading/

    Jaq could see the plan was unfolding perfectly. At the sight of General Horn's men giving them artillery support, he waved his squad forward. He ran as fast as he could but it wasn't enough. The Mandalorians had spotted them. He and his men got down to the spot where the slaves were being held. He took out his leveled his blaster and quickly shot off a few volleys of return fire as he dodged the oncoming shots. His shots hit their mark and he made his way to the slaves. Some of them began to cut the slaves loose while the rest of them covered them with blasterfire.

    The main army was quickly approaching and so was the Mandalorians Jaq didn't know what to do they were completely surrounded. If they could get back to their lines they would be safe but the trouble was getting there. If they didn't have any cover they would be blown to bits. A personal friend of his, Captain Lorn Menssk, had been apart of the suicide squad that was responsible for them even being here. He would know what to do. He shot off another volley at some oncoming Mandalorians. They would have to run for it.

    All of a sudden as they were about to be overrun, a Mandalorian speeder appeared overhead a shot off rockets toward the Mandalorians. They were instantly incinerated by the blasts. The speeder flew overhead and zoomed down to reveal that it was none other than Captain Menssk. "Jaq, get those slaves out of here now. I'll distract them!" he shouted down at them.

    Without another word, he flew higher in the air and began to pound the Neo-Crusaders with everything he had. That was all Jaq needed. He and the others quickly got up and ran for the rapidly nearing Republic lines. There were barely any blaster shots headed in their direction and as they were allowed to pass through the ranks, Jaq looked back to see the speeder be blasted out of the sky and crash in a titanic explosion. Thank you old friend he thought sadly.

    /Loading/

    The battle had been ended after three hours of nonstop warfare. Ben looked around the devastation that had taken place here. There had been more lives lost here than on any other world before it during this war. He had personally seen the sacrifices that so many had given during this fight. He was glad that Jaq had survived but he knew that not a single one of the other squad made it out alive. As he walked among the dead he saw many familiar faces and some he didn't. Over time he had come to hate the Mandalorians like he had never hated anyone or anything before. And now it was amplified to heights no Jedi would ever approve of. He kept walking until Valin came up to him. "Ben we have Mandalorian survivors."

    Ben stance turned rigid as he turned to look at Valin, "Where?"

    Valin nodded for him to follow and they walked in silence until they reached them. Ten Mandalorians had survived but Ben could clearly see that they still had plenty of fight left in them. He had learned his lesson before and he knew what he had to do. He walked up to them and saw Jaq as one of the many soldiers that were watching them. Ben could clearly see that the only thing keeping Jaq from killing them were Valin's orders. He looked down at the butchers then back up to everyone that had gathered around them. "Listen to me. If even a single Mandalorian lives without surrendering they will only return to their blood lust. Many of you remember what has happened over the years. Now I trust you will know what to do," he said and then he turned on his heel and started walking away.

    However a soldier stopped him as he said, "Sir what of the survivors?"

    Over his shoulder Ben responded, "What survivors." That was all Jaq needed to hear before he broke one Mandalorian's neck.

    /End Transmission/
  17. KnightRevan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Chapter 5: The Dark Begins to Rise

    Deep within the confines of his quarters aboard the Bloodfin, Ben Skywalker worked tirelessly. He had been in ever since he had returned from Taris' liberation. Many believed he was suffering from stress but that was far from the truth. For years he had secretly gathered all the knowledge he could on the Mandalorian culture. Anything from datapads to star charts and other trinkets could be found in his room. He had tried to find their greatest weaknesses as well as their strengths to varied success. Now he was on the verge of a discovery that could aide him in winning the war.

    From the datapad he had recovered on Taris he had found a security code deeply embedded in the system that you had to watch for carefully in order to see it recur in all of his other datapads. He had been trying to decyfer it for days. He had great knowledge of Mandalorian culture but he was finding this to be his greatest challenge yet. He had begun to finally understand it and after a few more code sequences he had cracked it. Now let's see if you were worth all the trouble. He began to read through it. Much he already knew but then he came across something that piqued his interest.

    He continued to read until he reached a word that sent shivers down his back. Malachor V. From his reading he had learned that this world was forbidden to the Mandalorians. Why? They have taken the liberty of traveling to any other world, why is this one so special? He continued to ponder this as he brought up a star chart. He located Malachor's grid coordinates, S-4. It revealed no mention of a planet there at all. On the charts the location was in the farthest reaches of the Outer Rim Territories, very close to the Unknown Regions. He would have to investigate this. He wouldn't dare contact the temple with this kind of information. It wouldn't surprise him if they would disregard anything that he would say. He would have to travel to this planet if it even existed. Hopefully he would find the reason why it was a taboo world for the Mandalorians.


    . . . . .


    Before the battle of Taris, Ben had fully intended to attack the enemy stronghold of Dxun. Now he had to adjust his battle plan to fit this new information. He now stood on the bridge of the Bloodfin awaiting news from Vestara. He wanted to see her before he left but he knew he would not likely get the chance. After many battles together his feelings for her had begun to grow. He wouldn't admit it but he held her close to his heart. He had attempted to place her on small scale battles but she fought fiercely with him until he relented. He had learned to accept that any one of his friends could die but it didn't hurt any less. On the battlefield he was considered to be a great leader and one of the greatest military tacticians that ever lived. But he wanted more than the life of war. He had often fantasized about having a family of his own once the war was over but he had a nagging feeling that it would never truly be over.

    He waited patiently with Valin at his side until Pallaeon turned to him, "General Skywalker, we are receiving a long range transmission from General Khai. She is requesting you personally."

    A small joy began to fill Ben as he heard this. He hadn't seen her in some time or even spoken to her for that matter. "Have it forwarded to my quarters. Valin walk with me."

    Valin nodded his head and fell in step with Ben. His mind had been working to catch up on events since Taris. He had been disturbed by Ben's actions to the slavers and the Mandalorians but he began to reason that they were the right choices. Since then he had gotten some much needed rest. Now he had some more questions that needed answers after Vestara's com call. "Have any idea what this is about?" he asked.

    Ben looked up at him and answered calmly, "I am unsure but hopefully it will be positive." He didn't want to voice his true hopes but he knew that it was slim at best that she would come to them.

    They entered Ben's quarters and he brought Valin to the common room purposely avoiding his personal quarters. He didn't want Valin to see his private stash. He walked to the table in the center of the room and activated the holo transmission that was waiting for him. A blue hologram of Vestara Khai shimmered in the still air. Her arms were crossed as she looked at them. She looked slightly distressed but retained a calm appearance. Something was bothering her, Ben could see that from knowing her as he did. Vestara didn't waste any time, "Ben, Valin, I have news."

    Ben asked, "And what news do you bring?"

    Vestara hesitated before answering, "We have intercepted a Mandalorian transmission. So far we have decoded very little but it appears they are planning an attack somewhere. We just don't know where yet. With your permission Ben, I would like to remain here and monitor activity in this sector."

    Ben was slightly disappointed but he had learned to do his duty just as any other Jedi had. Maybe even more so. He turned his attention to the information she had uncovered. They would have to tread carefully around this. If Mandalore attempted to unleash another assault on the Core, Ben had to be ready. "You have it. I want you to keep us informed at all times. Once you have decoded the transmission we need to regroup and decide what our next move will be."

    "Understood Ben. I hope to see you soon then," Vestara stated as her holographic form faded out of existence.

    Ben pondered what this meant. The Mandalorians were preparing an assault somewhere and the Republic was clueless as to where Mandalore himself was. Things were going very well and quite badly. Ben's resolve to win the war as fast as possible was beginning to flare again and then he thought back on the planet Malachor V. Perhaps that may be the key. He had the time to take a short leave of absence now and he decided to take his trip to Malachor. He looked at Valin who hadn't spoken a word during the conversation. He had been through a lot and he didn't want to take away his much needed rest but he knew he had to go. "Valin, I must make a trip. I am placing you in command until I return."

    He tried to walk away to prepare for his journey but Valin stopped him and looked at him with a wide eyed gaze, "What? Where are going? We need you here."

    Ben had prepared for this with an alibi that he often employed in the past, "I need to visit an old friend. You must assume command until my return."

    Valin still wasn't convinced but he knew that once Ben set his mind on something there was no stopping him. He let him pass by and watched him enter his room and closed the door. Sometimes he couldn't understand Ben at all. He had often showed this mysterious side of him as a child and Valin wasn't able to comprehend it then either. Slowly he walked out and began his journey back to the bridge thinking about what to say to the crew about Ben's absence. He was certain that many people would be questioning his sudden departure and he had better be ready for them.


    . . . . .


    Light trails of stars suddenly came to a halt as the ship shuddered signaling the end of hyperspace travel. Ben peered through the cockpit viewport to take in the world lying in space before him. He had begun to think that he would find nothing at all but now he had proof of the opposite. From space Malachor appeared to be a fertile and hospitable world. He could feel the life on the planet both sentient and vegetation but he also felt something else. The force was dark on this world. He could hear the Dark Side seductively whispering to him. The Dark Side was strong, he could feel the source of it coming from a central location.

    He began to descend and he felt Malachor's gravity grip the ship making it fall faster than it normally would. Ben quickly realized that the planet's gravity well was much stronger than that of any planet he had ever visited. After a quick flight correction he compensated for the extra speed and the ship leveled out. He began to fly lower over the terrain until he found a suitable landing spot in a small valley. He wanted to stay out of site because he was unsure of what the locals were like. He walked out of the valley and saw a large village a few kilometers ahead. From what he could see, these people lived relatively peaceful lives. I need some information he thought blankly. Ben then made the decision to enter the village and see if any of the locals knew what he was looking for. He kept his lightsaber concealed but easy to reach should he need it.

    He walked the several kilometers and entered the village. Once there he stayed in the shadows to avoid being seen. Ben had prided himself on his honorable character and thus refused to remove his mask to fit in with his surroundings. Even in the village there was green grass swaying slightly in the gentle wind. There were many buildings which were marked for their usage. People walked by enjoying their lives unaware of his presence. He felt a small twinge in the Force and looked around to see where it was coming from. He then felt more and more twinges there one moment and gone the next. Then Ben finally understood what he was feeling. These people were unconsciously using the Force. He could feel it in nearly everyone there. He could also see that they didn't even know of their abilities otherwise they wouldn't be as happy as they were with such a strong shroud of the Dark Side nearby.

    Ben was completely awestruck by this. How did the Republic or the Jedi for that matter know nothing about this place while the Mandalorians were forbidden to come to this world. Things didn't add up for him so he left his hiding place and moved from shadow to shadow making not so much as a sound. He stood on a paved walkway when he saw a cantina. That would be as good a place as any to start he thought as he walked over to it, carefully staying out of site. He entered as quietly as possible and slid around the corner to stay hidden and watch the people within. There were many people inside, many with their families were gathered together enjoying themselves while others were eating and drinking alone. Ben zeroed in on one such family as he overheard a conversation.

    A man was eating a meal with his wife and children. He was enjoying himself as many people seemed to be doing while entertaining his young son. "Daddy please tell me another story!" the boy squealed in delight. The boy was around nine years old and he had an older sister that appeared to be seventeen standard years.

    Just then another man came to whisper in the man's ear but thanks to the Force, Ben was able to hear what was being said. "Another went there a few days ago and hasn't returned since." After hearing this the man that held his son became somber while the other man left. The father quickly recovered and resumed telling his family stories.

    After he had finished another story Ben took the opportunity to walk forward and converse with him. As soon as he left the shadows all eyes turned to him. He saw many faces having the look of shock and some of horror and yet others who didn't care at all. He continued farther until he reached the man's table. He moved to shield his son while his wife looked at him in fear. Had these people never seen an outsider before? Ben didn't know the answer but he felt that he would soon find out. He raised his hands to show them he was not their enemy. "I mean you no harm. All I want is to talk to you," Ben said and for yet another time he silently cursed himself for keeping his mask on.

    "Me?" the man asked shakily as he pointed to himself. Ben nodded to him and the man turned to his wife and quickly told her to wait for him there while he stood up and began leading Ben to another booth.

    When he had sat down Ben felt the Force warning him of a potential threat. He brought his full attention to the man across from him and saw him move his shoulder ever so slightly. This man had a blaster on him and he hadn't even noticed until it was too late. Ben silently chastised himself for failing to see that detail. He knew he could overpower this man easily at any time but he had to know what was going on.

    The man was staring at his mask with curiosity. To prolong the inevitable, Ben tried to get him to talk. "Have you never seen an offworlder before?" he asked.

    The man shook his head as he spoke, "No one here has. As long as I've lived there have never been any offworlders on this planet. The people of this world have never seen one or their fathers or their fathers." He paused and hesitated before asking, "Are you human?"

    Ben could sense that he spoke truthfully, still he wanted answers, "Yes I am human. I wear this mask because I took an oath to do so." At the man's questioning look Ben slowly pulled off the glove on his right hand revealing fair colored skin. This seamed to satisfy him and Ben asked, "Do you live in peace here?"

    "Yes and we prefer to keep it that way."

    "May I ask for your name?" Ben asked sincerely. He didn't want to risk losing this conversation.

    The man tensed as he answered, "My name is Arnon Mae."

    Ben knew he had to tread carefully now. There was no telling what would set this man off. "And I am called the Revanchist."

    Arnon was still quite tense but Ben could see another side of this man. He didn't want to harm anyone but if his family or friends were threatened he would do anything. "What are you doing here? We don't need your kind here. Leave us in peace."

    Those words were meant as a warning not a suggestion. Ben thought quickly on his options. Sooner or later Arnon was going to shoot him. He had to change his tactics. "Listen, you have a very good looking family over there. If you want to ever see them again you will answer my questions."

    As soon as Arnon heard this he pulled the trigger but before the weight of his finger could push it, the blaster was yanked out of his hand by an invisible force. He looked up and saw his blaster in the hand of the Revanchist. Then his face turned as white as snow when he realized who this man was before him. He like all the villagers had heard stories since their youth about people like this man and now one had his blaster. "You're one of them?"he asked in absolute fear.

    Ben was taken aback by this and he showed it in his response, "One of who?"

    Arnon was staring at him with nothing but fear in his eyes. "We have been told stories of people that did what you just did. Something about your magic powers. I have always thought them to be legends but I was wrong . . Why are you here?"

    Ben was still trying to wrap his mind around this but answered anyway, "I am trying to find something and what you and and that other man spoke of earlier about people disappearing might be a clue. I need you to take me there."

    Arnon quickly stood up and nearly panicked, "I know the way but . . No. No I am not going there. Never! People have gone there and never come back."

    Ben had to get him to see things his way or risk losing him. "Look if you don't go I could kill you right now. Besides you have a beautiful daughter. It would be a shame if something happened to her."

    At the mention of his daughter Arnon took on the look of a warrior. "If you touch her . ." he let the accusation hang in the air as he stared at the frightening mask.

    "All I need is for you to show me the way, that's all. Unless you would like to watch something else," Ben said while turning to look at Arnon's daughter.

    "Alright we will leave shortly," he said and Ben gave him his blaster as he walked back toward his family. This would be an interesting journey for both of them. Ben could feel the Dark Side trying to reach for him. Instinctively he took a step back as if to escape it. He knew that he would be heading into the belly of the beast but he also knew that he had to. If not for the Republic then at least for himself. He couldn't leave Malachor without knowing what was truly behind all this.

    A few hours later found them walking down long, twisting passageways along sheer cliffs. On the journey, Arnon told him the stories that generations of native people had been told of people like Ben that could use this strange 'magic' of his. Then Arnon stopped as they came to face of a cave leading steadily downward. Arnon once more looked on edge as he turned to face Ben. His jaw clenched before he spoke, "There are stories that people like you have been here before. Many years ago. Once my father told a story that our people were once allied with those magicians. That we had once been a great empire. But I never thought much of it. It just seemed like the things of legends but now after seeing you I can't help but wonder, was it true? I, like the sensible villagers, stay clear of this place. It is called the Depths of Malachor and has been for centuries. Everyone that has ever gone in there has never come out . . perhaps my forefathers were right, maybe there is something down there. Or someone." He barely croaked out the last part. He was obviously on the verge of panic.

    Ben could feel the Dark Side growing stronger with each step he took. There were many possibilities of what might be down there but he as certain that it wasn't going to be good. He felt for the saber at his waist. Good he still had it. Something told him that he would need every tool he had in the depths. Ben looked at Arnon one last time, "Thank you, your art in this is finished. You may go." In a flash Arnon took off in the opposite direction leading back to civilization.

    With one last look back, Ben entered the cave. It seemed as though night itself had fallen but in reality it was still midday. The Dark Side slowly became stronger and stronger the farther down he went. He walked slowly, trying not to miss any details. Suddenly his foot pushed against something on the ground and he nearly fell. After regaining his balance he stooped down to better see what it was. A skeleton that had nearly rotted was laying at his feet. Ben quickly stood up and took a few steps away. Is it possible for people to be alive down here? Ben didn't know the answer and he began to think that he didn't want to but he would soon find out regardless.

    Ben looked around and suddenly he understood why the villagers were so fearful of this place. There were skeletons everywhere. Some having already decomposed and others relatively fresh kills. Ben saw a body against the wall. He slowly crept up to it to inspect it. From his experiences in the Mandalorian Wars, he could see that the corpse had only been there for only a few days. This must be the one Arnon was told about. There was fresh blood everywhere around it but Ben knew he wouldn't find any answers there so he stood up and continued on.

    After what must have been a few kilometers the cave opened to reveal giant cliffs and small walkways going across the many gorges. Ben hesitantly stepped on the old walkway. He didn't trust it but it seemed sturdy enough. He began to walk across it and reached the other side with little difficulty. The Dark Side was no longer a gentle whisper but a load shout begging for him to embrace it. He felt like a large millstone had been wrapped around his neck pulling him downward into the dark's waiting embrace. No. I will not falter he thought as he fought valiantly to center himself. It was a constant fight, one that he could not retreat from but he could halt its momentum. After regaining control he walked on until he reached a narrow pathway that was walled up with rock on both sides. He could clearly see that this was not a natural formation. Something had made it but what?

    Just then he felt a surge in the Force. He was being followed. As casually as he could Ben rounded the corner and, once out of sight, leaped to the top of the cavern without a sound, holding himself in place by a crevice in the rock. He felt the life form coming closer and closer until he saw a figure wearing a dark, hooded robe round the corner. Ben had two options: either let him pass or attack. He chose the latter. He launched himself off the wall and landed graceful crouch however his opponent must have been well trained to have noticed it for he turned around as Ben was about to grab his arm. When his adversary moved, the cloak wrapped around him to reveal the figure of a woman. Great! He thought as he was slammed by an unseen kick from her. He had never been great at fighting women. During his padawan days he had been the best duelist in the order but he often went easy on the females not to make them look bad but then he would almost lose because he didn't take it seriously. Then when he had become a teenager it didn't help that his emotions started to kick in.

    Ben deftly duck another kick and brought arm up to pin her slender arm back but was kicked in the gut. He stumbled back and barely had time to steady himself as she whirled at him. Time to end this. As she spun at him, Ben ducked down and ignited his lightsaber. When she swung around he brought it up to her neck instantly bringing her to a stand still. She was so close to him that he could feel her breathing. An odd sensation swept through him as looked at her. He hadn't felt like this before and it unnerved hum. "Who are you?" he asked gently.

    The woman lowered her hood to reveal herself to be the daughter of Arnon Mae. She let the robe cascade down to the rock floor. She wore a skin tight black jumpsuit, slightly similar to his mother, that showed off her slender figure. She was a strikingly beautiful young woman. Now that he had a better look at her he allowed himself to take in every detail. She had long dark hair, fair skin and her eyes held deep pools of green within them. He felt his senses heighten themselves and even though no one could see through his mask he could tell that she noticed him staring at her. She was physically attractive but there was also another quality that was attracting him to her. He could feel that the Force was stronger in her than any other person on the planet that he had encountered so far but there was also a darker aspect to her aura that chilled but yet excited him. Was there a reason their paths had crossed?

    "What is your name?" he asked slowly.

    She smiled sweetly at him as she answered, "My name is Aria Mae. I saw you talking with my father, correct?"

    Ben nodded at her question. There was something that wasn't sitting well with him about this woman. She seemed like a respectable woman but the way she fought was anything but normal. The stance she used was not one of a person defending herself but of an assassin. "Why are you following me?" he asked wearily.

    "My father believes that no one has ever come back from here but he is wrong. That I know of I am the only one to ever come back." By the look of Ben's body language she could see he was asking a silent question so she elaborated, "Four years ago I came down. Instead of listening to my father I believed my grandfather's stories. One day when I worked up the courage I entered the cave and traveled here and farther. At the end of the journey I found strange people that were going to kill me but they left me alone for some reason. They said I was learning their magic that I think they called the Force." She paused and looked slightly frightened before continuing, "I'm afraid of them. They told me to bring others down there. I don't know why but some were killed and others just disappeared. Then they brought me to a strange place where I could hear voices in my head and I saw . . I saw you walking toward me then the next moment you were gone and I saw those strange people."

    Ben had no idea what she was referring to about these strange people but he did know that they were Force sensitives. Had she seen a vision while down there? Then he remembered that Arnon had said that his father told him that the people were once part of a great empire. Could that be true? If so then what empire would that have been? There were too many questions and far fewer answers. He brought his attention back to her. She was an oddity in this whole thing as well. Her fighting skills were phenomenal. Had these people down there trained her? This was one of the rare occasions now that Ben wanted Luke with him. "Do you know anything else?"

