[FIN] The True Teachings I: Heir of Darkness
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Heir of Darkness
It is a time of great despair in the galaxy. The transformation of Coruscant into Yuuzhan'tar is long since finished, the surviving Jedi of Yuuzhan'tar are in hiding and are constantly being hunted by the relentless Yuuzhan Vong warriors.
Ralik was a Commander in the Yuuzhan Vong Warrior caste and though he was a dedicated soldier, he has always been forced to fight for the respect of even the lower ranked soldiers. This was due to the fact that he was a half-breed. Although his appearance was more Yuuzhan Vong than human, he had a human mother and a Yuuzhan Vong father, but he was no child of love.
His father was a brute soldier named Jurga who enjoyed hunting down the Jedi, torturing them and humiliating them in the most disgusting ways that he could think of.
One such hunt was after a Jedi woman named Vaana Lorn. After he defeated her and destroyed her lightsaber, Jurga decided that the death of this young woman wouldn't satisfy him, so instead he raped her and just left her there, barely alive. He thought it to be the ultimate humiliation for a Jedi.
A year later, in a raid on one of the Jedi hideouts on Yuuzhan'tar, a half-breed child was found and brought and raised in the Warrior caste.
Over the years Ralik had become a fierce warrior, eventually earning the rank of Commander, despite the fact that he wasn't a pure-blooded Vong.
An ancient chamber, a dark, hooded figure and the whispered words: ''Welcome to the fold.'' This dream has not woke Ralik up for the first time, infact he has been having the same dream for at least a month. Every night he sat on his bed and thought about it for hours, never being able to understand why he's been having that dream and what it represents.
Unexpectedly, someone knocked on the door of Ralik's chamber, it was a messenger.
''Supreme Commander Xerx demands your presence, Commander Ralik'', the messenger said.
''Now? Ah, very well'', Ralik said, ''Inform the Supreme Commander that I will be in his office in ten minutes.''
The messenger nodded and left. Ralik took his famous battle armor and began to prepare for the meeting.
Ralik's Vonduun crab battle armor was the one thing everyone recognized. He was known more by that armor than by his face. The armor was almost entirely black, but with two vertical red stripes on the torso. The stripes were rumoured to be drawn with the blood of Ralik's fallen enemies. The armor also had two terrifying long vertical spikes coming from the back and shorter ones at the elbows and knees.
Ralik and the Supreme Commander have never been in the best of terms. Xerx's philosophy was ''only a pure-blooded Vong is a true Vong'', which basically meant that he hated half-breeds as much as he hated the species that used mechanical technology, so Ralik knew he shouldn't keep Xerx waiting for too long, no matter how much they despised each other. He put on the armor and left.
Xerx's office was filled with battle trophies, weapons and armor taken from dead enemies. Xerx liked to keep them there to serve as a reminder of the Yuuzhan Vong biot supremacy over the ''mechanical abominations''.
Ralik arrived to find Xerx grinning with satisfaction. ''He must have found another petty asignment with which to waste my time'', Ralik thought to himself, ''No matter. I can wait, for one day I'll be the Supreme Commander and then the Warmaster, and when that happens I'll be playing that arrogant fool, Xerx like a mere puppet! He'll regret his present actions! One day.''
''There you are, Ralik'', Xerx said in a calm arrogant tone.
''As you requested, Supreme Commander'', Ralik replied, trying to hide his disgust for Xerx.
''I have an assignment that requires your special attention'', Xerx continued.
''Ah, there it is'', Ralik thought to himself, ''Just as I suspected, another stupid errand, hardly worthy of my time. Oh Xerx, you are so predictable.''
''Our scouts have found another Jedi hideout and I want you to go there and dispose of the heretics'', Xerx said calmly, but in his mind he was laughing with enormous satisfaction.
''With all due respect, Supreme Commander'', Ralik opposed, ''I feel that my skills are wasted on hunting these local... troublemakers! Any Commander can handle that assignment!''
''Do you now, Ralik?'' Xerx replied as if he was expecting this kind of reaction, ''You are a Commander, no different than any other Commander, Ralik. That means you must follow your superior's orders without question! Is that clear?''
Ralik was boiling with anger: ''Now listen here you...'' he started. He was capable of killing Xerx, right then and there, but he managed to control himself. Barely.
''Careful, Ralik'', Xerx replied, ''or you might find yourself suddenly demoted to a mere Warrior.''
''Yes... Supreme Commander'', Ralik said with apparent disgust.
