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The Sands of Time: 500 Years after Return of the Jedi

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction Stories--Classic JC Board (Reply-Only)' started by Old Juan, Aug 16, 1999.

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  1. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    <It is hard to believe that this story has been going on for 17 months. Now that the end is finally in sight, I am very glad I had the opportunity to write this wonderful tale. I am also thankful that there are still people reading it . . . even though it *would* be nice if there were a few more.>

    At first glance, the view of Coruscant from space reminded Obi-Wan very much of what it had looked like over five centuries ago. Artificial structures completely covered the planet; there was no sign whatsoever of nature. This had not changed over those long years, but to a powerful Jedi it was clear, even from this distance, that things were actually very different. He could sense an uncountable number of sentient beings on the planet, but there was an underlying current of fear and despair beneath all their presences. Nothing of the sort had been there when Obi-Wan lived on Coruscant during his Jedi training. It was worse now than even after Palpatine had taken over. Of course, back then most citizens of the Republic had not been aware of what was truly going on. In this age, the people of Coruscant knew perfectly well that they lived in some of the poorest conditions in the galaxy, and the recent disappearances which had plagued them only compounded their problems. To Obi-Wan Kenobi, all this was evident. To an untrained observer, however, the only difference between this view of Coruscant and the same one five hundred years ago was that the planet's surface was a bit less shiny.

    As Obi-Wan made these observations, the Republic fleet approached the planet and the ships waiting in orbit. All the Republic forces, 126 vessels in all, had arrived within minutes of each other, and now they would hopefully be joined by another sizeable fleet. Coruscant came closer, and Obi-Wan began to see the small, metallic forms of numerous spacecraft arrayed in orbit.

    "Coruscant ships," High Admiral Serra Harsekk spoke. Harsekk sat in her command chair on the Alderaan VII's bridge, near where Obi-Wan stood. "This is High Admiral Serra Harsekk in command of the Republic Navy. Are you prepared to enter battle?"

    "This is Tae Sorian, aboard the freighter Firebird," replied a male voice. Obi-Wan smiled. The smuggler had made good on his plan. "We are ready, and await your orders."

    "Good. We should have the coordinates of the Sith base shortly. Stand by." Harsekk switched off her comm. "Jedi Kenobi, Jedi Kah?"

    Obi-Wan and Judu Kah, who stood on the other side of Harsekk's command chair, stepped forward. The admiral pressed a button, and a holographic representation of the Coruscant system appeared in front of them. "Ready?" asked Obi-Wan. Judu Kah nodded, and the two Jedi closed their eyes and reached out with the Force.

    The presences of the beings on Coruscant glowed brightly on the mental image that Obi-Wan created. This was due to one thing: the sheer number of people there. Obi-Wan quickly passed over them; there was no sign of the Sith base on the planet itself. Next he sensed the Republic troops in the fleet, and then the relatively small number of beings on Coruscant's moons. He lingered on these satellites for a few moments, but could feel nothing to suggest the Sith were there. So he cast his probe out toward the vast space occupying the rest of the system.

    Obi-Wan could feel Judu Kah searching at the same time. Her mental probe crossed his on several occasions as they went about the enormous area they had to search. There was a whole lot of empty space to deal with. Occasionally, Obi-Wan came across the presences inside a starfaring vessel, but traffic in the system seemed light. Not a surprise.

    He was coming to the outer reaches of the solar system now. He searched across hundreds of millions of miles, trying to feel those presences he knew must be--*There!* A cluster of mind senses, larger than anything Obi-Wan had felt outside of the planet itself and the ships around it. There were many beings there, yet there was something very strange about their presences. They all
  2. sith1336

    sith1336 Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jul 19, 2000
    great post. keep it up.
  3. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    Almost as soon as it had entered hyperspace, the freighter Firebird dropped back out. Tae Sorian's hands were ready at the controls for whatever awaited him, and he saw--

    Nothing. Looking straight out of his viewport, the only objects visible were stars. Other ships were there, in his peripheral vision, but they were all allied forces. No sign of the Sith.

    "What's going on?" came a voice over the Firebird's comm system, that of the freighter's gunner.

    "I don't know," said Tae. "Wait and see. They have to be around here somewhere. . . ."

    * * *

    "We don't pick up anything on sensors," Serra Harsekk said. "What do you think, Jedi Kenobi?"

    "They must be cloaked," Kenobi's voice replied. The Jedi was currently in his shuttle, still docked in the Alderaan VII's bay. "They can't hide forever, though. Move forward, but be careful."

    Serra activated the comm frequency for the entire Republic force. "All ships, maintain current heading, but proceed with caution. We suspect the enemy is hidden under cloaking devices. Fighters, exit your cruisers and form up around the fleet's perimeter."

    In response to her orders, scores of tiny Republic and Coruscant ships were disgorged from the hangars of the massive vessels which carried them. The fighters swarmed into space, then grouped up into squadrons and moved to their positions around the fleet. Hundreds of warcraft now moved steadily forward through the cold vacuum, waiting for the battle to begin.

    * * *

    *Lord Ebony.*

    *Yes, Master?*

    Darth Spectre paused, savoring the moment. His greatest victory was at last imminent, and a thin smile crept upwards on his wrinkled face. The Sith Lord sat in his command room, flanked by Darth Varelse and Darth Ruin. He looked briefly to each of the two warriors, taking pleasure at the controlled fury within them, before sending a mental signal across kilometers of space to his one other living apprentice.


    * * *

    Sarn Zor'sya cautiously piloted his X-81 forward, watching intently for any signs of danger. He flew in the lead position among a full squadron of X-81s, while similar-looking X-80s stretched out across space to either side. Just behind them, the mighty Republic fleet cruised toward its unseen target.

