[FIN]Mace Windu: Jedi Master Reborn
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He fell through the sky, hurtling towards the concrete that formed the surface of Coruscant. What had happened to Mace Windu in the last few minutes would haunt him for the rest of his life. He was about to destroy a Sith menace, Darth Sidious. Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One, the boy he always distrusted, took off his hand with one sweep of his saber. Sidious jumped up and electrocuted Mace out of the window into the cascading winds. The stump of his arm bled mildly but Mace used the Force to pinch the artery shut just in case and focused on the buzz of hundreds of airspeeders.
Forst, he used the force and called his falling lightsaber to him and clipped it onto his belt. Then he saw his chance and stretched out his arm. A speeder flew under him and Mace’s hand caught onto it firmly. The speeder’s pilot set it down on a platform nearby in alarm.
“Master Windu?” he asked amazed.
“Yes,” Mace replied. “Do you happen to know a medical facility somewhere nearby?”
“Sure, there are plenty. Though, if you want a medical droid, you'll have to go to Dantooine.
“All the medic droids have been transported off planet to the Republic bases. Don’t you know?”
“You mean to tell me that we are on the capital of the Republic and there is not a single medic droid here?” Mace asked incredulously.
"Unfortunately, yes," the pilot replied.
Mace thought quickly.
“Could you drop me off at the Jedi Temple hangars?” Mace asked the speeder pilot.
He nodded and motioned to the speeder. Fifteen minutes later, Mace Windu was flying away in an Aethersprite to Dantooine.
The non-Clone officers on Dantooine were worrying themselves down to the last bit trying to keep themselves alive. So it was only natural that they would kick out the messenger who had come in and told them that someone needed help from the medics. It was then that Mace Windu decided to step in. The Jedi General was shocked.
“Master Windu, what are you doing here?” and she noticed Mace’s arm. “And what happened to your arm?”
“Later, Tara,” he replied. “For now, get a medic droid to install a prosthetic arm for me.”
Jedi Knight Tara nodded and sent for the medics. Mace Windu was ushered into the Infirmary and work on his arm began.
36 hours later, Mace recovered from the effects of his sedative and walked out. He looked around and saw Tara. While his arm was being constructed, Mace had thought a lot about her. The Force was very strong in her. He had realised that when she was being trained by Master Yoda. Now, being this close to her, he felt as if it was stronger than it seemed. Tara was only 18. She was one of the few to get the rank of Jedi Knight at such a young age. Even Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One, the boy who cost Mace his arm, had been endowed with the rank at the age of 21.
Tara was an all rounder. She had mastered all the forms of lightsaber combat and even invented a number of creative maneuvers on her own. She had two lightsabers that could be snapped together or taken apart at the ends by means of magnets.
“So could you tell me what happened to you now?” Tara asked, derailing Mace’s train of thought.
“It’s a long story.” Mace replied. At times, even people like her could get annoying.
Tara took the hint and dropped the subject.
“Our evacuation shuttles are prepared, Ma’am.” said a harried looking officer. Tara nodded.
“Right, tell all the survivors to get to the Hangars, I’ll cover your backs.”
The officer nodded and relayed Tara’s message throughout the base. Tara took out her lightsabers and ignited them, one blue, one green, and moved to the door. Mace followed her.
“What's going on?” he asked. “I never knew that the Separatists had enough droids to wipe out all our troops and cause you to evacuate.”
“It’s not the Separatists, it’s our own troops. They turned rogue as they were scouting the lands. They did that after they received a message from Chancellor Palpatine.
Mace’s eyes widened.
“What did he say?”
“Something like ‘Execute order 66’. Then chaos erupted.”
“What the heck is going on here? Skywalker falls to the Dark Side, Clones switch sides and massacre their own people. Next thing that will happen, my prosthetic will blow up.”
Close enough. As soon as Mace said this, his prosthetic sparked and fell to his side, dead.
“Well, you asked for it.” said Tara. Mace shook his head and unclipped his lightsaber with his left hand.
“And did you say Anakin fell to the Dark Side?” Tara asked incredulously. “You’ve been having nightmares, Master.”
Mace shook his head and replied, “No, Tara. He has fallen. He was the one to cut off my arm.”
Tara was visibly stopping herself from crying. She had looked up to Anakin as a big brother when they were doing exercises as children. She could not have perfected the Makashi and Niman forms if it hadn’t been for him. So it was only natural that the news of his defection would be a big blow to her.
Tara sniffed and said to Mace,
“Well, come on. We have to cover their escape.”
“Lead the way.” he replied and, igniting his saber, he followed her out into the grassy plains of Dantooine.
The moment he stepped outside, Mace swore to himself never to fight again if he could help it. The land was littered with bodies of Clones and Jedi. The remaining non-clones were firing desperately at the advancement, trying to slow them down. But the Kaminoans had done their job well, the new contingent of troops they had delivered far surpassed 2 million in number. Blasterfire dominated the afternoon sky. Tara, lightsabers held high, dropped into a crouch and jumped up like a rebounding spring directly into the fray. She decapitated half a dozen Clones upon landing. She then launched into a tactic she always used when surrounded. Holding her lightsabers level with her shoulders, she began to spin on the spot like a Ballerina. Amidst the streaks of blue and green came flashes of red and body parts. Mace was about to join her when he felt something. Without thinking, he used the Force to yank Tara off the ground where she was and back to him.
Just in time.
Where Tara had been standing a moment ago, an ARC’s rocket had exploded. Tara stood up and looked down. She had wiped out more than half of the Clone brigade.
“That’s enough,” she yelled at the officers. “Get to the ships.”
And urging Mace with a gesture, they ran to the Hangars.
Back on the field, the Clone Commander gave the order to cease fire. He called forth a Clone Lieutenant and said to him,
“Put a message through to Lord Vader. Tell him that the Jedi Windu has escaped.”
The Lieutenant nodded but never got the chance. The last thing that all the remaining Clones saw was a Proton-Fusion remote mine going off. Then blackness.
Tara and Mace burst into the Hangar. Mace was mildly surprised, he had expected to see complete pandemonium in the Hangar but the officers were boarding the freighters in a calm and orderly manner. He shrugged and turned to Tara.
“So where do we go?” he asked.
Tara nodded and lifted her palm.
“Just a minute, Master, I want to make sure that these people are all on their ships.”
Mace looked back at the slow-moving line and shook his head in frustration. He reached out to the Force and all the people got raised off the ground about an inch. He then shot them into their ships and activated the ramp mechanism. The ramps closed and the pilots engaged the engines.
Tara looked at Mace, her eyes wide.
“That’s the first time I've ever done something like that. Let’s get to your ship.”
Tara nodded and pointed at a sleek starfighter parked nearby.
“My Gamma 5 D-31 Dexconn. Prototype craft. Only 10 were ever built.”
“Where did you get it?” Mace asked.
“It isn’t a modern Republic design.” Tara replied as she got into the cockpit. “It was blueprinted 3000 years ago and was very famous then, but the plans mysteriously disappeared after some time. They were recovered the designs only seven months ago.”
“How do you know that it disappeared?” Mace asked, getting into the separate gunner’s cockpit on the right side.
“The guy who recovered it told me. Apparently there was a datapad along with the blueprints. Since then, they kept the plans to themselves and made it for only top Jedi pilots.” she said. “Anakin would have got one.”
“If it’s that old, wouldn’t it be impractical to use it at this time?” Mace asked.
“There's no problem with the design. It’s actually better than our craft.”
Mace nodded and buckled himself up in the seat.
“Where to, Master?” Tara asked.
“Let’s go to Manaan, Tara. The Sith won’t find us there.”
Tara started the engines and took the craft out of the hangar. Twenty minutes later, they were in space.
“Initiating the jump to Hyperspace,” Tara warned. “Hold on.”
The Hyperdrive engines kicked in and the two Jedi blasted away to freedom.
The doors slid open and Mace Windu stepped into the room closely followed by three other Jedi.
“Master Windu. I take it General Grievous has been destroyed then. I must say, you're here sooner than expected.” Palpatine said in an unsuspecting manner.
“In the name of the Galactic Senate of the Republic, you are under arrest, Chancellor.” Mace replied in a commanding tone.
One by one, all four of them ignited their lightsabers
“Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?” Palpatine asked calmly.
“The Senate will decide your fate.” Mace replied.
“I am the Senate!” said Palpatine angrily.
“Not yet!” Mace replied.
“Its treason, then.” he said and a lightsaber appeared out of his cloak sleeve. Igniting it, he began to fight.
A few seconds into the fight, Palpatine cut down the three Jedi with Mace. Turning back, he continued fighting with Mace.
Fiercely they fought, making their way to Palpatine’s main office area.
As they continued fighting, a speeder set down upon the landing pad. Anakin jumped out and ran down the corridor leading to Palpatine’s office.