''I'm glad that's settled.'' Xerx added, ''I have an audience with Supreme Overlord Shimrra later today and I wouldn't want to have to tell him that one of our best Commanders couldn't take care of a pack of humans. Now, get out of my sight and don't come back until that hideout and its occupants have been eradicated!''
Ralik nodded, saluted and left angrier than ever. There was nothing to do now but gather the troops.
Ralik arrived at the site with twelve of his best warriors. It was the former industrial quarter of Coruscant, now it has been turned into a network of biot production facilities managed by the Shaper caste. Ralik took his amphistaff and ordered the attack. The warriors stormed in and went for the soldiers and Padawans, as it was ordered. Ralik went for the leader.
The leader of this lot was a Jedi Knight named Sorna Vyr. Apparently she's been stirring up trouble in that part of the planet for months and now her indiscretion finally turned against her.
Sorna was finishing one last meditation before the battle for her life would begin. She could hear the blaster fire and the people's screams in the background. It was very unsettling, even for her. Ralik calmly walked into the chamber, she didn't seem much of a threat to him. The screams didn't seem to bother him.
''So, the oppressor arrives'', Sorna said, sitting as if she were still meditating, ''Your mother would be so disappointed, if she saw you now.''
''Your mind manipulation will not work on me, witch! I am immune to your so-called powers'', Ralik replied confidently.
''Then why do I sense what goes through your mind when you're fast asleep, huh, oppressor? The chamber, the figure and the words, I can sense a glimmer of the Force in your dream. Maybe you're not as immune as you thought?''
As she said this, unsettling thoughts went through Sorna's mind. What if this half-breed could be turned to their cause? At the same time Ralik thought of slightly different things. If he wasn't completely immune to this ''Force'', then perhaps he could find a way to use it. If he knew how to use the Force, no one would dare stand against him. Even that fool, Xerx would tremble before the very mention of Ralik's name.
''You may have a glimmer of the Force inside you, but there is only one place that could unleash your true potential. I speak of the Valley of the Jedi. I will take you to it, if you renounce your masters and join the Jedi in our fight to free the galaxy!'' Sorna suggested, confident that it would work. She had put too much fate in Ralik's human heritage.
''I have a better idea'', Ralik said, ''You will tell me where that valley is and I will give you a painless death!''
''You fool, you should know that Jedi do not fear death! Nothing you do will make me betray the trust given to me by the Order!'' Sorna replied, her voice showed obvious disappointment.
''We shall see'', Ralik thought, but at that instant that same whisper that talked to him in his dream addressed him: ''Torturing her will produce nothing! There is another way. Concentrate, do you feel her thoughts?''
''No... no... yes!!'' Ralik replied the whispering voice in his head.
''Good'', the whispering voice continued, ''Now, concentrate on the Valley of the Jedi and her mind will soon reveal its location.''
Ralik obeyed the voice. As promised, the Valley's location soon became known to him, there was no reason to keep the Jedi alive anymore.
''I have drawn all your secrets from your mind, witch!'' Ralik said confidently, ''I don't need you anymore. Die!!''
Sorna couldn't beleive it. This half-breed actually used the Force against her. Things have turned out worse than she ever imagined. She knew Ralik was serious, she had to do something.
Sorna's lightsaber was standing on a small table at the opposite end of the room. As those words were spoken Sorna Force pulled her lightsaber to her, but Ralik was faster. He threw his amphistaff and stabbed the poor woman right through her heart. Her lightsaber fell halfway to her hand.
Half an hour has passed since Ralik and his troops returned from the raid. Ralik was walking to his quarters more confused than he ever was before. The green colored corridors he was walking through seemed to stretch on to infinity. He had just turned in his report of the raid to Supreme Commander Xerx, of course he left out the part about reading the Jedi's mind with the Force. Xerx was, of course, extremely pleased. Not by the report, but because of how much he managed to annoy Ralik. He was certain that next time Ralik would cross the line.
When Ralik returned to his quarters he spent hours wondering is it really worth it, should he abandon everything he has achieved so far only to learn this heretic magic. He was so certain of what he wanted when he was in that room with Sorna, but now he just couldn't make a decision. He sat on his bed, in his mind the walls of his chamber turned from black and light green colors to a blurry shade of gray. Eventually he fell asleep.
For the first time in the last month the dream didn't repeat itself. He saw the emptiness of space, he started to move through it with amazing speed. Suddenly, a planet appeared before him. He was descending quickly and he soon found himself in a familiar chamber. ''Not this nightmare again.'' Even though Ralik still saw the same ancient chamber and the same dark figure, this time the figure whispered different words.
