Timeframe: 30 ABY (Post-NJO) (25 ABY Pre-NJO for Episode I prologue) (Legends) Genre: Action-Adventure, Fantasy, Horror Rating: Teen+ (Content: Violence, Mild Language, Dark Humor, Suggestive Themes, Dark Subject Matters, Potential Trauma Triggers: Abuse, Suicide) Summary: Shortly after the end of the Yuuzhan Vong War, the galaxy is in a state of recovery. The Galactic Alliance's existence is threatened by a new faction, the occultist Valkoran Empire, and their supposed leader Maesterus has taken an unusual interest in Jedi Knight, Zolph Vaelor. As Zolph deals with the theocratic institution and another foe in the otherworldly Forceless Collective, he must confront the psychological burdens that come with being a Jedi at such a young age. Notes: This series was started way back in early 2012 (and still in development as of this posting), so since it's a long-runner and I'm not allowed to take the easy way out and post links, I'll have to deliver it post-by-post (and a warning, the chapters themselves can vary in length, especially once you get to Episode II). This is also a mostly OC-driven story. EPISODE I Prologue: Crashdown "We have arrived at the Yavin System," the captain of the CR90 corvette, Angelion, announced over the intercom. "It's about time," Alec Vaelor said with a sigh of relief. He then activated a comlink and spoke into it. "Captain, let Headmaster Skywalker know we have arrived with Zolph and that we should be landing on the moon's surface soon." "Of course, Master Vaelor," the captain replied back. "Sorry you have to wait a few minutes longer, but hey, that's nothing compared to the hyperspace journey getting here, right?" Alec then turned his comlink off. A blond-haired woman and a brown-haired thirteen-year old boy - his wife Veene and his son Zolph, respectively - then entered the Angelion's lounge area. "Alec, do you really think the academy will accept Zolph?" the Veene asked him. "Of course, Veene," Alec replied. "If I'm Force Sensitive, it should be very easy for him to get in." The boy then chipped in, "Besides, despite my current lack of training, I can just display one little Force trick and I've already passed the entrance exam." "That too," Alec responded. "However, Zolph, I'd like to remind you that by experience, life as a Jedi isn't going to be easy. You don't exactly get to live a free life. You may have some liberties, but the weight of the galaxy is going to be on your shoulders, and you may experience some sorrows. Now I'd like to ask one more time: are you sure you are ready to take this path?" "Of course I am, Dad," Zolph replied. "You've got to sacrifice some freedom when you have a career." Alec then replied with a smile on his face, "I'm glad you're aware of that, son. Most kids don't comprehend that sense of responsibility so early in life." Alec's comlink started buzzing frantically. He promptly answered it. The captain spoke over the comlink, "Master Vaelor! We have an unidentified vessel entering the system with an incoming transmission! Get to the bridge, ASAP!" Alec then rushed to the bridge. _________________________________________________________________________________ Alec entered the command bridge. "Okay, I'm here. What do these guys have to say?" "Now patching it through," responded the Rodian communications officer. A voice then came from the radio. "This is the Valkoran warship, Conqueror. Prepare to be boarded. Do not resist, or we will fire upon your vessel." The transmission then ended. "Valkoran?" the captain responded in confusion. "What are they, a bunch of pirates? Well, let's give them a shot at taking our vessel." The vessel, a Star Destroyer of a previously unseen design with black decals and a large cannon on the bow, dropped out of hyperspace. "That's too advanced to be a pirate ship," Alec responded in surprise. "Captain, get the troops ready for the boarding party. I have a very bad feeling about what they are after." The captain sounded the alarm and announced over the intercom, "All personnel: report to your stations! We have an incoming raiding party!" "Try to hold them off as best as you can," Alec told the captain. "I need to get Zolph and Veene out of here and to the academy." He then rushed out of the command bridge with his lightsaber in hand. _________________________________________________________________________________ As the Angelion was tractored into the Conqueror's hangar on its underbelly, several New Republic soldiers stationed themselves at the airlock armed with blasters, ready for the enemy to come in guns firing, as if they were preparing for an Imperial boarding party. Shortly after, the airlock door exploded, with a few thermal detonators flying out of the cloud of smoke generated from the explosion. More explosions were created from the thermal detonators, sending a few of the soldiers flying into the corridor walls to their deaths. Then coming out of the airlock were several humanoid figures armored from head to toe and armed with blaster rifles. Both groups then opened