Title: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Wanderer Author: tyratoku Characters: (Scroll down for a complete list of characters that will appear) Genre: Action / Mystery / Short Stories Timeline: Set shortly after the initial Rise of the Empire with flashbacks into the Clone Wars. Summary: Investigating the deaths of the Jedi as a result from Order 66 and the Great Jedi Purge, Grand Vizier Sate Prestage finds an anomaly. This surprising revelation connects various Jedi from all over the Clone Wars to each other through the appearance of a single mysterious Wanderer - and to a plan that could threaten to destroy the Empire in its infancy... Characters (In Alphabetical order): Commander Chi (Original Character) TK-571 Commander Clutch Glynn-Beti Eeth Koth Voolvif Monn Emperor Palpatine Pix Sate Prestage Imperial Commando Shadow Team (Original Characters) Ulu Ulix Radim Ulura (Original Character) Darth Vader The Wanderer (Original Character) Marcellin Wessel Notes: I started this fic as a type of self-challenge to see if I could write a series of short stories with a small over-arching idea that links them all together. Eventually, it morphed into what you're about to read (if I haven't lost you already! ). As a result, the first three chapters can almost be read as self-contained stories. The way this is structured might be a bit jarring at first, but I have tried to make it as clear as possible how everything is going on. If there are any questions or concerns, feel free to PM me. If the chapters come out as a jumbled and confusing mess, please tell me. I appreciate all of the constructive criticism that I can get. The Clone Wars Wanderer is only five chapters long, and it is all completed already. I should have all five chapters posted with the next week or two, so you won't have to wait long between updates. Table of ContentsPart I : Order 66Part II : The Acid incidentPart III : Ambush on BothuwaiPart IV : JediPart V : The Battle of Coruscant Well without further adieu, here is Chapter One. I hope you guys have as much fun reading it as I had writing it. Thanks everyone. Part I Coruscant was a truly beautiful planet when one stopped to look at it. With a clear blue sky, tall and perfect buildings stretching out as far as the eye could see, and the bright lights of vehicles flying to and fro, it was quite possibly the most unique and eye-catching planet Imperial Grand Vizier Sate Prestage has ever been to, let alone lived on. Grand Vizier was a new title, both to Sate himself and the newly-formed Galactic Empire as a whole. He served as Emperor Palpatine’s right-hand man. His duties were numerous, but some were far more exciting and entertaining than others. His main duty at the moment was by far the most time-consuming. The Jedi were all but eradicated in thanks to both then-Chancellor Palpatine’s Order 66 as well as the Great Jedi Purge that followed shortly thereafter. It was publicly known that a small number of Jedi High Councilmembers stormed into Palpatine’s office and tried to arrest and then kill him, but to the general public it was hard to accept the death of every Jedi galaxy-wide. So, the Emperor himself, one of Prestage’s closest friends and allies, appointed Sate and a small hand-selected group of agents to artificially assign false charges against each and every Jedi in the entire Order. Treason, espionage, embezzlement and/or theft, aiding the enemy, or old-fashioned murder. He leaned back in his chair and sighed deeply. After a few minutes of star-gazing, Sate turned back toward his desk and sighed yet again. “Back to work,” he whispered to himself. A sly grin reached his lips and spread across his face. Work, he thought, the most enjoyable job I’ve ever had! Ha! On his desk were the files of three more Jedi Knights. All were deceased, killed weeks ago in the beginning stages of the Jedi Purge. Ah, Prestage realized as he flipped to the second file, not all are Knights. The second Jedi was in fact a Master that had formerly served in good-standing on the Jedi High Council before his death. “And how were you killed, Master Jedi?” Prestage asked the datapad in front of him with just a hint of glee creeping into his voice. The human male scrolled down through the data until he reached the end. He scrolled back a hair to the start of his last mission and started to read. * * * Missiles streaked by the open bay doors, leaving black and gray contrails in their wake as their onboard targeting software searched for targets. Some of the other targets were hit, and more than a handful of the 50 Republic gunships fell from the sky as the missiles found