Mace launched a lightsaber sweep aiming for Sidious’ neck but the Sith Lord ducked and Mace’s blow hit the window instead, shattering it. Sidious brought his lightsaber up and slashed at Mace. Mace hastily blocked the blow, backing onto the ledge, twenty stories up. Fighting furiously while keeping himself from falling over, Mace saw the doors slide open and Anakin step into the room. Curiosity getting the better of him, Palpatine made as if to turn but stooped himself. Too late. Gaining advantage, Mace knocked the lightsaber out of Sidious’ hand.
“You are under arrest, My Lord.” Mace said.
Palpatine’s response was directed to Anakin.
“Anakin! I told you it would come to this. I was right. The Jedi are taking over.” he shouted in desperation.
“You old fool. The oppression of the Sith will never return. Your plot to regain control of the Republic is over . . . you have lost . . .” Mace said to him confidently.
“No! No! You will die!”
Raising his hands, Palpatine shot out lightning at Mace but the latter raised his lightsaber and blocked the bolts. The force of the deflection pushed Sidious onto the window sill.
“He is a traitor, Anakin.” Sidious said as he continually fed lightning bolts to Mace’s saber.
“He's the traitor. Stop him!” Mace yelled.
“Come to your senses, boy. The Jedi are in revolt. They will betray you, just as they betrayed me.”
“You are not one of them, Anakin. Don't let him kill me.” Sidious persisted. “I am your pathway to power. I have the power to save the one you love. You must choose. You must stop him.”
“Don't listen to him, Anakin.” Mace managed to let out.
Strangely, Sidious’ own lightning seemed to be causing him as much trouble as it was to Mace.
Mace reached out to the Force and pushed, and Sidious was on the ledge. As Mace came closer, the bolts Sidious directed at Mace began to arch back from the lightsaber and affecting him. Sidious’ features began to distort. His eyes became yellow as he struggled to kill Mace. Suddenly, he stopped, pale and weak, he dropped to the ground.
“I can't ... I give up. Help me. I am weak ... I am too weak. Don't kill me. I give up. I'm dying. I can't hold on any longer.” he whimpered.
“I am going to end this once and for all.” Mace replied, lightsaber held high.
“You can't kill him, Master. He must stand trial.” Anakin said worriedly.
“He has too much control of the Senate and the Courts. He is too dangerous to be kept alive.” Mace replied.
“I'm too weak. Don't kill me. Please.” Sidious pleaded once more.
“It is not the Jedi way . . .” Anakin said.
Mace ignored him and prepared to kill Sidious.
“He must live . . .”
“Please don't, please don't …”
“I need him . . .”
“Please don't . . .”
“NO!!!” Anakin yelled.
Mace brought down his lightsaber. Quick as a beam of light, Anakin ignited his lightsaber and lopped off Mace saber arm. Mace stared at Anakin in horror. Sidious, all pleading and fear lost, sprang up and launched another barrage of lightning at Mace.
"Power!" Sidious screamed. "Unlimited power!"
Unable to block it in time, Mace was carried along with the lightning and flew out of the window.
Mace Windu, Jedi Master awoke with a start. Six months ago the dream had happened. Now he was re-living it during sleep. He had never wanted to train Anakin in the first place. The boy was too old, and everyone in the Council had agreed with that. It was Obi Wan’s threat of not following the Council that led Yoda to grant Anakin a place in the Jedi Order.
Mace sighed. Now the only Jedi left were him and Tara.
On cue, Tara entered the room. Mace was training her as a last ditch effort to save the Galaxy. He would have had more luck if he had known that Obi Wan and Yoda were alive too, but Obi Wan’s message could not be relayed to Manaan and Mace was on the planet by the time. Now they lived in a spacious apartment complex.
“What happened?” Mace asked, referring to Tara’s wet, torn and scorched robes. And hand.
“The darn combat droids ambushed me.” She replied in an annoyed tone.
“Well, you have to be alert.”
“Sure, the only thing is that they took to hand-to-hand combat and one of those junkpiles knocked me off my feet into the Manaan seas.”
Mace had no reply for this.
“And my lightsabers got fried.” Tara continued.
“No, I mean literally.”
Tara took out the lightsaber handles and dropped them on the table. It looked as if they exploded from the inside. All the wiring was fried, short circuits most probably, the focusing crystals had shattered and half of the hilt casings were missing.
“A Selkath Electric eel nudged them.”
Mace flinched at the thought of what one could do to a human.
“Oh well,” he replied. “Let’s go to Ilum. While I was still on the Council six months ago, Luminara reported that Ilum was growing power crystals too.”
“What about the other things?” Tara asked.
Tara nodded and followed her Master out of the apartment.
Tara’s Dexconn landed in front of the Crystal Cave on Ilum. She and Mace exited the craft throwing on warm jackets.
“Look for any crystal that does not radiate any color. Those are the saber power crystals.” Mace instructed once they had reached, what the Jedi called, ‘the Main Hall’.
Tara nodded and went deeper into the cave. Mace looked around at the various green and blue crystals sticking out in formations around him. As he swept his field of vision across the ceiling, something caught his eye and he stared at it, trying to analyze what it was. A few minutes later, Tara returned with her hands full with crystals and saw Mace.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Have you been here before?” Mace asked, not taking his eyes off the ceiling.
“Yes, I have.”
“Do you remember your first visit?”
“I remember it so well, I can tell you which of these formations are new or old.”
“Then you can tell me whether that was there before.” Mace said, pointing at a metallic object set in the rock just before the entrance to the cave.
Tara squinted and tried to figure it out.
“As far as I recall, it wasn’t there.”
“That’s what I thought.” Mace replied. “So now the question is: who put it there?”
A mechanical scraping noise came from behind, along with a voice.
Mace and Tara turned. In front of them stood one of Grievous’ MagnaGuards. Except for the fact that it had a jetpack attached to its back.
“Weren’t all of you scrapped when your Master died?” Mace asked coolly.
“I am not a MagnaGuard, Windu.” The droid replied. “I am none other than Grievous himself.”
Mace smiled and said,
“Really, don’t expect us to be fooled, droid. Master Kenobi blasted you with your own weapon.”
“While I give Kenobi credit for catching me off guard,” Grievous replied. “He did not succeed in destroying my brain, which was protected by a blaster-resistant alloy. They didn’t make me General for nothing, you know. When the Separatists found my body, they immediately transferred my brain into this specially created MagnaGuard. I have been living here ever since.”
By now, Tara was looking alarmed. It was only natural, since she had no lightsaber, but Mace was a little jittery himself.
“And I am looking to expand my collection of Lightsabers. Yours would be a great trophy,” Grievous continued.
Grievous’ chest plate opened up and two lightsaber hilts came out, held by pincer like appendages. He took them and ignited them one by one.
Mace, quick as a dagger, unclipped his lightsaber from his belt and thumbed the power tab and a bar of purple flame appeared in his hands.
“This lightsaber will never be in your grasp.” Mace said and settled into a battle stance.
Grievous hadn’t forgotten his moves. Lightsabers flaring, he charged at Mace. The Jedi Master bought his lightsaber up and about, and he was locked in a battle which he would classify as the fiercest of all the fights he had been in, which was saying something.
As her Master struggled with Grievous, Tara ran to the ship the get her blaster and emergency medpack. However, as she neared the entrance, the metal thing Mace and she had seen earlier came crashing down, forming a door before her. Tara skidded to a halt and turned, her mind working like a bee. She remembered a bomb trick that she had discovered as a child accidentally. Placing the crystals in her hands on the ground, she ran to the nearest crystal formation and pulled out a green and a blue one. All color crystals had different densities and molecules, making it vary in power, this was exactly why more Jedi preferred the blue crystal to the green one since the blue crystal had a slightly higher density than the green. This property was the very one that was needed to make Tara’s trick work.
She took out a thermal detonator and a piece of strong nylon-fabric cord and, sandwiching the detonator between the color crystals, tied them up tightly. She set the timer to 5 seconds and threw it into the fray. Next, she did the very same thing Mace had done to help her on Dantooine. Becoming one with the Force, she yanked Mace off the ground where he was standing and brought him next to her. 2 seconds to detonation, Tara released Mace and formed a protection barrier with the Force. The detonator exploded, in a very unique fashion.
Instead of spewing superheated plasma everywhere, the intense heat caused the crystals to melt and caused its molecules to fuse in a chemical reaction, then cool down very quickly in the freezing cold of Ilum. All this happened in under a second. The rapid heating, reactions and cooling caused the crystals to emit highly dangerous Gamma rays, tearing Grievous apart.
Tara released her hold on the Force.
“That was one of the freakiest and dangerous things I’ve ever seen.” Mace commented.
“Let’s get out of here.”
Tara nodded to the door and said,
“Need to lift that, we do.”
“This is no time to impersonate the Grand Master of the Jedi Order.” Mace snapped.
Tara grinned and, together, they heaved and pushed up the door with the Force. Tara remembered their next destination and groaned, from one extreme to another, but then, that’s what being a Jedi is all about.
Tara coughed as she inhaled the dust in Tatooine’s arid atmosphere. It was dawn but she was already sweating.
“Why did we come here, Master?” she asked. “We could have got the same parts from the colonies on Ilum.”