    Aria shook her head, "No. But you must be careful. I don't know why they spared me but they are very powerful in their magic Force as you are. Please."

    A thought struck Ben at that moment, "You don't remember anything else do you?"

    "No. What I have told you is all I remember. It's like a part of me is missing. Gone. Why is it gone?" She then began to mutter unintelligible words.

    Ben quickly brought her back to herself, "Thank you but you must return to safety. I will be back." He put a hand on her shoulder in a comforting gesture the strode off down the tunnel. He had much to wrap his mind around and there was the Dark Side constantly battling him. One thing he did know was that his questions would soon be answered.

    As Ben walked away, Aria gathered her cloak around her again. She was puzzled why she had come down here in the first place. She couldn't remember what compelled her to do so. Her mind was so weak that she didn't even remember fighting the Revanchist. Then out of the shadows a tall, crimson skinned figure came into view behind her. It had yellow eyes and tendrils coming off of its cheeks. The thing put its hand on her shoulder and instant remembrance came to Aria as her eyes widened in fear. The creature turned her to face it and smiled showing it's pointed teeth. "Who have you brought that has made it this far to the Academy?" it said in snakelike masculine tone.

    Aria had never feared anyone as much as these strange creatures in her entire life. She forced herself to fall back into the wall. She kept her head down, not wanting to look into the creatures eyes. She shivered as the weight of his gaze tore through her. "It's the one in my vision. He has come for something," She whispered weakly.

    The male creature stepped toward her and cupped her face in his large hand making her look into his yellow eyes, "And what is it that he is looking for?" Aria made no response so he continued, "Who can he be that he has made it this far without us knowing?"

    Aria attempted to shake her head free but the man had it in a vice grip, "I don't know. He just showed up today. He's an offworlder!"

    The creature held her face tighter in frustration. He had a theory forming in his mind but could not prove it yet. He wanted to know how this man was able to roam their sacred home without being detected. "What did he tell you?" he demanded.

    "He told me to return to safety. That's all I know!" she blurted out at him.

    The creature could feel the sincerity in her words. He would have to meet this man himself to find the true answers. He ran a hand through her hair and felt Aria shudder. He laughed at her fear of him. "You have been useful to us child. You will do well to obey us or your fate will be that of one of those you have brought to us. Your mind is so weak I may have to erase your memory again or I could turn you into a puppet for my own amusement," he said as he leaned forward breathing on her skin. He felt her shaking and relished in her fear. "Now go and do as he told you!" he commanded. As soon as he let go of her chin she raced back toward the surface of Malachor.

    He grinned as he watched her hasty retreat. But that joy only lasted so long. His thoughts went back to the offworld intruder. There could only be one thing this person was but how had they found them. After all these years it was impossible for those genocidal defenders of the Republic to have found them. A movement from the shadows shook him out of his thoughts. A human man appeared out of the darkness and stood beside him. Like him, the human had yellow eyes but also a rather distorted looking face. The Force reeked off of them in dark waves as they stood in silence. The crimson man looked off in the direction that Ben had walked through and said his thoughts aloud, "Soon we will face each other in battle, Jedi. Then you will know the true power of the Sith!"


    . . . . .


    "It's nearly been four years and we haven't even received a single message from him. And not many of the others have messaged anyone either," Mara Jade Skywalker said as she paced across the room. It irritated her that Ben had never bothered to notify them of anything. Her son seemed to no longer care for them and it was slowly tearing her apart.

    Luke patted the chair next to him gesturing for Mara to sit. They had been dining with the Solo family but for the past half hour all Mara had done was pace back and forth. She came to the seat and sat down as well as putting a death grip on Luke hand. She hadn't been the same since Ben had left the temple after his short recruiting run. All of the adults seated had read every report that had come their way concerning Ben, Valin, Vestara and the countless others that had joined them. Luke had never doubted himself as much as he did now. Did I make the right decision. Should I have gone to war. There were many reasons he could have or could not have gone and there were many questions that still plagued him.

    He noticed Leia watching him and he raised his gaze to match hers. "What's wrong, Luke?" she asked, "We all miss them but they made their choices and we made ours."

    "I want an honest answer. How many of you have been tempted to fight? I mean, I have never seen him so passionate about something in his entire life. Have any of you thought about leaving?" Luke asked with as much care as he could muster. He turned his gaze to Jaina and Jacen who had just sent their children to bed. Their expressions told more than words could.

    Jacen and Jaina shared a look. Thanks to their being twins, they had a special bond with each other that they could use without anyone else knowing. They each had had their own unique relationship with Ben and Valin. Jacen had been the closest to Ben of all the Solo children. But Jaina and Anakin had each trained a personal friend of his. For Jaina, her relationship with Jysella had turned slightly sour due to Ben and Valin's departure. Jysella's mixed emotions had prevented her from becoming a Jedi Knight and Jaina had her padawan's brother and her cousin to thank for it.

    Jacen was the first to speak, "There will always be a part of me that will regret not joining up. When he stood there and defied us, defied you, he made me proud for standing up for what he believed in but then it hurt to see him against me. Then afterward during all of his speeches, I felt like I had to do something but I just couldn't leave. I may never know the answer." Jacen had always been one for immediate action but now it seemed that he had truly taken after his mother in terms of politics.

    Jaina had been and always would be a fighter. She took more after Han. She had inherited the Solo flair and it had paid off more than once in her lifetime. "I was moved by more than his words but his actions as well. He backed up everything that he said. I mean, I'm the Sword of the Jedi. I never truly did get used to diplomacy." She looked up at her mother and added with grin, "Sorry Mom."

    Leia smiled at her daughter. Luke envied that. Here they were eating dinner like they had so many times before yet it wasn't right. Leia's family was still whole around her while his son was off fighting in the bloodiest war of galactic history. "I have been haunted by that vision every night. I can feel the darkness at it's fullest in it. Things are changing. The Force itself is changing. The Dark Side's shroud is growing and I fear there is more to this war than what meets the eye. We have been monitoring the situation but I am starting to think that we need someone there who will tell us what is going on," Luke said. He had thought about this for a long time and now he believed he was making the right choice.

    Han's cocky lopsided grin came back to his face and that reminded Luke of the old days. "You got some action planned for us, Junior?" Han asked with anxiety. He had wanted to live a quiet life with Leia but he was constantly thrown into galaxy saving situations. Now that he had lived the last nearly twenty years in relative peace, he was eager to get back in the action.

    Luke returned his grin with one of his own. "For now it will be just one of us," he turned to Anakin, "Anakin, are you up for a mission?"

    Anakin was sitting on one side of the table with Tahiri and his face suddenly lit up with excitement, "You know I am. Where to?"

    Luke was pleased to see that Anakin was once more eager to be in the field again after losing his apprentice. After Vestara left, Anakin had remained at the temple and spent more time with his family. "I need you to go to the Republic front without detection if you can but we need to know what is happening. If there is a reason that Ben or anyone for that matter is not contacting us, I want to know why. I will leave the particulars up to you."

    Anakin nodded, "I will leave as soon as I can."

    Luke chose to caution him at that moment. He didn't want anything to happen to Anakin. He had nearly lost him on Myrkr all those years ago and he was not about to lose him now. Besides Tahiri would hate him for the rest of her life if something went wrong. And due to her background and her time with the Yuuzhan Vong, she was not one you would want to get angry. "Be cautious. Something is rising. I don't know what but it seems familiar. This war is coming to a close but it will not end well . . and I can only pray that we will be ready for the consequences."
  18. KnightRevan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Chapter 6: The Forgotten Trials

    Ben continued his journey in solitude. His run in with Aria played through his mind over and over again. There was something amiss. He couldn't place it. Every step he took it became harder and harder to keep himself centered. He was getting closer. He walked around another corner and entered yet another cavern. It was dark and gloomy within but he kept walking forward. Ahead an eerie light appeared illuminating the end of the cavern. When he came out, Ben saw a sight that rocked him to his very core. Ruins of great cities stretched out across the horizon before him. There wasn't much left but the few structures that remained reeked with the Dark Side. The darkness began to intensify a hundredfold. The Force swarmed over him and he fell to his knees, clutching his head. Images began cycling through his mind faster than he could perceive them. He had to fight with every ounce of strength he had to not succumb to its influence.

    After several moments he had been able to deafen the Dark Side's calling and center himself once more. He looked out at the great ruins before him and stood transfixed by them. How long had this been there? Was this a part of the empire in the stories of the village? Ben could only wonder what that could mean and there was only one way to find out. He carefully took a few steps and slowly descended the rubble that may have once been a giant walkway toward the ruins below. Upon coming to the bottom Ben felt a disturbance in the Force. At first he thought Aria had followed him but he soon realized that he sensed someone entirely different. Instead of looking around he went forward as if nothing was wrong. Early on in the war he had learned to never give your enemy the advantage of knowing that you know you are being followed.

    Ben came to what remained of a tall building and entered. He walked into what appeared to have been a small, enclosed arena. Scorch marks were on what remained of the floor. He moved in without a sound and, immediately as he turned around a blade of crimson light came screeching at him. Ben quickly brought up his own saber to parry the blow. He quickly pushed back his assailant and went on the defensive. His enemy was fairly skilled in the art of saber combat. The being wore a dark cloak around itself, not showing anything to give him a bearing on what or who he was fighting. Ben blocked blow after blow and slowly kept on giving ground to his attacker. One vicious swing after another the cloaked figure drove him back.

    Ben looked around desperately for something to help him turn the tide. He saw a loose piece of durasteel that had been part of the high ceilings. He reached out with the Force and pulled it toward him, throwing it at his enemy. However, right before the impact, it was thrown across the ruined building by the incredible power of his opponent. Oh Kriff, not again! Ben didn't have much time to think before he was barraged with another deadly series of death blows. He continually brought his saber around to block. Neither person seemed to be able to penetrate the others defenses.

    Finally after what seemed like hours but was truly only a few minutes, the attacker made their mistake. The figure exposed its right leg by overstepping and Ben took full advantage. He brought his saber up to block, then just as quickly kicked out with his leg connecting with the other man's knee. The attacker cried out in pain in a masculine voice. Ben brought his saber up and quickly blocked the man's counterstrike then rushed him, knocking him to the ground. The man swung at his legs from his position on the ground but Ben leaped over him. The man brought himself up but when he turned around he saw a blue blade arching toward him. Ben swung with tremendous speed and hacked straight through the man's gut.

    The man fell to his knees in shock at the outcome of the fight. Ben looked into his eyes and saw fear clouding them then, just as quick, was replaced by hatred. Ben brought his saber up to the man's throat. "Who are you?" he questioned.

    "Death to you, Jedi!" the man stated then fell to the ground in two pieces. Ben felt his head spin with all he had taken in since he had arrived. The man he had fought was powerful in the Dark Side. He knew that his father had fought Sith Lords early in his lifetime but could it be possible that they had not been completely destroyed? Could this man be a Sith? The closer he got to his destination on Malachor, the more questions he had.

    He didn't have long to ponder this though. He felt the auras of more life forms heading his way. He stood up fast and began to retreat back to the walkway that would lead him to the cave. He needed to have a getaway should he need it and if the approaching people were anything like the man he had just fought, he would need every advantage he could get.


    . . . . .


    Deep within the depths of Malachor, an ancient monastery lay embedded beneath the ruins of the once great cities above. From this place called the Trayus Academy, the Sith had tried to reestablish their low population. The end of the war had cost them greatly. A once dominant empire, the Sith had had the Republic struggling for its last breath until the Jedi found Naga Sadow's meditation sphere. From that moment on the Sith were on the run until the Jedi committed genocide. Only a small minority of the Sith Lords escaped. Many of the Sith on the planet had been assigned here by Naga Sadow but after his fall the remaining Sith scattered. There was at least one known meeting between a large portion of the lords but then they all vanished without a trace.

    Darth Nyril was one such Sith that had been posted here to protect the academy. He was the Sith leader on Malachor. But he had received help in his ascension. After he had been posted here, in his mind Naga Sadow deserted them and destroyed the Sith with his obsession of conquering the Republic. It was the dream of every Sith to crush the Republic and have vengeance on their weaker Jedi brethren but to go in a head to head battle with little tactical planning was horrendous failure yet Sadow had persuaded so many to join him. Both Sadow and Ludo Kressh had their own plans to battle the Republic and it further added to their destruction that the two fought a civil war that further weakened their strength. After Sadow's fall, Nyril discretely left Malachor and journeyed throughout the remnant of the Sith Empire seeking for a new leader. The Republic and the Jedi believed that the Sith were completely wiped out but Nyril believed otherwise.

    On his journey he finally found the planet he remembered to be called Medriaas. After his arrival he met the man he knew was able to lead the Sith. He was ruthless but patient. After much deliberation Nyril was convinced that the Sith had to start over if they were to survive. In his mind he tried to justify his actions that led him to help that man become ruler of the Sith but after all these years he felt slightly betrayed. The reason for feeling this way was because he knew that the emperor was far more powerful than he was so he continued to hold on to hope that he would return.

    But now after five millenia he had his first visitor since he took over as head of the Trayus Academy. The only downside was that it had to be a Jedi. He couldn't help but wonder how they had found them. Had they found the remnant? It was a possibility however unlikely that may be. After he had sent his human counterpart to kill this man that Aria had known as the 'Revanchist' he had felt the rage of power lying dormant within him. He was strong there was no doubt of that. Perhaps he could use that to his advantage. After all the Sith had been formed by renegade Jedi and if this man were to join them the possibilities would be endless.

    He had been kneeling in the core of the academy where the Dark Side flowed endlessly, consuming all it touched. He had been meditating on how to bring down this Jedi and now he knew what he had to do. He felt another presence enter the Trayus Core and waited patiently for him to acknowledge him. Nyril stood up and addressed the newcomer, "Tell them to herd the Jedi into the academy if they cannot kill him. I felt a great amount of power within him."

    The other Sith voiced his thoughts aloud before his master, "If he could be turned he would be a powerful ally."

    Nyril had been raised a Sith but he also knew the importance of corrupting Jedi. Not only could you gain an ally but a source of information concerning your enemy. His pointed teeth clenched in a wicked smile. "Yes, he would be a great asset. See to it that he finds his way to the torture chamber," he said waving his hand as a sign of dismissal. They would soon see how much this man could take.


    . . . . .


    Anakin Solo had gone on many assignments such as this before but never to spy on fellow Jedi. It was a very disturbing thought that Ben had been concealing information from the Jedi Order and maybe the Senate as well. It was just a preposterous thing to even think of. The way Ben had stood before the council and defied had lit a spark throughout the entire order. The council and certain individuals such as himself had often met secretly and discussed the situation. Not many people could successfully lie to Luke Skywalker so when each was asked if they had felt a compulsion to go, the majority said they had been greatly tempted to. Now Anakin was on a secret mission only the council knew of to spy on the 'renegade Jedi' as Master Horn was now calling them, especially Ben.

    Anakin and R2-D2 had first traveled to the last major battle that Ben had taken part in at Taris onboard a Republic relief vessel. When he had arrived he only found a small protection force to defend the planet against any counterattacks though it was unlikely to happen. He had learned from them that Ben's fleet had left some time earlier having received a message from General Vestara Khai. Vestara Khai. The name still rung through his ears with pain. His star pupil had left him and followed Ben to war. He would never forget that day when the girl he considered his own child left him. What was she doing now? Anakin could only guess. Then another thought struck him. Was she involved in his investigation? He hoped beyond belief that she had nothing to do with his assignment.

    For hours he had tried to gather as much information as he could but turned up next to nothing. He felt unnerved that he could feel the auras of many of the beings he questioned were harboring deceit. When Anakin had finally decided to give up on Taris a Republic officer came up behind him and slipped a data chip into his hand. Anakin wheeled around to see who had given it to him but by then the officer was already gone. He quickly walked toward a private area of the scorched hangar bay not wanting to attract too much attention. A theory was starting to form in his mind but he had no conclusive evidence of it. If the officer that delivered the chip to him took such great lengths to keep it secret then the chip had to have something of great importance on it.

    When Anakin reached a small corner he turned to R2 who began beeping with excitement. "It's too dangerous to view the chip here," he told the old astromech droid, "Can you transmit a message to Coruscant?"

    R2 beeped an affirmative and began to record. "I have received an item that may give me a lead but I request that Mom and Dad bring the Falcon and meet me at Naboo. The Naboo people are offering aide to systems in need so I will be heading there on a refugee cruiser. Something tells me that we may be too late now. This is Anakin Solo signing off."

    Upon the cruiser's exit from hyperspace, Anakin took in the view of Naboo. It had maintained its beauty throughout its long history. After the ship landed in the capitol city of Theed the refugees were processed as is customary. While this was taking place Anakin and R2 slipped away checking other hangars.

    Finally, he found the one he was looking for and breathed a sigh of relief. In this hangar sat the Millennium Falcon. His father often bragged that Uncle Luke had once called it a "big piece of junk." The ship was a welcome sight, Anakin himself had to restrain himself from running to it. Early in his life the old freighter had been a major part in his life. He and R2 went forward and were intercepted at the ramp by Tahiri. Anakin stopped dead in his tracks when he saw her. She had never looked more beautiful to him. He gazed at her eyes and she smiled he rushed to her to her and hugged her tightly to him. Throughout the last few years he had rarely left the temple, some thought that he didn't want to see his apprentice again and others that he was afraid to see what was happening in the war to his friends that left. But if you knew Anakin then you'd know that he had wanted to spend his time with his family. After Vestara left, he had learned that you had to treasure every moment you have with those you love because you never know when it would be your last.

    He kissed her softly and separated himself from her. Even now She was helping through his grief. She was his tether just as he was hers. "They're waiting," Tahiri said softly.

    Anakin quickly asked, "Where are the kids?"

    "They are with their Aunt Jaina," she answered as she led him inside.

    They entered the main hold and found his parents eagerly waiting for him. Leia smiled and lightly hugged her youngest child while Han clapped him on the shoulder. They had often thought of him as a kid that needed to be protected until he began training as a Jedi. Then everyone believed that he was destined for greatness. Then Myrkr happened and Anakin was thought to be dead until they found him barely clinging to life. Han and Leia had hoped that their children would have normal lives but things always seemed to happen that put them in more danger.

    "So what have you found kid?" Han asked his son earnestly.

    Anakin pulled the chip out of his pocket and deposited it in the the Falcon's data computer. Graphs and charts began to appear on the monitor as well as logs from many high ranking Republic officers such as Admiral Pallaeon. Curiously Ben's name was mentioned many times but not a single log was listed under his name. "I was trying to search for a lead but I couldn't find anything. Then when I was considering giving up a Republic officer showed up behind me and slipped this chip in my hand. I couldn't find the officer but it had to have been important if one of them would deliver this as quietly as possible especially when I could feel that some of them were lying to me," Anakin told them.

    Leia was leaning forward, looking intently at the screen, "Most of this is old data. To my knowledge the Republic never received any of this info. I'm not certain if any of this could be of any use to us now but," she paused transfixed by a new stream of data, "Wait stop the streaming."

    Anakin obeyed his mother and saw what she saw. A considerably new log stated that the third of the fleet under Ben's control was regrouping with the others due to a Mandalorian message intercepted by General Khai. It also mentioned that Valin was in command of their third of the fleet. "Why would Valin be in command?" Anakin asked to no one in particular. That question was on all of their minds.

    Han finally spoke up with his cocky, lopsided grin on his aging face, though he looked rather weary, "I think it's about time we pay the Republic Navy a little visit don't you?"
    Ben had been running for his life pushing himself well past his body's limits. At first when he thought he had reached the walkway standing at the top were more of these Force sensitive individuals. He had been quickly boxed in forcing him to fight his way out. More and more kept coming out of the darkness surrounding him so against his better judgment, Ben ran toward the direction of the Dark Side's strongest influence. It was ironic that he had first came to this planet to seek out this darkness only to try escape from it. Now he was heading straight for it almost like he was being herded toward it. Then it all clicked into place. He was heading for a trap, he knew that but what kind of trap, that he did not know. Did the Mandalorians know of these beings living in the darkness of Malachor? Is that why they forbid their own from coming here? Malachor was slowly answering his questions one by one.

    Ben ran forward until he heard feet running behind him. He risked a look back just in time to see a blast of lightning flying at him. It hit him straight on and was thrown over the edge of the cliff and landed hard on a giant walkway overlooking a gorge nearly fifty meters below. Ben felt a burning fire flow through his right leg that had been ripped open. His back was aching from the impact and he screamed in agony. He grabbed onto the Force, which felt incredibly dark around him. He didn't care though. He let it fuel his body to keep moving as he slowly got up and crossed the walkway. When he got to the other side, out of nowhere a large temple looking structure appeared right in front of him.

    The structure looked like none other Ben had ever seen before. The Force was soaking it in Dark Side energies. Ben felt the energy pulling at him, trying to penetrate his very core. He shielded himself as best as he could but he could still feel the darkness peeling away at his barriers. He brought a hand up to the back of his head to try to ease the pressure on it. After a few moments of standing there in bewilderment, Ben heard the sound of distant footsteps coming toward him. There was nowhere to go but to enter the ancient temple and make a stand against these practitioners of the Dark Side.