    "Hold steady, Gray Squadron," ordered Sarn, as a group of X-80s crept forward, a bit out of the formation. "Stay on the lookout for enemy ships."

    "I don't see any enemy ships," replied an angry-sounding Gray Leader. Sarn recognized the voice--it was "Gunner," the commander of Republica's starfighter forces whom the Bothan had had an unpleasant encounter with after defeating in the sims.

    "They're out there," began Sarn; then he felt a sudden sensation of terrible danger. "Go evasive!"

    For a split-second, the X-80s did not respond--and then they were wiped out in a glowing emerald barrage.

    * * *

    "We're under attack!" exclaimed a panicked bridge officer. "Turbolaser barrages and torpedo strikes! Several starfighters down, and--capital ships taking hits!"

    Serra cringed as she watched a pair of frigates go up in flames. Rubbing suddenly sweaty palms together, she tried to fight down her nerves. What a way for her first major combat engagement to begin!

    "Track the source of the attack," she ordered. "All ships, open fire!"
  4. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    A sudden wave of fear rolled over Obi-Wan, but before he could even comprehend its meaning he was hit by a far greater disturbance in the Force. It was like a sharp claw tearing into his very soul. In the blink of an eye, thousands of lives had been ended, and the terrible destruction did not stop. It became even worse. The Jedi was reminded of the complete annihilation of the planet Alderaan he had sensed so many years ago. This time, the scale was much smaller, but the deaths were much closer by; the shock he felt was nearly as great.

    Sitting across from him in the shuttle's passenger compartment, Keiran and Andiell were obviously feeling the same things. Andiell gasped, while Keiran muttered a curse as the disturbance hit them. Perhaps for those two it was even worse than for Obi-Wan. Both were well-tuned to the Force, and chances were that neither had ever encountered this much death at one time.

    "This is what real battle is like," Obi-Wan said, shaking his head. "Such killing is a terrible thing, but sometimes it cannot be avoided."

    "Just sitting here makes it worse. I want to do something about this!" said Keiran, and Andiell nodded. Deep inside, Obi-Wan felt the same way. Being in the midst of such violence and unable to do a thing to stop it was not a good feeling. Before they had come to the Coruscant system, he would have preferred a few more days of preparation before the battle. Now, however, he wanted to get into action as soon as possible. These thoughts were not brought on by rashness, arrogance, vengeance, or any other such dangerous feelings. Rather, Obi-Wan had a very strong sense of duty, and he knew that the Jedi were the key to this battle.

    But they would have to wait until there was an opening for the shuttle to exit this ship and fly onto the enemy base. There was no telling how long it would be until that happened--and the deaths continued.

    * * *

    Sarn nearly panicked when the first shots were fired. The sims could never have prepared him for this. Before they had even seen their enemies, the Republic forces had lost a sizeable chunk of their fleet! The Bothan brought his breathing back to a steady rate, drawing on the Force to calm himself, then surveyed the situation. Most of the starfighters under his command were flying wild, uncoordinated patterns as barrage after barrage of turbolaser fire shot past them in both directions. There was still no indication, however, of whether the energy beams shot by the Republic fleet were hitting their targets. *If they aren't, we're in trouble.*

    "Form back up!" ordered the Bothan. "Enemy fire is concentrating on our capital ships, but stay alert." The numerous squadrons of starfighters slowly obeyed his commands, regrouping into somewhat sloppy formations. Sarn reminded himself that most of those pilots had just as much real-life combat experience as he did--absolutely none--and unfortunately, they did not share his extraordinary gifts.

    The endless streams of red and green lasers continued to light up space. Several more Republic ships went down before there was finally a sign of the enemy.

    Where a moment ago there had been nothing, a line of warships appeared against the starfield. Small explosions dotted the hulls of a few, but all continued to send out their deadly fire toward the Republic fleet. It was a strange mixture of vessels. A few were huge, menacing cruisers with black hulls. But there were also some familiar models there, even a Peacekeeper-class. The Sith had obviously put the craft they had captured to use.

    "All ships, continue attack. Close for engagements with enemy ships," came Admiral Harsekk's voice. Sarn glanced down at the displays in his cockpit. The new vessels present were greatly outnumbered by friendly ships--but he felt certain that not all of the Sith's forces had appeared from under their cloaks. And there was still no sign of the base itself.

    "Squadrons . . . Howler and Blade, set up attack runs on the enemy cruisers," ordered Sarn, as he piloted his X-81 fo
  5. sith1336

    sith1336 Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jul 19, 2000
    great posts. up
  6. sith1336

    sith1336 Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jul 19, 2000
    just wondering if you described what darth ruin and ebony look like? i'm sure you did, and i'm just to lazy to look back through the whole story.
  7. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    Darth Ebony is a Twi'lek whose skin is tattooed completely black. Darth Ruin is a human, not much description given really.
  8. sith1336

    sith1336 Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jul 19, 2000
    thanks for the descriptions, can't wait for the next post.
  9. Old Juan

    Old Juan Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 1, 1999
    Sweetness!!!! I can't waint for the final confrontation between Obi and Spectre.
  10. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    <I'm sorry this post took so long. I've been suffering from a bit of writer's block, plus I had a fairly busy week.>

    Flanked by scores of allied vessels, the Peacekeeper-class cruiser Alderaan VII drove into the heart of the enemy formation. Turbolasers flashed through space on all sides, missiles and torpedoes roared toward their targets, and myriad starfighters danced among the capital ships. Republic forces were dropping by the minute, but so far the Alderaan VII herself had taken few hits. The cruiser's shields were holding strong. *A very good thing,* Serra Harsekk reflected. *For this ship carries a precious cargo.*

    The pair of Jedi strike teams had not exited the cruiser's hangar yet. The Sith base had still not shown up on sensors, and it would be best if the assault shuttles could avoid any lengthy periods of dogfighting. There was no telling how many ships the enemy could throw at them, and those shuttles were much safer protected by the Alderaan's shields as well as most of the Republic fleet. *For the time being.*

    The admiral kept a close watch on the course of the battle, her eyes constantly moving between various sensor displays and the view out the transparisteel viewports of the bridge. "Squad Five-Delta, set course at bearing thirty and try to get past their first line of defense," she ordered.