“I want to spend as little as possible. I cannot allow the Sith to rule the galaxy, I may need the money sooner or later. Besides, Tatooine manufactured parts are more tolerant to extreme conditions.”
Tara nodded and continued walking. They had come to the outskirts of Mos Eisley to buy parts for Tara’s lightsabers. so far, they had gotten everything except the reflector cup. Apparently, the dealers in Mos Eisley had stopped importing reflector cups because of less business. The last dealer Mace had gone to said that the only place to get the cups was Mos Espa. They were going to rent a pair of swoop bikes and hike to Espa Heights; hopefully, they would get all the parts they needed.
Two hours later, Tara was standing in front of a junk shop, shaking the sand out of her hair. For this matter, she envied Mace, who had no hair to get tangled up.
“This seems to be the most popular shop here.” Mace observed. The shop, incidentally, belonged to Watto the Toydarian.
The two Jedi stepped in.
<Hello there,> Watto said in Huttese. <Welcome to Watto’s junk shop. How can I help you?>
“We need a reflector cup and some multi-purpose wires, 3 millimeters in diameter.” Mace replied as he looked around. This being had almost everything a junk dealer could dream of, surely the would get their parts here.
<Ah, of course, I have plenty of those.> Watto said. He rummaged through some boxes but seemed to have trouble.
<Boy! Where are those small parts?> he shouted.
Mace was surprised as he could see only himself and Tara in front of the Toydarian.
“Who are you speaking to?” he asked, bewildered.
“Huh?” Watto replied in Basic. “Oh, I keep forgetting. Little Ani has left for good, I had better leave him and get a new slave, eh?”
The phrase jumped about in Mace’s mind for a bit, and then it clicked.
“What was the boy’s name again?” he asked cautiously.
“Anakin, a genius with this junk stuff if I ever saw one.” Watto replied. “But a Jedi came and cheated me out of his possession, I think.”
Mace thought hard, his mind working furiously. Anakin Skywalker, Darth Vader, was a slave? Impossible!
Tara seemed to be in deep thought too.
Watto’s exclamation broke their chain of concentration.
“Ah! Here it is, I think.” he said triumphantly and took out a coil of wire and a reflector cup. “That is 50, I think.”
Mace paid him and they left the shop, astounded by what they had learnt.
As they sped along in the searing heat of the Dune Seas, Mace was wondering how best to use this information when it hit him like a punch to the Solar Plexus. There was someone very strong in the Force nearby. He motioned to Tara to follow him and turned blindly, following the call of the Force alone. 30 minutes later, they came upon a rock formation with a dome that looked uncannily man-made. Without thinking twice, Mace got off his swoop, unclipped his lightsaber just to be sure and went to the dome. It wasn’t much to look at, no security systems, no password encrypted locks, but Mace took no chances. He ignited his saber and knocked on the door. There was a muffled shuffling sound and the door flew open. And in the doorway, stood Jedi Master Obi Wan Kenobi.
“Obi Wan!” Mace exclaimed. “What are you doing here?”
“I was going to ask you the same thing; I heard you had died on Coruscant.” Obi Wan replied, astonished at seeing his former Master again.
“I managed,” Mace said unceremoniously. “And you didn’t do such a great job on Grievous either.”
Obi Wan raised his eyebrows.
“His brain was protected from the shots you pumped into him, the Separatists transplanted it into an SBD frame, Tara and I had to take care of him.”
Obi Wan nodded.
“So who’s Tara?” he asked.
The Jedi Knight stepped up and bowed.
“I am, Master Kenobi. It is an honor to finally meet you.”
Obi Wan returned the bow and turned back to Mace.
“What brings you here, Master?” he asked.
“Need for help, Obi Wan. We can’t allow the Sith to rule the Galaxy once more. They will destroy everything in their path.”
“I agree, but the Skywalker children are only six months old. And three Jedi Masters and one Knight will be no match for the Emperor’s security forces.”
“Tara is no ordinary Jedi, Obi Wan, she’s only eighteen but she can handle herself in sticky situations. She is one of the few to receive the title of Knight at such a young age.”
Obi Wan nodded and gestured into his house.
“Why don’t we continue our discussions inside?” he said. Mace and Tara walked in.
Tara headed for Obi Wan’s well equipped workbench and she began constructing her lightsaber while the Jedi Masters discussed the correct propaganda to follow.
Half an hour later, all was planned out. The most reckless thing the Jedi have ever done was about to begin. But first, they needed to pick someone up from Dagobah.
On the swampy world that Yoda picked to be his home, he listened attentively to Mace and Obi Wan’s plans. After making a few corrections, he agreed and the four Jedi got into Obi Wan’s Chyyra and took off. Their first stop: Darth Vader’s palace.
Three stormtroopers walked down the corridor inside the Executor, Darth Vader’s portable palace. They were followed by an R2 unit that seemed to have a mind of its self, which was not saying anything, since Jedi Master Yoda was inside the R2 D2 shell.
“I don’t feel comfortable about this,” said a worried Tara. “What if they discover those troopers we left behind?”
“These people are just doing this job for the pay.” Obi Wan replied. “If they do discover them, they will probably launch them out of an airlock.”
They carried on, heading for the Bridge.
Obi Wan, Mace, Yoda and Tara had infiltrated the Executor without any interference. Their plan was simple: get to the bridge, wipe out the crew and find out a means to lure Vader there. At four-on-one, he would never survive, but Tara had her doubts.
“The bridge must be down there,” Mace said, pointing down a hallway.
“Gee, you think?” said Tara, referring to the sign that said “BRIDGE”
Mace just shook his head and walked on; they reached the bridge and stopped. Obi Wan turned and reached out to the Force, Mace followed suit, but facing the other side. Together, they used the Force to cause the roof to cave in on the Hallway, blocking it. This done, Yoda used the Force to pop open the top of the R2 shell.
“A lightsaber, I have not.” he said. “Use the Force, I will.”
Tara looked down at the twin lightsabers hanging from her belt and she unclipped one.
“Here, Master,” she said, offering Yoda her lightsaber. “Use mine.”
Yoda could fell the inner pain in Tara at giving up her handcrafted beauty and shook his head.
“Need it, I do not,” he said.
“I insist, Master, there will be a whole load of troops on the other side, you will need a weapon”
Yoda took it reluctantly and ignited it, the blade throwing a pale green glow on his already green face.
“Many thanks, Young One.” he said.
The others ignited their lightsabers and Obi Wan slapped the control panel. The door opened with a hiss, revealing Vader, lightsaber ignited and at hand, alone.
“Master Windu, you survived.” was all he said.
The Jedi leapt into action.
Even at four on one, Vader had the upper hand; he kept propelling three Jedi back with the Force and dueling for a few seconds with one then doing the same again with the others. Mace found this annoying and jumped back. He took off his helmet and threw it at Vader from the back. As he turned to slice it away, Yoda jumped up and took off Vader’s lightsaber hand from the wrist and sliced off Vader’s prosthetic left leg upon landing.
“You cannot win, Anakin.” Obi Wan said as Vader fell to the ground. “This time at least, and see through the lies of Palpatine.”
“You are a fool, Obi Wan.” he said and pushed himself up using the Force. He summoned his lightsaber to his left hand and held it there. At this, Tara removed her helmet, letting her hair fall down.
“Tara.” Vader said, mildly surprised. “You have been fooled by the lies of the Jedi too?”
“The Sith are evil, Anakin.” Tara said desperately. “Come back to us.”
“You underestimate the power of the Dark Side.” Vader said and all of a sudden, he used the Force to propel Yoda, Obi Wan and Mace into an open escape pod hatch. With the Force, he set the controls to make it land on the nearest planet and initiated the drive. The pod ripped free and rocketed off into open space. Back on the Executor, Tara was being fitted with electro magnetic binders and a Neural Inhibitor. She used to be his friend but was now Vader’s prisoner.
Vader flexed his replacement limbs and stood up. He gestured to a Storm Commando to follow and headed for the prison facilities. He went to Tara’s cell and typed in the password.
“Come out.” he said and Tara obeyed. Vader gestured and Tara began to walk. They walked for quite some time to the Hangar bays. They reached a Lambda class shuttle and the three of them got in. Vader gently eased it out of the Hangar. Outside, dominating the cockpit window was the city-planet, Coruscant.
Vader set the shuttle down in the hangars of Palpatine’s Palace. The Emperor was waiting to greet them.
“Lord Vader,” he said. “Welcome back.”
Vader bowed and said.
“Thank you, my Master.”
“Something is troubling you.” Palpatine said. It was not a question.
“Yes, my lord,” Vader replied. “Masters Windu, Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi have escaped Order 66. This young Jedi was with them.”
“I take it you know this person,”
“Yes, my Lord, she was my childhood friend.”
“Ah,” he said thoughtfully. “Then perhaps you can train her and use her help in the destruction of the Jedi.”
“I’ll never turn,” Tara interrupted. “I’d rather die than serve the Sith.”