    He passed through the giant doorway and found himself inside a large antechamber leading in many directions. It was dark and gloomy within this place. Statues of figures he had never before seen lined the hallways. There were large crimson colored circles that served as a pathway through the ancient stronghold. Pillars held the roof in place high above his head suggesting the structure may have more than one level to it. As soon as he entered he could feel many eyes on him. Dark auras filled Ben's senses causing everything else to fall away. If this was their trap why hadn't they sprung it yet? It seemed as though they were waiting, invisible to the naked eye and shielded from his Force perception. They wanted him to continue, Ben knew that now. Have I been a fool to come here in the first place? Or is there truly a reason why I am here?

    Ben felt the presences of the warriors that had chased him here coming up behind him. If there was one thing he didn't want it was to fight legions of Force adept warriors like them. He brought himself to keep moving along the hall and through a doorway that led into another hall that slowly led upward. Ben decided to continue along that path following the blood red dots on the floor. After walking for some time he came to a room filled with cells and within those cells were skeletons of what Ben believed to be humans. He thought back to his conversation with Aria. She had told him that these Dark Siders commanded her to lure other people down here. Ben had seen many in the caves but apparently there were far more than that. However these skeletons were completely decomposed. They would have had to have been brought here many years before Aria even made her journey down here.

    Ben continued on and found an even more atrocious sight. He was in a room filled with machines that he knew without a doubt were used as torture devices. Within the restraints of one such machine a human male corpse hung suspended in the air stretched well past the limit. Ben rushed up to the body in a vain hope that there was any sign of life but found none. Other than the severe stretching the body had undergone there were no physical signs of damage. How could this man have died? Early in his life Ben had heard horror tales that the Sith Lords of ancient times could suck the life out of a being if they were strong enough. Then a few more questions of his were answered as pieces clicked into place. Ben backed away from the corpse reeling from this new revelation. He was so caught up in his thoughts that he failed to recognize the dark presence behind him until it was too late.

    Ben was hit with the most powerful blast of Force lightning he had felt since his arrival on Malachor. He crumpled to the ground in a heap as his body functions slowed just barely keeping him conscious. Ben's vision began to darken as he tilted his head up to look at his attacker. The man had pointed teeth smirking sadistically, crimson skin with flesh tendrils hanging from his cheeks and yellow eyes that he had only seen on holos of the late Emperor Palpatine. Before he blacked out, Ben heard the terrifying being utter, "Now it is your turn Jedi."


    . . . . .


    A few days later found the Millennium Falcon slowly approaching the Republic fleet. Admiral Pallaeon's flagship, Bloodfin, was looming ahead of them. Anakin hoped that the fleet would go for his father's plan but if they didn't the Solo's may never get on board the ship. Han was seated in the pilot seat with his mother in the chair that would have held Chewbacca, while Anakin hung over his mother's shoulder. When the old Wookiee died Han had become reclusive, not wanting anyone to help him through his grief. Over time he had come around and reopened himself to his family. After a few moments of floating dead in space a voice cracked over the intercom, "Millennium Falcon, this is Admiral Pallaeon of the Bloodfin. You are advised to leave this sector."

    Before Han could react, Leia reached forward and accepted the transmission, "This is Leia Organa Solo requesting permission to board the Bloodfin."

    "Negative. No unauthorized personnel are cleared to board this vessel."

    From the chip Anakin had received they Leia knew that the generals and admirals of the Republic had been in conference aboard Pallaeon's ship. It was vitally important that they get onboard. "I am here as a representative of the Jedi Order and the Senate. You know I am still a certified member of the Senate, Admiral."

    While Leia still was a highly respected member of the Republic, her authority could be easily overruled by Pallaeon but they were counting on her reputation to convince the elderly man to allow them to board. Han's trigger finger twitched as a prolonged silence filled the cockpit. "They're not going for it, Leia," Han said ending the silence.

    Just then Pallaeon's voice entered the cockpit, "Millennium Falcon, you are cleared to enter hangar bay two."

    Han, ever the optimist, relaxed his tense back into his seat as he casually flew the Falcon toward the hangar, "See, I told you it was going to work."

    He dove the ship under the Star Destroyer and landed the old freighter with practiced ease. The hangar was already filled with various transports from the other Republic vessels. There was a small committee waiting for them not far from the ship, slowly advancing. Anakin looked over at his parents who were whispering among themselves. They would have to split up or risk getting no info at all. "Mom, you have to go with Dad and Tahiri. Once you've gone I will slip out and try dig up whatever I can."

    Han wasn't about to let his son tell him to wait around while he had all the fun, "Hey, now wait a minute. I'm not just going to sit around while you go off on your own."

    "Dad I-" Anakin didn't get a chance to finish.

    "Anakin is right, Han. You need to be with Leia. But I am going with you, Anakin, and don't you dare argue with me." Tahiri said, her voice rising.

    Anakin looked into her eyes and saw the look he had come to know so well. Her eyes held an intensity that not many people could overcome and he was no exception. "Alright," he said exasperated. Han began to chuckle causing Anakin to glare at him.

    Leia stood up drawing everyone's attention. "It's settled then. Be careful," she said as she embraced Anakin then Tahiri. Without a second glance she walked out of the cockpit with Han hot on her heals.

    Anakin and Tahiri waited until the procession walked away, encircling the eldest members of the Solo family. When the hangar was mostly empty Anakin led his wife down the ramp and across the hangar quickly entering the hallway. They quietly ran through the hall and entered a turbolift that would take them to the personal quarters of the Bloodfin's crew. As an added bonus, the officers that were visiting the ship most likely had temporary quarters on this level as well. When the lift doors opened Anakin peered out and saw a small group of soldiers turn the corner making their rounds. He walked forward and looked around the corner to see the muzzle of a blaster rifle aimed right at his head. "Back away from the wall!" a gruff voice ordered.

    Anakin and Tahiri came around the corner to see the squad of soldiers that Anakin thought had continued on at full battle readiness. It was quite evident that these men had seen some action. He could tell that the soldier noticed their lightsabers. "Anakin Solo. You are not authorized to be aboard this vessel."

    Anakin began muttering curses under his breath. He hadn't thought anyone would recognize him if he was caught. But here he was with a blaster pointed at his head. He had hoped to use stealth but now he would have to change the plan. Without another word, Anakin waved his hand at the men standing before him implementing the famous Jedi mind trick. "You will let us go."

    The soldier eyes became distant and clouded over. "I will let you go," he reciprocated.

    "You never saw us," Anakin continued and listened to the man's confused reply. "Continue your rounds," he said and the security group walked back the way they were headed. Anakin went down the adjacent hall with Tahiri. Unbeknownst to both of them, another soldier had witnessed the entire scene and promptly left to inform his commanding officers.

    Tahiri took point and led the way through the corridors until they got to Admiral Pallaeon's personal quarters. Naturally the doors were locked but that had never stopped Anakin Solo before. He put his hand on the control panel and felt the electric circuits within and within moments he had the code. He punched it in and the door slid shut softly behind them. The place had all the necessities of home but still had a military order to it. They ventured over to his datapad only to find that it was shut down with an advanced warning system on the alert for any unauthorized access. These were far more difficult for Anakin. With time he could probably access it but time was not on their side at the moment and he couldn't risk making a mistake.

    While he thought about what to do Tahiri was busy examining the datapad. After a few moments of careful inspection she noticed a piece of the datapad was missing. She nudged her husband to get his attention, "Anakin there is a piece missing."

    At his confused look, Tahiri pointed out the oddity to him. Once he saw it he began to ponder all the possibilities. It didn't make sense. If you had put the datapad under lockdown there would be no need to take whatever had occupied that space . . unless it had already been missing. "The chip," Anakin said more to himself than Tahiri.

    "Do you have it?" she asked coming to the same conclusion he had. He nodded and loosened his belt slightly to take it out of a hidden pouch. After doing so he slowly brought it to the slot and clicked it in. To his relief the datapad came to life with the warning system disabled. He looked over the information on it and gasped in amazement. Battle plans for the end of the war were on this datapad. In one entry it said that Ben had ordered the fleet to begin stockpiling supplies in preparation for the siege of Dxun. Onderon and its next door neighbor were some of the first Republic systems to fall to Mandalore. The Mandalorians had made Dxun their command center for the entire Republic campaign. To attack it would be suicide, even the Jedi Council knew that.

    There was also data on several other battles some of which had passed by recently such as the battle of Taris. Why had the military kept such vital information from the Senate? It didn't make sense and it didn't help that the datapad gave no indication as to why. Things weren't adding up but at least now Anakin had something to give his uncle. Suddenly the door opened and two human male Jedi came through, neither one looking very pleased to see them. Anakin and Tahiri shared a look not knowing what to do next. One of the Jedi looked Anakin straight in the eye and said, "Master Solo, you and your wife must come with us immediately."

    By the way they were glaring at him, Anakin wasn't about to argue. He nodded to Tahiri and both of them joined the two Jedi, one of them taking the lead and the other trailing behind. Anakin had no idea where they were being taken but to his relief they were staying on this level of the Star Destroyer. The Solos were led through several halls until they reached door that lead to another high ranking officer's quarters. The leading Jedi pushed a button and the door opened. He went in followed by the other three to see a young woman about the age of twenty, dressed in Jedi robes with flowing brown hair. She turned around and received a nearly shocked look from Anakin, "It has been a long time, Master."

    "Vestara." That was all he could manage to say. I suppose I should have expected this Anakin thought to himself. He was happy to see his apprentice again but not under these circumstances.

    Vestara smiled at the two Jedi Masters that had raised her from her youth. She was pleased to see them again. She shifted her gaze to the two Jedi watching their exchange. "I trust you will keep silent on this matter?" she asked them.

    "Yes General," they replied then quickly excused themselves.

    Vestara looked at her former mentor with a sadly amused look, "You're fortunate that I was the first and only person to be told that you were onboard. Otherwise you may have been arrested as a spy."

    Anakin grinned at her as Tahiri walked past him and embraced Vestara. "Thank you, Ves. I'm glad to see you," he said while giving her a fatherly embrace.

    Vestara's smile faded slightly knowing that this reunion wouldn't last much longer. "Your parents are going to be leaving soon. I wish we had more time but you cannot be seen here."

    Anakin slowly nodded. "We just want to know why the military hasn't been informing the government about their battle plans. Do you know if there is a reason for this?" he asked wearily. He trusted Vestara enough to reveal the true reason why they had infiltrated the Bloodfin.

    The young general lowered her head for a moment in contemplation. It wasn't her place to speak out against Ben or any of her superiors but there was always the prospect that there was a breach in security. She looked up at the older Jedi before her and responded truthfully, "Honestly, I don't know. There could be many possibilities but I cannot be certain. I do believe that the Republic should know what is happening though. Recently we have intercepted a Mandalorian transmission. So far we have confirmed that they are planning an attack. We don't know when or where but I have a feeling that it will be sooner rather than later. I hope this trip has been worth it for you."

    "Ves, before we go, I need to know. Where is Ben?" Anakin asked hesitantly. He had wanted to know of his cousin's whereabouts for some time now just as all the other members of the family.

    Vestara turned away from her mentor. She didn't want to talk about this. "I can't tell you."

    Anakin reached forward putting his hand on her shoulder turning her to face him. He had to know if the chip had been correct. "Vestara you can trust me. Please."

    As Anakin looked into her eyes he thought he saw tears. "I'm sorry but I can't. I don't know," she said, her words practically inaudible.

    This shocked Anakin. Vestara and Ben had been very close during their apprenticeships. For her not to know where he was seemed inconceivable. "You don't know?" he asked in a stupor.

    "No one knows. He just disappeared a few days ago," she said starting breakdown, "The explanation I get from Valin is that Ben left to see an old friend!" She buried her head into Anakin's shoulder, "We need him . . I need him."
  19. windu4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2008
    star 4
    I know very little about KORTO so I don't really know how the story goes. Regardless I find this very interesting and I love how you've integrated many of the characters from the EU. I look forward to seeing how this goes.
  20. KnightRevan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Chapter 7: Dark Secrets of the Heart

    Awareness came slowly for him as he regained a sense of consciousness. Ben could feel pain racking through his body. His eyes felt extremely heavy as he opened them to look on his body. He was out of his armor and it was only then that he realized that his mask had been taken off as well. His chest was bare with an addition of many new scars. He couldn't remember everything that happened but after he had been captured he was certain that they had put him through many different torture techniques some of which he had never seen before.

    Ben looked out at his surroundings trying to deduce his location. He was within a dark gloomy cell suspended weightless in the air by a blue force field that surrounded him. He had been through this torture for what he knew had to be at least three days. After it seemed that no end was in sight for his tortures, Ben had let himself fall into oblivion only to wake up here. Time seemed to never end here and now he began to wonder if he was already dead. Could he ever escape from here? Ben held on to that hope though the longer he was here the more it seemed he did so in vain.

    The door to his cell began to creak open and in walked a man in dark full body armor, one of his many torturers. The large man walked in without a sound and deactivated the field holding Ben up and laughed maniacally as Ben hit the floor with a loud thud. Ben felt the weight of the world on his body as he tried to move. The large man taunted him by leaving the door wide open slowly circling him. Ben pushed himself up to his knees only to feel his breathing hitch as the torturer slid a chain around his neck attempting to choke him. Ben clawed at his throat hopelessly trying to pull it away but the man was too strong. Anger began to coarse through his veins and Ben no longer cared to control it. He reached out his hand fueling his body with the Force using his darker emotions.

    At once the door to his cell began to break in ear shattering sounds. His torturer noticed this immediately and dropped Ben to the in fear as the door was flung straight at him by the Jedi's power. The door collided with him and smashed into the wall. The armored man fell to the ground in a heap, similarly to how Ben had looked just moments before. The young Jedi looked down at the man that was taunting him only a few seconds ago now in a position of such vulnerability. Ben reached out and used the Force to pull a durasteel bar from his cell and guided it to his outstretched hand. Ben had seen many people like this man before in the forms of Mandalorians and slavers. He knew what he was about to do was against the Jedi Code but he had already done it many times. That was the difference between he and the Jedi. While they were willing to watch people die, Ben was doing what needed to be done. The longer these people lived the more lives would suffer.

    He walked to within a meter of his fallen foe and lifted the bar in the air and brought it down with tremendous force onto the man's neck. Vibrations traveled up the durasteel bar and into his arm telling him that several bones had been broken but Ben didn't care about that, he would continue until there was blood. Relentlessly, Ben swung harder and harder until blood was gushing everywhere. He threw the bar away in disgust but not before he caught a reflective glimpse of another dark robed man behind him. Quickly Ben turned and unleashed a powerful Force wave that knocked the man off his feet and threw him into the next cell crushing his skull. With one last look at the dead man lying in a pool of blood in front of him, Ben took off down the hall. Escape may be impossible but he was going to be sure to kill everyone of these cultists that crossed his path.


    . . . . .


    Anakin was extremely nervous. The closer the lift got to the Council Chamber the more anxiety he felt. He couldn't shake the feeling that the tide of the war was about to change, if it hadn't already, from the Republic gaining more and more victories and possibly having a peaceful outcome to the Republic unleashing an onslaught on their way to an unconditional surrender from Mandalore. With all the new data they had compiled they had learned that the Mandalorians were preparing for an assault on an unknown location. But it also appeared that the Republic was also going to attack but where was just as much a mystery as the Mandalorians.

    Tahiri placed a gentle hand on his arm drawing his attention. "Are you alright?" she asked softly.

    Anakin's forehead creased in thought. What would he say? That he had the ever famous family feeling of impending doom? "I just have a bad feeling about this," he said as the doors opened to the Council Chamber. The council was already assembled and waiting for them. Many wore grave looks on their faces including his older siblings. The youngest Solo and his wife walked quietly to the center and bowed respectively to the masters.

    Luke, being the Grand Master, addressed them first, "Anakin and Tahiri Solo, welcome back. I hope your assignment went well."

    Anakin swallowed gathering himself for what he knew was to come, "Sadly it has." he quickly relayed to them the events leading up to he and Tahiri's adventure aboard the Bloodfin. "We were able to use the chip to access Admiral Pallaeon's personal datapad. We gained information concerning upcoming possible attacks. I . . also met with my former apprentice Vestara Khai and she said that they had intercepted a Mandalorian transmission."

    Tionne leaned forward, clearly intrigued. "Do you trust her?" she asked carefully.

    Anakin stared her down, "I trust her with my life Master Solusar."

    "Did she say anything about Ben?" Mara asked urgently.

    Anakin pondered this before answering. It was well known that Mara was very concerned about anything to do with her son. No one could question the love she had for Ben. "Apparently Ben left the fleet about a week ago leaving Valin in command. I spoke to Vestara about it and she said that no one knows where he is."

    Mara looked down in dismay while Luke cleared his throat, "Anakin thank you for doing this for us and you too Tahiri, but now we have more urgent matters to discuss."

    From her seat Leia drew her son's attention as she spoke, "We have received a coded message from your apprentice. She said that they had successfully decoded the message they intercepted. In a war conference Valin has devised a plan that would leave the targeted planet of Hapes defenseless while they gather their forces for an assault on Dxun in accordance with plans that Ben had ordered to be carried out. After they take out Dxun, Admiral Pallaeon and a small fleet would attempt to push the Mandalorians out of the Hapes Cluster."

    Jacen had heard enough about his wife's homeworld. He would do everything in his power to prevent this. "By the time they took Dxun it would be too late. We have to stop this."

    "I believe it is time that we take this to the Senate. They all must know what they are planning," Corran said with a grunt. He held hard feelings toward many of the Revanchists and blamed Ben for his son's involvement. All the councilors began to speak their mind after Corran's remark.

    Luke listened to all the murmuring with only half his conscience. He was completely wrapped up in his thoughts. Not only was Ben missing but he ordered an impossible attack on Dxun, the jungle moon of Onderon. Now Valin was carrying out those plans at the expense of the Hapan people. What were they doing?


    . . . . .


    He was bleeding, that he was sure of, but he kept moving anyway. He felt anger welling up within him every time he saw one of these wielders of the Dark Side. One thing he had learned was that these people came from a great variety of species including humans and the red skinned creatures as the most common. If the clues he had found in the torture chamber were any indication, there could be no doubt that they were Sith. Aria had said that she led many people down here over the last few years. A question started to form in his mind that he did not want to think on. What if they needed the life forces of those people to sustain themselves? If that theory had any relevance, they could be several centuries, or even millennia old.

    While these thoughts were circling through his head, he relieved a lightsaber from a Sith he had blasted with the Force. The saber was smaller than most with a handle that was almost completely black. Ben ignited it and watched a blood red beam light up the dark monastery. He could feel all the Sith camouflaging themselves from him with the Force. While Ben had always been exceptional at dampening his presence within the Force, he had never truly learned how to hide himself to the degree that Jacen could.

    Soon he would be overrun with no way out. If the great Republic general wasn't going to make it out, then neither would the enemy leader. He could briefly feel hordes of Sith heading for the exits so he came to a controversial decision. Their leader was most likely to be at the heart of this dark place relatively unprotected. Of course it was a trap, he knew that, but Ben couldn't shake the feeling that this was where he needed to go. He turned down a hallway leading him farther from freedom and closer to death.


    . . . . .


    Jacen Solo didn't want to believe it. He couldn't. Like many other masters, Jacen had been completely caught off guard after Anakin's report. He couldn't believe that Ben would authorize the abandonment of a planet just to gain a foothold on Dxun, a battle that would take months to win if it were possible for victory to even be achieved. He and the other councilors were already in a special session of the Senate presenting their allegations before the leaders of the Republic. Normally it would be his mother presenting their case due to her political background, but since Ben had been his apprentice, Jacen was given the duty of paving the way for Uncle Luke.

    He had been at the forefront of their podium for some time giving his introduction and listening to all the groans of the senators as he relayed the information. "We have confirmed that this information is accurate. The Republic Navy will leave Hapes defenseless while they begin a suicidal assault on the Mandalorian stronghold on Onderon's jungle moon, Dxun. We cannot allow this to happen!" Jacen said with all the passion he had in him. He couldn't let Tenel Ka's homeworld burn like all the others the Mandalorians had conquered. Many senators began voice their agreement with him as the rotunda erupted into a frenzy between the supporters of the military and the government.

    From the center of the arena, the Chief of State began to call for order. When all were silent again Jacen introduced Luke, "Honorable representatives of the Republic, I introduce to you the Grand Master of the Jedi Order, Luke Skywalker, to speak on our behalf." Jacen turned and sat down while his uncle attempted to calm the crowd. Despite drawing the ire of many, Luke still carried a great amount of respect for his deeds that occurred throughout his life.

    Luke raised his hands hoping they would quiet down enough for him to speak. When he had their undivided attention he began, "We have reached a crisis that has come from a war that was forced upon us. If we resort to using tactics where innocent people and entire planets themselves become pawns in an ever changing game then we will become far worse than the Mandalorians ever were. The planet Hapes as well as the entire Hapes Cluster are at risk of annihilation. We cannot sit back and watch while our soldiers leave them unprotected and go off to fight a battle that will be far more costly than defending Hapes would be. My son, General Ben Skywalker, has authorized these plans."

    Shouts of outrage and disbelief were ringing through the still air of the Senate Rotunda. Luke sympathized with them but wouldn't voice his opinions. How could his son do such an evil thing. Luke still held on to hope that it wasn't true or at least it wasn't Ben's idea but the more he thought about it, the more he believed that he had hoped in vain. He raised his voice to be heard over the uproar, "I request that General Skywalker be recalled and if these allegations are proven true I ask that for the good of the Republic he be relieved of his command and placed in the Jedi Order's protective custody."