''Congratulations'', the figure whispered, ''you have taken the first step towards your true destiny.''
''True destiny?'' Ralik asked, ''What are you talking about? What true destiny?''
''I will explain everything in due time'' the figure whispered, ''The first thing you must do now is reach the Valley of the Jedi. You know now where it is. Take a ship and go there, but be warned – the Valley is closely guarded by the Jedi.''
''They are not a problem for me'', Ralik replied confidently, ''But my departure will not go unnoticed, the Supreme Commander will surely send Warriors after me.''
''Then you must hurry. You will be vulnerable until you reach the Valley, but when its power unlocks yours, you will easily escape your pursuers'', the figure whispered, ''Now, awaken and go!''
Ralik woke up. He took only the most necessary items with him – his armor, his amphistaff and a few ration packs.
The launch bay was ordinarily guarded by five guards. Ordinarily, but in this time of day, early morning to be precise, only two guards were present. The others must have been on a break. Whatever the case, the moment couldn't have been better. He snuck in, waited for the first guard to move away and continued towards some supply crates. The second guard approached the first one, it wasn't a pleasant job guarding these ships, so the guards killed time with conversations, mostly small talk about the events that marked the previous day.
''There's been another raid last night'' the first guard said.
''Yeah, I know'' the second guard replied, ''How many Jedi were there again?'' he continued, trying to prolong this meaningless conversation, it was better than silence, though.
''I heard there were twenty Jedi Knights, lead by a Jedi Master'' the first guard replied with a mild smile, ''and only six of ours.''
''No, that can't be right!'' said the second guard, ''I heard there were seven of ours against thirty Jedi Knights and fifteen soldiers'', the second guard added, as if his information was more accurate.
''So, who lead our brave lot?'' The first guard asked proudly, now actually interested in this topic.
''One of the Commanders.'' The second guard replied, ''I'm not sure what his name was. A friend from Communications told me it was one of Supreme Commander Xerx's underlings'', the guard added proudly.
Ralik had heard these kinds of conversations before, he was already used to them. As the conversation between the two guards continued, they were slowly coming dangerously near the crates behind which Ralik was hiding, so he quickly threw a ration pack in the opposite direction and waited until both guards moved to check what was the disturbance. After the guards left Ralik stole a Yorik-Stronha and left Yuuzhan'tar, unnoticed for now.
The next day Ralik reached the orbit of Ruusan. Like any skillful soldier, he scanned the planet's surface for signs of life, or artificial energy sources. He found none, but he remembered the dark figure's warning - the planet wasn't as empty as it seemed.
Ruusan was once a pleasant world with temperate flora and fauna. Forests and meadows used to stretch miles across the planet. Now Ruusan showed a completely different face, it was dry, barren and almost lifeless, consequence of a terrible battle. In the end this world was almost completely forgotten by other cultures and thanks to nearby nebulae it became almost completely inaccessible to the rest of the galaxy.
Ralik landed in a huge canyon, about three hundred meters from the Valley's coordinates and resumed on foot.While he was walking through the canyon, Ralik could see dead trees and animal skeletons that stood there as a reminder of the old face of Ruusan. During the entire journey Ralik had an inexplicable sensation that he was being watched, but he couldn't care less. He was confident that he could deal with anything this planet throws at him. About half an hour later he'd finally reached the entrance to the Valley of the Jedi. Suddenly a male figure appeared at the entrance. A purple beam of light was coming out of the device in his hand. He was a Jedi. ''I'll crush this fool swiftly'', Ralik thought to himself, but just then he heard another lightsaber ignite. He looked behind and saw another male figure, this one with a yellow lightsaber. ''Two of them'', Ralik thought while he tightened the grip on his amphistaff, ''this might prove a challenge after all.''
''This place is forbidden to the likes of you'' said the Jedi with the purple lightsaber.
''How jealously do you Jedi guard your secrets. We always knew your 'Force' was nothing more than a perversion of technology!'' Ralik said to the Jedi in a mocking tone.
''We never expected a creature like you, devoid of the Force, would understand a thing about its nature'', the Jedi with the yellow saber replied.
''Well, perhaps you are right'', Ralik replied calmly, ''That is why I have come here in the first place. To harness the power of the Valley and use it to unleash my own power! And you two will certainly not stop me. Or don't you know who you're dealing with?''