“You speak rashly, young one,” Palpatine said. “Under Lord Vader’s training, you will recognize what is true and untrue.”
Palpatine turned and the three of them walked into the building.
Far away in space, the escape pod came through the atmosphere of an outer rim planet and crashed down on what seemed to be a landing pad. Mace popped the hatch and the three of them jumped out. The planet gave the impression of a very boring world. People walking about, going about their business, various shops here and there and the only loud noise coming from the buzz of engines on speeders and spacecraft. Obi Wan walked to the nearest civilian and tapped him on the shoulder.
“Excuse me,” he said. “May I know the name of this planet?”
The civilian looked confused but answered nevertheless.
“Taris.” he replied.
None of the three knew of the Taris system. They had to find a way off this planet before Tara got killed. Obi Wan had suggested getting some accommodations before they searched for a passage off the planet, so they had gone to what was called the South Apartments. After a quick lunch, Obi Wan had gone out to see if he could buy a small ship with the money they had. An hour later, he returned.
“I have good news and bad news,” he announced.
“Let’s hear them,” Mace prompted.
“Good news is that I have acquired a ship at a very low cost. Bad news is it’s missing its hyperdrive unit. We’ll need to salvage a hyperdrive from somewhere.”
“Any ideas, have you?” Yoda asked.
“The dealer said that there were plenty of crashed ships in the Undercity, we could go there and see if we could get a hyperdrive or not.”
“Well, let’s go then,” Mace prompted.
“Not so fast, Master,” Obi Wan said. “We need to make a stop at the medical facility first.”
“None of us is hurt; there is no need to waste time.”
“We’re not going there for healing. We need to get some Rakghoul serum.”
Mace and Yoda looked confused.
“What’s a Rakghoul?” Mace asked.
“Apparently it’s a mutant creature species that lives in the Undercity. Prolonged exposure to the Undercity leads to the Rakghoul disease, which causes people to mutate into one of them.” Obi Wan explained.
Mace nodded and said,
“Alright, one quick stop and we get moving.”
Mace stepped in another puddle and cursed.
“If I live to tell my tale, I’ll leave this out of it.” he said.
The three of them walked through the Undercity, searching for an intact looking ship. So far, they had learnt one thing: Taris’ Undercity was a ship graveyard. Thousands of crashed ships littered the ground every 5 meters. All the ships they had searched so far either had no hyperdrive or had a busted hyperdrive. As they walked, Obi Wan tripped on a stone and almost fell.
“Piece of crap.” he mumbled.
Mace, however, seemed very interested in the ‘piece of crap’.
“What is it?” Obi Wan asked.
“Is it natural for a button to be set in the ground?” Mace asked.
“No,” Obi Wan replied.
“Then this is something new.”
Obi Wan bent down and looked at the place where the stone had been. Sure enough, there was a button set into the ground. As he lifted his arm to push it, however, the Force warned him of something and all of them jumped back. Where they had been standing, a Rakghoul Fiend claw had slashed through. Another five rakghouls joined their leader. Igniting their sabers, the three Jedi leapt up in unison and landed behind the creatures. With a slash of his saber, Obi Wan took the head off of the fiend. Behind him, Yoda and Mace were slashing their lightsabers furiously, chopping the rakghouls to pieces. Obi Wan reversed his grip on his saber and pushed it back in a reverse stab right through the remaining rakghoul’s abdomen. Breathing heavily, Obi Wan, lightsaber in hand, went to the button and pushed it using the Force. The ground in front of him shivered and started moving into the ground. A few seconds later, there was an opening in the ground big enough for him to walk into without a tight squeeze on any side. Obi Wan motioned to the others to follow him and jumped in. Yoda and Mace followed closely. As they stood there, a protocol droid came up to them.
“Welcome, Masters. May I know why you are here in the Promised Land?”
Tara held her lightsaber at hand, deactivated and watched Vader carefully. He had his lightsaber out and was circling Tara slowly. Suddenly, he lunged. Tara just jumped away calmly.
“Good.” said Vader. “Your reflexes are commendable, but you do not use them to their full extent.”
Vader brought his lightsaber around and slashed at Tara’s head. Tara ducked and stepped back a few paces.
“Give in to the Dark Side,” he said. “Feel it flowing through you.”
He launched a sweep at her legs and she jumped over the blade.
“I said it before: I will not turn.” she said, undaunted.
“Ah, but you will, sooner or later.” Vader said, smiling inside his mask. “There is great fear and anger in you.”
“I am neither afraid nor angry.” she said calmly. “Your petty dialogues will never turn my beliefs.”
At this, Vader got angry. He lunged hard and launched a feint at Tara’s knees, stopped midway and went for her neck. Tara, quick as a dagger, ignited her saber with a flash and the bar of gleaming blue stopped Vader’s blade.
“Your strategy backfired, Anakin” she taunted, smiling.
Vader bared his teeth and stood in a battle stance.
Obi Wan, Mace and Yoda looked confused.
“The Promised Land, you say?” said Yoda. “What is this?”
“It is a place where droids look after our Masters’ every needs, sir.” the droid replied. “I am a D-300 Combat Droid, the guardian of the Promised Land. You may refer to me as Deethree.”
“May we see your leader, Deethree?” Obi Wan asked.
“Of course, sirs.” D-3 replied. “Please follow me.”
The droid led the way into the place. It was a huge and beautiful place, with spotless walls, beautiful plants and floral wonders lighting up every corner and a great waterfall showering them playfully with droplets of water. It was hard to believe that the entrance of the place was set in the most desolate place on the planet.
They came up to a magnificent room with decorated ceilings in which people walked around in well-pressed, modest outfits. In the center sat a man, apparently in his fifties. He was no doubt, the leader of these people.
“You have some visitors, Master Gendar,” the droid said.
“Thank you, Deethree. That will be all.”
The droid turned around and walked back to its post.
“Welcome, strangers. My name is Terrik Gendar. How may I help you?” the man said.
“We were hoping to salvage a hyperdrive unit for a ship we have, can you help us?”
“Unfortunately, no.” Terrik said. “If there was anything of value out there, the local swoop gangs would have salvaged minutes after the ship crashed. I can, however, give you a completely new ship.”
“That would be splendid.” Mace said. “Name your price.”
“No, no, I want you to take it, as a gift from us.”
“Gift? Barely know us, you do.” said Yoda.
“No Master Yoda.” Terrik replied. “You barely know us. But you were the Grand Master of the Jedi Order. There is no civilized person who does not know of you.”
Obi Wan shrugged.
“Is she fast?” he asked.
“Fast? These ships were made by the construction droids of this Land. If there’s anything faster than them, I’d like to see it.”
“Well, that’s fast enough,” said Obi Wan. “Thank you.”
“No problem, I wish I could offer you more.”
Mace thought for a second.
“We could use some food,” he said.
With the Pantry stocked with healthy food, The Jedi Masters took off an rose high vertically till they were above the Upper City levels, then Obi Wan opened the throttle wide and the ship, nicknamed the Last Strike, blasted into space. A few minutes later, it went into Hyperdrive.
Five hours later, space rippled in front of Coruscant and the Strike exited Hyperspace and headed for the traffic channels. As they approached a huge ship, Obi Wan was very careful to stay in its sensor shadow. He directed the ship under the freighter and maintained its same velocity. Once they were in the atmosphere, Obi Wan jerked the nose away and flew off into one of the airspeeder currents. After a few minutes, they approached the Emperor’s Palace, formerly the Galactic Senate headquarters, now redesigned.
“Stop Palpatine, I will,” said Yoda. “Stop Vader, Master Obi Wan must.”
Obi Wan nodded.
“I will search for Tara,” said Mace. “I’ll rendezvous with you in the hangars.”
The plan of action was settled, the ship landed in the Visitors Bay for those who sought an audience with the Emperor. They called for the elevator and stopped at corresponding floors. Obi Wan: Vader’s personal Chambers, Level 97. Mace: Prison cells, Level 89. Yoda: Emperor’s Chambers, Level 100.
Mace was dropped off first; he exited not knowing where or how to look. He went to the computer terminal and was about to begin typing when,
“Hey, you there, this level is for authorized personnel only. Do you have your papers?” a Mark XII Assassin Droid demanded.
Mace thought, ‘Ah, what the hell.’ and, with one stroke, took of the droid’s head with the blade of his now ignited saber. Not bothering with the panel, he plunged the lightsaber blade into the door’s heavy, titanium-plated alloy and easily cut a circular opening. Using the Force to gently lower the piece to the ground, he stepped through the hatch.
“Master Windu,” a female voice said from nearby. “What an unpleasant surprise.”
Mace tuned to his left and saw his student, Tara, standing a few paces away, a red lightsaber held in her hand.
Obi Wan got off in a similar state of confusion as that of Mace’s. He walked pointlessly looking for a sign or arrow which led to the Dark Lord’s Chambers. Finally, he saw a sign bearing the words ‘Authorization needed to pass beyond’ and walked up to the booth. Without speaking, he beheaded the security trooper before it could react and activated the automated door mechanisms with the Force. He walked ahead and spotted his former student standing with his back turned towards him.