    Again a commotion took hold of the Senate. Even the Chief of State looked completely shocked at Luke's request. Cal Omas had been in office for well over ten years. Before the war he was considering stepping down as Chief of State but the Mandalorians changed that. He was a great negotiator though he, like every man, had his faults. He had given much support to Ben Skywalker even though he found himself at odds with many Jedi throughout the years though they always kept peaceful relations. Corran Horn was one of the few Jedi that he would call a friend. If Master Skywalker didn't have solid evidence, Cal had been tempted to throw their concerns away. But this was different. "Order. Order!" he shouted. A few moments later all was quiet once more, "We must abide by the law. Once General Skywalker has returned to the fleet he will be summoned before us in a special session of the Senate. There the Jedi will bring their evidence before us and we will decide if he is to be relieved. This assembly is adjourned." Cal Omas looked at the Jedi in their respective position. He quickly tore his gaze away and sat down when he saw Mara Jade Skywalker glaring at him. He needed time alone with his thoughts. He was a great believer in doing whatever it takes to win but not when they had the enemy on the run. This wasn't like General Skywalker to do something like this at the present time. The Chief of State didn't know what but he intended to find out what was happening on the front.


    . . . . .


    Ben had been walking for what seemed like hours with the weight of the Dark Side making him feel like he was being slowly pulled downward. He was so close now. Ben felt the Dark Side creeping into his very soul. He was in an antechamber with a single door on the other side. He came to the door and it slid open on its own accord. He was expected. Ben went through and the door locked itself behind him trapping him with whatever was inside. A long, narrow walkway stretched to a central platform structure. There were other similar walkways that led to it so he went forward till he reached the center.

    A man rose from his seated position at the center of the central structure. Ben recognized him as a member of the crimson skinned species. Without thought or provocation, Ben ignited his red blade ready for any kind of battle. The creature smirked, showing off his pointed teeth. "Welcome to the Trayus Core, Jedi."

    The Sith made no move to attack but Ben was not about to lower his defenses. He glared at the creature and spoke in a murderous tone, "I know that I won't survive this but I will make sure you don't either."

    "There is no reason why we cannot be civil Jedi. I am Darth Nyril leader of the Trayus Academy. We are Sith as you know. However, like many others, I am a Sith Pureblood. How did you find us?" Nyril asked.

    Ben was surprised by this and countered the question with his own, "I could ask you the same question."

    Either the Sith wanted to tell him or he had fooled him but Ben wasn't going to believe that. Nyril looked perplexed just for a moment before returning to his mask of calm. "We have been here for millennia guarding this sanctuary. To answer your unspoken question, yes, we did bring people from above to sustain ourselves. You are the first Jedi I have seen since the war. I can feel your anger, your hatred, it makes you strong. Join us and we could rule the galaxy when the Sith are united once more."

    Uncharacteristic of any Jedi, Ben let his anger flow. He would kill as many of them as he could before he fell. "I will kill you first!" Ben screamed at him.

    Nyril looked down disappointed that the Jedi was lying to himself. He was doing everything a Sith would do and yet he wouldn't join them. Now he would get to do what every Sith loved, "I had hoped you would except my offer but we shall see if your screams of agony will change your mind."

    "You will be the one in agony!" Ben shouted as he charged.

    He swung for the Sith's head but it was easily intercepted Nyril's own crimson blade. They locked together looking into each others eyes. "Why do you ignore the power within you. If you unleashed it you could be stronger than any Jedi. You could rule worlds and yet you submit to masters that do nothing but talk and commit genocide whenever a threat opposes them. Let your anger and rage fuel you!"

    In response Ben kicked out with his leg only to be met by Nyril's own kick. Ben was flew across the Core and hit a pillar dazing him. Quickly he got up and attacked Nyril with reckless abandon but the Sith Lord blocked every attack. Ben had been letting his emotions run rampant but still tried to deny the darkness entrance to his soul and it was weakening him. He knew it and Nyril knew as well by the way his eyes lit up. With one mighty swing Nyril knocked Ben back and unleashed a controlled amount of lightning at him from his fingertips. Ben intercepted it with his saber and felt the lighting roll through his arms and then his entire body. It took all his strength not to drop the lightsaber.

    Just as quickly as it came the lightning receded and Nyril came at him and knocked the weapon out of a weakened Ben's hands. Then the Sith Lord unleashed his power on the young man before him. Ben was lifted into the air as he was engulfed in lightning making him cry out in severe pain. Nyril tossed him here and there making the Jedi's body collide with anything that available. After Nyril had had his fun he let the Jedi fall to the floor barely conscious. Never had Ben ever felt such pain. But it was far from over.

    Ben was on the ground screaming while Nyril stalked around him, preaching taunts that Ben could barely hear. He felt like he had been fried and now his head was throbbing. Ben began to crawl ever so slowly toward his fallen weapon when another burst of lightning hit him. His cries echoed throughout the Trayus Core. He could just imagine the satisfied smirks on all the Sith. The Jedi had fallen right into their trap and now he was suffering for it. The air caught in his throat as he tried to breathe. Ben was desperate for any sort of respite from the torture he had received so he laid there, his body in agonizing pain.

    "Did you truly think that the Sith were destroyed," Nyril said while raising his hand and shooting more lightning at the defenseless Jedi.

    Ben's mind was piqued with interest when the Sith Lord revealed that. Could there be more Sith throughout the galaxy?

    Nyril continued to circle Ben and torment him, "There is much knowledge here and once our Emperor returns we will be unstoppable! You could be a part of this empire. You could be the greatest of all the Sith, only loyal to the Emperor himself."

    Ben could feel absolute sincerity from Nyril. Anger swirled within Ben's heart. Anger, hatred, aggression. They were all seeds of the Dark Side but did it really matter?. All these emotions fueled his rage. But what set him over the edge was his fear, fear for the future of the Republic, fear that all he had done would be for naught. At that moment Ben made his decision. He no longer fought the darkness but instead let it flood through him, giving him the strength he needed.

    Nyril felt the Dark Side surge within the Jedi and grinned triumphantly at the man on the ground before him. He had won and now the Sith had gained an invaluable weapon against their enemies. However his grin disappeared when he caught sight of the Jedi's eyes slowly tinting to a familiar gold color. He had little time to brace himself before he was flung into the nearest pillar. He fell hard and knew that his skull had cracked. He looked toward the once powerless Jedi and stared in bewilderment. No one had ever been able to challenge him before. The Revanchist reached out and drew his lightsaber back to him with his newly found power and attacked. Now it was Nyril who was on the ropes.

    Ben leaped at Nyril with all his rage and drove the Sith Master back. Blow after blow was barely parried by Nyril but he was tiring. Ben swung for his head which knocked the Sith onto his back. Ben flipped over him hoping to catch him lying there but Nyril swiftly intercepted Ben's blade and pushed himself up with his powerful legs. But Ben was right on him. It seemed like the Jedi was feeding on Nyril's own fear that was slowly beginning to build. Ben kicked out and landed a blow to Nyril's right knee and parried the counterattack to his head that he knew would come. With that parry Nyril left his arms fully extended and Ben swiped in a severed his wrists.

    The Sith Lord howled in pain as he looked down at the stubs that were his wrists. He had been defeated by the Jedi and now was at his mercy but from the look in Ben's eyes there would be none for him. Ben drew the Dark Side around him and reached out and lifted Darth Nyril into the air choking him. Suddenly lightning burst forth from his fingertips and surrounded the Sith. Screams tore from Nyril from the intensity of the lightning. The air was filled with the sounds of screams and crackling lightning while the stench of burnt flesh drifted in the suddenly cold air around them.

    Ben didn't let up his assault. Nyril's screams were music to his ears and now he would kill him. "You have paid the price for what you have done and now I will end your pathetic life!" he shouted and poured more dark power into his lightning attack. Nyril let one last cry go unheard before his body disintegrated. Ben just stared at the place where his enemy had been. How did he do it? Such power would be useful in the days to come. If that was what the Dark Side could do for him then the war would soon be over.

    Now he knew that the Sith were still out there and he intended to find them. The Sith here on Malachor were very powerful but if they were only stationed here then the others must be even stronger. Ben looked around for anything of use. It was only a matter of time before the entire Trayus Academy came to face their master's killer. There were a few ancient looking footlockers where he had first seen Darth Nyril. He bent down and opened one to find his personal items that he had arrived with. He quickly slipped on his armored robes, pulling up his hood and relished the feel of his lightsaber in his hands again. He clipped it to his belt but when he came to the mask he hesitated. Why waste the little time I have left to breathe fresh air he thought. He kept holding the mask while he investigated another footlocker. Ben opened it to reveal many datapads and Sith holocrons.

    After careful examination, one datapad held the coordinates for the lost Sith world, Korriban. According to his parents, the Jedi Council had Korriban's coordinates destroyed to prevent anyone from finding it again. However, Ben knew that the Council had kept them secret only revealing them to Council members and highly favored masters. This would lead him closer to the Sith. Thoughts suddenly struck him. He couldn't tell the Jedi Order or they would think he had been corrupted. The Jedi were wrong though. He remembered Callista's teachings, her theories of the Force. She had said that it would be his choice whether to follow the light or the dark and which to use on either path. The dark would help him accomplish his cause for the light. He placed as many of the holocrons and datapads on his belt and anything else he carry them in.

    Ben could feel the Sith fast approaching so he sat down and began to meditate, waiting for them to come to him. His father had told him that if you fully open yourself to the Force you could learn much just by immersing yourself into it. Being a military commander, he had hardly had the time to meditate. There was much power here that could be tapped if one tried. Drawing the Force to him breathed in and out until he lost all conscious thought and was catapulted into a vision.

    He saw the Jedi Council speaking before the Senate. Jacen was standing there telling them that the military was planning to leave Hapes open to attack. Then his father came forth and requested that Ben be recalled to Coruscant to face charges. And if he was proven guilty of these accusations, Luke asked that he be removed from his position and given into the Jedi's custody. Cal Omas then had no choice but to accept the terms leaving Ben with few options.

    Apparently they were attempting to relieve him of his command. All of them were against him, even Jacen and now he would have to work around that. However, he knew more than they did and now he had the advantage. He would have to work quickly once he returned and speak to the one responsible for all of this. The Council may think they have a foothold but Ben knew that it wouldn't last. Once he arrived at the Galactic Capitol he would see just how corrupt the Republic was. He knew that the majority of senators would support him, either out of genuine trust in him or out of their political greed.

    Nevertheless, he knew now that he would make it back to Coruscant unlike when he believed he would perish. Ben let himself drift within the confines of the Force for a little longer, hoping to receive more input on his situation. But instead he heard a quiet whisper reaching out to him, calling him. It was subtle but filled with power. Ben instantly withdrew not wanting to be influenced by the call. A silent dread filled as he recalled a time long ago that he had felt a similar presence reaching out for him. There were others who had felt it as well then but he had been a specific target. It was unnerving to have that kind of knowledge but first things first.

    Jedi! Now it is your turn to die," came a voice of a Sith, interrupting Ben's thoughts.

    Ben opened his eyes to reveal they had reverted back to their bluish green color. He carefully put on his mask then turned to look at his enemies. He was completely surrounded on all sides by the Sith but now Ben had a true weapon. The holocrons that he had looked at held secrets to techniques long thought extinct and now Ben was going to put them to use. "I was a Jedi . . . but no longer," Ben said as he ignited his lightsaber.


    . . . . .


    It had been standard week since the Revanchist had entered the Malachor Depths. Aria was getting more nervous by the day. She was unsure what her masters would do to the man but it wasn't likely that he would return. Yet she held onto a slight hope that he would make it out alive. No one in the village knew what she truly did with her spare time. It would be easy to suspect that her grandfather had the same job she did now bringing the people below anyone that was willing to journey through the depths. It wasn't likely that any survived.

    Earlier in the day she had waited near the entrance cave as she had been over the coarse of the week but the Revanchist never came so she had gone back to the village. Things were usually easy going but since the Revanchist appeared he had been the sole subject of many conversations. Everyday people were asking around to see if he had returned but all got the same reply. No. Aria was a very appealing young woman to men but the Revanchist was far harder to read. Still there was something she felt in him that mirrored herself that stirred up emotions within her.

    She was currently dining with her family in the cantina that she had originally seen the offworlder. An odd feeling spread over her telling her to leave. Her father was watching her with a strange look in his eye. "You're worried." he said. It was not a question, Aria knew that.

    "I think I will go to the cave see if there is any sign of him. If that is alright Father?" she asked sweetly putting on one of her best smiles.

    Arnon was a cautious man but he didn't see any harm in the request, "Alright just be careful.

    With a nod she left the cantina and headed home and changed into the jumpsuit that the people with magic powers had given her. Then she raced off to the cave. When Aria got there nothing seemed to have happened but she couldn't shake the feeling that she was meant to be here and a moment later she saw why. Out of the shadows, the Revanchist emerged carrying with him many items that she had seen while she was in a giant monastery below the surface. When she came within a few feet of him, Aria saw the same man she had met but there was something different about him that she couldn't place. "You're alive!" she exclaimed.

    "Yes. Aria they were your masters weren't they?" he asked.

    At her nod Ben continued, "Aria close your eyes."

    She obeyed him and felt a strong sensation spreading throughout her mind. She felt an extreme amount a pleasure obeying him. She couldn't understand why but it felt right. From within her mind she heard him say, "Think of your masters. You will find that you are no longer loyal to them." He was right she no longer felt any loyalty to them but to another and her world began to go blank. "Aria, open your eyes." the man commanded and she obeyed. "Who is your master?" he asked.

    When Aria opened her eyes they held a blank look in them but yet held a sense of purpose. "You are my Master," she said as she kneeled before him.

    Ben did not like the idea of binding her to his will but he knew as he always had that sacrifices must be made for the greater good to be achieved. "Take me to the village."

    "Yes Master" was her only response.

    When they got to the village a large crowd of just about every citizen gathered around them. They all wore shocked expressions as Aria told them that the Revanchist had returned. But then Arnon Mae showed up and took one look at his daughter and knew that something was wrong. "What have you done to my daughter!" he shouted menacingly.

    Ben was not fazed in the least but knew what he had to do. "The same thing I will do to all of you," he said and entered the assembly's unprotected minds and bound them to his will. He didn't bother to do it subtly and without pain as he did to Aria. Shouts of pain ripped across the village until all was quiet. "You are now bound to me You will be my servants and carry out my will."

    All of them bowed to their new master. They still had a sense of self but they were bound to do his will. Otherwise they still had their own will. Ben turned to Aria, "Since you are the first. You will command them. Lead them to the Trayus Academy and once there begin training the others. Teach them everything you know and what you receive from me. Wait there until I return. Now go."

    "Yes Master," she said and began to carry out her master's orders. Ben watched them go wondering what the future would bring. He knew that the Trayus Academy was important, how so he didn't know. But there would be a time when it would be useful. After his servants left, he began the journey back to his ship to rejoin the fleet.


    . . . . .


    "I am worried that this may not be the right coarse of action," Cal Omas spoke in a somber tone. "How can you accuse him of doing something like this. With all honesty this does not sound like a tactic he would use at this time."

    "We are also thinking the same thing." Master Skywalker said. He, Mara, Corran, and Leia were invited to have a private meeting with the Chief of State a day after the Senate had convened. They had been talking for some time and for the moment Cal Omas seemed to be on the Jedi Order's side. "But what do you mean by 'at this time'?" Luke asked puzzled.

    Cal looked at the four Jedi seated on the opposite side of his desk with mixture of pride and fear. "When General Skywalker first joined the war, times were desperate. WE were just trying to hold on." He sighed and spoke again in a low voice, "I don't mean to bring this up but without his arrival the Republic would have fallen nearly four years ago."

    It was clear what he was saying. Without Ben disobeying the Council's orders, the Republic would be no more. "But anyway he had many different plans for every scenario you could imagine. If he was unable to push them back then he would resort to letting them take a planet in order to make a tactical strike at the enemy. I would have approved of this then if it meant keeping the Republic alive but now there is no reason for such drastic measures," the leader of the Republic continued.

    Leia being a former politician interjected into the conversation, "Is there any angle that my nephew might be aiming at?"

    Cal shook his head, "None that I am aware of but-" he was cut off mid sentence by a message on his datapad.

    "What is it?" Corran Horn asked his friend.

    The Chief of State looked up at the Jedi Masters uncomfortably, "General Skywalker has just landed on the Bloodfin and will be given the recall order."
    When Ben had landed he made sure to erase the navicomputer so no one would know where he had gone. Immediately, he was met by every high ranking officer in the Republic military that was aboard the ship. Many Jedi were also there including Valin and Vestara. Ben was carrying a few of the holocrons and datapads that he found on Malachor, having hidden them in his robes. From one of the holocrons he had learned how to not only hide himself and material objects but how to manipulate them to emit the opposite alignment of its aura.

    He approached the officers and his close friends. "General Skywalker. Welcome back," Pallaeon said with relief.

    From looking at their faces Ben knew that his vision had come to pass. Valin wore an angry mask on his face while the officers that were loyal to him looked relieved that he was now back to give them direction. Though Ben knew what was about to be said he feigned ignorance. "Ben, we have a situation," Valin told him outright.

    Ben tilted his head in question, "And?"

    Pallaeon was the one who spoke. "You have been recalled to Coruscant by the Senate for questioning," the admiral informed him.

    Ben felt truly disdainful for the Jedi Council now. He didn't have to fake it. He never had to and now he was on his way back to deliver the final blow that would sideline them for the rest of the war. "Well then, I must review what has happened in my absence and have a word with my colleagues then I will give the order for departure. Inform the officers that they must return to their respective vessels immediately." After they left, Ben walked towards his quarters with his most trusted friends, Valin and Vestara, to get a complete grip on what had happened.

    Hours later, Valin had informed Ben of everything that had occurred. The Jedi Council had found evidence of their plans and they were now recalling Ben in an attempt to convict him and remove him from his command. Most of it Ben already knew but he appreciated Valin's insight. However Ben had two secret weapons. One was Callista and the other was onboard the ship at that very moment. The young general had learned much at Malachor including a passion that he could no longer deny. Valin had just finished with the news and Ben wanted a moment of privacy.

    "Thank you, Valin. Your info has been most helpful but now I would like a private word with Vestara if you don't mind," he said casually.

    Valin simply nodded and left the quarters saying he would go to the bridge. After he had gone Vestara wrapped her arms around Ben in a loving embrace. He had forgotten how it felt to hold someone so close to him and now he was enjoying every moment of it. Vestara looked up at him and smiled, "I was so worried about you. Things happened so fast and I didn't know what to do without you."

    Ben gently pushed her away and reached up and pulled off his mask revealing a handsome face with blue eyes that tended to mix with green. He had grown his hair long since the last time Vestara had seen his face. "Ves," Ben murmured her name and reached out a hand to touch her cheek. It was soft as he knew it would be but it still sent a thrill through his body.

    "You took off your mask," she said in a soft whisper. It was all she could say. Never had she known Ben Skywalker to break a promise.

    Ben smiled genuinely at her. He didn't want this moment to pass. "It's just the two of us here. I think we can keep this our little secret. I love you, Ves. I have for some time now . . . I just refused to see it."

    Vestara leaned into him looking into his eyes that were only a few inches apart. "I love you too," she said and both of them gave in and shared a passionate kiss.

    Ben had never felt so alive in his life and now he had found love. He deepened the kiss and Vestara obliged him by following his lead. He could not believe that he had kept himself from this for so long. She had been his friend since childhood. He had known that she had felt this way about him for a long time but he had closed himself off and devoted himself fully to the war effort. Now he regretted doing that but he felt fortunate that she still loved him. When they finally came apart, Ben slowly lead her into his room.


    . . . . .


    Brisha Syo was nervous. She had never been called to Ben Skywalker's personal quarters before. She had fallowed orders just like any other soldier but why had he made her a general? She would probably never know. From what Brisha overheard from the common soldiers she had gained the trust of Skywalker. That was true, she had tried to get on his good side but why would he take notice of her now? She had taken part in the planning to invade Dxun but didn't seem like a good enough reason.

    Brisha kept walking until she reached his quarters and accessed the door which slid open. Hesitantly, she walked through and shielded her mind. She would never allow anyone free access to her mind and she had plenty of reasons for it. The door to his room was already open. He was expecting her. She strode through with confidence and entered the private room of the most important man in the galaxy. She stopped a respectable five feet away from him and waited to be addressed. The general was standing near a large window, one of the many upgrades that were made once Ben took command, gazing out at the stars. It was said that he had wanted to have a view of a battle from within his quarters. If it was true or not no one could tell.

    Ben could feel her presence long before she came in but once she had she let her wait in suspense. Slowly, his augmented voice spoke, "I must congratulate you on your success. If anyone could have planted Admiral Pallaeon's data chip on Anakin Solo it would be you."

    Brisha tensed immediately. How could he have known that? She had taken every precaution and yet Skywalker knew. He reminded her far too much of his father. "I don't know what you are talking about, Sir. Why would I do that?" she asked with feigned innocence.

    Ben's response was short and simple but filled with conviction, "Because I know who you are, Lumiya."

    Before she had just been playing along but now she was truly tensed up in nearly every way. Lumiya. She was Lumiya but how could he have known that. It was impossible. The only people that could truly identify her were on the Jedi Council and they were hiding in their temple on Coruscant. Lumiya's slowly began to drift to a secret pouch on her belt that hid a lightsaber. Her lightwhip was hidden safely elsewhere.

    "There is no need for that," Ben said as he turned around. He saw Lumiya's gaze instantly scan the object he held in his right hand. She dropped her hand casually to the side once more. "Do you know what this is?"