    "Yes, Ma'am," replied the commander of the specified squad's flagship. Forward and slightly off to starboard, a Peacekeeper, along with several frigates and corvettes, broke from the Republic formation and charged ahead. Serra flicked her gaze over to port, where two Peacekeepers flew side by side--exchanging turbolaser fire with each other! She did a double take, but it was true. One of those ships must have been captured by the Sith and converted to their sinister uses.

    Serra looked down to a sensor display, checking on Squad Delta-Five's progress. She cringed as the icon for a frigate winked out of existence. The squad's Peacekeeper slowed to engage a pair of enemy cruisers--and then a trio of corvettes slipped through!

    * * *

    "Follow those corvettes!" exclaimed Tae to the four allied fighters who flew alongside the Firebird. He watched excitedly as three Republic ships flew into empty space, gunning his engines to catch up to them. The enemy base could be near . . .

    Suddenly, an explosion rocked his ship. "Shavit!" he muttered, realizing that one of the friendly starfighters had been blown up at close proximity. He glanced down at his sensors to see where the killing shots had come from. A very unfriendly freighter hung on the Firebird's tail. *YT-4300.* A similar, slightly newer model to the ship he flew. *Let's see what they've got.*

    "Take 'em out," ordered Tae. He sent the Firebird into a downward loop, grinning as his gunner opened up and scored a hit on the enemy. The other freighter juked away, but was then bombarded by one of the Coruscant fighters. Tae glanced at his sensors. Two more enemy ships were charging toward the fray. *Better make this fast.*

    Pushing the Firebird's capabilities to the max, he made a tight turn, got onto his foe's six, and popped off a concussion missile. A brilliant explosion lit up the cockpit's viewport. The Firebird shot straight through the cloud of YT-4300 debris--and when it came back out, a good fifteen enemy capital ships were visible where there had previously been empty space. And they were showing no signs of going easy with their weapons.
  11. SueAsideRide

    SueAsideRide Jedi Master star 4

    Oct 5, 2000
    I've just been reading through this fic over the last week, and I'm very impressed. Good job, Jeff42! More, please.
  12. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    <Thanks, SueAsideRide!>

    "Two, cut throttle," ordered Sarn. His wingmate did so, and the Bothan likewise throttled down his starfighter's engines. Just as his instincts had told him, a burst of turbolaser fire shot in, but thanks to the quick maneuver it missed--and an instant later the source of the attack zoomed out in front of his ship. A trio of Sith fighters suddenly found themselves right in Sarn's targeting brackets, and within seconds all three were destroyed. Two of the kills went to Sarn, the third to Iota Two.

    Fortunately, the enemy fighters did not seem to be possessed of a great deal of skill. Unfortunately, neither did most of the Republic's own pilots. Sarn gave a quick check to his sensor display as he swept around to look for more targets. The allied forces had already suffered great losses.

    Up ahead, a Republic frigate and a Sith vessel of similar size were slugging it out. The two warships, side by side, exchanged nonstop barrages of deadly fire with each other. Blast after blast of glowing turbolasers leapt across the vacuum between the dueling vessels, impacting against shields and occasionally finding hull. A large explosion appeared on the Sith ship--but almost immediately after, an even larger fireball completely engulfed the friendly frigate. Sarn, vectoring toward the pair, watched as two squadrons of the deadly black enemy starfighters raced through the wreckage. Checking their course, he realized instantly where they were headed. Sarn's eyes bulged. They were going right into the heart of the Republic fleet. They were going to attack the Alderaan VII!

    "After them!" Sarn growled, transmitting coordinates to all nearby Republic fighters. He pushed his throttle to the max, and the sleek X-81 burned through space toward the enemy squadrons. The Sith ships seemed just as fast, however. They would likely be able to get some shots off. *Hopefully not enough.*

    Sarn watched as the Sith fighters opened up with their lasers. The Alderaan returned fire with blasts from its turbolaser cannons, but hitting such small ships was a difficult task. The Republic flagship's shields were holding--suddenly, a group of missiles streaked away from the group of Sith craft. At this distance, Sarn could only hope they did not do any major damage.

    He glanced at his targeting display. The range was dropping, dropping . . . *Now!* "Open fire,!" exclaimed Sarn, squeezing hard on his trigger. Red laserfire flashed outward from his cannons and those of the fighters with him. They were still rather far away, but a couple hits were scored on the enemies. A few of the Sith ships changed course, heading back toward the Republic fighters. The rest continued their attack on the Alderaan VII.

    The newly incoming ships did not dally in turning their laser cannons on their former pursuers. "Four--" began Sarn--but before he said anything more an X-81 exploded off to his starboard side.

    * * *

    "There's a hole in our forward shields!"

    "Redirect shield energy!" ordered Admiral Serra Harsekk. She watched tensely as a group of Sith fighters continued their unrelenting barrage on her flagship. One was obliterated in a flash of red turbolasers, but a good ten remained. And then they let off another round of missiles . . .