''We know, Commander Ralik'', the yellow saber wielding Jedi said with disgust, ''We know who you are all too well, butcher. You have slaughtered so many innocents, their screams echo through the Force. They scream your name, butcher.''
''I do so hope their screams gave the two of you nightmares'' Ralik continued to mock the two Jedi. They ignored him.
''We are the Zann brothers! I am Valon'', said the purple saber wielding Jedi.
''And I am Kelar'', said the yellow saber wielding Jedi.
''We have been trusted with the task of guarding the Valley of the Jedi from all intruders and we have successfully performed our task for eight years! You shall not pass.'' The two brothers said simultaneously.
''What do you say we test that theory?'', Ralik said arrogantly, ''This 'getting to know each other' conversation was starting to bore me anyway.'' Ralik finished with a mocking smile.
''You will regret your arrogance, butcher.'' The brothers replied and prepared to attack.
The Zann brothers ran simultaneously towards Ralik, one from the front, the other from behind. They swung their lightsabers at Ralik with the same precise timing that they showed so far. Ralik barely managed to defend himself from their attack by jumping sideways just before the brothers' sabers reached him. ''Impressive. They use team work tactics, but to a degree I've never seen before, when it comes to the Jedi. Defeating them may prove to be a lot harder than I thought.'' Ralik had seriously underestimated their skills. The brothers attacked him again. This time both attacked from the front. Valon concentrated on the torso and the head, while Kelar was going for the legs. Their attacks were so precisely synchronized, that all Ralik could do is try to block them. He didn't get a single opportunity for a counter-attack. The Zann brothers were slowly pushing him away from the entrance to the Valley.
Ralik's amphistaff was slightly shorter than Ralik himself, so whenever and whichever body part the Zann brothers tried to attack, Ralik was able to block both of their attacks. Unfortunately, that was pretty much all he could do, though he tried his best to turn the battle in his favor.
Valon swung his purple saber sideways from the right directly towards Ralik's neck, but Ralik managed to block it with his amphistaff, then Kelar swung his lightsaber towards Ralik's left leg. Thanks to the length of his amphistaff Ralik managed to block the attack by pushing Valon's saber slightly downwards, just enough to move the bottom end of his amphistaff upwards to stop Kelar's saber before it reached Ralik's leg. The brothers broke off and started again with a different set of moves.
Ralik was slowly running out of options. The Zann brothers have been effectively pushing him further and further from the Valley's entrance. Their attacks grew more and more complex and thus more and more difficult to block and he still didn't have the opportunity for a counter-attack.
Again that mysterious whispering voice addressed him: ''These two are too strong for you to defeat without the Force. Listen to me, concentrate on the brothers! Good. Now gather the power inside you and release it!''
Ralik obeyed once more and managed to perform a Force Push on the brothers. He threw them at least three meters.
''Excellent'', the voice continued, ''Now concentrate on the entrance and run towards it.''
Ralik obeyed and in mere seconds he reached the entrance to the Valley. The Zann brothers couldn't believe their eyes. A Vong Force sensitive. Still they had a task to perform, so they rushed to catch up with Ralik and prevent him from exploiting the Valley's power.
Ralik entered the Valley's inner sanctum and he saw the source of its mysterious power. The voice addressed him again: ''At last. Now, hurry. The Jedi are coming and you'll need your full power to destroy them!''
Ralik stepped into the well of the Valley's power. He felt as the mysterious Force started to fully flow through him. At one moment he thought he saw a woman in the chamber.
She said: ''My son, how could you have fallen so far?'' and disappeared.
The Zann brothers entered the chamber and saw that they were too late. As Ralik saw them, powerful bolts of energy were released from his torso directly at them. The brothers fell on their knees, screaming in agony. Moments later they were dead, gray smoke rised from their cindering corpses.
Ralik slowly approached the brothers' burned bodies. He couldn't stop staring at them. He was excited and terrified at the same time.
''What happened just now?'' Ralik asked.
''You.'' The voice whispered, ''You wanted their death and you gave them one.''
''But how?'' Ralik was still confused, though glad his enemies were dead.
''Your confusion is understandable.'' The voice replied, ''This was a bit too spontaneous, but you will learn to control it in time.''
Ralik emerged from the Valley, his full potential now unlocked and ready to be shaped.
''What now?'' Ralik asked the voice.
''Now you must come to me.'' the voice replied.
''Where do I find you?'' Ralik asked.
''That you must discover on your own. If you succeed in reaching me, I will know for sure that you are worthy of what I have to give you'' the voice replied coldly.