    Lumiya tried hard not to smile, "It is a Sith holocron."

    "Yes. It has been quite handy as of late. It has been necessary to hide to myself and it has helped tremendously," Ben said with sincerity.

    "If you knew who I was why did you allow me to do this?" Lumiya asked with curiosity. It was unnerving that the Republic's brightest star would allow her to tie up the Senate.

    Ben looked through his mask with a smirk on his face. "If you could cease all information relays with the government then I would allow it so they wouldn't interfere with my plans. Since you did that without disobeying orders I was fine with it and now that I have been recalled I will soon gain everything I want. And I have you to thank for it."

    This was a definite turn of events that Lumiya had not thought of. Ben Skywalker a Sith? How long had he been one? There were many questions circling through her mind but they would have to wait. "So what is the plan now, General?" she asked honestly. Surprisingly, she felt that she could trust him.

    Ben set the holocron down on a nearby desk and crossed his arms. Since his return he had begun to believe that the Republic was broken and corrupt. There were definite signs and he was certain that when he appeared before the Senate that his beliefs would be justified. He had a plan forming in his mind but he had to take care of the current war first. "You have been an invaluable asset to me and I am not going to simply throw it away. You are under my protection and now I have a job for you."

    Ben grabbed a small datapad from the clutter of them on his desk and handed it to Lumiya. "Why not something like the Death Star?" Lumiya asked baffled. Palpatine had wanted a massive space station that could destroy anything that stood in its way. What Ben was proposing was surprising.

    "Not what you expected. It is understandable. I don't want a Death Star because it will take too long to build especially in secret and there are too many vulnerabilities. No, I want something a little more subtle that will only be used once." At Lumiya's dumbfounded expression, Ben continued, "Answers will come in time but for now get our finest engineer on the job but with the utmost secrecy. A ship is awaiting you in the hangar."

    Lumiya turned to go but turned back and asked, "What should I call you?"

    Ben's raised himself to his full height and said with a low voice, "There will be a time that I will reveal myself but that moment has not yet come. Now go."

    Lumiya saluted her commanding officer. "Yes sir," she said and left the room having found a true purpose once again.

    Ben watched her go with a smug expression behind his mask. Fool! He was no Sith and he never would be. According to the Jedi Council he would be known as a Dark Jedi now but Ben did not believe himself to be such. On the contrary, he was going to save the Republic from two threats. Lumiya was his tool just as she was for Palpatine and his grandfather, Anakin Skywalker. She would be useful as long as she stayed out of his way. Soon the war would be over after the siege of Dxun. Once the jungle moon fell the Mandalorians would be on the run and Ben knew that they would jump on a target that they deemed to good to pass up on and Ben had the perfect place to ambush them. He brought his attention back to the present and picked up one of the holocrons that he had become enamored with. It told of a dark place with infinite power that the Ancient Sith coveted.
  21. KnightRevan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Chapter 8: Shadows of Deception

    Coruscant was as busy as the last time he had seen it. It had already been four years and yet it seemed like he left the capitol just yesterday. Everyone onboard the Bloodfin was nervous. Some even drifted into anger for being taken from the fight. Ben could feel all this and he was immensely pleased. Everything was going as planned. Ben had boarded a private shuttle with Valin, Vestara and even Admiral Pallaeon was with them to support the Republic's greatest general. There were a few other officers with them but Ben knew that if he played his cards right he wouldn't need any of them.

    The shuttle carried them through the never ending traffic of Coruscant until they reached large dome that housed the Senate. Even in midst of war, Coruscant was as busiest spaceport in the galaxy. Upon landing they were met by senators from many worlds throughout the Republic wearing their elaborate clothing that rarely had any cultural significance. Slowly approaching from the back of the senatorial gathering was Cal Omas. Once he came through, Ben caught sight of the Jedi Council as well as many knights standing to the right. His parents wore concerned looks on their faces as did the rest of his family but the other councilors, with the exception of Corran Horn, displayed no emotion at all.

    Chief of State Omas walked up to Ben and shook his hand, "It is an honor to have you here, General Skywalker. And your colleagues, Generals Horn and Khai, and you Admiral. I assure you all that this will be resolved as soon as possible. " Cal gestured with his arm and the assembly began to move inside the rotunda. As they passed Ben didn't give the Jedi any satisfaction by glancing over but he did notice Vestara lock eyes with Anakin. He had known that they still had a strong connection but he hoped that it wouldn't become a hindrance. After walking past the Council, Cal leaned close to Ben and whispered, "I hope you have a plan."


    "This special session of the Senate is now in commission. I call upon the Jedi Council to reveal the evidence that they have accumulated," Cal Omas said from his central podium. He glanced around at the senators. Many were irate about their hero being put on a mock trial but according to law it had to be done.

    Luke Skywalker stepped up to the front of the Jedi pod and addressed the assembly. "We have uncovered evidence that Ben Skywalker has jeopardized the welfare of the planet Hapes. Even now the fleet is stockpiling supplies for an assault on Dxun. This datapad as well as many other items have been collected which prove what we say is true," Luke said while wiring the contents of the datapad through to the other pods in the rotunda. There were gasps of unbelief and shouts of outrage. It was clear that Ben had won over many senators during the war. "The Jedi Council has made rectifying this situation our top priority. We will help in whatever way we can."

    After reading the information the Jedi had received, Admiral Pallaeon stood up with an angry scowl on his aging face. Every Jedi within the vicinity could feel the anger and disgust dripping off of the former Imperial. "This is outrageous! Everything Ben Skywalker has done has been for the good of the Republic. It is a well known fact that the Jedi are afraid to fight the Mandalorians. And since General Skywalker defied the Council's orders they wish to remove him from the war and imprison him in that vaunted Temple of theirs!" Pallaeon shouted at the Chief of State though his outburst was directed at the Jedi Council. He would have gone on but Ben had come up beside him and gently laid a hand on his shoulder as Cal Omas said he had heard enough from the admiral.

    Ben gestured to a seat and Pallaeon walked toward it with a relieved stride. Ben stood there and waited while senators began to argue over what the esteemed Admiral Pallaeon had said. Once the crowd had ceased its argument, Ben began to speak, "People of the Republic, I cannot deny these allegations for they are one hundred percent true. However, I also have good intentions for this move. If we can take out the Mandalorian base on Dxun then they will be on the run. There will be no place left for them to go and we can pursue them until we have achieved their unconditional surrender!"

    He paused and heard cheers coming from many senators. So this is how corrupt the Republic has become. Ben had known for some time that politicians rarely cared about anyone but themselves. He could see as clear as day that a large portion of the assembly surrounding him was supporting him for their own personal gain. Not many cared about the people of their homeworlds. Not many cared about the Republic. All they wanted was wealth and power. That could not be allowed to continue. Things would change very quickly after the war. Ben was certain of that.

    The cheers faded and Ben resumed his weaving his web, "However . . . there is a solution that will solve all of our problems and for that I call on the Jedi Council." Silence spread throughout the stunned crowd of politicians. No one had ever anticipated that Ben Skywalker would ask the Jedi Council for aide. It was shocking, especially with all the rumors that flew around the Senate about his departure from the Jedi. Some said that the Council threw him out of the Order and others say that Ben had to escape from the Temple. Valin turned to regard him with a look of utter disbelief as they awaited the Council's response.

    Luke had been completely caught by surprise when his son dropped the bomb on him. Never had he expected Ben to ask the Council for anything. Since he left, it seemed that he had grown contemptuous toward them. He had no idea what Ben was up to. He didn't want to play his game but he had to consider what Ben's compromise was. "What is your calling?" Luke asked earnestly.

    When those words rang through his ears, Ben smirked beneath his mask. Victory! Now he had the Jedi Council right where he wanted them. It was remarkable to him how easy it was. Ben had thought he would have to use cunning and deception to get what he wanted but now he no longer had to. "I have already set up my forces for the Dxun campaign but the Hapes Cluster can still be saved. Admiral Darklighter has a small fleet in reserve that he wants to send to Hapes with himself in command but I will not allow them to die meaningless deaths. They are outnumbered and hopelessly outgunned. If they are to survive they need support. Since you have so kindly offered to rectify this situation, I ask that you send all available Jedi to defend the Hapes Cluster. I have my own challenge and I cannot spare any of my forces. The fate of Hapes, and possibly this Galactic Republic, rests in your hands."

    And that was the end. Ben knew that he had his father bound in more ways than one. He had offered to help in whatever way necessary and now Ben had nearly the entire Senate backing him. The Jedi Council would have little to no choice. Despite all the battles he had won, Ben had never tasted such a sweet victory before. Putting the Council in its place delighted him in ways that very few things ever could. He glanced toward the Jedi pod and saw them in deep discussion, no doubt trying to find a way out of the situation. But they would soon realize that if they backed out the Order would have minimal governmental support. Ben's hidden smirk grew wider as the anticipation mounted.

    Luke looked from Mara to the rest of the gathered Jedi hopelessly. He had never thought that Ben would go this far to get Jedi involvement, but he did. "We have no choice," Luke said and watched the others nod rather slowly. The Grand Master turned his attention back to the waiting multitude and declared, "The Jedi Order will send all the support that Admiral Darklighter needs." Luke knew something was wrong. Ben would never have exhibited this kind of behavior and yet his son had played him. Somehow Ben had held all the cards. The question was, how?

    "The Jedi Order will assist Admiral Darklighter in the defense of Hapes," Cal Omas exclaimed both pleased yet fearful. Something must have truly gotten the Council's attention if they were going to fight. He was quite certain that the Hapes Cluster was the only battle they were willing to take part in but even he knew something was up. "General Skywalker, I hereby dismiss all charges against you and your subordinates. You are free to leave Coruscant at any time. This session has come to its conclusion."

    Once Cal Omas dismissed the assembly the Jedi led by Luke took off in the direction of Ben's transport. Luke had to talk to his son. He had to know why he was doing this. He nearly ran into several senators but he took no time to apologize. Things were moving too quickly in the wrong direction and Luke felt that Ben knew more than he had let on. His hopes were dashed, however, as he saw General Skywalker's shuttle ascending the Coruscant skies back to the Bloodfin.


    The Jedi Council had convened shortly afterward in the Council Spire. Corran Horn openly showed his disgust and betrayal. His feelings had gone from bad to worse. Ben Skywalker had taken his son to war against his wishes and now he had blackmailed the Council into aiding the war effort in the Hapes Cluster. Things were moving far to fast to even have the chance to contemplate anything anymore.

    The Skywalkers felt little better at their son's sudden animosity towards them. Ben had grown up a very talented boy. He had always been a kind, caring and innocent child. Then came the war. Since then, he had begun to display characteristics that he had never before had. Luke had hoped to stop him but in turn got played like a fool. The dark shroud clouding the Force was growing constantly. Fear had begun to creep into the hearts of the Council members and many other masters. Ben had to know more about it but any attempt at contact had yielded nothing.

    Corran turned his attention toward the shimmering holograms of Admiral Gavin Darklighter and his father in law, Booster Terrik, captain of the Errant Venture. "Is everything ready?" he asked sadly.

    Booster nodded and stood silent for a moment then took a breath and said, "The Errant Venture is ready for departure. Whenever you Jedi feel like your ready. Then we'll join you, Admiral."

    Gavin looked relieved but held concern in his eyes. He was a friend of the Jedi Order and had respected their decision to stay out of the war though he didn't approve of it. "Good. We need to rendezvous as soon as possible. We only have so much time." He quickly looked away at something they couldn't see then brought his attention back to his audience, "I regret I must attend to matters. Excuse me."

    Luke nodded at the hologram and said, "We will meet you there." With that the flickering blue image of Admiral Darklighter vanished leaving only Booster.

    "You know where to find me," Booster said quickly and his hologram form immediately disappeared. All the masters present had mixed feelings on the mission that awaited them. It was still unclear who would be leading the assault but Luke had a good idea.

    Luke looked around at the faces of all the people he had come to know and trust over the years. Then his gaze settled on Jaina. He smiled weakly at her and said, "Are up for leading the charge, Master Solo-Fel?"

    Jaina allowed a small smile to reach her lips. She was a fighter and always would be. Finally the Sword of the Jedi was entering battle again. "I'm ready, Master Skywalker."

    Kyp Durron sighed before speaking. "Then there is the other matter to attend to."

    After his last words came out of his mouth, the Jedi Council was graced with the presence of Callista Ming. She wore a mask of patience but everyone in the room knew that she was not pleased. But neither were many of the masters. Corran was barely holding his anger in while Mara was glaring daggers at her but Callista wasn't fazed in the least. "I think I know what this is about," the Jedi Master said irritated.

    Leia cast a careful look in Luke's direction and she was relieved to see that her brother understood. This would have to be done with great care and she knew just how much Callista Ming meant to him. Luke nodded and turned his gaze to the woman who once held his heart all those years ago. The love he felt for her was still very much there but Mara was the love of his life now. Not her. "Master Ming-" the Grand Master started but was interrupted by none other than Ming herself.

    "Luke, don't you dare start preaching formalities to me!" an enraged Callista threatened.

    Luke steepled his fingers nervously. He didn't want to do this but the Council had taken a vote after finding out that the Jedi Master standing before him had aided Ben and Valin countless times giving them resources and organizing gatherings of Jedi they could speak to against the Council. Action had to be taken. Luke was just upset that it had to be this way. "Callista," he started, "due to certain discoveries and the way we are short handed in numbers, the Council has decided that you will be assisting Master Solo-Fel in the defense of Hapes. May the Force be with you."

    Outwardly, Callista Ming showed no emotion whatsoever, but inwardly she was fuming. She understood the message the Council had sent though she had no clue whether Luke saw it or not. You are no longer welcome here. That's what they were saying, just from a certain point of view. At least she knew where she stood. Looking Luke straight in the eye, she calmly announced, "I understand."

    Callista bowed formally, "May the Force be with you too, Luke." She smiled lovingly at him, showing all her affection for him, then she looked around at the other Council members and, in the same calm voice, said, "And may it leave the rest of you. For it is without the Force that you find your purpose. You haven't begun to live until you have lost everything and everyone that you care about."

    Corran and Kyle, among others, starting hurling insults at Callista but she didn't seem to care. She quickly walked out of the chamber and went on her way to pack her things. Luke was still sitting there while arguments were forming all around him but he was completely oblivious to it. He had known that Callista had been in love many years before he had met her but it was only now that he truly understood what she meant. She had lost everything. Her former life had been taken from her because she had transferred her essence into the Eye of Palpatine. Then she had been freed from it with his help but her connection to the Force had broken. Now so many years later Luke truly understood what she was going through. She had lost so many people she cared for throughout the wars and now she was losing the Jedi as well. Guilt began to spread through him like a wildfire. He had a terrible feeling that this would be the last time he saw her look at him that way.


    Ben had been congratulated for winning his case by nearly everyone he encountered. The mood aboard the Bloodfin had changed from hopeless to full battle readiness. Without him leading the troops the Republic may not have been in such high spirits. After boarding Ben took a short trip with the fleet to Corellia, the most influential planet in the Corellian Sector. Earlier in the war, Corellia was just as much an enemy as it was an ally. They had been trying to secede from far before Ben was even born. However, when the Mandalorians invaded Duro, Ben burst onto the scene while the Corellians were fighting a battle that they would never win. They had been outnumbered five to one but with Ben's forces they were able to coordinate a joint assault. Unfortunately, the Mandalorians had already razed Duro before the Republic arrived but Ben had gained an personal ally that may be valuable in the future.

    Ben was later invited to a meeting with the leaders of Corellia, one of which happened to be Thrackan Sal-Solo. Sal-Solo strove for Corellian independence. When Ben met him he had seen the potential for an alliance and with the help of Corellian native Wedge Antilles, a former Rebellion and Republic pilot and later a general who had retired to his homeworld after the Yuuzhan Vong War, formed an agreement between the Republic and Corellia. Since then Ben had been in close contact with the Corellian hierarchy. Corellia was currently serving as a dry dock for the Republic. It just so happened that Corellia was also the secret location that the Republic military had been stockpiling supplies for their eventual siege on Dxun.

    Ben quickly issued orders to start loading the supplies. He didn't want to waste any time. If the attack was to be planned right then it would have to coincide with the Jedi defense of Hapes. That way the Mandalorians would have to take time in reorganizing which Ben hoped would turn out to be a horrendous mistake. He walked through the corridors of the Bloodfin toward his personal quarters when an officer came up to meet him. "General Skywalker, there is a transmission from General Syo for you, Sir," the man said.

    Ben grinned devilishly beneath his mask. Lumiya was reporting in. "Good. Inform her to comm my personal quarters," he said through his mask's voice filter.

    "Yes, Sir!" the officer stated and promptly began to walk away while transmitting Ben's orders.

    Ben didn't have to wait long until a holographic image of Lumiya appeared on projector. She was dressed in a Republic military uniform with a general's insignia. She looked to be frustrated but seemed to be hiding it quite well. As he came into her view she started speaking, "General Skywalker, I have found a scientist of worthy skill, however, she is reluctant and rather unwilling to leave her current work."

    That complicated things. He did not doubt Lumiya's choice but it could prove difficult in persuading this scientist to do the job. He had a feeling that he knew who the scientist was already but it was just a hunch. "Where are you now?" he asked.

    "We are on Corellia just as you are," was her reply. "Our friend is currently working on creating more effective armor piercing weapons with Yuuzhan Vong biochemicals."

    That nearly confirmed Ben's suspicions. His cousin and former master, Jacen Solo, had told him about a woman he had a short relationship with that later became a focal part in defeating the Yuuzhan Vong. She became an expert on Yuuzhan Vong biotechnology. The last anyone heard of her was that she had decided to remain and study Zonama Sekot, the living planet where Ben had met his family as a toddler after the war. But once the Mandalorian Wars began, she returned and once again began to apply her genius to the Republic war effort. There was only one question Ben had to ask before his suspicions could be confirmed. "Who is she?" he asked slowly after coming out of his thoughts.

    Lumiya held a smile as she confirmed her leader's thoughts, "I can give you a hint. She has had Jedi training."


    Vestara had been in a meditative trance for what seemed like hours now. She had sought the healing current of the Force to calm and prepare her for the battle that was to come. But all she was able to gain was an air of uncertainty, as though the Force itself did not understand what was about to happen. It felt strange and distant to her. Was it a sign of what was to come? Could it be a warning that they would fail and countless soldiers would lose their lives? Confusion settled in on her and she decided to give up. She opened her eyes and saw Ben sitting cross legged on the floor across from her. A few moments passed before comprehension dawned on her. She smiled at the man she loved but it soon faded when she realized he was not in a good mood. She felt his aura etched with something akin to . . . fear. Ben never felt fear or at least he never showed it.

    "Ben, what is it?" Vestara asked gently, scooting herself to within an arm's length of him. When Ben was afraid there was often a good reason for it. Dread began to settle into the pit of her stomach. What would he say? Could her meditation have any relevance to her commander's attitude?

    She was so caught up in her reverie that she failed notice that Ben had taken off his gloves and mask until she felt his hand gently enclose her hands within it. She looked up into his blue-green eyes and smiled again. She could look into those eyes and be completely lost in them. His touch felt gentle yet stern as she had found out the other night. Vestara had known Ben for years and now she had the privilege of being able to show him her love without being ashamed of it. During their padawan years at the Temple she had constantly had to fight for his attention with the uptight rule following Jysella Horn. For years they had gotten into arguments about just about anything when Ben was around. Jysella had never been her friend but she was always there when you needed her but she wasn't someone who would take risks without conferring with a master.

    "Ves, things have come up and now the battle plan has changed slightly. The main force will invade Onderon and Dxun as scheduled. However, I and the fleet under my command will not be joining the battle at first. I don't know how long it will take me but when I do come I'll bring fresh reinforcements and supplies," Ben said and he instantly saw her shock. "I know that you would just argue with me if I had my way so I have decided to give you command on Dxun."

    Vestara was astonished. Not only was Ben not going to be there at the beginning of the assault but he had named her the commander. What could have made him issue that order? "But what about Valin? He is your right hand man after all."

    Ben shook his head. He didn't want to send her but he had no other choice and he knew that she would fight him with everything she had if he didn't give her the assignment. "Valin will be leading the assault on Onderon while you command the ground troops on Dxun until I return," Ben said sadly.

    Vestara leaned into him and let her head rest on Ben's strangely unarmored chest. He rarely went anywhere without his armor underneath his robes now but at the moment he was only wearing simple robes. "You know I will be okay, right?" she mumbled into his robes nonchalantly. She felt his body heat warming her head but felt it leave when Ben lifted her head back to eye level with him. There was concern in his eyes to a magnitude that she had never seen before.

    "I can't lose you. Please, promise me you will stay off the frontlines," Ben said rather quickly with irritation etched in his voice.

    Vestara leaned forward and kissed him softly before pulling back and walking toward the door. At the exit she stopped and turned to Ben with a smile filled with mischief forming on her lips. "Ben, you know me better than that," she said and walked out the door to ready herself for the coming battle. As she was leaving she thought she heard Ben speak. Vestara could have just imagined it but she doubted it. She had heard the words far too clearly. That's what I'm afraid of.


    Jaina looked out of the forward viewport of the Errant Venture with an anxiety to flee rather than to stay and fight. It was unusual for the Sword of the Jedi to feel this way but no matter what she tried she couldn't shake the feeling. The Errant Venture and Admiral Darklighter's flagship, the Mon Mothma, were waiting at the head of the fleet. The Mandalorians had yet to show themselves but she had no doubt that the attack was coming. She could feel the Mandalorians dark presence quickly approaching and she was beginning to wonder if they would have needed more Jedi than they had originally brought.