home. The gunship carrying Jedi Master Eeth Koth was not one of them. The ship shifted back and forth in its descent toward the ground, dodging incoming fire as best as the pilots possibly could. “Thirty seconds!” the Clone pilot called back. The earpiece mounted on Koth’s head allowed him to hear the voice clearly, and as he watched the 18 other clone troopers ready their weapons for the upcoming assault, Koth could tell that they all heard the pilot perfectly as well. Eeth closed his eyes and reached out through the force toward the other Jedi on their separate crafts. While Koth was advised, by Grand Master Yoda himself, to keep the Jedi together, he felt it was more strategically viable to disperse the five Jedi onto different individual ships. If one was shot down, only one Jedi was lost rather than two or three at once if they were all on the same craft. Incidents like that had happened far too many times throughout the war for Koth’s tastes. The gunship came to a sudden halt and cable lines shot out from the vehicle down toward the ground. The soldiers onboard grabbed at their harnesses and made their way to the dirt below. Koth stepped to the edge of the platform and breathed deeply. Into yet another battle. Especially so close after the Battle of Coruscant and the death of Count Dooku himself. The enemy leader was dead, why was the war continuing to drag on? Why were new theaters of battle continuing to spring up? Why was Chancellor Palpatine ordering for more and more troops, ships, gear, and supplies rather than attempting to make ends meet through diplomacy? The questions could go on forever, but Koth was not being paid to answer them. Being paid…ha! Koth thought to himself. The mere idea of a living wage brought a smile to his lips as he jumped off the ledge and fell to the ground. Nearly 900 clone troopers pounded their way up the dirt field toward the Separatist Droid Army. It was a former crop field, torn to shreds and razed to the ground when the Confederate forces landed on the planet a few days earlier. The planet itself, Hogot, was a farming planet full of farmers and their agricultural droids. The largest city numbered less than one hundred people strong, and the actual local population was spread out sparsely enough that Koth had to all but worry that there would be collateral damage suffered throughout the coming campaign. “Droid power generators are coming online now, sir!” a clone commander called out. Koth glanced over his shoulder at the man standing a few meters away. Commander Chi, like all other clones in the Grand Army of the Republic, was grown from the stock of Jango Fett - a notoriously well-known bounty hunter. Every single one of the soldiers on that field that made up the 21st Assault Brigade had white armor with red markings on them, Chi included. The clones that made up the 21st believed themselves to be the current imagining of ancient hellfire demons, born and raised together to cause as much controlled chaos as humanly possible. Koth felt unfavorable, to say the least, about the idea of them being divine beings reincarnated from ancient chaos bringers, but if the idea helped the morale of the soldiers than who was he to interfere? The Zabrak Jedi turned to face the red-and-white covered soldier and smiled. “Then the true battle is about to begin,” he paused to watch more of the gunships lower themselves to the ground and deposit solders onto the dirt. “We need to establish this field as a defensive fall-back, and we need to send some men forward to take out their communications and control posts.” “Yes sir!” Chi started to turn away but Koth reached his hand out to grab the soldier’s shoulder. “Sir?” he asked. Koth bit his lip and spoke softly. “I will lead the group going for the communications station. Chi, I want you to lead the team going for their forward command post.” Commander Chi paused and tilted his head. “Yes, General. See you on the other side.” * * * The door leading to the Grand Vizier’s office opened and an aged Imperial officer walked inside. Sate Prestage let the datapad in his fingers drop down to his desk. Sate climbed to his feet and tilted his head back to look down the bridge of his nose at the man who walked in. “Moff Wessel,” Sate said after a moment’s thought. “Interesting timing. I was just reading one of your reports on a Jedi Master.” Wessel nodded slightly and then looked up abruptly. “Which one, sir?” Marcellin Wessel, a middle aged and recently promoted man, was of average height and slim build. With brilliantly white hair and hazel eyes, Wessel’s only remarkable feature on his face was his abnormally large