fire on each other, starting with a small number of the boarding soldiers dying first, but the rest of the greeting defense was taken out shortly after. The troops from the boarding party then moved forward. Shortly after, another figure, covered from head to toe in black armor with a red visor and wearing a cape, emerged from the airlock leading a few more troopers. Firefights took place throughout the ship, with bodies from both sides littering the hallways. At the escape pod bay, Veene, with Zolph by her side, is fending off several of the boarding party troops with a blaster pistol. She manages to take out a dozen of them, until one of them successfully shot her in the side of her abdomen and wounded her, in which she responded by firing back at her attacker and killing him. Veene then groaned in pain and clutched at her recently received blast wound. Zolph, worried about his mother's condition, looked around panicked to see if he could find a medic or medical supplies. But then, the black armored man leading the boarding group entered the escape pod bay. "Freeze!" one New Republic soldier, holding a blaster towards the man, yelled. The armored man then casually threw him back using telekinesis. Zolph and Veene then backed towards an escape pod in a defensive formation, since they knew that whoever this person was, he was not to be fooled with. As the intimidating figure approached the mother and her son, Alec then entered the escape pod bay. "Looks like I'm just in time. You two," he told both Zolph and Veene, "get down to the surface. I'll catch up with you later." The two of them then got into the escape pod and launched away from the ship. Alec then looked towards the man. "So guy, you seem like another Sith wannabe. We know how to deal with your kind." "A Sith? Don't make me laugh," The man responded. "All I want is your cooperation." "Then what are you after?" "I need your son." "Why? So you can brainwash him into being your apprentice?" "Why are you still talking like I'm a Sith? I don't have any desires for power. I just need his help. However, I cannot get the whole Jedi Order involved, so that's why we intercepted your ship before he could join." "Well, if you're raiding ships with potential Jedi recruits, then the Order would have a problem with you." Alec then ignited his lightsaber, which produced an aqua blade. "Especially me since a total stranger is trying to recruit my son for some purpose I don't know shavit about." The mysterious man sighed. "I thought I could reason with you, but it seems I'm going to have to beat some sense into you." He then ignited his lightsaber, which produced a red blade, in response. The two Force Users then clashed lightsabers. Their duel escalated throughout the ship's corridors. None of them seemed to be at a disadvantage with each other. The duel then came to a pause. "What's the matter?" Alec replied. "You're clearly holding back." The mysterious man replied, "I have no desire to kill you. I just want your consent and Zolph's cooperation." "Why are you calling my son by his first name?" Before he could respond, the mysterious man started making some odd gestures. "Is something wrong?" The man started making rather uncoordinated and chaotic strikes towards Alec, a disturbing contrast to his more elegant strikes from earlier. It was almost as if something had possessed him. Alec dodged most of the strikes, until the mysterious man raised his left arm towards. A bone-like spike ruptured from his palm and pierced through Alec's chest. He then launches the spike from his palm into a wall, pinning Alec into it. However, the mysterious man's lightsaber suddenly deactivated. He immediately fell on his knees and put his hands on his head as if he were having a severe headache. With his final breaths, Alec responded as he watched the mysterious man. "Okay, so you've convinced me you're not a Sith, but as far as I can tell, there is still something wrong with you." Alec then died. The mysterious man then recovered from his headache, only to realize what he had done. A trooper then approached him. "Commander Maesterus! Are you alright?" He then replied, "I'm alright, but I did something I'd rather not have." "Okay. Any further orders, sir?" "Tell Admiral Gravlek to get ready to retreat, then get a shuttle ready, bring a platoon down to Yavin IV's surface and look for that man's wife and son. They most likely landed in the jungle. Be sure to set your blasters on stun and give the woman some medical treatment if she hasn't already recovered or died from her wound. And be sure not to go near the Massassi Temple; we don't want to alert the Jedi or the New Republic to our existence yet. If it takes too long to find any of them, just pull out." "Yes, sir!" the trooper saluted Maesterus. He then walked away to get ready for his mission. _________________________________________________________________________________ On Yavin IV's surface, Zolph and Veene's escape pod has landed in a jungle. Zolph busted out of the pod and pulled his