    She took a glance over at Booster Terrik only to see him already looking at her with a thoughtful expression. "Something wrong?" Booster asked gently.

    Jaina was surprised to hear the warmth and concern in his voice. It was a well known fact that Booster was man who cared for his family above all else but was loyal to his associates. He had greatly disliked Corran Horn when he had first met him because of his lineage. "Why do you ask?" the Jedi Master asked.

    Booster chuckled and allowed himself to come out of his battle ready stance for just an instant. "I care about the welfare of anyone involved with my family, especially my granddaughter's Jedi Master. I understand that she has had a hard time over the last few years but you need to be there for her."

    She thought he would have continued but a sudden alarm sounded followed by a crewman's voice, "Sir, we have incoming warships from sector two!"

    She looked back at Booster to see him back in his full battle ready mode. He was standing straight as he gave orders, "Notify the rest of the fleet." He clicked on the ship's intercom to relay orders to the crew, "This is you commander speaking. We are on red alert. All personnel report to your battle stations. The enemy is coming in hot. Terrik out."

    Booster turned to his forward gunner. "Charge the forward guns!" he barked out.

    After the gunner informed him that the forward guns were charged and ready Booster began his silent count. Over the years he had begun to develop an ability to anticipate the arrival of ships on radar. All you had to do was attempt to determine the speed at which the opposing vessel was coming based on the personality of the enemy. After his count reached six, Booster nearly shouted, "Fire!"

    The forward laser cannons fired and made a direct hit on the just arrived Mandalorian warship at the head of a massive invasion fleet. The warship's shields held up but there was an increasingly evident amount of damage taken. Sparks flew up and shields flickered as they began to recharge. Jaina felt her hand drift toward her lightsaber hilt as the first streaks of turbolasers struck the Errant Venture as the Mandalorian counterattack began.


    Vestara stood on the bridge of her flagship with hands clasped behind her that were already wet with perspiration. They were awaiting confirmation that the Mandalorians had begun their assault on Hapes. They had been waiting behind the gas giant, Caloma, the sixth planet in the Japrael System after the fleet made the hyperspace jump from Corellia. Once confirmation came the fleet would catch the Mandalorians by surprise and make a short jump from the sixth planet of the system to Onderon, the system's second planet.

    She would have felt better had Ben been here instead of her but she would never let anyone know that. If the commanding officer showed how afraid she was, Vestara"s crew would most likely fall apart. She would never allow that to happen as long as she lived, especially during the battle that would practically decide the outcome of the war. Steady, steady Vestara told herself.

    Suddenly, a woman at the communications console turned to face her. "General Khai, General Horn reports they have confirmation that Hapes is under attack and he has ordered the fleet to make the hyperspace jump to Onderon."

    Vestara tensed automatically. She was relieved the waiting game was finished but now came the execution of the plan. She had tried to ready herself but every method she used did nothing but drain her. Vestara slowly strode over to the vessel's comm and issued the order, "All personnel prepare for lightspeed. " The ship lurched as the entire vessel entered hyperspace, racing toward the coming bloodbath.


    A lone Republic frigate had departed Corellia but had not joined the fleet on coarse for Caloma. Instead it had taken a hyperspace jump to the Outer Rim. No one knew the frigate's true purpose, however. Unknown to many, this vessel was filled with the most prolific scientific equipment and testing supplies in the galaxy. The only problem at the moment was that there was no one with adequate knowledge to use them.

    "Miss Quee, I can assure you-" Ben was cut off before he could finish.

    "Please call me Danni, Ben, unless you wish to be addressed as General Skywalker," Danni Quee interrupted him. She was one of the greatest scientists of their time and it was largely due to her that the Republic was able to push back both the Yuuzhan Vong and now the Mandalorians.

    Ben hesitated a moment. He knew that Danni would often make you play her games before she did anything of value for you. She wanted to know what kind of people she was dealing with. She wasn't someone that would be easily frightened or manipulated, however, when it came to science she was always eager for a challenge. Ben took a breath before continuing, "Danni, I can assure you this is for a good cause."

    She never gave him another chance to speak. "A good cause?" Danni asked flippantly. "How is that death machine of yours a good cause, Ben? Your parents would be ashamed of you!"

    Before she could walk away Ben grabbed her hand and swung her back toward him. Ben leaned his masked head down to her ear and whispered, "Is ending the war a good enough reason for you. Is saving millions of lives not a worthy cause to you. I know you have done your part in both wars and now I ask that you help me end this one." He raised his voice for his next words, "If we don't end it soon many more innocent people will die. And I know that you can't stand the suffering people are going through. You were a Jedi once and a part of you still is. Don't make this any harder than it has been."

    Danni dropped her head in shame. Ben was right about her. She couldn't keep making the weapons and shields she had been. She had to build bigger, more influential devices. She felt compelled to accept Ben's offer but there were several complications. Danni took a quick look at Ben's companion, General Brisha Syo, then brought her gaze up to Ben and said, "Skywalker, there are many things wrong with this. First, the design of your superweapon would need a field of gravitational anomalies which do not exist in the known galaxy-"

    Ben held up his hand to silence her and said, "What if I told you that there is such a place where a planet's gravity well is strong enough to take down a ship."

    Danni cast him a look that said she thought he was crazy. Ben admitted that what he said would have been rather unbelievable if he hadn't been to this place himself. But he had and it still gave him nightmares. But most of all he had dreams and visions of the powerful call he heard. Nothing scared him more than that. "And where would this place be?" Danni asked him suspiciously with a hint of mockery in her voice.

    Just then the frigate emerged from hyperspace in orbit around a dark planet. Ben walked over to a window across the room and motioned for the two women to follow. Once there, he gestured with his hand and told them what they were seeing. "Welcome to Malachor V, Danni Quee, General Syo. Danni, even you could reach out with the Force and feel the gravitational pull that surrounds the planet."

    Danni looked out the window in complete wonder and amazement. Never before had she seen a world with a gravity well as powerful as this. Over the years she had spent away from the Jedi her Jedi skills had degraded but she was still able to faintly sense something. This was one of those times when she wished she had studied more because she felt the anomalies surrounding the planet with ease but it seemed like there was something else there as well but she couldn't figure it out. "I can feel it," Danni observed, deliberately leaving her assumptions unsaid.

    Ben quickly attacked her opening before she could close it. "Will you do it then? Everything you need is aboard this ship and out there," he said, once more pointing out toward Malachor.

    Danni looked down at her feet, suddenly wanting to study them before she replied, "If it brings an end to the war . . . yes I will, but I need time. A project this large will take some time to build."

    "And you will have it," Ben said reassuringly. What Danni didn't know was that that time would come from the war for Dxun. While it was true that once Dxun was taken the war would be nearly over, the fact remained that taking Dxun was going to take months and cost many lives on both sides. He waved Lumiya forward, "I have ordered General Brisha Syo to supervise your work and act as the commander of this vessel. If you need anything then you will go to her. However, now I must return to the battlefield."

    Ben made a motion with his hand that would have been unnoticeable to anyone except a trained assassin. Fortunately for her, Lumiya was one such person. She had been an Emperor's Hand for Palpatine just as Ben's mother Mara Jade had been before she became a Jedi. She saw Ben's hand move and realized it was a sign for her to follow him. "General Skywalker, I request permission to escort you to your ship?"

    "Permission granted. Walk with me, General Syo," Ben ordered and Lumiya sidled up beside him. They walked in an eerie silence through the corridors of the frigate until they reached the hangar bay. Ben had requested a fast freighter to take back to the remaining part of the fleet which he would take to join Vestara on at Dxun.

    They walked up the boarding ramp together, Ben in the lead and Lumiya a respectable distance behind him. To everyone that watched the scene was as it always was, an officer giving way to her superior. But to Lumiya, she was giving headway to her master. Once they entered the cargo hold, Skywalker turned to her. "I want you to give me reports on her progress. As long as you are not discovered you are authorized to use any methods necessary to protect her," he ordered.

    Lumiya lowered her head in submission, "As you wish, Master." Unlike other Sith who aspired for power to rise in rank, Lumiya knew that her reason for living was to serve. Of coarse she craved power like all Sith do but she would always submit to her master. That is why she was still living. And on the other hand she could feel the power within Ben Skywalker and she knew that he could crush her whenever he wanted so it would do her no good to kill him anyway.

    Suddenly tremor ripped through the Force. It was the most violent thing Lumiya had ever felt. It was as though thousands of voices had cried out in terror. She clutched at her head trying to fend off the sudden trauma. After regaining her wits she asked, "What was that?"

    Ben's eyes held concern but his lips formed a sadistic smile, "The battle for Dxun has begun."
  22. KnightRevan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2012
    For those who have been waiting, I have taken a much needed break from this story but I will continue it. I have had a lot of time issues with school and other things but I am hoping to begin writing again soon. I'll post chapter 9 as soon as I can and then begin on the new chapter. Thank you for watching and waiting for this story.
  23. KnightRevan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Chapter 9: Turn of the Tide

    All was quiet in the space in between Onderon and Dxun. Though Dxun was a moon of Onderon the two practically shared the same atmosphere. Mandalorian vessels went on their usual patrols around the area as the fleet remained stationary in orbit. Then, just as the day appeared to be the same as always, an enormous fleet of Republic warships fell out of hyperspace and launched a vicious attack on the Mandalorian forces. General Horn stood on the bridge of the Republic flagship, Bloodfin, with Admiral Pallaeon watching the firefight begin. Even after four years of war, Valin was nowhere near the skill of Ben and the admiral in space combat so waited patiently while Pallaeon barked out orders to the crew.

    By the time the Mandalorians began to return fire, the plan was working beautifully. The Jedi shuffled his feet as the ship lurched to the left as cannon-fire collided with the Bloodfin's shields. The ship righted itself at the head of the fleet in formation behind it. Now Valin's smaller but mostly Jedi concentrated fleet were barring the smaller large portion of the Mandalorian fleet over Dxun from assisting the vessels stationed over Onderon.

    Valin looked at the sensors and saw the full might of the Republic fleet drop out of hyperspace. He accessed the comm and patched himself through to Vestara. "General Khai, you are all clear. May the Force keep you strong."

    It was only after those words came out that he realized how far from Jedi-like they were. He then realized that he didn't care what the Jedi would say. Everywhere he looked during this war he didn't see Jedi but Revanchists willingly doing what the Jedi could not: fighting the Mandalorian clans with the same ferocity that Mandalore was using to attack the Republic. He didn't have time to ponder this further as both fleets willingly advanced on the other and began a deadly firefight.


    . . . . .


    Ben Skywalker looked on at the asteroid belt before him. It had long been abandoned and forgotten by the mining corporation that once claimed it millenia ago. It was here near Bimmiel, a planet that fell to the Yuuzhan Vong in the galaxy's previous war, in the star system designated MZX32905 that an asteroid rested called The Home. It was once the lair of an ancient Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vectivus. Vectivus, unlike most Sith Lords, did not crave galactic dominance and the destruction of the Jedi but rather sought knowledge and understanding while maintaining his morality. It truly was a remarkable feat. But Ben was still skeptical because the Sith also lived in isolation without the temptation to rule.

    Ben slowed the freighter down until the ship came to rest on the asteroid. He brought up a secure link to Lumiya and waited until a miniature hologram of her appeared before him. "Are you certain your associate will be here?" he asked.

    Lumiya did not hesitate with her answer, "I have no doubts. And another thing . . . the presence of Vectivus still lingers deep in the mines. I saw him once and learned how to manifest phantoms of myself but he quickly left as though I was unworthy of such knowledge."

    Ben thought about this information. It would be an interesting confrontation if he met this Dark Lord but he was here for one thing only. It wasn't unheard of for the presence of a Sith to linger in that place after death but there was little more to it. "I hope so for your sake, Skywalker out."

    The Jedi walked down the lowered ramp and made the short trek to the mansion of Vectivus. He entered cautiously ready to fight if need be but there was nothing but darkness surrounding him. Slowly he maneuvered himself into a hangar that housed a sleek vessel that could only belong to his target. He continued a few steps until his danger sense went on full alert. He could feel another presence in the hangar very close by. "I know you are there . . . you who were once Alema Rar."

    A shadow slowly moved a few paces to his right and the Twi'lek appeared shortly after lightsaber in hand and a murderous scowl on her face. She was wearing a skin tight bodysuit as was her custom after joining with the Gorog. He gazed at the missing left arm and the stump of her severed right lek that was the pride of a Twi'lek. She hissed at him, "Lumiya has betrayed us. You could have been great with us, Ben Skywalker, but your parents took you from us. Now you must die!"

    She began to advance on him but Ben did not waver. "I am not here to fight you nor did Lumiya betray you."

    Alema stopped but did not lower her guard. "Then why would she send you here?"

    Ben watched her body tense ready to spring at him should his answer fail to satisfy her. "Lumiya is my servant." Ben stopped to see her amusing expression. Her mouth was hanging open in shock and her yellow tinted eyes blinked for the first time showing just how large her pupils had dilated. "She has spoken highly of you and I have need of a person with a particular set of skills, though I am uncertain if you would meet those standards."

    That last part angered her just as Ben had hoped. Alema put her lightsaber back on her belt and came face to face with the Jedi. Her voice raised with a confident, seductive purr, "Our expertise is surveillance and assassination. We aren't an amateur."

    Ben smirked in triumph. He had her now and he reveled in his victory. "I have use of you and your skills."

    Alema, however, wasn't sold. "We want revenge on her in return. She took everything from us. We're alone. She's made us solitary."

    Ben's smirk faded and he gently inquired, "Who did?"

    "Leia Solo. She took our lekku, and so we can't communicate fully with others. She caused the destruction of our nest, too. And she took what attracted others to us, our beauty. We're lonely, and we can never touch the world properly again."

    He could hear the agony in her voice and he inwardly cringed. He had no intention of letting the former Jedi turned Joiner kill his aunt but Rar, like Lumiya, was too valuable an asset to terminate. The galaxy needed stability after the war and only Ben knew how soon that would be. He needed Rar to complete this task to begin achieving that goal. Ben had influence over many different civilizations including political and military focal points. With the Sith still out there he had to ready the galaxy for their coming and it seemed more likely everyday that he would have to oust the Chief of State and take over the Republic which is far easier said than done. But he was willing to go even as far as starting a second galactic civil war if it meant the galaxy was secure.

    A sudden thought crept into his head and a dark hope began to swell within him. He knew he would be backed by many influential figures and organizations but he needed more support. He looked straight into Alema's eyes and said, "I can give much more than that, Night Herald."


    . . . . .


    Valin was still trying to piece together everything that happened in the last few hours. The fleet led by Pallaeon was able to break through the blockade of Onderon and were now landing troops on the surface. Every warship in the Mandalorian fleet was destroyed but casualties were mounting on Dxun. Reports kept coming in detailing how many men being lost. Though it wasn't the most sound strategy, the Republic had elected to begin landing troops even while the space battle above was raging. Because of their numbers they had hoped to overwhelm the enemy but the Mandalorians were deeply entrenched. It seemed that ten Republic soldiers were killed to every one Mandalorian.

    But that was anticipated. Unknown to the rest of the Republic including Vestara Khai, Ben and Valin had already met and planned the outcome of the battle to their specific needs. Valin knew that something was troubling Ben beyond reason but he agreed that the Republic would need to be strong in the future to prevent this kind of catastrophe from ever occurring again. That was why he was currently leaving the fight to head back to Corellian space to complete phase two of the plan. While Valin supported all this he was not blind. He knew that Ben had ulterior motives. Just what those motives were he didn't know but he was confident that Ben knew what he was doing.

    Thoughts very unbecoming of a Jedi started rattling through his mind. He had learned so much about politics over the course of the war and came to the conclusion that the Republic was in need of a regime change or maybe even a reformation. The corruption was so strong that it would need to be rooted out from the entire system. Every single politician would need to be investigated and judged according to their deeds. And he and Ben were just the people to do it. Then suddenly a new thought crossed his mind: Ben would make a great leader for not just the Republic but the galaxy at large. He even thought how well he would do with so much power himself. He quickly cut that line of thought. Such thoughts and ambitions were of the dark side but was the dark side so bad? Was there even a dark side of the Force? Of course there was but the further he got drawn in the more the line blurred between light and dark. He had long ago made the decision that the emotions the Jedi considered of the dark side could be used without falling. But the more fought and the more people he killed the less he thought about their lives, how they were living things. There were truths to the Jedi Code but it was far to late to go back to those pacifistic ways. Little did Valin know how far he had fallen and how far Ben's ambitions extended to.


    . . . . .


    The caverns got darker and gloomier the farther he descended into the mines. Ben had remained on the surface until Alema Rar took off and then quickly made his way to the mines. Lumiya had told him that an ancient Sith Lord's spirit resided there. Ben wanted to see this dark place in the mines and understand why it drew Vectivus there. It was getting more difficult to find his way now as it was nearly pitch black so he lit a glow rod and found himself near the center of the asteroid. He could feel its dark power all around him. Ben slowly opened himself to it but he did not revel in it. This was not at all like Malachor V but Ben knew what the dark side could do. Malachor nearly killed him and he drew on its dark energies to survive but he knew that you could only go so far until you reached the end of the line between balance and insanity.

    The dark side flowed through him and he felt on odd sensation running through him. It was as if the dark side was trying to manifest itself. Then all of a sudden he felt a presence behind him and he ignited his lightsaber and whirled around to see a cloaked figure behind him with a blood red lightsaber ready to strike. Ben quickly brought up his saber to parry the first blow. His blade connected with his attacker and sizzled as the blades locked together. Ben disengaged and swung fast and furiously at the dark being who blocked with ease. Ben was fighting like an amateur to gauge his opponent's weaknesses. He soon discovered that the man was powerful but not a fighter though fairly skilled.

    The Sith swung high and Ben ducked under and took advantage of his position. As the crimson blade came toward him on the back-swing, Ben stood up with his blade straight in the air. He intercepted it and pushed out forcing away then spun around catching the thrust at his back and reversed his blade's direction as he now faced his enemy and sliced through the exposed hilt of the dark man's lightsaber causing it to disappear. Ben was surprised at this and then he looked up and realized who he had been fighting: Darth Vectivus himself.

    "Another has come to visit me here at my home, my tomb," Vectivus said. He was a tall man with dark hair and more or less obese. "Not many visit this place, far fewer leave. My last visitor was a human female. She survived but she was unworthy of my vast knowledge. She was persistent though so I gave her information on how to create Force Phantoms. But you . . . you are . . . different."

    He came closer and stood looking into Ben's eyes. "You follow a path not many dare to tread. Few have tried, none have succeeded. The Jedi believe such things as heresy. Believing you have fallen and become a dark Jedi while the Sith would consider you a blight, an unworthy member of their order and a weakling. Strength that is untouched by ruthlessness is touchingly irresponsible. The woman was ruthless but she lacked the proper use of her strength. But you have ruthless strength and a hunger to learn much as I had. You have a destiny that I cannot fathom but be warned. If you continue terrible darkness and great evil await you. With such things there is nothing but fire and death."

    Ben thought for a moment. Fear started to creep into his mind but he forced it out. He had gone too far to stop now and one thing he did agree with his father's teachings was that the future was always in motion. The risk was worth it. "I have come too far and with too great a purpose to turn back now."

    Vectivus frowned as if in disappointment. "I cannot stop you but I ask now that you strike me down and end me. I grow . . . tired of this place. The longer I stay the more lives may be destroyed by my knowledge. You are not a Jedi or at least not fully. Surely you can understand that one life must be sacrificed for the good of the billions of others out there."

    While Ben agreed that for the good of the galaxy Vectivus was right that his knowledge could threaten the galaxy, he was not willing to walk away so easily. Lumiya had learned the Force Phantom technique and the Sith said that she was unworthy. There was no telling how much more he could learn from him. "I will kill you. But only once you have taught me everything you know."

    A mixture of joy and sadness played across Vectivus' face. He sighed heavily knowing full well that he had been maneuvered into a corner. "Very well. You are the most worthy being that has crossed my path. You shall be my successor, the inheritor of all my knowledge."

    After teaching Ben all he knew, Vectivus was ready to go. "You gave me your word. Now honor it," he said softly but still very much threatening.

    Ben smirked beneath his mask. "If there is one thing that I always do, Lord Vectivus, I always honor my word."

    And with that he lit his saber and slashed through the Sith and his body disappeared. Darth Vectivus was no more. And now there were only two living beings who knew how to create Force Phantoms. Ben, who had effectively become the apprentice of Darth Vectivus in their short time together, and Lumiya who was already loyal to him. He had been thinking that she would likely prove her worth to him if he were to fight the Republic or even usurp Omas. Her training at the hands of Palpatine and Vader was serving her well and like the Sith before her she would become completely subservient to him or die. It was only a matter of time and he would see to it that it was the former.


    . . . . .


    The battle had progressively gone from bad to worse within a few hours. The Republic was overwhelmed by the Mandalorian forces and were now trying to halt the Mandalorians from landing their transports on the surface of Hapes. Even with the Hapan Consortium's fleet aiding they were losing the fight. More and more landing craft were making their way toward the surface as Jaina Solo blasted through another basilisk war droid. It was a mass of chaos above Hapes. Mandalorian ships were in dogfights with Republic star-fighters and the warships were engaged in deadly combat.