“We meet yet again, my old Master.” Vader said.
“I hope this meeting goes out well.” replied Obi Wan.
Yoda got off on the topmost floor in, unlike his other two companions, a state of fierce determination, which was partly because he had a huge sign pointing out the right direction for him. He hid behind a corner and obstructed the guards’ breathing passages with the Force. Five minutes later, he strolled calmly into Palpatine’s Office area where the Emperor sat. A newly constructed lightsaber appeared out of his cloak sleeve.
“Master Yoda, I have been expecting you.” Palpatine said jovially as he ignited the blade. “My clones were never able to recover your body and I knew that a mere fall would never kill you. This time, I will let my lightsaber do the job.”
“The pleasure, you will never receive, my Lord” Yoda replied and settled in a battle stance.
“Tara?” Mace asked incredulously. The pupil he had trained to go against the Dark Side, the pupil who had never shown a bit of anger of fury on her face ever was now standing on front of him. Or so he thought.
“No, ‘Master’.” she replied. “The real Tara would not turn to the Dark Side. I am her clone right to the midi chlorian. Your student is now a template for the Emperor’s new Sith Lord army. I am their prototype and have been promised high ranks in the army if I destroyed you.”
“Don’t waste your time, tell me where she is.”
“She is presently in the Prison Cells behind me. But you will never reach there in one piece.”
“We shall see.”
Mace used the Force to push him forward so hard that he surprised even himself. Skidding to a halt beside the clone, he swung his saber in a backhand sweep. The clone ducked and plunged her saber forward towards Mace’s stomach. Mace side-stepped the blow and brought his saber up, knocking the lightsaber out of the clone’s hands. She was not bluffing, however, about being Tara’s clone. She jumped back from Mace’s swinging blade with a back flip and called her lightsaber to herself. Mace did not become a Master for nothing, though. As the deactivated hilt flew past him, he sliced it in two and turned to face the clone. She raised her hands.
“I give,” she said. Mace, suspecting a trap somewhere, did not switch off his blade. The clone put the hands on the back of her head; and drew out two Sith AA 25 Assassin Pistols. Quick as lightning, she fired off four shots, and just as quick, Mace deflected them back into the clone’s torso.
“Blasters are the most useless things I’ve ever seen,” mumbled Mace.
He went into the inner cell area and scanned the cells. He soon located the one containing Tara and went up to it.
“Master,” she exclaimed. “Thank goodness, get me out.”
Mace nodded and sliced the control panel of the cell. The circuitry sparked and the forcefield died.
“Where to?” Tara asked.
“We need to help Yoda.” Mace replied. “Where is your lightsaber?”
“The Assassin Droid at the entrance has it.”
Mace nodded and they left. Tara called her lightsaber to her as she walked out of the prison cell area. The entered the turbolift and requested the 100th level. The elevator shot up.
Vader and Obi Wan circled each other like wild animals engaged in a duel. Suddenly, Vader lunged forward with his lightsaber pointing at Obi Wan’s chest. Obi Wan jumped over the blade and landed behind Vader. Wasting no time, he swiped his saber in a backhand sweep aiming for Vader’s neck. Bringing his saber around, he barely blocked the blow and stepped back.
“You would be wise to accept your fate and not fight it.” Vader said.
“That depends on what my fate is, doesn’t it?” Obi Wan said.
Vader launched into a dangerous flurry of attacks, advancing on Obi Wan, who was merely deflecting the attacks and not fighting back.
“Your fate is to die, old man.” Vader growled.
“That’s what you said to me indirectly last time, and you had your legs and arm cut off.” Obi Wan commented.
“That was then. This is the now. And the Darth Vader of now is much more…”
“…Powerful than before. Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard the line. Why don’t you say something new for a change, Anakin?”
“My name is Darth Vader!” Vader yelled and let loose his full fury into his sweeps with his blade. Obi Wan just stepped away from the cuts and jabbed the blade into Vader’s right calf. The prosthetics died and Vader now had only one leg to support him. He fought while standing precariously poised, looking for an opening. Finally, when Obi Wan lifted his blade over his head, Vader used the Force and pushed Obi Wan away from him. He Force-jumped to the nearest window and dropped to his knees.
“I have to thank Grievous for this,” he said as he lay on all fours.
He looked up and pressed a button on the panel near him. The floor around him began to move down.
“You lose, Master Kenobi. This time for sure.” Vader said, swiping his lightsaber through the window, and vanished into the floor, where a sliding panel covered the opening. The window gave away and exploded into the lower pressure air outside. The air flooded out of the room and the air circulation units strained to support the room. Slowly, the level of air began to drop. Obi Wan, clutching a fixed chair desperately, drew a breath-mask from his pocket and put it on. He turned his focus to the shattered window and somewhat became the Force. He grabbed the air rushing out and held it in place and all the buffeting items dropped to the ground, including him. He got to his feet, still holding the air, brushed the front of his armor and walked back to the turbolift. The door opened and he saw Mace and Tara inside.
“Talk about great timing,” said Tara.
Obi Wan smiled and stepped in.
“That boy has lost his creativity.” he mumbled sadly to Mace.
“So has the Emperor,” Mace replied.
Yoda jumped above Palpatine’s blade and ducked to the side. He swirled around like a demented top and slashed viciously at Palpatine. The Dark Emperor stepped back and raised his blade and brought it down. Yoda dropped and rolled to the side and spin-jumped back up. He launched into a flurry of swipes and feints at Palpatine, not allowing the Sith Lord to even jab at Yoda. Suddenly, the second elevator hissed open and Vader jumped at Yoda in a snap. The Grand Master of the Jedi Order jumped forward seven meters and turned, waiting. Palpatine and his apprentice turned to face him, lightsabers held in front of them. The main elevator doors flew open and the three remaining Jedi burst into the room and targeted the Emperor at once. Tara went for Vader, who seemed to have repaired his calf prosthetics before coming. The Jedi Masters were hounding Palpatine. The Emperor ran to his desk and slapped a button. A side door slid open and a whole squad of Elite Stormtrooper bodyguards flooded out, the business ends of their blaster cannons blaring. Yoda just ignored them and continued fighting Palpatine. Mace also did likewise. Obi Wan, however, turned and shoved the troops away. He turned back; and immediately ducked to avoid being decapitated by Vader’s blade. Tara swiped from behind but Vader jumped up and landed behind Obi Wan. Palpatine decided it was time to help Vader and pushed Yoda away. He Force-jumped behind Tara and raised his blade. Tara turned. Too late. Palpatine’s blade slashed through Tara’s stomach and the Jedi Knight fell to the ground. At this point, Obi Wan and Mace, shocked by Palpatine’s move, used the Force and pushed him away simultaneously. The Dark Emperor flew across the room. Just as they were readying themselves to jump to their target, the door slid open and half a dozen Tara clones rushed in. Given the real Jedi’s affinity to the Force, they realized that the odds were heavily against them. Yoda took a ginormous leap over everything and landed just before the elevator doors. There, he hurriedly set a fragmentation mine and beckoned to the remaining Jedi. Mace levitated Tara’s limp body across the room to the elevator’s now open doors, then he and Obi Wan jumped as one over the mine into the elevator. Yoda slapped the panel and the doors whirred shut. The elevator shot down, its passengers doubled over panting for breath. At the 20th level, Hangar Bays, they were greeted, unfortunately, by another squad of troops, this time Storm Commandos. They rushed out and ran around pell-mell towards the Strike. They jumped in and Mace rushed to the cockpit, engaged the engines and took the ship out of the madhouse. As they shot into Hyperspace, Yoda shook his head sadly.
“Gone, she is,” he said, referring to Tara, who was lying in the medbay.
The Jedi Masters returned sorrowfully to the cockpit. Tara’s body bad been covered and they were taking it to Manaan to have it cremated in accordance with the Jedi tradition. They were sitting quietly in the cockpit mourning over their loss when the comm unit crackled to life, startling them.
“This………Knight…ra…….to Las….ike” came the distorted speech. Obi Wan leaned forward and adjusted the unit and the image came crystal clear. It was Tara! Impossible!
“This is Jedi Knight Tara to the Last Strike,” Tara repeated. “Master Windu, I presume you broke into Palpatine’s palace to bust me out, so why the heck did you run before I was even out?”
“Before you were even out? But I released you from the prison facilities and you got slashed in the stomach by the Emperor.” Mace said, abysmally confused.
“Huh? I was in the secure prisons in level -35. Where did you go?”
“That explains it; we went to the main facilities.”
“No wonder. Vader had suspected that you would do something like this, so he positioned a clone of me in a cell and another clone to ‘protect’ it.” Tara explained. “The imprisoned clone was instructed to team up with you and then send him back your location of hiding. Apparently the Emperor did not know that.”
“Where are you now?” Obi Wan asked.
“I managed to escape from the cell in all the confusion and am using a secure connection located at Level 0. Tell me when to meet you at the Hangars and I’ll be there.”