    "Redirecting energy . . ." reported a bridge officer. "Hull breach in sector twenty-seven!"

    * * *

    The first loss of a ship from his own squadron shocked Sarn. Then an enemy laser blast glanced off his own fighter. His shields dropped--but no real damage was done. *Stay calm,* he ordered himself. The Bothan called out to the Force, and it was there to obey his commands. He whipped off a barrage to take out one of the Sith fighters, then flew right past the rest and toward the ones that still harrassed the Alderaan. He did not let go of his firing trigger, spraying the space his enemies were in with destructive blasts of energy. And their responses were far too slow.

    * * *

    Serra breathed a sigh of relief as the last of the nearby Sith fi
  13. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    "We've found it, all right," Admiral Harsekk reported to Obi-Wan. "The Sith base has appeared on sensors. Unfortunately, the bulk of the enemy fleet is between us and our target. We're currently plotting the best course to reach it, as well as scanning for a good docking location for your shuttles. We've got starfighter escorts standing by."

    "Good," replied Obi-Wan. "We're ready to launch whenever you are. And the sooner the better, as far as I am concerned."

    "Right," said Harsekk. Obi-Wan heard her begin an order to her bridge crew; then the comm cut off. He turned to regard the other two Jedi who waited with him.

    "That's good news," commented Andiell. "This waiting seems to last forever." She and Keiran sat close together, hand in hand. Obi-Wan sensed them working as one to ward off any nervousness or fear that tried to sneak in and undermine their preparation. It was a good feeling.

    "It can seem like that," he agreed. "But the important thing is not to let that or any other distraction affect you. We must succeed." For if they did not, the deaths of tens of thousands today would all be for nothing.

    * * *

    "We've been assigned with escorting the Jedi assault shuttles," said Sarn to his squadmates. "We're to hold steady with the Alderaan VII until further orders come in."

    "Copy, Lead," said Iota Three. "Any idea how long that's gonna be?"

    "Not really. . . ." Sarn's sensors beeped as a pair of Sith fighters approached, but both were destroyed before they entered his range. The Bothan kept a casual hand on his controls. His X-81 drifted forward as the nearby Republic flagship began its careful entrance into the most heated zone of the battle.

    * * *

    Darth Spectre closed his eyes, then slowly moved the full focus of his senses onto the numerous minds under his control. The battle was going well so far, with Republic casualties far outnumbering those of his forces. But Sith losses were rising. There was so much ongoing action, so many complex maneuvers . . .

    He felt a drain on his Force abilities. He felt slightly . . . *weaker.* It would not affect the outcome, of course, but he was even beginning to momentarily lose his grasp on a few of those minds.

    He needed more power!

    "My apprentices." Darth Spectre re-opened his eyes and raised himself from his command chair. "Come with me."
  14. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    The Peacekeeper-class cruiser Alderaan VII unleashed the full power of her turbolaser batteries at her target. Vicious red beams of energy repeatedly pounded away at the Sith cruiser that sat in front of the Republic flagship. The return fire was just as heavy, and both ship's shields were steadily dropping. *If we can just take care of that one cruiser . . .*

    "Corvettes Santi and Flame, move in," ordered Admiral Serra Harsekk through clenched teeth. She knew that she was most likely sending those ships and the beings aboard them to their ends. But if, in dying, they could clear away this obstacle and bring the Republic to victory . . .

    The two corvettes, tiny in comparison to their target, came in on both sides of the Sith warship. With concentrated firepower, they began to rip holes into the enemy's energy shielding. They would not be able to withstand the heavy assault they were taking, however. The steady back and forth barrage continued for a few seconds. Then, not surprisingly, the Santi turned into a bright fireball against the Sith cruiser's black hull--

    "Their shields are down!" Serra's eyes shot to a sensor readout. It was true! The little corvette must have gotten in close enough that its destruction caused collateral damage to take out the enemy's shielding.

    "Missile barrage!" she ordered, just as the Flame was destroyed as well. Scores of warheads raced from the Alderaan's launchers, adding to the torrent of turbolasers. Before long, explosions appeared all across the enormous hull of the enemy cruiser.

    "They're taking heavy damage," reported an officer. Serra smiled grimly, soaking up the expectant air that pervaded the bridge. She peered down at a display screen, then glanced back at the main viewport--just in time to see a massive ball of flames rip through the midsection of the Sith cruiser. Her crewers let out a brief but jubilant cheer as the enemy ship was split into hundreds of pieces. Debris scattered throughout the area, and when it had dispersed Serra got her first clear view of her adversary's base.

    It was a rougly circular structure, its diameter perhaps twice the length of a Peacekeeper-class. Off to either side, long, thin walkways extended, presumably for ships to dock with. There were none there now. The station's hull followed the same color scheme as the Sith's battleships. *They sure do love darkness.*

    The base appeared to grow larger as the Alderaan VII cruised toward her target. Serra watched a distance display, measuring out times and probabilities in her mind. At last, the proper moment came.

    "Assault shuttles, launch now."

    * * *

    *At last.* The shuttle's engines roared to life, and within seconds the ship had cleared the Alderaan VII's hangar bay and entered vacuum. Nearby, the shuttle carrying Andiell, Cilian, and Judu Kah followed a similar course. Obi-Wan quickly made his way to the vessel's cockpit to get a visual reading on the situation.

    Up ahead, the Sith base loomed large. The presence of the dark Master was now readily audible to Obi-Wan's senses. Confrontation was near.

    Closer by, Republic starfighters flew in an escort formation. "Master Kenobi?"

    "Sarn, is that you?" replied Obi-Wan, smiling.

    "We're right with you," the Bothan's voice came back over the shuttle's comm. "No enemy starfighters are going to get in your way."