    Jaina got another Mando in her sights and blasted him away. She was in her Jedi StealthX fighter soaring through the atmosphere seeking her next prey. She was delving deep into the battle meld that many of her fellow Jedi were using to communicate and orchestrate their movements. A burst of comm chatter came over her headset and she quickly put her full attention on the broadcast after registering who the voice belonged to. Zekk.

    Zekk had drifted away from Jaina after she married Jagged Fel. Jaina knew her friend had loved her but she had not felt the same way and when her engagement was announced, he had broken down and left the order for a time. After he returned, Zekk stayed away from the Solos and Jaina. But deep down Jaina knew that despite all the anger he displayed, he still cared for her. "They're all over me. I can't shake them."

    Jaina spoke into her headset. "Zekk, where are you?" No answer. "Zekk?"

    Suddenly, a static filled channel opened to her comm system. " . . . cruiser . . ahead . . . meters from your position."

    Jaina kicked her fighter's engines into overdrive as she sped ahead toward a looming Republic cruiser. She allowed her conscious mind to enter the meld and felt a familiar presence touch her mind. What iz it, Tesar Sebatyne sent her through the meld. Tesar, son of Master Saba Sebatyne, was one of the original members of the Myrkr strike team. He had been there when all there fellow Jedi died and they had returned to find that Anakin had miraculously survived.

    Zekk is in trouble, she sent to the barabel Jedi Knight. Jaina quickly outlined her plan and the two StealthX fighters zoomed toward their target. Once they neared the cruiser, they saw a lone Jedi fighter trying desperately to outmaneuver four Mandalorian ships on its tail. Jaina gave Tesar the go signal and he peeled off to fulfill his part of the plan. Jaina meanwhile swept ahead of Zekk and waited for the barabel. After waiting a few moments of watching Zekk's fighter growing larger in her viewport, she saw explosive flashes engulf his pursuers. Tesar had just accomplished his part of the mission destroying two of Mandalorian craft during his strafing run. Now it was up to Jaina.

    She sped toward Zekk head on at full speed rapidly closing the gap between them. Zekk was now desperately trying to dodge and weave through the laser blasts being shot from behind him but he finally ran out of luck. A blast hit his rear engine and it exploded in a ball of fire. "I'm hit! I'm hit!" he cried over the comm. Panic filled Jaina. She no longer cared about making it out alive. Suicidal thoughts came and went as she pushed her already exhausted engines well beyond their limit as she continued on her collision course.

    "Jaina, what in blazes are you doing!" Zekk shouted but received no answer.

    He entered the meld and Jaina told him what to do. Shock radiated through him but he accepted her instructions. Jaina felt a sharp pain on Zekk's part of the meld and their connection broke. She looked out to see his right wing had been clipped by another shot. Was Zekk alright? Her mental pleas went unanswered and she reconsidered her strategy. If she fired Zekk may not be able to get out of the way but she had no choice. The Jedi launched two torpedoes at the incoming fighters.

    Pull up, Zekk. Pull up! At the last second Zekk's StealthX just managed to pull up enough for the torpedoes to get through. The first one smashed into the first Mandalorian's wing and the second finished the job, obliterating the ship. The resulting explosion left the remaining Mandalorian blinded and an easy target as Jaina poured fired everything she had at him leaving nothing but sparks of light flying in all directions. Jaina flipped her fighter and flew over toward the nearly lifeless ship containing her closest friend. Tesar was already on the right side of Zekk so Jaina sidled up to him on the left. The damage was extensive and she doubted Zekk could fly it without assistance.

    "Zekk?" the female Jedi asked.

    A pained chuckle sounded on the other end of the comm. "I'm okay, Jaina. I'm beat up real good but this thing won't get me very far."

    "We'll take you in." Jaina and Tesar both steered Zekk back toward the Errant Venture.

    There wasn't much combat going on that far into the Republic fleet at the time and they were able to dock in the Venture's hangar with ease. The Mandalorians had been unprepared for a Republic force waiting for them but quickly adjusted. After their initial ground units were on the surface, their fleet went into full attack mode instead of providing protection for the assault ships. Jaina opened her cockpit, jumped down and sprinted to Zekk's fighter. The hatch opened and smoke rose from within. Coughs sounded from inside and the smoke cleared to show the visage of Zekk sitting there bleeding and coughing hard. The entire cockpit was fired. A med team quickly made their way to them and placed Zekk on a stretcher and headed for the med bay.

    Jaina made to follow but movement to the left caught her eye. Jacen and Tenel Ka were finishing loading supplies on a transport ship with several other Jedi and troopers. Jaina walked over to her brother and watched with dismay. His face was twisted into a snarl from his anger but his eyes showed determination. Jacen noticed his twin approaching and set the last container inside the assault craft, his features returning to normal. "You're going to the surface?" she asked. She knew the answer she would receive but Jaina had to hear it herself.

    Jacen averted his eyes for a moment. "Yes. We're going down with the first wave."

    Jaina looked at him with great concern. "Are you sure? The Mandalorians are already deeply entrenched. The first ships down there will be slaughtered. Are you even sure where the Queen Mother is?"

    Jacen opened his mouth to answer but Tenel Ka appeared beside him and responded, "We have to make it. I may not be overly fond of my grandmother, but she is the leader of Hapes. Without her, the Consortium will fall apart without an heir."

    That was a curious choice of words. During the Dark Nest Crisis Tenel Ka had been ruling Hapes, but after Master Skywalker spoke to the Jedi on Ossus concerning their future, she had been torn in two. She could either remain a Jedi but relinquish the title of queen or leave the order. She chose to leave and took her daughter with her. Shortly after her grandmother, Ta'a Chume, awoke from her coma and regained the throne. It was only much later that Tenel Ka learned that Jacen was the reason that Ta'a Chume went into the coma with a brain hemorrhage.

    The oldest Solo child shook her head. A bad feeling was creeping up her spine and darkness was beginning to cloud the Force. She had grown up to trust it but now it seemed to be turning its back on her. "Be careful. We can't hold out forever without reinforcements and there is no Republic support nearby."

    Jacen nodded his understanding. "Admiral Darklighter has already sent a distress signal. But the fleet is too far away and Corellia won't help us. We're on our own. May the Force be with you, Jai."

    "And with you, Jace," she returned.

    Jaina remained there for a few moments watching as the transports took off and began their descent. A familiar, shadowy presence came up beside her. Callista took a long breath and released it with a sigh. She didn't hate the Solo children, in fact she envied them. They had a loving family that Callista could never have. But that didn't come without much pain and sacrifice. "The Skywalkers and Solos understand better than anyone the difficulty of sacrifice. Is it not interesting how such a strong people can become so violent after years of rebuilding their society. The Mandalorians have always been warriors wanting to test their strength but never on a galactic scale before."

    Jaina looked on the elder woman questioningly, "What are you trying to say, Callista?"

    The unofficially exiled Jedi shrugged that off. Whether Jaina knew it or not she had called her by name instead of her former rank. Callista laughed softly to herself at the young councilor's naivety. Upon seeing Jaina's scowl, Callista said, "My dear Master Solo-Fel, there is a moment in all our lives that defines our actions and sets us on the path we are on. The Mandalorians had to have had such a moment to even consider attacking the Republic. Perhaps the Jedi have been fooled as well and are nothing more than pawns in a far greater game for galactic supremacy."

    Jaina turned and stormed away, having heard enough of the old woman's berating of the Jedi. Looking back quickly, she noticed that the former Jedi had not even moved or acknowledged her departure. She kept marching away but the next words that she heard from Callista chilled her to her very core for the foreseeable future. "Even Palpatine was not always an evil Sith Lord until that moment came to him."


    . . . . .


    Luke and the other masters were currently in deep discussion over the Hapes Consortium attack. From reports that had been received from the battle, the Republic underestimated the size of the invasion force. Now Jedi and Republic personnel alike were fighting just to hold on. As much as he hated to admit it, he knew many masters were thinking the impossible: Ben had planned this to happen. It sounded absurd but pieces were coming in and out of the equation that never seemed to fit. The bickering continued until a burst of static came from the holo projector in the center of the chamber and the forms of Gavin Darklighter and Booster Terrik came in and out of focus.

    "This is Admiral Darklighter, commander of the Republic defense force of Hapes, requesting immediate assistance. Does anyone copy?"

    Luke began to reply, "This is Luke Skywalker. What is happening?"

    "We're being overrun . . . taking too many losses . . . can't hold out much longer. We need reinforcements!"

    Before Luke could utter a response, another figure appeared in holo form. "I believe I can help with that, Admiral."


    . . . . .


    In the battle torn orbit of Hapes Booster grinned at the holo of his grandson, "Valin!" he shouted with joy.

    Valin form looked at him and smiled, "Yes sir, we're here to assist with regards from General Skywalker."

    Darklighter frowned and questioned the obvious, "Who's we?"

    Valin's grin only widened. "See for yourself."

    Both ship commanders looked out of their view-ports and stared in awe at the sight. Just entering the battle was a fleet of Corellian warships targeting the overwhelmed Mandalorian vessels. It was a well known fact that Corellia was not the Republic's greatest supporter but it didn't matter how they got here or why. What did matter is that the battle began to truly kick into high gear and the moment had shifted to the Republic's favor.


    . . . . .


    Callista's eyes opened from her meditation with puzzlement. She had been wrapped in a vision after following the Force deeply within meditation. What she saw astonished her to no end. Curiosity began to rise within her until she felt the same presence she did in her vision at the very edge of her outstretched senses. "So my visions of the future have come to pass," she whispered to herself. "You have finally come."

    Unbeknownst to all but one, a sleek vessel entered the system via hyperspace and stealthily weaved its way through the chaos throughout the system and descended toward the surface. All the combatants were to focused on the battle to notice and the Jedi's senses had been clouded by the growing darkness surrounding the Force. But one knew and began making preparations to follow the newcomer to Hapes not with the intention to kill. At least not yet. Questions that needed answering came first.
  24. KnightRevan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Chapter 10: The False Hope
    Jacen braced himself against the hull as the transport took yet another hit. They had just made it into Hapes' atmosphere but now the ship was being hammered by turret fire from the surface. A few more critical hits and they would be done for. He scrambled toward the cockpit barely keeping his balance while the ship lurched under the barrage of the intense laser fire around them. The young Jedi got there just in time to see another transport disintegrate into a fireball outside the cockpit viewport.

    Jacen's assault team had been decimated when they set out from the Errant Venture. Countless ships had been lost but then the Mandalorians stopped targeting them. Over the com they were informed that of all people the Corellians had come to their rescue. After that they had a nearly clean run to the surface until the Mandalorian turrets began to fire. Since then not much hope remained.

    Solo was knocked to the ground after another blast hit home. Sirens began to sound throughout the ship. "What's happening?" Jacen asked, out of breath.

    The co-pilot turned to him. "We've lost our shields and we're going in hot! Get back there and get strapped in."

    Jacen looked quickly out the viewport to see Mandalorians entrenched everywhere. But despite the overwhelming enemy numbers the Hapan people were standing strong. However, it was only a matter of time until the Mandalorian forces broke through the palace gates. Jacen got up and sprinted back to the cargo hold to find everyone getting strapped into their harnesses.

    Jacen got himself tied down and looked at his wife. Tenel Ka had a mask of steel on her face as she stared into his eyes. Jacen grabbed her hand and whispered, "Take a deep breath." Then their transport hammered into the city.


    . . . . .


    Callista felt all kinds of emotions flooding the Force as she tracked the dark presence she had seen in her visions. The elder woman had, with help from the Force, managed to reach the Hapan surface without too much difficulty. There was fierce fighting on nearly every street corner. The former Jedi Master didn't quite understand what her prey was doing here until she came to the fallen bodies of Mandalorians.

    Unlike others she had come across, these were different. Lightsaber wounds were evident upon them but also specially placed blaster marks. Callista knew that Jacen Solo had led a team of Jedi down here from the Venture but he wouldn't have been in this area. Only one conclusion remained. It was the assassin. And based off of what she saw from the bodies the assassin was good. Very good. She went ahead and found more corpses; no doubt courtesy of the assassin. Callista continued to follow the trail straight to the palace.


    . . . . .


    Blood was everywhere. Bruised, battered and beaten, Jacen and his forces moved forward into the fray. Bodies of innocent civilians, Hapan soldiers, Republic military, Mandalorians and Jedi all littered the streets. But forward they went. Jacen had lost a few members of his team in the crash but the majority had escaped with the capability to fight. There was one other Jedi in his company besides himself and his wife. Nelani Dinn was young and inexperienced but she was very bright and had hoped to gain extra training under Jacen's tutelage even though she was a Jedi Knight. That inexperience no longer existed for her. The three Jedi formed a protective wing around the squad of soldiers that fired on the enemy once they came in sight.

    Amid all the fighting stood the Fountain Palace in the distance. Even with all the blood and fire surrounding it the palace looked just as serene as ever. Tenel Ka felt no small amount of longing for her people's home. For her home. But such feelings gave way to pure shock as a large explosion sounded in the streets and cloud of smoke filled the air blocking out any view of the magnificent structure.

    Terror gripped her and she began to run. "Hurry!"


    . . . . .


    As predicted the assassin led her straight to the palace, but not a place where Callista would have thought. There was no entrance in this area. The only one that the Jedi knew of was the palace gates but that was where all the fighting was taking place. Callista, despite her older age, had caught up to the assassin and now saw that it was humanoid. The figure was intently searching for something but Callista couldn't see what for from behind the rubble that served as her surveillance spot.

    Suddenly, the assassin disappeared without warning. Alarmed, Callista stood up and ran toward the place she last saw the humanoid. There was nothing there. No evidence. As she frantically looked for some sort of opening in the ground, the thunderous sound of a thousand marching Mandalorians was heard approaching in close proximity. Callista knew time had run out but something on the ground caught her eye. It was a Hapan symbol. But that was not what held her attention. It was the symbol within the symbol that she had failed to notice earlier. She put her hand on lightly at first but then pushed down and turned it so that it conveyed the same image as the larger symbol. A small break in the ground beside her revealed an opening into a dark hallway. She leaped in just as the Mandalorian army came onto the scene and the passage sealed itself behind her.

    All the outcast Jedi could see was darkness. She reached for her Lightsaber and activated it bathing the dark hall in blue light glittering off the walls of the tunnel. The tunnel seemed to go on for miles but the longer Callista walked the more uneasy she felt. This could only be the private tunnel of the Hapan Queen Mother. But according to Tenel Ka, only the Queen Mother and her predecessor alone know the secret paths about Hapes. Tenel Ka knew them during her time as Queen Mother before she abdicated in favor of living the life of a Jedi so that would leave Ta'a Chume, Tenel Ka's grandmother as the only ones who knew. But Callista knew from experience while her spirit was bound to the Eye of Palpatine that knowledge proved to be essential. Whether that leverage would support or influence someone was irrelevant. If her info was correct Jacen Solo would know where to look for these hidden passageways but neither he nor Tenel Ka would dare share that information with anyone and they certainly wouldn't expose the entrance during a battle. Then a thought came to Callista which sent a cold shock down her spine. This wasn't about the war at all. Neither were the Solos involved. The battle for Hapes was about political power.


    . . . . .


    The front gate was in complete chaos. The body count was rising on both sides. But the Hapans had drawn a battle line and were holding to their last breath. However, the Mandalorian numbers were swelling the Hapan defenders and had just broken through the line. A large hole could be seen in the gate as Mandalorians poured through. The Solo party had just arrived at the gate and were greeted by the ferocious Zel twins. Taryn and Trista Zel were barking out orders and firing on the charging crusaders. Many went down but there were always more to take their place and they were now flooding to the gate. Waves would come but only a few got past the Hapan Security Force.

    "Taryn! Trista! What's the situation?" Tenel Ka demanded adamantly.

    "They've broken through the gate! We need you in there to keep them away from the Queen Mother," Trista replied sternly.

    Jacen gave a nod to the soldiers under his command and they joined the Hapan ranks. "We'll leave my men with you." Turning toward the palace entrance, he said, "Let's move!"

    Taryn shouted out, "Give them covering fire." The Hapans all began to pour down the heavy weaponry on the Mandalorians giving the three Jedi the cover needed to enter the palace.

    Jacen, Tenel Ka and Nelani were instantly met by blaster fire from the last group of Mandalorians to enter the palace. Jacen immediately raised his blade to block the first two shots and sent a third back into his attacker. One by one the Mandalorians were cut down until only one remained which Jacen engaged in a quick duel. One staggering blow to the shoulder brought the crusader to his knees and Jacen promptly finished him with a stab of the saber into the gut.

    Tenel Ka quickly moved into the corridor to scout for more enemies. Seeing the hallway to be clear she called back to Jacen and Nelani, "Follow me and keep close."


    . . . . .


    Space. Usually it was supposed to be calm and bring about a gentle serenity to the watcher. However, today the cold void was filled with fire and death. Valin Horn looked at the devastation from aboard the Corellian capital ship and thought the contrast for but a moment until he was brought back into the battle that was raging around the planet. The Corellian fleet had lived up to its reputation and quickly aided the Republic in laying waste to the Mandalorian armada. Only three enemy vessels remained and Valin intended to be the one to end this battle.

    "Master Solo, come in," the Jedi said into the com unit.

    "Solo here," came the brief reply of Jaina Solo.

    Valin wasted no time. "We're going to end this now. I need your squadron to escort my bombers to the vessel on your starboard."

    There was a slight pause before Jaina answered. "Will do. Send them out."

    Valin immediately scrambled the bombers and watched as they blew the vessel to Tatooine's two suns. Only two left. Mandalorians were a peculiar people. Even when they were utterly defeated in battle, they were honor bound to fight till the last breath. Very seldom did they ever flee from battle. But these two wouldn't back down. They beaten and essentially dying and now they would pay the price for their mistake.

    The Jedi looked at his crew and gave the order. "Concentrate all our firepower on those destroyers." The cannons roared as they unleashed their deadly payload on the enemy. Unnoticed by all, including himself, a ghost of a grin appeared on Valin's face while he watched the Mandalorian destroyers disintegrate into fiery explosions.


    . . . . .


    Screams could be heard all around the palace. The Mandalorians had gotten through! The terrifying thought entered Ta'a Chume's mind as she and her personal guard felt the vibrations and heard the deafening sound of the gate being blown apart. And soon after the screams blaster shots echoed in the halls of the Fountain Palace. Since then, they had been holed up in the Queen Mother's personal chambers, leaving the Throne Room vacated. Ta'a Chume had hoped that the invasion could be repulsed and therefore had refused to leave palace. She was well aware that the Republic was sending ground units and the Corellian fleet was engaged with the Mandalorians in the skies but now that the gate had been breached the Queen Mother began to rethink her stance on leaving.

    "Milady, it's time. You must go," one of the guards bravely declared to her.

    And so her mind was made up. "And so it is."

    Ta'a Chume walked swiftly through the adjoining doorway and wound up in the nursery for the Queen Mother's children. There was a shelving cabinet in the rear of the room which she began to open. Her guards surrounded her facing the doorway while preparing to defend their Queen till she was safe. She finished unlocking the door and opened it. Ta'a Chume was caught completely unprepared for the violent kick to the head that sent her sprawling across the room. The guards had no time to comprehend just what happened before a dark clothed figure leaped out of the escape tunnel's shadows and engaged them.

    Two were shot point blank in the back. The first guard to turn around was greeted with a kick to the head, effectively breaking his spine. The next raised his blaster to shoot but the assailant grabbed his arm and whipped it around so that his body acted as a shield for the assassin. This mysterious enemy fired one shot with the victim's blaster at a guard sending him tumbling to the stone floor. The assassin ducked behind the human shield as a blaster bolt struck the defenseless guard killing him. The man that fired the shot went into a minor form of shock that lasted only a moment but it was more than enough to make him easy prey. The assassin let the dead body fall and shot the shocked man in the head once then quickly spun to the left and hurled a spherical device at the remaining six guards.

    "Grenade!" came the shout but it was soon drowned out by the small blast of concentrated explosive.

    Ta'a Chume had been lying on the floor this whole time trying to regain her senses. Once the grenade went off she was once again fully alert. However, her elderly body did not agree with her mind as she struggled to sit up. She glanced slowly to the right to see all but one of her personal guard were dead. The last one was on his knees struggling to stand. Then in a flash the assassin appeared in the air wrapping feline-like legs around the guard's neck and slammed him to the ground with no more pulse.

    Panic filled Ta'a Chume and she started to crawl toward her salvation within the tunnel. A strong foot pushed down on her suddenly making her level with the floor and knocking all the air out of her lungs. Then just as quickly she was spun around so that the Queen Mother was staring into the dark eyes of Alema Rar. Ta'a Chume was filled with terror at the site of the Twi'lek. She knew that Rar was once a member of the Dark Nest before its destruction. She remembered very well that she had hired the Gorog to kill her granddaughter's child. She had told them to attack this very room but Rar could not have known how to get in. Even if the Dark Nest told her, she wouldn't have remembered it by now. After all, the reports filed by the Jedi suggested that she was insane even before she was presumed dead.

    "Please, I can give you anything you want. Anything at all. As long as you keep me away from the Mandalorians, you can have whatever pleases you. Whoever sent you here . . . it doesn't matter. I can pay you double what you are getting if you get me out of here!" Ta'a Chume said. The words were spilling out of her mouth far too rapidly for her to believe.

    But Alema slapped a cold hand over the fearful Queen's mouth. The Twi'lek grinned maliciously and leaned forward so that her forehead was against Ta'a Chume's. "Your money is not our mission," she slyly whispered. "You are ours."