''And what is that? My true destiny?'' Ralik asked nervously.
''Yes. And the untold power it brings'' the voice whispered.
''Where do I start then? You can tell me that at least'', Ralik insisted.
''Very well. Only one ancient vessel has left your future destination in one piece. Find it and the coordinates it contains within its ancient navicomputer'', the voice replied and fell silent.
Supreme Commander Xerx was unusually happy this day. The news of Ralik's disappearance as well as the disappearance of one of their Yorik-Stronha's had spread through the Warrior caste. Some speculated he was sent on an undercover mission and others that he betrayed the caste and went to join their enemies. In the end only Xerx's opinion mattered and Xerx didn't really care why Ralik left. He couldn't wait to charge Ralik with treason.
It was only a matter of hours before every Yuuzhan Vong unit in the galaxy was alerted to report the traitor's whereabouts directly to the Supreme Commander. In the enormous spaceport above Yuuzhan'tar a worldship, Raktajorr, was prepared for immediate departure, should the traitor be spotted. Xerx wanted to dispose of the half-breed traitor personally, which is why he moved his entire base of operations to the Raktajorr. For some inexplicable reason, Xerx even moved all of his trophies to his new office onboard the massive worldship. Maybe he wanted to feel like home, maybe those throphies gave him extra confidence, who knows? The only important thing was that he was ready and eager to ''end Ralik's pitiful existence'', how he liked to put it.
A messenger hurried to Xerx's new office. It wasn't anything like the office he occupied on Yuuzhan'tar. This one was significantly smaller and instead of the bright green walls with black bone-like supports coming from the corners his old office had, the walls of this one were almost completely dark brown and, again unlike his old office that had a huge window overlooking the planet's surface, this office had no windows at all.
''I'm sorry to barge in, Supreme Commander, but the analysis of the missing craft's hyperspace signature is complete'', said the messenger nervously. He knew that the Supreme Commander is not a person he should cross.
''Well?'' Xerx asked anxiously, ''What do the results say?''
''Well, sir...'' The messenger paused. Little drops of sweat were running down his forehead.
''What? Speak!'' Xerx shouted, he was getting nervous.
''It appears, sir, that the vessel was headed for Ruusan'', the messenger replied.
''Is that so?'' Xerx said a little calmer.
''Yes, Supreme Commander.'' The messenger replied, ''The hijacked vessel's hyperspace signature points in that direction.''
''Ruusan? Why would he want to go there?'' Xerx talked to himself. The messenger stared at him, confused, waiting for an order.
''You may go'', finally Xerx replied. The messenger left with great relief.
''Ruusan?'' Xerx repeated to himself, ''Of all the planets in this abominable galaxy, why did he choose Ruusan?''
Xerx hated when there was something he didn't understand, but his hatred for the half-breed prevailed. Soon all that mattered was to track Ralik down and kill him. Ralik's agenda became completely unimportant to him.
Moments later, the intercomm passed Xerx's order to the Raktajorr's crew. They were departing for Ruusan.
Ancient vessel. Those were the words that kept going through Ralik's mind as his ship rushed through the vast and seemingly empty darkness of space. He immediately assumed that the voice was referring to an ancient Republic vessel and there weren't many places where he could find that kind of information. It was too dangerous to return to Yuuzhan'tar and infiltrate the former Jedi Temple. Half of the Warrior caste would swarm on him in a matter of minutes, which is why Ralik decided to pay a visit to the Jedi Academy on Yavin IV. ''It must be easier to infiltrate into a backwater place like that'', Ralik thought, ''regardless of its Jedi occupants.''
Five hours later the ''Rebirth'', as Ralik named his hijacked Yorik-Stronha, was in orbit of the Red Giant and its forrest moon. Ralik landed about two miles from the Academy, hiding his ship deep in the jungle and continuing on foot. The weather was cloudy, a rain was bound to follow soon. The night had just fell when Ralik reached the Academy walls. It was the perfect time for infiltration, since most of the Padawans and Masters were asleep and besides, Ralik was part Yuuzhan Vong, which made him almost completely immune to Force attacks and detection. He sneaked in through the hangar. He was surprised by the lack of security inside the Academy. ''The Jedi have obviously put too much trust in this Force, since they thought they didn't need tighter security in a compound of such importance to them.''