    "They had better not." Obi-Wan's words were only half in jest. Quite a few Sith fightercraft were already heading in their direction.
  15. sith1336

    sith1336 Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jul 19, 2000
    great posts. keep up the great story.
  16. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    "Nearby, the shuttle carrying Andiell, Cilian, and Judu Kah followed a similar course."

    I'm an idiot. That should say Varian, Cilian, and Judu Kah. :-(

    Okay, on with the story...


    Before any enemy fighters could get within range, their Republic counterparts had surrounded the pair of Jedi shuttles. "Just follow us," ordered Sarn. "We'll take you in."

    "Copy, Iota Leader," replied the shuttle's pilot, and at that moment Sith lasers flashed green.

    Fortunately, they were too far away to do any damage to the assault shuttles. Errant shots were lost in the cold vacuum, while the Republic fighters quickly returned fire. One Sith craft went down, another; then a friendly fighter exploded. It wasn't Sarn, Obi-Wan knew immediately. He reached out to touch his apprentice's mind and found an aura of calm confidence that was only slightly blemished. *This really is what he was meant to do,* thought Obi-Wan, smiling. He was proud of the young Bothan. Sarn would be safe in this battle, he felt.

    But that was not necessarily the case for the other pilots. Another Republic craft was shot up by enemy lasers. It went spinning away, and a second later was out of sight. The Sith fighters seemed to be dropping faster, but there were more of them attacking as well. . . .

    The enemy base came nearer and nearer. Now Obi-Wan could make out sensor emplacements, access hatches, and many other structures, including some strange devices which must have been the cloak generators. His strike teams were almost there. If those fighters could be held off a few seconds longer, the shuttles would be able to dock.

    Then a pair of the Sith craft broke through the Republic formation. They let loose a barrage toward the Jedi-carrying vessels. Obi-Wan's shuttle took a few hits, but they were absorbed by shields. The pilot went into evasive maneuvers--

    Suddenly, the assault shuttle was rocked by a powerful blast. Obi-Wan was jolted forward, and had to grab onto the pilot's seatback to maintain balance. The man turned to face him, eyes wide. "Engine's been hit!"

    * * *

    Judu Kah's assault shuttle flew through the expanding debris cloud from a Sith starfighter, and at last they had reached their target. As the pilot began careful docking maneuvers, Judu strode quickly toward the shuttle's exit. "This is it," she said.

    Varian and Cilian nodded, both gripping the lightsabers that hung at their belts. For a brief moment, Judu felt naked, defenseless. *No. The Force is with me.*

    She felt a vibration beneath her feet as the shuttle docked with the massive Sith base. An exit hatch slid open, bringing the Jedi Master face to face with another metal barrier, this one painted black. She called on the Force, feeling the door's internal mechanisms with her mind, and within seconds this hatch too came open. *Danger!* a voice screamed in her mind.

    But there was no one in the immediate vicinity. The other Jedi strike team was in trouble! But the sensation went away quickly. They must be all right, she decided. Hopefully Obi-Wan and the others would arrive her soon.

    Varian and Cilian stepped out first, taking cautious steps. Judu followed and found herself in a long, dim corridor. "That way." She gestured in the direction of the strong, dark presence that was the enemy leader. The trio walked a few meters, but then Judu felt something strange. The Sith Master was . . . getting farther away?
  17. sith1336

    sith1336 Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jul 19, 2000
  18. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    Obi-Wan let out a sigh of relief as the Sith base's hull filled the assault shuttle's front viewport. The pilot decelerated carefully as he prepared to dock at an entrance hatch. His task was made more difficult by the fact that one of the shuttle's engines had been knocked out of commission. Fortunately, the pilot had managed to escape the enemy onslaught without sustaining any further damage, and with the help of Sarn and his squadmates had gotten into the clear. And now, within minutes, Obi-Wan, Andiell, and Keiran would be joining their Jedi compatriots aboard the prodigious enemy base. Somewhere inside it, their most powerful foe awaited them.

    Obi-Wan could clearly see the target hatch now. As they came closer, he could even make out the small symbols painted beside it. One-one-three-eight . . . "What's that?" he asked, catching a streak of movement out of the corner of his eye.

    The pilot soon saw it too. "It's a shuttle. Looks like it just exited one of their docking bays."

    Obi-Wan instantly locked onto the enemy craft through the Force. He could sense evil presences within it. The Sith Master! "Abort docking procedure, and follow that shuttle," he ordered quickly. The pilot hesitated a moment, then did as he was told. Obi-Wan, probing deeper with the Force, found that there were three dark siders aboard the shuttle. The Master and a pair of his apprentices? The Jedi had already faced Sith apprentices on two separate occasions since his return to physical existence. The woman on Tatooine . . . despite medical efforts, she had died shortly after the duel. But the beast-like warrior Obi-Wan had locked blades with on Yavin IV was still out there, and he got the feeling that that *creature* was aboard the shuttle they were now following. *This should be interesting.*

    "Try to get close, but be careful," Obi-Wan told the pilot.

    "Got it--huh?"

    The Sith shuttle had just disappeared. *Cloaked?* No, Obi-Wan found instantly, the dark presences had gone away as well. "They must have made the jump to hyperspace."

    The pilot nodded, checking out his sensor displays at the same time. "At that bearing," he reported a few seconds later, "It looks like they went to Coruscant."

    Obi-Wan stretched out with the Force. He found the large presence of the planet Coruscant quickly. It was not long before he realized that the Sith Master was indeed there.

    His primary mission here was to confront that Dark Lord, so--

    "We've got fighters approaching." The pilot's voice interrupted Obi-Wan's thoughts. "What should I do?"