    Then Alema stood up and walked away three step before turning around with her blaster aimed at the Hapan Queen Mother, relishing her cries for mercy, and shot her directly in the head; then proceeded to fire five more shots into the Queen's head, completely deforming the face beyond recognition, much to her genuine pleasure.

    "An impressive display," said a voice from behind Alema. She jumped at the sound and whirled around to see Callista Ming standing at the tunnel entrance. "Your skills have certainly not degraded. They may have even improved, though you left a body trail leading to your . . . destination."

    "You." Alema quickly called upon the Force and her Lightsaber was summoned to her hand from a concealed pouch on her belt. The blue light cascaded up as the Twi'lek activated her saber and leaped at Callista.

    Callista Ming's hands shot out and her Lightsaber was brought up to block the strike instantly. The two combatants stayed locked together, gauging each other for the next move. Callista decided to go on the offensive first. She pushed Alema back with a shove and began a flurry of strikes aimed at Alema's head which drove her backwards. But Alema would not back away from her. The Twi'lek spun around stopping Callista's forward momentum and kicked her, sending the Jedi sliding away on the floor. The Dark Jedi then leaped over Callista and swung her blade to decapitate her but the Jedi was ready.

    Ming was able block Alema's first strike with ease, then she spun away from the second and thrust forward with her lightsaber to pin down Rar's exposed saber hand. Then with one swift motion, Callista kicked Alema's lightsaber out of her hand and brought her own up to the Twi'lek's throat.

    Alema stood completely still, her lips curled into a snarl and her eyes filled with hatred. In that one moment, Callista pitied Alema Rar. There was a time when Alema could have been a great Jedi Knight and, on the flip side, a powerful Sith Lord. But now, she was no more than a deranged tool, incapable of her own independence. Her only purpose now was to fulfill the purpose of others.

    Alema spit at Callista's face. "Well Jedi, finish it. Kill us."

    Callista had no intention of killing her prisoner. Instead, she wanted to get to the bottom of this plot immediately. "No. You have not failed your assignment and I wish to know more about it," she said with an amusing tone. The Jedi deactivated her lightsaber and, in a surprising move, flipped the blade end toward her and held it out to Alema.

    Alema's eyes widened in unbelief nut she took advantage. She instantly reached out and took Ming's lightsaber from her and reached out with the Force to pull her own lightsaber back to her. With both blades in her hands she activated them and held the lightsabers crossed over Callista's neck. "Now you die, stupid Jedi," she hissed with an evil glint her eyes.

    However, Callista was not daunted in the least. She continued to hold eye contact with Alema. "I don't believe it is your master's plan for my demise. Do you?"

    Callista had taken a big gamble by handing over her weapon and making such a comment to Alema. She was not entirely certain if her theory was correct. For just a split second, a terrified look of uncertainty crossed over the Twi'lek's blue skinned face. The gamble had paid off. A sneer once again took over as the dominant attribute of Alema. "Why did you follow us, Jedi?"

    Now it was Callista's turn to relish the moment. "I wish to meet your master."


    . . . .


    "Jacen, behind you!" Tenel Ka said as she put yet another Mandalorian down.

    Jacen looked up just in time to see a vibroblade coming down on him. The Jedi Master quickly rolled away and came up with his lightsaber ready to parry. The Mandalorian charged down on him once again and swung his blade in a wide powerful arc that knocked Jacen back when their blades collided. This Mandalorian would be a test for any Jedi which Jacen was not excluded from.

    Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Nelani and Tenel Ka approaching to aide him. "Keep going. I'll handle this." The two women faltered for a moment before turning around and sprinting toward their destination.

    Jacen turned his attention back to his opponent and they began to circle one another. Halfway through the revolution, the Mandalorian lunged at him. Jacen parried the blow and launched an attack of his own. His onslaught drove the Mandalorian back and had him on the verge of defeat. But Mandalorians were well known for their physical prowess which few Jedi could match and while Solo was well built, he did not have the strength to fight a crusader in a fistfight. The Mandalorian locked blades with Jacen then grabbed onto the Jedi's saber hand with his free one. Jacen reciprocated and they were now in a lock of strength which Jacen would not be able to win in the long run. Then the Mandalorian pulled back his helmeted head and bashed it into Jacen's which laid him flat on his back.

    Fortunately for Jacen, in what would normally be a show of strength, the Mandalorian made a fatal mistake. Now that he was free, Jacen could see the clear weakness of his adversary. Once again the Mandalorian brought his blade up in an attempt to dismember the Jedi but Jacen rolled to the right of the strike. Reaching out with the Force he summoned a piece of debris and flung it at the Mandalorian knocking him down. Jacen then leaped over his enemy, bringing his blade underneath his body to parry a strike meant to split him in two. Then upon landing, he swung his lightsaber back and the Mandalorian was too slow to block. The Mandalorian's head fell to the floor just before his decapitated body landed alongside it.

    Jacen stood up slowly gasping for breath at the physical exertion of the fight and touched his head softly to feel it pulsing from the blow. A sticky substance leaked onto his hand and he drew it back to see blood seeping from the gash. Suddenly a high pitched scream echoed through the halls and Jacen jumped to alertness and began sprinting down the hall after his wife and apprentice.

    Through the hallways he ran full speed, calling on the Force to aide his weak body. There were more corpses littering the rooms and halls of the palace but he could sense life forms still within. Most were Hapans but he could feel the agony of his wife against the dark aura of the Mandalorians. When he reached the Queen Mother's private chambers, he stood rooted to his place in the nursery doorway. There in the middle of the room sat the crying form of Tenel Ka with Nelani attempting to give her some consoling words. Before them lay the mutilated body of Ta'a Chume, grandmother of Tenel Ka and Queen Mother of the Hapan Consortium. All around her body were the corpses of not only her personal bodyguard but also Mandalorian crusaders.

    He finally got the courage to walk up to his wife and crouch beside her with an arm around her shoulders. After a few moments she looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, "They were just standing there looking at her like she was nothing but a sack of bantha fodder . . . to destroy her in such a way . . . is there no morality anymore!"

    Jacen pulled her against his chest as she began to sob, her tears wetting his tunic. He had never liked Ta'a Chume even before she tried to kill her granddaughter and her child. After that incident he had let his feelings get the better of him, when he used the Force to send her into a coma with a brain hemorrhage. Anger and no small amount of hate had been the dominant feelings he had for her but now all he could feel was pity and loss.


    . . . . .


    After the Corellian forces led by Jedi General Valin Horn defeated the Mandalorian fleet in orbit, they began landing legions of troops on the surface to aide Jacen Solo and the Hapans who then routed the Mandalorian ground troops. But there was no celebration once victory was achieved. The Queen Mother had fallen and for all the Hapan people had done, they failed to protect the most important woman in their society. Members of the Jedi Council soon arrived with Chief Omas and other political figures and word was received that General Skywalker would be arriving as well.

    Ta'a Chume was laid to rest by way of Hapan ritual and now unrest grew among the multitudes of Hapans over who would become the new Queen Mother. However, secluded in the Fountain Palace, the Jedi Council and those among the Republic and Hapan personnel they trusted were in a deep discussion over recent events.

    "We are all very grieved by the events that have taken place here and your loss weighs heavily upon us all," Luke Skywalker said to Isolder son of Ta'a Chume. The words were true but even Isolder knew that many of the people present did not care much for her.

    Isolder accepted Luke's condolences gratefully. "Thank you, Master Skywalker. However, it cannot change the fact that I have lost a mother and the people have lost their Queen."

    "What are your people's options?" asked Leia Solo.

    Tenel Ka suddenly spoke up in a bitter tone, "We've been over this before."

    "We merely wish to know the options, Tenel Ka," Luke subtly reprimanded. She averted her gaze to the stone floor to avoid looking at anyone.

    Isolder then continued after his daughter's outburst. "Obviously, you would be the people's first choice by far. I could remarry but that would be unfair to both myself and my bride and it would be doubtful that the line would continue." He began to pace and the assembly waited in expectation for him to return from his thoughts. "Our only other choice would be to allow the Royal Court to attempt to elect a new Royal House before they start to plot against each other. This will be the first time in years that the royal line has failed," he said dejectedly.

    "No!" cried Tenel Ka with an air of anger. She was not about to let the throne go to those vultures in the court. "There has to be another way."

    Isolder's face turned dark with anger and yet he still managed to speak in a caring but elevated voice. "Then take your birthright and save your people!" he breathed out.

    Tenel Ka was once again looking at the floor with Isolder gazing eagerly at her. No one in the room dared to speak. Luke had learned long ago as well as Leia that this was an issue that was purely between father and daughter. Jacen was looking between Tenel Ka and her father with unease. The room was as silent as the grave. What had begun as a discussion of Hapes future had suddenly turned into a battle between kindred blood for the right of the throne.

    Luke remained patient but though he seemed to be calm and content on the outside, he was fearful of what the outcome from all this would be. Softly, as if spoken from a young child, a female voice said, "I will."

    Every eye was then trained on Tenel Ka. She lifted up her head and for the first time in years put on the face of royalty as she gazed directly into her father's eyes. "I will reclaim my birthright as Queen Mother of the Hapes Consortium," she declared proudly but somber.

    "Are you sure?" Jacen whispered into her ear, concern etched in his tone.

    Tenel Ka shared a tender look with him before turning away to speak to the assembly. "A Jedi must do her duty and this is mine." She then turned her gaze to Luke who was watching the whole conversation, "I know I chose the Jedi over Hapes on Ossus but I have to do this. Are you angry with me?"

    Luke let his stoic persona fall for the moment and gave her a smile. "No, I could never be angry with you. You had a difficult choice to make and think I speak for everyone here when I say that you are and always will be a Jedi."

    Tenel Ka whispered a thank you to him. Then the Jedi Master asked Isolder, "I believe there is plenty to be done before the coronation?"

    "Yes, we have much to do," Isolder said eagerly. He nodded his head and all the Hapans and lower level personnel left the room.

    Tenel Ka made to follow but she noticed that Jacen was not by her side. She looked back at him with an imploring look. He made a dismissive gesture and said, "The Council has some business to discuss. I'll see you tonight." She sighed but continued on out the door.

    Luke's formerly happy face now held a look of deep concern. "How many losses have we suffered?" he asked.

    Admiral Darklighter was the first to answer. "We lost five cruisers and we're still counting our ground units. I hate to admit it but without the Corellians none of us would be here."

    While Luke was indeed thankful for the arrival of Valin and the Corellian fleet, he could feel the shroud of the dark side around their sudden eagerness to aide in the battle. "And what of the Jedi?" he asked Jaina, the leader of the operation.

    "Our losses were much less. Most of those who died were killed engaging the Mandalorian fleet." Jaina paused for a moment, hesitant to tell her uncle the news.

    "Jaina?" Luke pressed, wishing to know what she was keeping from him.

    The woman lowered her head and stared at the floor until she found her courage and raised her gaze to meet Luke's. "Callista Ming is unaccounted for."

    The Jedi Master's eyes widened at this while he vaguely heard others murmuring amongst themselves. "Are you sure?"

    This time it was Booster Terrik that replied, "She left the Venture shortly after Solo's assault force went. She hasn't been seen since."

    Luke barely registered what was said. He was too busy staring off into space as if he had completely withdrawn from the physical world. Mara was suddenly beside him and placed a hand on his arm shaking him away from his thoughts. "Luke, she's gone," she said in a gentle tone. She had never liked Callista Ming but she knew how much she had meant to her husband.

    "I know," he responded sadly, "It's just . . . it doesn't matter. We should move on to other business."

    Thankfully, Corran spoke up voicing his interest in his son's activities. "Do we know any more about the Corellians involvement?"

    "As I have said before, Valin Horn said they came courtesy of General Skywalker," Darklighter said. He looked pointedly at Luke, "Is there reason to doubt their motives?"

    Luke hesitated. It was obvious to all that the question was meant for him. The Skywalker, Solo and Horn families were the most intrigued by this and eagerly awaited his answer. Still, it required a lot more thought than most people knew. "I am not sure. The Dark Side of the Force clouds everything. But I don't like the way events are unfolding. No one does anything without a motive."

    "Luke-," Kyle Katarn started only to be silenced by Luke himself.

    "My father returned to the light because he could no longer bear to see me, his son, suffering. The Corellians would have needed some type of incentive to fight with the Republic." Luke said all of this as if he were stating common facts that people needed to be reminded of.

    Katarn looked away from Luke feeling like he had been dealt a blow to the heart. He truly felt dirty for making the suggestion. But the point was valid. Had the Corellians benefited from this or did they really have a change of heart? The question remained.

    Luke was similarly perplexed. But he still held to his convictions. "No one changes that quickly without a reason. I think it would be a good idea to keep a closer eye on the fleet and its commanders."

    Corran agreed completely. "I agree. My son was the one to arrive with the Corellians, perhaps we need a different approach to this situation." A chorus of "I agrees" resounded round the room.

    Luke looked at Jacen and the younger man nodded at him. He sighed to himself and shared a glance with Mara. It was time to change tactics.


    . . . . .


    Nelani walked quietly through the halls of the Fountain Palace. Inner turmoil was spreading through her like wildfire ever since she was summoned by Master Solo to meet with the Council. She had never been requested to be in their presence on her own before. Had she done something wrong? The continued to gnaw at her. No, she couldn't have. Master Solo had commended her for her bravery as soon as the invasion was repelled. Maybe it was a new mission or a promotion. She had no way of knowing but something didn't feel quite right about it.

    The Jedi Knight halted just behind the door leading to the Council. She knew she would go in regardless but it was always best to center oneself before entering a room full of Jedi Masters. She took a deep breath, calling on the Force for comfort and entered the room. She was greeted by the sight of the Jedi Council standing in a group, some standing closer together than others. Master Solo beckoned to her with his hand and she glided over to stand by his side.

    Jacen smiled at her for a moment and then turned to Master Skywalker. "She is ready for this, Uncle Luke," he said with a serious face once again.

    "Are you sure, Jacen?" Mara Jade Skywalker asked from her husband's side.

    "Ready for what?" Nelani asked in confusion. She didn't know what they were talking about. The uneasy feeling she had was beginning to intensify in the back of her mind.

    Luke cleared his throat catching her attention. "Jacen believes you are ready for an assignment. Though some of us may have reservations about that."

    An assignment? That was what this was about. It didn't seem like such a big issue but Luke had said some of them didn't agree with Jacen. Why? "Why do you say that?" she asked him.

    However, Jacen was the one to answer the question. "This conversation cannot leave this room. Understand?" At Nelani's nod he continued, "The Council wants you to join the Revanchists and report on all of General Skywalker's and General Horn's dealings. We want to know what they're up to."

    At the mention of Ben Skywalker and Valin Horn her inner feelings turned even more uneasy. That was the reason for Luke's hesitation. The Council was divided on the issue but the vote had passed and now they wanted to know what her reaction would be. "I will do whatever the Council wants of me." She declared confidently. Nelani saw that she had pleased Luke with her reply.

    "As you know, many Jedi have joined the war effort. Your mission is to join their ranks and gain the favor of the admiralty and get close to my son and Knight Horn. Once you glean any useful information you must then transmit it to us as soon as you are able," the Grand Master told her with an even tone. His face then gave her a look of sympathy, "I have been through many wars and I know you will not be excluded from the fighting. Your skills have been honed and they will only get better but no matter how well you performed in battle today, this war will test you in ways you cannot yet realize."

    Nelani swallowed the lump in her throat and responded. "I understand, Master Skywalker. If I may ask, how do I get close to them if I am just another Jedi joining the war effort?"

    Jacen grinned at her. She was very perceptive. "Ben will be arriving tomorrow for the celebration. After it is over you must meet him and play on his pride. He knows that you have been learning advanced saber techniques with me. If you can convince him that you wish to join the Revanchists then relate to him that I told you he was the greatest swordsman in the Order. For one as young as he is, he may be the best. Tell him that you wish to learn from him. If he agrees to teach you then you are well on your way. The rest is up to you."

    "Thank you for having faith in me, Master Solo," Nelani told him gratefully.

    "You have been well trained Nelani. The Force will be with you," Jacen replied. He genuinely believed that she would be successful on her mission.


    . . . . .


    The crowds of people surrounding the Fountain Palace had not been so great in many years. The coronation had gone according to plan and now Tenel Ka Solo was Queen Mother of the Hapes Consortium and Empress of the Empress Teta system. The people had celebrated with rejoicing as Tenel Ka took up the mantle of queen again. It was the Hapan belief that men were incapable of ruling. Many in the Republic did not understand this theology and thus gave their applause with an air of confusion. But for the Hapans themselves, hope had been rekindled and they would avenge the loss of Ta'a Chume.

    The current celebration was not for the Queen Mother but rather a patriotic gathering of the locals signing up for war. Nearly every available Hapan of fighting age had enlisted as the military and the Hapan Royal Navy began to mobilize. The Jedi were currently assisting where need be and Admiral Darklighter was going over strategy with Isolder and the other Hapan commanders. After victory had been achieved, Valin Horn was labeled a hero by the Hapans but they were weary and angered by the presence of the Corellians. While they were thankful for their timely arrival, they had not forgotten what Thrackan Sal-Solo did during the Yuuzhan Vong War. Three quarters of the Hapan Royal Navy was wiped out when Sal-Solo decided to fire Centerpoint Station during the Battle of Fondor and they did not forget or forgive it. But when Ben Skywalker arrived, he was able to persuade the people that the Corellians came to their defense willingly and convinced the Hapans to tolerate if not accept the Corellians.

    Like Valin, Ben was given a hero's welcome by the people and vowed to drive the Mandalorians to the very brink of the galaxy which awarded him favor in their eyes. All of this happened in view of the ever watching eyes of the Jedi and Queen Mother. In a corner away from the Jedi, Ben Skywalker and Valin Horn had been going over reports from the Dxun. So far the battle was going terribly. Losses were mounting on both sides but as the casualty reports came in, it seemed that for every Mandalorian that went down ten Republic soldiers went with him. The fighting was incredibly fierce and it was unknown who was truly winning.

    Finally there was a break in the conversation and Nelani Dinn saw her chance to talk with Ben when the meeting ended and Valin walked away. She made her way slowly over to him from her position on the opposite side of the room. He must have sensed her approach when he turned to greet her. "Knight Dinn, I didn't expect you to speak with me," he said with genuine surprise in his voice.

    Nelani smiled politely. Though she was several years older than Ben he had long surpassed her in both status and skills. "I need to speak to you about a personal issue, if you don't mind."

    It was impossible to tell what his expression was behind the mask but Nelani truly believed he was at the very least mildly intrigued by her sudden confession. "Not at all. What is on your mind?"

    She came closer to him so that they were only a mere foot apart. "I wish to join you and the others in the war." She took a moment to look over his form to gauge his reaction but he showed no emotion whatsoever. "I can no longer ignore it. Not after seeing what happened here . . . what happened to the Queen Mother," she said with a choked voice at the end.

    It was quiet for a moment, neither person moving. Nelani began to feel fear start to grip her heart but that fear was alleviated as Ben spoke. "You do realize you will be facing the possibility of leaving the Jedi Order. Are you not currently learning from Jacen Solo?"

    "Yes, but I was hoping that you could take his place," Nelani said in a low voice. "He often said that you were the greatest duelist in the Order. Master Solo has nothing left to teach me, but I know I could learn much more from you than I ever could with him."

    There it was. Her part of the plan was now over. She had requested to join his ranks and she appealed to his pride by asking for him to train her. Now it was up to Ben to decide whether to accept her request or not.

    Once again he was silent. Ben Skywalker had an uncanny way of unnerving her by simply standing still without speaking. That combined with his mask and dark attire made him a very eerie and polarizing figure. Finally he disturbed her from her thoughts. "I accept your offer. You will be required to follow my lead in all situations. Are you ready to make such a commitment even to the death?"

    Nelani raised her head proudly and said, "Yes. I am ready to follow you to victory and death."

    "Very well. Your training will commence immediately. Report to my ship at dawn tomorrow."

    Nelani bowed her head indicating her submission to his authority, "Yes Master."

    She was about to say more but Ben raised his hand stopping her in mid-thought. "I am not your master, merely your commanding officer. You may use whatever term you wish to address me as I am known by many names to many people."

    Nelani thought for a moment before speaking, "I have heard of some. I think Revan stands out above the others though.

    Ben inclined his head, the first sign other than his voice that made her believe he was actually alive. "That is . . . appropriate. And you would be surprised just how many beings refer to me by that name. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must make preparations."

    He made to walk away but Nelani's voice stopped him in his tracks. "Where are we heading to, General?"

    She eyed him from behind but he didn't turn around. He resumed walking but she heard him quite clearly which sent a cold chill down her spine. "Dxun."


    . . . . .


    Author Note

    I want to thank everyone that has continued following this story over the years. I know it's been over a year since my last update but I have had several problems and time consuming issues to deal with and that has not changed. Sadly, I have to leave this story on the shelf for now. I said it before that I would continue it and I am sticking with it but I don't know when and how often updates will come. This story will be finished SOMEDAY! Thank you to all the suggestions on names but I have decided to stick with Revan and Malak partly because as far as we know their stories are now legends instead of canon which is too bad. As always I love to have reviews and if you want this story to continue sooner than later please review and pm me with your opinions and suggestions. Right now I don't have the motivation to make enough time to write at this point but if the readers want it I may attempt to write quicker. Review and refer others to this story!
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