Ralik had little trouble sneaking through the Academy and finding the Jedi archives. Now all he had to do was find the information on the vessel the voice told him about. He sat in front of a terminal and connected his pad to it. First he searched for ''Old Republic vessels'' and the terminal's viewscreen showed a particularily long list and an option to sort the ships by category. Ralik activated that option hoping it will speed up his search. The viewscreen now showed categories in the following order:
Old Republic Starships
Old Republic Freighters
Old Republic Transports
Old Republic Fighters
Known Smuggler ships of the Old Republic
... etc. Ralik glanced at the name of each category and then under a subcategory called ''Jedi vessels'' he found a ship matching his requirements. The ship was called the Ebon Hawk. The file said that this vessel, although used by various people, was remembered by one owner – Revan, the ancient Jedi Knight who turned Sith Lord, who turned Jedi Knight. The file said that the vessel was last seen in the vicinity of Vjun and though the Jedi of the Old Republic searched for it quite a few times, it was never found. Ralik quickly downloaded all the data on the Ebon Hawk to his pad. He was just about to leave when two Jedi Masters entered the room.
''Intruder'', one of them shouted.
Ralik wasn't really up for another battle, especially in a building filled with Jedi Knights, so he simply applied what he had already learned – he quickly Force pushed the two Masters against the wall and stormed out of the compound and towards his ship. Rain started to fall and as Ralik went further and further away from the Academy the weather was getting worse.
After a long run through the jungles, despite the hard rain and strong winds of Yavin, Ralik finally reached his ship. He managed to escape unscaved. Now he knew where he needed to go – next stop Vjun.
The Raktajorr approached Ruusan's orbit. Supreme Commander Xerx was once again glowing with satisfaction. He would finally rid himself of the half-breed pestilence known as Ralik. Little did he know that he was five hours too late. Ralik had already left for Yavin. None of the crew dared deliver that news to the Supreme Commander in person, instead they informed Xerx through the intercomm. He was so furious he nearly broke his amphistaff. Sounds of various objects flying through the air and hitting the walls of Xerx's office echoed from the comm. A hysterical angry scream followed and then silence.
''Where is he then!?'' Xerx shouted through the intercomm, terrifying the unprepared crewman.
''Sir...'' the crewman reported through the intercomm
''Where!!??'' Xerx's hysterical voice echoed through the comm.
''According to our long range sensors, the traitor left for Yavin, sir'', the crewman nervously responded.
''The Jedi Academy?'' Xerx said to himself, ''What would he want there?''
''We... are not sure, sir'', the crewman replied, utterly confused.
''I know that, you moron!!'' The Supreme Commander's voice sounded through the comm once more, ''It was a rhetorical question!''
''Yes, Supreme Commander. I apologize.'' The nervous crewman replied. He was shaking with fear. He was fortunate that Xerx didn't see him in that state, for he would have surely killed him for showing that kind of weakness.
Minutes later Xerx's latest order came through the intercomm - the Raktajorr was to follow the course of the traitor, but not to get too close to Yavin, lest they be detected by the Academy's sensors. A battle with the Jedi was not what they wanted now, only to find their fugitive.
About an hour after Ralik escaped the Jedi Academy, Jedi Master Anduil Wrynn reports to the head of the Academy, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. Luke was in his meditation chamber that overlooked the Academy's training grounds. He watched the Academy courtyard as the Padawans performed tasks, both physical and mental, that would eventually shape their minds and bodies into those of a Jedi.
''Master Wrynn. Have you come to inform me of the intruder?'' Luke said calmly.
''Well, yes, Master Skywalker.'' Anduil replied as he entered the room with obvious confusion in his voice.
''I already know who he is and what he wanted from us.'' Luke continued with the same calm.
''I knew before he even came here.'' Luke continued.
Anduil Wrynn was surprised and confused. He wondered why Master Skywalker didn't warn the Academy's security, since he knew the intruder would come. ''Had Master Skywalker warned the security, the intruder would now be in our custody and we would be interrogating him, instead of wasting time on meaningless speculations.''
''I felt him through the Force.'', Luke finished.
''Through the Force, Master Skywalker? But the intruder was a Yuuzhan Vong. I thought they are not a part of the Force.'' Anduil was utterly confused. ''What is going on here?''
''He was interested in the Ebon Hawk data, correct?'' Luke asked, interrupting Wrynn's trail of thought. He knew how confused Wrynn was about all this, but it wasn't important to him at the moment.
''Yes, Master Skywalker. He obviously wants to find and destroy a valuable piece of Jedi history. We must stop him!'' Anduil insisted.