wounded mother out. He then layed her on the ground. He watched some more escape pods land in other parts of the jungle. "Okay, we've made it, Mom," said Zolph. "Now I just need to treat your wounds. The pod should have some emergency supplies." His mother then gave a deathly cough. "That won't be necessary." Zolph reacted with horror, "But Mom, you're dying! How can you say that?" "The supplies won't be enough if this wound has been untreated this long, and the rough landing certainly didn't help it either. That, and you're medical training is only basic." Zolph's eyes filled with tears when he realized his mother was doomed. But then he noticed an unfamiliar shuttle, with a design similar to those made by Cygnus Spaceworks, but with similar colors to the raid soldiers landing elsewhere in the jungle nearby. "This is no time to be grieving for me. Get to the academy, and let them know what happened if you get there before any other survivors. And one more thing: don't dedicate yourself to getting vengeance on this group. You're going to be a protector, and obsessions like that aren't going to make things better. Now go on." Veene then passed away. Zolph closed his eyes in sadness. "I will, Mom, but that doesn't mean I can't give you a proper burial first." _________________________________________________________________________________ Zolph stood next to his mother's recently finished grave and knowing he was short on time, only said "Rest in peace." Refocusing his priorities, Zolph looked in the escape pod for emergency supplies. He found a blaster pistol, a vibroblade and medical supplies. "Okay Zolph," he told himself, "You're the son of two adventurers, have been to several parts of the galaxy and dealt with wild animals before. Trekking through a jungle with enemy soldiers shouldn't be too big a problem for you, right?" He then proceeded to make his way through the jungle towards the Massassi Temple, dealing with some rough terrain on the way. _________________________________________________________________________________ Eventually, near a pond just below his position, he spotted a lone soldier from the raiding party. Zolph then jumped down behind to surprise him. "Halt!" The trooper yelled in shock. "Stand down and we won't have to take you by force!" Realizing the disadvantage the trooper had, Zolph just tackled him and pushed him into the pond. Zolph then ran away. _________________________________________________________________________________ Zolph then came across an abandoned bridge over a large river. Crossing it, he found himself surrounded by a larger squad of troopers holding him at gunpoint. He raised his hands, but then something erupted from under the bridge and knocked one of the troopers aside. A Lobranha, a green-shelled crustacean a few times larger than a human, emerged from the gap formed in the bridge. The troopers switched their guns back to kill to take out the creature, but their blaster shots had little effect on its exoskeleton. It proceeded to strike at the troopers with its claws and fangs, killing them all. Before it could feast on its kills, the Lobranha noticed Zolph running towards the end of the bridge. It dove back into the hole it emerged from, and then emerged at the end of the bridge before Zolph. Zolph realized that the creature was at its most lethal when underwater, giving him somewhat of an advantage since it was on land now. He also noticed a weakspot on the creature's underside. Zolph dodged backwards when the creature struck at him with its claws, and then slashed at the Lobranha's underbelly with his vibroblade. He repeated this strategy a few more times until the aquatic predator fell. _________________________________________________________________________________ Zolph, eventually made it to the Massassi Temple. Right outside of it, he found a few survivors from the Angelion, most notably the captain, and a group of Jedi Knights, including the headmaster of the academy, Luke Skywalker. "I'd like to welcome you to the Jedi Academy," Luke greeted Zolph. "The captain told me about what happened on the Angelion." "What about my father?" Zolph asked. The captain then chipped in, "I regret to inform you that your father is dead." Zolph sadly replied, "And so is my mother." "However, I managed to retrieve this from him before I escaped." The captain showed Zolph his father's lightsaber. "Thank you, Captain." Zolph calmly replied and retrieved the lightsaber. "Did you learn anything else about this group that attacked?" "They call themselves the 'Valkoran' and the man leading the party goes by the name 'Maesterus'. Other than that, we don't have any records on this group." "I see, so it may be some time, maybe years before I bump into them again. Master Skywalker, bookmark this group just in case." "Of course, Zolph," Luke replied. "However, not to disappoint you, but they are not our biggest concern at the moment. In the meantime, get settled in. You have a lot of training to look forward to before becoming a Jedi."