    "Follow them," the Jedi decided immediately. Then he called back to Keiran and Andiell. "It looks like we've had a little change in plans."
  19. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    They had gone about one hundred meters down the corridor when the dark presence disappeared completely. It had been getting steadily farther away for half a minute; now it was gone. "Stop," said Judu Kah, coming to a halt in the middle of the long, dim hallway. Varian and Cilian did likewise, and each looked around in puzzlement. They had obviously sensed the same mysterious occurence that Judu had.

    "What's going on?" Varian asked.

    "He's . . . he's not dead," replied Judu. "I would have felt it if his Force presence was extinguished. He must have gone away in a ship, gone into hyperspace." *But why?* she added silently. It was a good question. Would the Sith Master flee from this battle? Judu was not exactly familiar with the thought processes of beings under dark side influence, but she doubted it.

    "So what now?" Varian wondered. The younger woman looked just a bit disappointed, as did Cilian, who clutched at the hilt of his lightsaber. Judu herself could not help but feel a certain amount of relief. She had certainly not relished the idea of battling a dark side master. But that was what they had come here to do. . . . Hopefully, Obi-Wan, Keiran, and Andiell would be able to take care of it, wherever their enemy had gone.

    "I don't know," she admitted. "The shuttle that brought us is gone by now."

    "Then I guess we'll have to find another way off this thing," said Varian. Then Judu sensed something.

    "And that won't happen without a fight," put in Cilian an instant later. The Mon Calamari's gravelly voice was grim, and he activated his silver lightsaber. Varian's yellow blade soon flashed to radiant life as well.

    Sure enough, several beings were approaching the trio from either direction. Their presences were strange--Judu remembered feeling similar ones when the Sith attacked the Jedi Academy. But it was easy to tell that they had killing on their minds.

    * * *

    High Admiral Serra Harsekk could take a certain amount of solace from the fact that, according to reports, the Jedi strike teams had successfully reached the Sith base. Other than that, however, it seemed that very little was going right with this battle. It was apparent now that the combined Republic and Coruscant fleet had started out with an advantage in firepower at a ratio of about four to three. Thanks to the allies' massive initial losses, those numbers were now fairly even, and before long the Sith could very well have the advantage. Republic ships were dropping like flies under the enemy onslaught. Those from the Coruscant fleet were faring somewhat better, but they did not have anything that could go toe-to-toe with the largest of the enemy warships. *Too bad my troops don't have the same experience as those Coruscant scum,* thought Serra. It was probably true that most of the Coruscantians were criminals of some sort, or had been in the past, but right now she was in no position to complain.

    * * *

    Tae Sorian swung his ship hard to starboard, narrowly avoiding a burst of turbolaser fire. Then he brought the Firebird arcing around in the opposite direction and bore in on a medium-size capital ship. The Sith vessel, which in all likelihood had been stolen from Coruscant space and converted to evil uses, continued to send a stream of deadly lasers in Tae's direction. He dodged the blasts, while both he and his gunner sent out targeted fire toward their enemy. The shots impacted against shields, then began to overload them, and within seconds one of the Sith's generators had blown.

    "Nice shooting," said Tae, swooping up and away before he got in too close.

    "I don't know how much it'll help," replied the Firebird's Aqualish gunner. "Leadership in this battle is sorely lacking, if you ask me."

    Tae had to agree. Admiral Harsekk seemed like a good woman, and he respected her, but the lack of experience as a whole by the Republic commanders was obvious. Now that the Jedi had been delivered to their target, there was no coherent strategy. The engagement was turning into a free-for-all
  20. sith1336

    sith1336 Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jul 19, 2000
    great posts. up!
  21. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    The wrinkled grin on Darth Spectre's aging face grew wider as he strode into the main chamber of the ancient Sith temple. All he could sense was darkness, in two ways. Below the surface of Coruscant, there was little light, of course, but that was insignificant next to the spiritual darkness that enshrouded the room. The place was very strong with the dark side of the Force, and the Sith Lord revelled in the feeling of power it gave him. It had been too long since he had come here, too long indeed.

    Spectre took a moment to gaze at the beautiful sights around him. Of course, most beings would find no pleasure here, but that was due to their own weakness. Foreboding stone architecture dominated the chamber, some of it showing signs of wear brought on by the ravages of time. Dust covered the floor. But the enormous statues that were spaced around the room's perimeter looked as new as they must have the day they were carved. Made from smooth black rock, the hooded figures rose high up into the shadows. They seemed to mock all those whom they looked down upon, except for the Sith Master himself. For he had control over all this power.

    At the center of the room, a massive throne sat. It was composed of the same material as the statues, except that the arms and headrest were decorated with bone. This chair was the nexus of the dark side currents that flowed through the temple. Seated in meditation there, Spectre had fallen deeper into the Force than was possible at any other location he knew of. He cackled in anticipation as his eyes rested upon it.


    The Dark Lord spun around to glare at Darth Ruin, one of the two apprentices who accompanied him. "The . . . Jedi are coming, my Master."

    "Let them come."

    Ruin nodded slowly, while Darth Varelse bore his teeth in an expression of feral glee. Saying nothing more, Spectre made his way to the throne and took his place there. He drew all of the temple's power to him, exalting in it, letting it fill his body and mind. Then, with renewed vigor, he returned his focus to the ongoing battle.

    * * *

    The black-armored soldiers came into view from both directions at the same time. There were about a dozen total, evenly divided between the two groups. All carried blaster rifles, and they did not take their time in charging toward the trio of Jedi.