''His motives for searching the Ebon Hawk are not known to me yet, but I sense a dark influence in his quest.'' Luke continued, ''Take one of the Academy's shuttles and follow him. Let him find the Ebon Hawk for us, but do not attack him until you learn what his intentions are.''
''As you wish, Master Skywalker.'' Anduil replied and left.
Eight hours after his departure from Yavin IV, Ralik reached Vjun's orbit. He was quickly approaching his goal and he couldn't not feel a slight satisfaction. He entered the Ebon Hawk schematics and composition data into the Rebirth's computer (although he, or any other Vong would never call it a computer, since it had technological connotations) and commenced to scan the planet. He also included the search for faint energy readings as one of the search parameters. Ten minutes later he got the coordinates most likely to contain his search query.
At that moment something happened that can only be explained as a vision. Ralik couldn't recognize his surroundings, white light glowed from every direction. Suddenly a woman in Jedi robes appeared before him.
''You! The woman I saw at the Valley of the Jedi'' Ralik said as he stared at the woman, ''What do you want from me?''
''We must talk, my son.'' The woman said gently.
''Son? What do you mean?'' Ralik already knew the answer to that question, but he couldn't believe it.
''I am your mother, Ralik.'' The woman explained, again in a very gentle tone.
''I see. And what do you want?'' Ralik asked coldly. He could believe that his mother looked like that, but he wasn't completely convinced that the person he was talking to was indeed his mother, or maybe he just didn't want to admit it.
''You are playing a very dangerous game, my son. You are being pulled into darkness.'' The woman said, her voice showing great sadness.
''Power can never be gained by playing it safe, 'mother'.'' Ralik responded, slightly offended.
''Is power truly all that matters to you, my son?'' The woman asked with great fear of the answer.
''Of course it matters to me. Power means strength and strength means respect and fear.'' Ralik responded proudly.
''Then you have truly fallen beyond redemption.'' The woman said with tears in her eyes.
''Fallen? No, mother, I have risen! I have unlocked the legacy I got from you and I will use it with great pleasure on any who oppose me!!'' Ralik replied fiercely, his eyes started to turn red.
''You have unlocked the gift I passed on to you, son, but you are using it for the wrong reasons and for a dark and selfish purpose!'' The woman shouted in despair.
''And what would you suggest I do? Trade one master for another? Join the Jedi? Fight my own kind? Never!!!'' Ralik was offended and disapointed with his mother.
''You broke my heart, my son.'' The woman said and disappeared.
Ralik awoke from the vision to find himself still in the safety of his ship. He immediately set down at the coordinates the Rebirth provided for him.
The surface of Vjun was a wasteland where acid rains and earthquakes were perfectly ordinary things. During the time of the Galactic Empire Darth Vader had a fortress here, the dreaded Bast Castle. It managed to outlive its Empire, but was finally turned to ruin by Jedi Master Kyle Katarn and one of his apprentices, though the fortress still holds secrets to be discovered in the future.
Vjun was a perfect place, if you wanted to hide something. The coordinates Ralik got were the location of an underground web of caves. Under those precise coordinates was a huge underground cave, large enough for the Ebon Hawk to fit in. But Ralik knew the ship couldn't have landed underground, there simply isn't a single opening on Vjun's surface that the Ebon Hawk could enter. Either the ship was intentionally buried afterwards, or it was buried as a result of an earthquake, or some other natural catastrophy. Whatever the cause, Ralik was determined to find that ship. The weather couldn't have been worse, acid rain was falling from the sky and the winds were so strong that they could lift a small animal.
''That's just perfect.'' Ralik said as he saw the weather, ''Ah well, I never expected this to be easy and I've come too far to be stopped by a little rain.''
In order to avoid being burnt by the acidic rain, Ralik had the Rebirth's ''computer'' calculate which cave is the one with the largest probability of leading to the huge underground cave that was presumably hiding the Ebon Hawk. After he got the results he concentrated at that cave entrance, as he was taught in the Valley of the Jedi, and rushed towards it. He reached the cave in just a few seconds, successfully avoiding almost every raindrop. He entered the cave and started to descend to the Ebon Hawk.
Just as Ralik entered the cave, a small Jedi craft entered Vjun's orbit. It was Jedi Master Anduil Wrynn. ''I have you now, Vong. Master Skywalker may have wanted me only to observe, but I know a Vong can't be up to anything good with an important ship like the Ebon Hawk. I shall follow you to the Ebon Hawk, evil one and then I shall destroy you.'' Anduil immediately tracked down Ralik's vessel and minutes later he followed into the caves.