chin. Visibly nervous, he shifted his weight from foot to foot every few seconds as the Grand Vizier studied him. Prestage raised one of his eyebrows and flashed a quick look down at the datapad. “Master Eeth Koth. I have not yet decided on what order of treason he was executed for. Any ideas?” Wessel’s eyes widened and he flicked them from the datapad in Sate’s hands to the man’s eyes. “Uh, sir, have you, ah, not reached…the end?” Sate’s eyes narrowed and he slowly climbed to his feet. He spread his hands out past shoulder length, resting most of his upper body’s weight on his thin fingers. “Is there something I should be expecting, Moff?” “He’s…not dead, sir.” Sate closed his eyes and took a in a deep breath to calm himself. If not, he would have leapt over his desk and strangled the man right then and right there. “A Jedi Master of Koth’s caliber cannot be allowed to live, Moff. The extinction of the Jedi was to be final and complete. There are supposed to be none left alive. A former Council Member not only disallows that notion, but the idea itself laughs in our faces!” The Moff bounced from foot to foot again before answering. Sweat beaded down his forehead and down his neck. “Those three Jedi in particular….on the files I gave you…I found a common thread between them, though they never fought on the same battlefield at all,” Wessel said. He wiped his tongue on the roof of his mouth, which was suddenly impossibly dry. “And there are possibly more…I have a half dozen other Jedi files in my office right now that could possibly have the same common link.” Prestage scoffed. “And what ‘common link’ is that, Wessel? Judging by this file, I am hoping you are not about to tell me that three former council-members are alive and well.” “No,” Moff Wessel replied quickly. “They all were aided by a…a Wanderer throughout the Clone Wars.” Sate looked down at his datapad again and stifled a coming smile. “A ‘Wanderer’? Moff, surely you must be joking.” The Moff suddenly sprang forward and pointed his finger at the datapad. “Continue reading, sir. You’ll see what I mean. I promise. This Wanderer not only anticipates Order 66, but also prevents the assassination of Master Koth. The Wanderer aids Koth in his escape!” Reluctantly, Sate Prestage sunk back into his chair. He grabbed the datapad with both hands, looked up at Wessel again as if to check to see if the man was playing a joke, and then dove back into the file’s history on the late Jedi Master Eeth Koth. * * * With a dramatic flurry of strikingly glorious thespian flair, Master Koth pushed both hands forward with his fingers open and palm facing the front doors of the Separatist communications building. The outer perimeter of the camp was already devoid of droid forces, thanks to Koth, a pair of Advanced Recon Commandos, and twenty well-trained clone troopers. The pair of durasteel doors crumpled with screaming protest, but collapsed none the less. Immediately, the two ARC troopers sprang inside with weapons raised. As Koth strode forward, flashes of blue light periodically blazed from inside the building, signaling the almost silent blaster fire from the ARC trooper’s suppressed rifles. Koth stepped through the doors with his brilliantly-glowing emerald lightsaber in his right hand. One of the ARC troopers came back for Koth and spoke quickly. “The clankers are bunkered down in the control room, General. Doors thicker than the last are already in place and seem to be welded shut. They’ve got it locked down tight.” Koth tilted his head and softly asked, “Is that so?” The ARC trooper, hidden behind his facemask and helmet, seemed far too enthusiastic for the situation at hand. “Oh, yes sir. Can I ask that we show them the error in their ways?” Koth sighed. “I suppose we could.” The trio of men walked down a wide hallway that ended with what almost looked to be a solid wall. What had been an opening a few minutes before was now a meter-thick wall of metal alloy. While Eeth felt he could cut through it easily enough with a lightsaber if he had the time, he wanted this battle to be over sooner rather than later. Coming off of the hallway was one other door, leading to what appeared to be a supplies closet filled with random parts and assorted junk. “Do you think that end of the room,” Eeth pointed toward a far wall closest to the control room. “Has the same thick wall as that door out there?” The ARC troopers looked at each other in confusion. “Stand back,” Koth ordered. He stepped close to the far wall and grinned. His lightsaber cut into the wall with an appealingly large shower of sparks. This wall was indeed much thinner than the door