    Varian faced to one side, Cilian to the other. Both held their sabers at the ready. Judu stood between the two young Knights. When the enemy troops had come near, she drew on the Force and spoke to them in a commanding tone. "We come in peace. There is no need for you to harm us."

    Intellectually, it was not really surprising when her words had no effect, but it came as a shock nonetheless. The Jedi Master had never encountered minds this difficult to get a grasp on, except for those of powerful Force users. These soldiers clearly could not use the Force. Their minds had been twisted by one very skilled at the task.

    Tricks of the mind were not the only ones Judu had up her sleeve, however, even without any physical weapon to fight with. She reached out with the Force and grabbed away one of the lead soldier's blasters, sending it clattering off in a random direction down the hall.

    Then the rest opened fire.
  22. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    "I don't know how it's possible, but it seems like they're just now coming on harder than ever!"

    "I get the same feeling," Serra replied to the holographic image of Admiral Dib Sarcova that stood before her on the Alderaan's bridge. The Twi'lek stroked one of his brain-tails; at the moment, the gesture was clearly one of nervousness. The Republic high commander could understand the feeling perfectly. Her soldiers were getting worn out by the intense battle, and now the enemy's were suddenly fighting with increased determination? *They must be motivated in powerful ways,* reflected Serra.

    "We have to do *something*," Sarcova continued. "We're getting hammered here. Those heavy cruisers of theirs are just too damned powerful. . . . If we could find some weakness and exploit it . . ."

    Serra nodded in concurrence, then moved her eyes to a tactical display. The Sith's massive cruisers were without a doubt the toughest and best equipped warships in the engagement, and four of them remained. One of the four was currently having it out with Admiral Sarcova's Peacekeeper. In fact, Serra noted, that particular enemy cruiser had been flagged with a high probability of being the Sith command ship.

    Nearby, the icon designating a Republic frigate winked out of existence. The sight had become so familiar that it hardly drew a reaction from Serra.

    "Hmmm," she said, looking back to Sarcova, but then the Twi'lek's eyes bulged.

    "We're having . . . little trouble here," he said. The image was marred by static as Sarcova rapidly moved his gaze around the unseen bridge of his vessel. "Ma'am?"

    And then, in the blink of an eye, the image disappeared completely. *Communications disruption?* Serra hoped. But no, she saw immediately. The Peacekeeper cruiser had been destroyed, and Admiral Dib Sarcova was dead.

    Serra's eyes bored into the tactical display. Sarcova had been one of the Navy's top commanders. She could not let this disaster continue.

    "All available vessels," she ordered, switching on a comm system. "Concentrate firepower on the enemy's flagship."

    * * *

    Varian's yellow lightsaber flashed across her vision as she moved it to intercept bolt after bolt of blasterfire. It was just as Master Kenobi had taught her. She did not have to think consciously of where the next attack would hit. Her blade would be there before the shots were even fired. Blaster bolts bounced off her weapon in all directions. One actually struck an enemy trooper, sprawling him unconscious on the hard floor. Behind her, she could sense Cilian doing the same. Nothing had gotten through the Jedi's defenses as of yet. And thanks to the efforts of Master Kah, the amount of incoming fire was decreasing.

    One by one, the powerful Master stole away the blasters of their assailants. The helmeted soldiers' facial expressions could not be seen, and their minds were hard to read, so there was no way to tell for sure--but it seemed that they were unfazed by the loss of their weapons. Once all the blasters had been sent flying, the troops began a slow advance. They were trying to overwhelm the Jedi, apparently. Varian held her blade in a guard position, not moving to attack or retreat. *Not that there's any retreat from this position, anyway.*

    "You do not have to do this," Master Kah tried again, and again was unsuccessful. Then the soldiers charged.

    There was no way to avoid it. One of the troopers was skewered on Varian's blade, and as she drew back another lost half an arm. She could feel horror radiating off of the Jedi Master behind her, and Varian herself felt much the same way. She had never killed anyone before. Was that soldier dead? Yes, he most definitely was. Thick blood spilled out of the hole that went clear through his abdomen.

    Fortunately, this convinced the rest of the Sith troopers to flee. Varian shook her head, trying to get rid of the feelings of shock and disgust that could, perhaps fatally, detract from her concentration on the task at hand. *Master Skywalker must have done
  23. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    Sarn Zor'sya blasted another enemy fighter into pieces and out of his way as he raced toward the Sith flagship. The cruiser's dark hull stretched out at least two kilometers in either direction, completely dwarfing Sarn's craft and those that accompanied him. His target, which sent out dangerous blasts of energy in rapid fashion toward any Republic ships that came near, showed little sign of damage. *Now let's inflict some.*

    "Prepare to launch warheads," he ordered. As the young Bothan pilot tapped the appropriate buttons in his cockpit, he thought suddenly of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Sarn had never figured out for sure what had happened to the assault shuttle that carried him. He knew that his Master was still alive, however, and got the sense that the Jedi would soon be doing something of grave importance.

    *The Force be with you, Master Kenobi,* Sarn said in his mind, just as he opened up with the first torpedo volley.

    * * *

    They had arrived.

    "Land," Obi-Wan ordered, pointing toward a clear spot on the ground. The pilot glanced at him, then nodded, and soon the shuttle was in a rapid descent. As it dropped, the darkness grew. The shadows cast by Coruscant's tall buildings deepened, while the evil presence grew steadily nearer.

    By the time the shuttle had been brought to a smooth landing, it seemed to be night outside. "So should I . . . wait here?" the pilot asked, looking out with fear in his eyes.

    "Yes," Obi-Wan replied. "You'll be safe."

    "Okay . . ."