“Meet you?” Mace asked.
“You are coming back, right?”
Obi Wan slapped the emergency button and the ship pummeled out of Hyperspace. Obi Wan turned the ship around and reversed the coordinates; the Strike shot back into Hyperspace.
“We’ll be there in twenty minutes,” Obi Wan said. “I suggest you head to the Hangars and hide behind a ship somewhere.”
Tara nodded and the comm went blank.
The Jedi Knight doubled over and stood well hidden behind a large starship. She had encountered another clone of herself and took to hand to hand combat, since she did not have a weapon. Now she had a red-bladed saberstaff and was changing the color crystal so that the Masters would not take her for an enemy. She inserted the extra green color crystal she had taken from Ilum and cut and polished in Obi Wan’s Chyyra and snapped the case shut. She tossed away the red crystal; and immediately regretted it. The crystal shattered, producing what seemed to be an ear-splitting racket in the relatively quiet Hangar, drawing the attention of the Stormtroopers on duty. One peeped behind the ship.
“Get backup!” he yelled into his comlink. “We have a loose pri-” He was stopped mid-sentence by Tara’s blade passing across his neck, decapitating him, but the damage was done. The doors opened and two clones ran in, red blades flashing.
“How many clones did they make of me?” Tara mumbled. “Are they so jobless that they did not have anything else to do?”
Tara jumped high and landed on top of the ship. The clones followed suit. Igniting both her blades, Tara sprung into action swiping and slashing at the clones alternatively. Finally, she kicked one off the ship and spun her blades in a vertical circle, slicing the remaining clone’s torso in half lengthways. Wasting no time, she jumped down and continued fighting with the other. She spun around and delivered a roundhouse kick to the clone’s solar plexus, which caused it to drop to its knees. Tara launched another roundhouse kick at the clone’s head and stabbed it in the stomach. But by then, a squad of troopers had secured the Hangar, making escape impossible. A Storm Commando came up to Tara with a vibroblade. Tara leaned back to her left, lifted her right leg and kicked the Commando hard just below the chin. The Commando went limp and dropped to the ground. Suddenly, blaster cannons blared outside the hangar and eradicated half the troops. The Strike had arrived! Tara turned and ran. She took a running Force-aided leap and landed squarely on the open landing ramp. Turning back, she gave the remaining troopers a mock salute, laughed and walked in. Behind her, the ramp closed.
Obi Wan took the ship into hyperspace after dumping Tara’s clone into space then returned to the cargo hold to discuss the situation. After listening to several useless ideas from Yoda, Mace and Tara, he raised his hands and the room fell silent. He turned to Tara.
“Didn’t Anakin teach you to construct droids on your own?” Obi Wan asked Tara.
“As long as you provide the parts, I don’t have that much money.”
“That we will do, Tara, I need you to construct an RM-619 Assassin Droid as quick as possible.” Obi Wan said urgently I can get you the parts from my hut on Tatooine and there’s a workbench there too.”
“Wait, wait,” said Mace fearfully. “You mean to tell us that you were planning to construct an assassin droid to murder the Chancellor?”
“Palpatine is a Sith Lord, Master Windu.” Obi Wan pressed.
“Yes, but assassinating a political leader is not what Jedi do.” Mace argued.
“Palpatine is a threat to what we have always stood for. Sometimes, we have to resort to drastic measures.”
“I will not let our beliefs crumble just because you want to end this tyranny quickly instead of taking it slow.”
“Taking it slow will cause the lives of thousands of people to be lost.”
“That is a risk we have to take.”
“It is not a risk, it is a certain fact. An unchangeable fact. If we do not act soon, the galaxy will be shrouded in darkness. I will not let that happen.”
Mace sighed and shook his head.
“I will agree only if you promise to decommission the droid after its use is over.”
Obi Wan nodded and said,
Tara tightened the screw and stepped back from the droid she had been working on for the past three weeks from blueprints supplied by Obi Wan. Obi Wan smiled at her and told her to go and freshen up before they tried it out. Half an hour later, Tara returned. Clean and tidy.
They carried the droid outside, and drew back a safe distance from it, lest it blows up. Tara pushed the button with the Force and the droid hummed to life. It turned to them in a smooth motion and stood there. Tara deactivated it again and walked up to it. She inserted the program chip into the droid and switched it on again.
“Greetings, Master.” It said. “I am a fully functional RM-619 unit at your disposal. Obi Wan proceeded to give the droid its instructions.
The elevator doors in the Hangar levels of Palpatine’s place opened and a fully hooded figure strode in. Every inch of his body was covered by a cloak; his head was shrouded in shadow by a large hood. The figure stayed in the elevator until he reached the 100th level. As he walked out, a stormtrooper came up to him.
“Hey!” he said. “You don’t have authorization to be here.”
The figure turned to face him.
“I don’t need it.” he replied in a synthetic voice. He raised his hand and sent the trooper flying into the wall with one punch. Nodding in satisfaction, he made his way into the Emperor’s office. The place was cleaned up from the Jedi’s strike at the Sith and Palpatine seemed to have no worries as he sat in his seat, looking out onto the great surface of Coruscant. Sensing the approach of a strange personality, Palpatine turned and faced the figure.
“Who are you?” he demanded. “How dare you enter my office without my approval?”
RM-619 threw off his cloak and drew two Sharpshooter pistols from his waist holsters.
“Kicking your Sith butt.”
RM began to fire at the Emperor at full speed, pulling the triggers in the blink of an eye alternatively. Palpatine jumped up and about trying to evade the bolts but eventually the droid would get him and he knew it too. Grabbing his lightsaber from his belt, he jumped in front of the droid and swiped at the droid’s waist horizontally. The droid’s heightened capabilities and excellent joint maneuverability served it well. As the red blade came near his waist, RM bent backwards at his hip joints, making a right angle between his legs and his torso and when the blade was flying away, he straightened up again in a smooth fluid motion.
RM stepped back and raised both his arms. With his right arm, he grabbed the hilt of a Poison-VibroSword and on his left arm, a panel opened and a small canister popped out. A flamethrower.
Working both the weapons in conjunction, RM-619 began overpowering the Emperor. Finally, with one vicious swipe, he forced the Emperor on the ground. As he raised his VibroSword, a red bar appeared through its torso. The droid’s circuitry sparked and it fell over. Behind him, stood Darth Vader.
“I am sorry I did not arrive earlier, My Master.” Vader said.
“Save your apologies, Lord Vader. Find out who sent this droid after me and reprogram it to attack them. These strikes on my Palace will ruin the peace of the Galaxy.”
“It will be done, My Lord.” Vader said with a bow.
4 hours later, the droid was repaired. Vader then accessed its main memory core. Connecting it to a datapad, he went through the data stored in the droid. It was apparently newly constructed by some ‘Tara’ and was ordered by an ‘Obi Wan’ to assassinate the Emperor by any means necessary.
Vader frowned beneath his mask. Obi Wan was the last person he would suspect of doing such a thing. Vader brought his attention back on the droid. He wiped its memory and programmed new objectives: “Track down and kill my maker, then activate self-destruct sequence.”
Vader powered up the RM-619 unit and it walked out without a word.
The droid got back into the ship it came to Coruscant on. It flipped a switch and the Dexconn lifted off the hangar floor. 10 minutes later, it was in hyperspace.
Tara was pacing up and down tensely. She turned to Obi Wan.
“Are you sure that you instructed it to report to us after its objective was complete?”
“Yes, Tara, I am very sure.” Obi Wan replied. “Why are you so tense?”
“I’m worried that they might access the droid’s memory core and find out our location.”
“Now, now.” Yoda said. “Hardcoded, all assassin droids’ memory cores are. Break them, No one can.”
“Anakin can.” Tara replied, not calmed one bit. “He bypassed the code on a hunter-killer prototype version of an SBD when we came across on while on a self assigned mission to Muunilist to get Durge. When we heard that you were there, we were on our way back but this thing stopped us. Anakin just powered it off with the Force, bypassed the code and sent it after Grievous. Apparently it didn’t kill him as it was supposed to.”
Obi Wan also began to feel tense after this bit of information.
“We can only hope for the best.” he said.
Tara continued pacing.
The Dexconn shot into realspace and RM took it skillfully to the hut of Obi Wan Kenobi. It set the ship down and got out. Wrapping its metal fingers around the butts of his Sharpshooter pistols, he walked up to the door of the hut and knocked. Obi Wan opened the door; and the Force’s warning came to him as strong as a slap to the face. Obi Wan dodged to the side as RM pulled the trigger. The Jedi whipped their lightsabers out in unison and began deflecting the bolts. But Tara had done her job well. Even without the Force, the droid’s excellent reflexes allowed it to evade the deflected bolts as a Jedi would. It continued to fire and dodge as the Jedi desperately sought a way out. Finally, without thinking, Tara yanked the droid through the Force and it flew across the room into the wall.
“Let’s go!” Obi Wan yelled. They scrambled out of the hut with the droid in hot pursuit.