not far away. Even as Koth started to cut through, he wondered why the droids inside were so quiet. Nearly silent, even. Within seconds, the door was cut large enough for all three to step through. Koth pushed it inwards with a telekinetic force blast. The improvised door flew inwards and crashed into a command console. Koth leaned back to catch a breath of fresh non-ionized air and then dashed through after the ARCs. As he did, he heard both clones start yelling at the top of their lungs. “Freeze!” “Hands in the air!” Eeth climbed to a standing position and looked out across the control room. It was a mess of droid parts, blaster score marks, and organic body-parts from the handful of non-human Separatist officers downed on the metal floor. With all enemies already down for the count, Koth disabled his lightsaber and watched his companions do their work. The only person standing, aside from the Jedi and his two allies, was an average-heighted male wearing a heavy brown full body cloak. Obscured behind a large command console, only his upper body was visible. The cloak covered most of his torso, his hood was up and covered the upper half of his face, while the lower half was exposed to the artificial light mounted on the ceiling. “I’m a friend,” the man said with his hands near his shoulders. His voice was steady, but had an accent that Koth had only heard a few times in his travels. “Let me see your face!” one of the ARCs yelled. The other turned away from the scene with his hand on the side of his helmet. He was getting a communications message from somebody outside. “I can’t do that,” the man replied. “I’m here to help. Please don’t-,” he stopped as his eyes fell upon Koth. “Master Jedi,” he said with a flash of perfect white teeth. “Please let me go. I have done nothing wrong. In fact, I did your job for you. I destroyed all of these droids, killed the Confederate leadership and even disabled their long-range emergency distress signal. They won’t be getting reinforcements any time soon.” The man paused and looked at the ARC trooper standing by himself in the corner of the room. “Master Jedi, you are going to want to turn your lightsaber back on. Good luck.” The man slapped at a button under his cloak and suddenly a cloud of bluish smoke erupted from a carefully-placed grenade mounted on a wall nearby. The man disappeared into the mist and before Koth could make a move toward him, he heard one of the ARC’s speak softly to the other, “Kill him.” Koth turned to face them both as the other almost whispered an apology. Even so, both Republic soldiers had rifles raised and pointed directly at Eeth’s face. Koth ignited his lightsaber and jumped into the air as both ARC troopers opened fire. He deflected one of the troopers’ initial few rounds, but the rest of them found home and struck him beneath his chest. The Jedi Master contorted in mid-air and landed on his knees and elbows. He rolled away underneath a console overhang as both troopers sprinted after him. With the smoke all around, combined with the burnt discharge billowing from the ends of the soldiers’ blasters, Koth had additional cover to work with in an attempt to thwart the clones before they hit him again. Slag, the holes burned on his body from where he was struck. Already, Koth did his best to transcend the physical pain beyond his normal thresholds with the aid of the Jedi technique known as Crucitorn. Even so, it hardly helped with the three wounds spread around his body. And he could not help but feel more pain was on the way. Koth sprang out from behind one of the consoles and swung his lightsaber in a semi-circle. Caught off-guard, the nearest clone could do little but scream before he was beheaded and dropped unceremoniously to the floor. The Zabrak tucked and rolled himself to a stop on the far side of the other clone, who attempted to adjust his aim before Koth brought his blade through the clone’s waist. Cut in half, the soldier collapsed to the floor with hardly a gasp of air. “Why? Why would you do this?” Koth asked their motionless bodies. “I have done nothing wrong!” Through his connection to the force, he suddenly felt a great disturbance – the sudden deaths of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of Jedi throughout the galaxy. “No!” Koth screamed into the air. He dove through the hole he cut into the room, tucked into a roll, and came up on his feet in a dead sprint. Koth ran down a hallway and out through the front doors of the building, before he came to a stop in the middle of the dirt that served as the common ground of the small base. It was a mistake. Koth had not thought it through,had