    "Don't worry," Obi-Wan reassured him, already turning to leave the cockpit. He had little time to waste. The space battle had not been going particularly well when they made the jump to hyperspace, and things could be getting worse by the minute. Defeating the Sith Master would put an end to it, he hoped. In addition to that, the longer it took to find their enemy, the longer he would have to set a trap for them. Not that the Dark Lord would necessarily do that, but at the moment Obi-Wan simply wanted to get this started as soon as possible so he could get it over with. He could not allow this pollution of the Force to continue.

    "How far do you think it'll be?" asked Keiran, as the three Jedi walked down the shuttle's ramp.

    "I can't tell," said Obi-Wan. "Hopefully not very."

    "It's so dark," commented Andiell, looking around their dismal surroundings. She shivered, then took a step closer to Keiran.

    "If we do our job, maybe that will change. Here." Obi-Wan walked to a hole in the ground he had spotted about ten meters from the front of the shuttle. "Follow me."

    He drew his lightsaber and ignited its azure blade. Behind him, he heard the distinctive snap-hiss sounds as Keiran and Andiell brought their own weapons to life. Obi-Wan peered into the hole, pointing his blade down into it. The pit looked dim and dirty, but he could make out its bottom. Taking a deep breath, he stepped forward and dropped.

    Obi-Wan went into a crouch upon impact. Several crashing sounds followed--pieces of debris falling from the decaying ceiling. Dust rose up all around him, sparkling in the blue light cast by his blade. Webs built by arachnid creatures were evident along the walls. Behind him, there was only a dead end. In front of him, the passage stretched on toward what looked like a stairway descending deeper below ground. Obi-Wan came out of his crouch, advanced a few meters, then turned and loudly whispered toward Keiran and Andiell. "Come down."

    Andiell appeared first, and Keiran followed seconds later. Their sabers, hers deep blue and his emerald, added to the chamber's lighting, but there still wasn't much. The two young Jedi surveyed their new environment for a few moments, then turned to Obi-Wan. "Makes the surface look like a sunny day," said Keiran.

    "It will only get worse," replied Obi-Wan. "Now, you're both ready for this? I know you are capable of the task ahead, but I am also sure you have never done anything so difficult."

    Andiell and Keiran exchanged brief, warm looks. "We're ready," said t
  24. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    Andiell moved her gaze slowly around the large, shadow-filled room. The walls to her left and right were rough, like those of a cave--but not quite natural. Side passages receded into the darkness in a few places, but she could tell that the imminent confrontation lay ahead of her. An aisle ran forward at the cavernous chamber's middle. Black pillars flanked it on either side. Littering the floor behind those pillars were . . .

    The Jedi Knight looked away in disgust. Corpses were scattered about on the floor. They were mostly just bones, but ragged, rotting flesh hung off a few of them. It was a most unpleasant sight, one among many in this terrible place. *If I were here by myself, I'd probably go crazy!* Fortunately, Andiell was not alone. The strong presences of Keiran and Master Kenobi were there to squelch any fear that might arise, and she got the sense that perhaps someone else was accompanying her as well. Someone from long ago, yet still familiar to her. *Maybe I *am* crazy,* she thought wryly, but she had the feeling that she was being watched by none other than her ancestor, Luke Skywalker himself.

    Then it hit her. This place was what he had been searching for! In his memoirs, Master Skywalker had spoken of his quest to find the source of a series of recurring dark side disturbances. He had narrowed down his search to the planet Coruscant, but had never discovered the exact location. And now, centuries later, the Jedi had finally found it! It had to be . . . this place was strong indeed with the dark side, and something here could easily have been the cause of all the strange tremors.

    *But this is no time for history. We can deal with that afterwards.*

    Apparently satisfied with what he saw, Master Kenobi gestured with his lightsaber for the trio to move forward down the room's central aisle. They continued to go slowly. With each step taken now, the dark presence seemed to grow. Focusing in, Andiell could make out the distinct shapes of three separate dark siders in the Force. All, however, seemed relatively insignificant next to the malignant, over-riding power that blanketed this whole place. *There is no fear,* she reminded herself once more. This was her time; she must take up her destiny. She could do this.

    Before they had gone too far, a doorway became visible in the dim lighting up ahead. It was quite large, almost two meters by three, and arched at the top with black rock. Beyond it there appeared to be a murky shape, perhaps a person . . .

    *He's in that room,* said Master Kenobi. Andiell was surprised for a moment; she was not used to speaking mind-to-mind. But for the situation, it was appropriate.

    *Where are the others?* asked Keiran.

    Master Kenobi paused, then replied, *Lurking to the sides. I can't make out their exact locations.*

    Neither could Andiell. The three Jedi made their way up to the open door. Andiell peered through, and could discern the shapes of dark statues rising up into nothingness around the perimeter of a large, circular room. And at the center of it all sat what was without a doubt the most evil being she had ever laid eyes upon. The Sith Master smiled maliciously, but did not say a word to the intruders. He merely sat there, waiting for them to approach.

    Master Kenobi regarded their enemy for a few long heartbeats. Then, finally, he sent *Now*--just as Andiell felt a tingling sensation of danger run up her spine.

    She spun to the right and saw a glowing red blade flying toward her. In an instant, her own saber was up and ready to block it. Her attacker, a cloaked human male, did not take his time in continuing the assault with a rapid combination, and Andiell had to stagger backwards to avoid going down. She felt Keiran behind her, facing a dark foe of his own. Andiell reached out, touching their bond in the Force and drawing strength from it. She parried a low blow, then went into a quick counter-attack and managed to push her opponent away. In the split-second she gained through this maneuver, she glan
  25. sith1336

    sith1336 Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jul 19, 2000
    best post yet. give us more.
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