“To the Chyyra!” Mace shouted, running like mad. The four of them piled into Obi Wan’s ship and took it off the ground, Tara in the cockpit. She was about to engage the main drive when an idea struck her. She turned the hovering craft to face the droid, who was now firing at the ship’s fuselage, not causing and damage. She flipped a switch and small cannon appeared out of its side. She pushed a button and an ion burst deactivated the droid in an instant. She set the craft down and opened the ramp.
“What are you doing?” Obi Wan yelled. “Get us out of here!”
“The droid is offline, Master” Tara said. “It’s a good thing you had ion cannons.”
Tara ran down the ramp to the droid.
“No major damage,” she announces. “It’s just offline. No doubt Vader got to its core.”
“Repair it, you must.” Yoda said. “And next time, go with it, we shall.”
“Repair it!” Mace asked, not believing what he had heard. “That thing almost killed us, how do you know it won’t turn on us again.”
“Change its program back to default, we will.”
“And what if Vader turns it on us again? Next time, we won’t be as lucky.”
“That is why he said we will go with it.” Obi Wan said exasperatedly. “No offense, Master, but please stop being so pessimistic. If you don’t want to come, you can stay here and we’ll go without you.”
Mace was quiet at this for a few seconds; then he said,
“My conditions still stand.”
“Decommissioned, the droid shall be. But for now, need it we do.” Yoda said, finally beginning to get annoyed.
Mace nodded and the three other Jedi heaved a sigh of relief inwardly.
The Chyyra dropped out of Hyperspace again. Though, this time, it was not Coruscant that was in front of them, and this puzzled everyone except Obi Wan and the repaired and restored RM-619.
“What are you doing?” Mace asked. “This isn’t Coruscant. It’s Sullust.”
“Yes, Master.” Obi Wan said. “I had a talk with Senator Bail Organa about the present situation while you were getting ready to leave and he agreed to send a full thousand men and 50 Elite Commandos to help us in our mission.”
“A thousand and fifty men?” Yoda asked, startled. “Discovered, we shall be, before entering the Emperor’s Castle, even.”
“No Master, they will come in small shuttles at around twenty men per shuttle and will enter the planet from all side. Once that is done, they will report to the base of Palpatine’s Castle via various modes of transport.”
“That would mean around 53 shuttles. Wouldn’t this operation take time?” said Mace.
“Not necessarily. All the units will come by either maglev trams or by airspeeders. That way, everyone will be on time.”
“Wouldn’t such a large number of men be noticed in the castle?” Tara asked.
“No, we've managed to get our hand on adequate Stormtrooper Armor for the infantry. The will be indistinguishable among the rest of the troopers to the casual eye.”
“Then how will we know whether we’re shooting at a friend or foe?” Tara enquired.
“They have navy-blue bodysuits instead of black. That was the color the Sith used about one month ago. Now it is reserved for the best Stormtroopers, so we won’t only be hidden, but also treated with respect.”
“Right,” said Tara and fell silent.
The ship set down smoothly on the surface of a landing platform set high above a lava river. Obi Wan stared at the lava sorrowfully; then shook his head to clear the bad memories it brought back.
“Stay with the ship, Aarem.” Obi Wan said.
“Affirmative, Master,” the droid replied and went back in.
They walked to the turbolift set in a wide pillar and got into it. At their destination, it stopped and the door hissed open, revealing Bail Organa.
“Masters,” he said with a bow. “It is good to see that you are well; you especially, Master Windu.”
Mace nodded and said,
“Thank you, Senator.”
“Are the troops ready?” Obi Wan asked, getting straight to the point.
“They are in peak condition and ready to serve loyally, Master Kenobi. And you will be pleased to know that young Miss Leia has begun to crawl independently.”
“That sounds cute,” Obi Wan said with a smile. “I wish her good health. Say hello to her mother for me.”
“Of course, Master. Now, if you will step this way, I shall introduce you to the Commanders.”
They began to walk into the base. After a few minutes, they came to what looked like a briefing room. There were around fifty men gathered there, in full stormtrooper armor, the Elites of the Rebel Alliance. Senator Organa proceeded to give them their instructions and locations for landing. Half an hour later, 54 shuttles, containing the ‘best’ stormtroopers of the Imperial army, blasted off from Sullust and entered Hyperspace a few minutes later.
Obi Wan’s shuttle dropped out of hyperspace before the others did to check on the situation. The planet looked peaceful enough. He headed to the location above the planet from where he was to make his descent. Space rippled around the planet in about a 2 mile radius from the planet and 53 other shuttles dropped into realspace one by one. They were fitted with cloaking devices just in case and they all switched them on at Obi Wan’s command. 53 ships entered Coruscant’s atmosphere under cloaks and touched down at their destination locations. From all shuttles, twenty men in Elite Stormtrooper armor marched out in single file and headed for the nearest maglev tram station or public airspeeder station and requested locations very close to the Emperor’s Palace. The locals were very careful around their new customers. So far, the plan was working smoothly but Obi Wan had a biting worry at the back of his head that the Emperor or Vader might sense them. But Tara had made a short side-trip to Yavin-4 and captured an Ysalamiri to cloak them from the Force, but Obi Wan still had doubts, given Anakin’s strong affinity to the Force. Besides, the bright yellow reptile made it hard for them to use the Force. They had to concentrate even to levitate something, but luckily, after a small test, Obi Wan was sure that their reflexes were not affected. He shook his head softly and focused. Five minutes of walking brought them to a tram station. Obi wan went to the ticket counter.
“Give me five tickets to Chance Palp Spaceport,” Obi Wan said, his voice synthesized by the Stormtrooper helmet.
“Yes, of course, sir.” The man said and got out five tickets to their location in a jiffy.
“How much?” Obi Wan asked.
“25 credits, please.”
Obi Wan paid the man and they got into the tram.
“Statement: I believe visiting the spaceport will cause my circuits to get disrupted occasionally by the ion blasts of the ships that come and go, Master.” RM said from beneath a large cloak and hat.
“We are not going into the spaceport, Aarem.” Obi Wan said softly. “We will simply make it seem so. The Emperor’s Palace is only five kilometers from the Spaceport, this distance we cover by walking.”
“Question: Won’t the locals feel suspicious of us, Master?”
“They might, but that is a risk we have to take.”
“Negatory: No Master. Although it is not my place to correct you, even the slightest risk could upset the delicate balance of this operation.”
“What do you think we should do?” Tara asked the droid.
“Suggestion: We could jet to the top onto the main levels, Master.” The droid said.
“Jet?” asked Mace. “We do not have jetpacks, in case you didn’t notice,”
“Negatory: You don’t need jetpacks, Master. Suggestion: you can use this ‘Force’ and levitate yourself off the ground onto the main levels.”
“That will arouse the suspicions of the locals.” said Obi Wan. “How do you know they won’t notice four flying Stormtroopers?”
“Heckle their minds, we must,” said Yoda from under the shell of an R2 D2 unit. The Jedi Master was not very happy with this but he took it in good spirit and occasionally played the sounds the R2 line of droids usually use to communicate from a playback radio taped to the inside of the shell.
“Okay,” said Obi Wan. “But the Ysalamiri will make it difficult for us to hold ourselves up for long.”
“Hold it, the droid will,” said Yoda.
“Affirmation: I will do so with pleasure, Master,” said RM.
“It’s settled then,” Mace said.
All five of them made their way to the nearest wall.
RM was clutching a small metal box with holes in the top with his cold metal fingers, the Ysalamiri inside it crawling around. The R2 unit turned to face the crowd and Yoda inside it took hold of their minds. Suddenly, they vanished from sight to the common bystander. To them, they never even existed. Obi Wan created a force platform underneath their feet and raised them up. RM saw them moving and initiated his jetpack. Soon, they were on the sunlit higher platforms of the planet, walking along towards the Emperor’s Palace. Twenty minutes of quick walking bought them to the Palace’s public entrance. They used the same tricks again and got back down to the pits of Coruscant. Here the people were nowhere to be seen. The Jedi and droid were the only people present there. Obi Wan stopped and turned to RM.
“Leave the lizard here, Aarem,” he said. “We’ll come back for it if we have time.”
“What if Vader senses us, Master?” Tara asked.
“The large amount of people in the palace will form a natural cloak for us. He will find it very difficult to make us out among the other sentient beings in the structure.” Obi Wan explained. RM obeyed and tucked the lizard next to a large rock. Mace ignited his purple blade and cut a hole in the wall of the under levels of Palpatine’s Place. They headed to the elevator through a labyrinth of corridors. Waiting before them, was a squad of five men in Stormtrooper armor and navy blue bodysuits. Obi Wan smiled slightly. Hopefully, the rest of the thousand made it here on time too.
Apparently, they did. Obi Wan was having his comm burst open with arrival affirmations. After all the squads were confirmed, Obi Wan switched off his comm for a few minutes. After he came back online, he proceeded to business.