not believed that the insubordination, mutiny, and murderous plot had gone further than the two clones with him in the command center. Surrounding him on all sides, both at his level and standing on top of nearby buildings, were nearly thirty clone troopers with rifles pointed at him. Not ten meters away was the blaster-hole-ridden and deceased form of Jedi Master Saldith, an Ithorian intellectual who was often asked to analyze battle plans before assaults. Commander Chi emerged from behind a nearby shed with his helmet off and clipped to his belt. “Master Koth,” he said quietly. Eeth Koth lowered his lightsaber to point at the dirt below his feet. The weapon was hardly going to be of use. “Commander Chi.” He said with a slight bob of his head. “On order of the Supreme Chancellor, all Jedi have been judged to be treasonous against the Galactic Senate. Accept your punishment – your execution – with honor.” Jedi Master Eeth Koth closed his eyes and accepted his fate. He relished in the thought of becoming one with the Force. But it never came. An explosion sounded and Koth felt the shockwave spread from his feet through his knees. He opened his eyes and saw a large storage shed burning steadily. The four Clones in front of it, and the six that had been atop it, were all blackened and ashen-ridden corpses. A second building detonated in a cloud of fire and smoke, and twelve more Clones collapsed to the ground. The cloaked figure from inside the building appeared from behind a parked speeder. He had a blaster rifle in his hands and expertly fired it at the exposed Clones all around him. Koth narrowed his eyes and lunged forward, swinging his lightsaber at any Clone that came near. Two ran toward him, forcing him to drop down and let his momentum carry him forward on one sliding knee. He flicked his wrist and one soldier was cut down at the knees while the other was bisected at the waist. Koth anchored his foot and let the Force carry him to his feet. The Zabrak Jedi Master found himself less than a meter away from three more soldiers. He shoved his left hand forward and blasted two of the Clones away with a telekinetic blast. The last soldier met his end when Eeth pressed his blade through the man’s chest. Within seconds, the Republic soldiers’ numbers were whittled down to the low number of only three – one of which was their leader, Commander Chi. The three soldiers stood in a straight line with rifles pointed at Koth and the mysterious figure. “Glad you could make it, Mister…?” Koth asked the man as he approached. The cloaked man simply smiled under his heavy hood. Koth turned again to the soldiers and saw that all three had dropped their weapons. Commander Chi stepped forward a half-step and lowered his head to look up from his brow at the Jedi and his newfound companion. “General, they were all just following my orders.” He looked out at the twenty-seven other soldiers dead on the ground. “Spare these last two. Take my life instead.” Koth stepped forward, teeth bared, with his saber held high. He twitched his arm – then felt a hand on his shoulder. “Master Koth...this isn’t the Jedi way. They’ll meet their end soon enough.” Koth lowered his hand, let the anger leave him, and resignedly sighed in disappointment. “Thank you.” The stranger smiled under his hood, pointed at the soldiers, and snapped his fingers. All three immediately fell into a deep and undisturbed slumber. * * * Grand Vizier Sate Prestage looked up from his datapad to see Moff Marcellin Wessel staring directly into his eyes. “Do you now see what I mean?” he asked. Prestage gritted his teeth and looked back down at his datapad. “This…Wanderer does not concern me. The fact that Master Eeth Koth continues to walk in the great Emperor’s galaxy is another matter entirely…” Moff Marcellin Wessel let his eyes fall to the floor. “I apologize, sir. I should have told you sooner. I was on my way and transferred you the files before I left my office-.” Prestage waved his hand in dismissal. “Shut your mouth, Wessel. I do not wish you to speak another word. Do you have a lead as to where Master Koth is, or not? We need him killed. Yesterday.” Wessel scratched at his throat, tilting his head down toward his right shoulder. Sate rolled his eyes and snapped, “You may speak, dog!” The Moff smiled weakly. “Read the other two files, sir. I think they have some clues…” Prestage eyed the middle-aged man and frowned. The second file was of a young Jedi Knight on a reconnaissance mission to the Hutt-controlled world of Nar Shaddaa... ______________________________________________________________________ Well, what did you all think?