“Right, remember your instructions. You are to enter the Barracks under the ruse of equipment checking and one of you must place the mine in a secluded spot.” Obi Wan instructed over the comm as the walked yet again to the Emperor’s Chamber. “You must not be seen doing that. Once you are through, stay in the vicinity of the 100th level. We will call if we need help.”
With a Mass affirmation, Obi Wan breathed a bit freely. For now, the pressure was equally divided amongst the troops.
They arrived at the Emperor’s Office. The door slid open; and Obi Wan immediately knew that the plan had been compromised.
In front of them, stood a whole contingent of Stormtroopers and the Emperor and Vader with ignited sabers.
Mace acted from instinct. He used the Force to slam the door shut and turned and ran, with the others at his heels.
“Abort mission!” he yelled into his helmet comm. “I repeat: Abort mission!”
All the thousand men who were already in place began blasting away at Imperial troops, trying to get away. The whole place was submerged under utter chaos. The doors of Palpatine’s Palace flew open again and Vader came running out, followed by a horde of troopers. Tara pointed her blaster behind her over her shoulder and began firing blindly. A groan from hit troopers occasionally, told her that she was causing at least some damage to the seemingly invincible army of Imperials. They were running like mad, shooting here and there when Mace had enough. He popped open the hatch of the R2 shell. Yoda jumped out and started running along with them. Then he yelled at them to split up, to find out who Vader was after. So at the next ‘junction’ of four hallways, Mace and Yoda ran into the right one, Tara and RM into the left and Obi Wan ran alone into the straight one. Vader motioned, undaunted, and continued running into the straight one, after Obi Wan.
Obi Wan ran like mad, slicing anything that got in his way. Vader followed closely with ease. Obi Wan tried all kinds of tactics on Vader but they did not work. He was losing hope when he saw a ‘+’ type ‘junction’. He rounded the corner into the right corridor; and ran into Mace and Yoda. They flew up in the air and landed hard a few feet away. Before Vader could slice them, however, Yoda raised his hand and yanked hard. Vader flew over their heads and landed a long way away. They scrambled to their feet and ran into the left path, Vader following once again. After what seemed like a lifetime of running, they reached a massive cylindrical room. It extended what seemed like 100 meters high, its curved walls shining brightly from the reflection of their lightsabers. Obi Wan was a little behind the other two, and that position he would regret all his life. Just as Mace and Yoda ran through the other entrance, a heavy steel door came crashing down, cutting off Obi Wan’s exit. Unable to stop in time, he ran headlong into the door and collapsed, out of breath. Vader was walking into the room behind him.
“Do you really believe that your plan was foolproof?” Vader asked. “The Empire has many spies. And one of them has just converted and supplying me with vital information about your petty rebellion.”
“Nobody in the Rebel Alliance wants to help you, Anakin,” Obi Wan said. “So why don’t you say that you sensed us instead?”
“Although I did sense you, and a fat lot of good the Ysalamiri did too, I had one of your friends on my side. Tara.”
“Impossible!” Obi wan retorted. “We would have sensed it in her.”
“I taught her techniques to mask her inner self, Obi Wan.” Vader said simply. “Admit defeat, and we may spare your life.”
Obi wan got to his feet and re-ignited his blade.
“Like I said before, Anakin: ‘only a Sith deals in absolutes. I will do what I must.’”
Vader lunged, Obi Wan leapt over him and landed behind the Dark Lord. Vader stopped and turned, calm and cool. Obi Wan stood there, waiting. Vader attacked again, this time much faster, and Obi wan was drawing on much his energy to save himself.
Mace and Yoda skidded to a halt as the door slammed shut. They were about to slice it open when a hooded figure walked out of the side. It stooped in front of them and was joined by another figure that jumped down from above. The latter lowered its hood; and in front of them stood Tara.
“Tara,” Mace gasped. “What are you doing?”
“Do you really believe that the Dark Side is easy to resist?” Tara asked. “I did so at first. Vader tortured me and tried to break me, but it did not work. Eventually, I began to see the truth. The Jedi are afraid of one another’s power and potential. The Sith, however, only encourage more power. And I will prove myself to Lord Vader by killing both of you.”
She ignited her blood red blade and jumped at them.
“Don’t do this, Tara.” Mace gasped as he desperately fought his former Padawan. Even with Yoda fighting alongside him, he was finding it very difficult to back her off. Yoda jumped over her and began attacking her from behind. But even with his superior lightsaber and Force skills, Tara was impossibly blocking both his and Mace’s blows with only one saber.
“This only proves that Jedi are pathetic.” Tara said and continued dueling with them. Suddenly, Yoda turned and ran a few steps away; he then came running towards them. He jumped up and aimed his leg at Tara for an aerial kick. Tara sensed his approach and spun around swiftly in a roundhouse kick that connected hard with Yoda’s stomach, sending him rocketing away. She turned back to Mace and slashed at his arm viciously. He barely ducked, resulting in only a cut on his bicep instead of the whole arm being lopped off. He dropped to his knees and spun with his right leg outstretched. Tara jumped over his leg the first time but on the second spin, was knocked of her feet. She landed hard and the lightsaber dropped from her hand. As Mace raised his blade, she desperately kicked out and connected just on his Solar Plexus. The wind knocked out of him, he dropped to his knees, his lightsaber clattered onto the floor. Tara kicked out again and connected hard with Mace’s face. He fell back and crawled away, hand to his nose. When he got up again, his nose was bleeding away to glory. He called his lightsaber to him and ignited it, using the Force to heal his nose up. Yoda, recovering from his blow, got to his feet and thumbed his saber on too. In unison, they jumped at Tara, but it seemed the dumbest thing anyone would do. Tara just stepped to the side and they collided hard. Tara brought her saber down but Yoda jumped up again and blocked it. Just as Mace got to his feet, Tara jump-kicked and knocked him down again.
“Aarem; now.” she commanded and the other cloaked figure who was watching the battle quietly started firing at them. Mace rolled away and regained ground with a Force-aided leap to RM. he swung the blade simply and the droid was cleaved neatly in two. He then reverse-jumped back into the fray and started on the offensive. Tara was now backing down to the other door. It hissed open as the sensors picked up sentients approaching, and in front of them lay the Emperor’s Personal Hangar. Tara backed down through the door and stopped, Force-pushing the Jedi a few feet back. She held her lightsaber tightly, trying to keep it steady because of all the sweat in her palms. She suddenly turned and ran to the edge of the hangar bay and ran up the forcefield as if it was a wall, then back flipped behind them. She used the Force to secure herself to the ground and then pulled a lever on a control panel across the room. The forcefield died and the low air pressure outside began to suck out the hangar atmosphere. Yoda acted with lightning reflexes and grabbed a ship’s landing stud with the Force. He seemed to be bobbing up and down like a demented balloon. Mace, however, flew out. He barely managed to grab the edge of the opening in the building. Seeing Tara stationary, he used the Force to stop the winds from pushing him and jumped at her. Seeing him coming, she raised her blade, but both of them failed to notice the other’s weapon’s trajectory. Mace landed next to Tara, impaling her on his blade and getting himself impaled on hers. Yoda finally managed to push the lever back into its place and the forcefield sparked into place. He dropped to the ground and slowly got up. He looked at Mace’s and Tara’s bodies lying on the ground sadly.
He turned to the Hangar entrance and walked off quickly to help Obi Wan against Vader.
Obi Wan ducked another swipe and slashed blindly backwards. Vader jumped back a step away from the point of Obi Wan’s lightsaber and slashed again. Obi wan dropped and rolled away. As he got to his feet, the door blew open and Yoda came shooting in. Vader pushed a button in the wall and a squad of troops came firing madly out of the place Vader and Obi Wan had come from. Yoda lifted the detached door and sent it rocketing towards the troops. He then called Obi Wan and the door to himself as he exited the room. Obi Wan flew out and the door slammed back into place, jamming with a screech. Yoda and Obi Wan raced into the Emperor’s personal ship. As Obi Wan rushed to the Cockpit, Yoda turned and floated Mace’s limp form on board. The ramp closed and they blasted out of the Hangar and into the thin atmosphere outside. As they entered space, however, the ship began piloting itself and taking them to a skyhook about three miles away. Auto-pilot security systems. Curse them! Obi wan quickly composed himself and drew out his remote pad. He punched a few codes and his Chyyra rose out of its parking spot and raced its way to them. Five minutes later, it carried out the transfer sequence and the two ships were successfully attached to each other. Obi Wan and Yoda ran to their ship, followed by Mace’s floating body. Obi wan slapped the airlock shut and disengaged the sequence. The ships broke apart and the Jedi blasted away into Hyperspace, victorious. Well, not quite.
The two of them watched quietly as Mace’s body burnt on the pyre in traditional way to send a Jedi into the other world. Yoda turned to Obi Wan sadly.
“Now, wait, we must, for the Skywalker children to grow up.”
“By then the Galaxy will be too much in the Emperor’s power.” Obi Wan said. “They won’t stand a chance.”
“Then give it to them, we must. No choice we have.”
Obi Wan nodded and looked back at the blazing fire in front of them. Goodness knows what the fate of the Galaxy was.
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