Approximately four hours before Ralik reached Vjun, the Raktajorr emerged from hyperspace near Yavin IV. Xerx was slowly catching up to his prey. The massive galaxy-shaped worldship was holding position on the other side of the Red Giant, the sun's radiation effectively hiding it from the sensors of the Jedi Academy, but still enabling the ship to search for hyperspace signatures.
''Perform the long range scans'', the order sounded through the intercomm.
''Long range sensors report that the stolen vessel has left for Vjun, Supreme Commander'', the crewman reported through the comm.
''Then that's where we are going, but increase hyperspace velocity! I don't want to lose that traitor this time.'' Xerx replied.
''Yes, sir'', the crewman replied and did as was ordered.
''You will not escape me again, Ralik.'' Xerx said to himself. He wasn't sure of the validity of that statement, but it was enough to feed his anger.
''One more thing, Supreme Commander'', the crewman said, ''A Jedi vessel is following the fugitive.''
After an hour of wandering through the seemingly endless underground tunnels filled with various deadly beasts, Ralik had finally reached his destination. He stood before the ancient Ebon Hawk at last. The ship's exterior didn't look as deteriorated as one might think, though there were clear signs of corrosion as well as old bumps. Some were from space battles, but there were some caused by explosives. It was now clear to Ralik that the ship's owner burried it here intentionally, obviously to hide the coordinates Ralik himself was looking for, or simply to keep them hidden for the right person to find.
Ralik entered the ship and started looking for the navicomputer. The ship's interior was dark and dusty and showed the same signs of corrosion as the exterior did. As he was passing through the ship's briefing room, Ralik saw two ancient droids, both long since deactivated. One of them was clearly an old Astromech droid, but Ralik didn't know what to think of the other one. It was a biped droid, holding a blaster rifle in one hand, his plating, though rusted, still showed bits of his old red color. Ralik continued towards the cockpit. He had found the Hawk's navicomputer. It was voice-locked, obviously an attempt of the owner to protect the information stored within. That protection might have been enough at the time it was placed, but today it can be easily bypassed. Ralik hacked in and retrieved the coordinates to his pad. It was time to go.
Ralik left the ship and moved for the surface, but a silhouette appeared in front of him. Jedi Master Anduil Wrynn had tracked him down.
''What do you want, Jedi?'' Ralik asked arrogantly, ''Are you another guardian of the ancient Jedi's dark secrets?''
''I am here to stop you, evil one!'' Wrynn replied in a tone filled with anger, very uncharacteristical for a Jedi Master, ''You have made a perversion of our galaxy, our great temple on Coruscant is now defiled by your perverse technology! The once glorious Jedi Temple now serves as a factory for your armor, weapons and body... upgrades!''
''Perverse!?'' Ralik was disgusted by these claims, ''We have transformed your vile, machinery-infested planet into a masterpiece of nature! Just as we will do with the rest of your galaxy! And when I return to glorious Yuuzhan'tar and assume command, the Yuuzhan Vong will be unstopable and I will lead them to their greatest victory!!''
''Not if I can help it.'' Wrynn replied and ignited his green lightsaber.
''There is nothing you can do to stop me, but you are welcome to try'' Ralik replied.
''It is said that the Ebon Hawk has information that can make a person extremely powerful and when I defeat you and learn that information, I will banish your entire race from our galaxy.'' Anduil thought to himself, he completely forgot about the danger such thoughts could bring.
Ralik took his amphistaff and assumed the battle stance. Anduil attacked.
Anduil was extremely skilled with a lightsaber, but Ralik was more than a match for him. The fight was flowing very fast, both fighters showing the best they've got. Anduil was showing an enormoous amount of anger, the Dark Side was taking over, but that didn't affect his skills yet. Ralik was fairly calm, he successfully blocked every Anduil's attack, but Anduil was just as sucessful in blocking Ralik's attacks. The victor would not be decided easily.
Wrynn was swinging his saber with great speed. He relied on swift and strong attacks. Ralik held his amphistaff with both hands, each hand was about ten centimetres apart from the middle of the staff. That way he could swing it sideways and also successfully block Wrynn's attacks that mostly went for the middle of the staff.
Wrynn swung his lightsaber at Ralik, but as before, he hit the middle of Ralik's staff, Ralik then pushed Wrynn back, turned his amphistaff diagonally and swung its left end downwards at Wrynn who, unfortunately for Ralik, managed to block it with his saber. Ralik kept pushing the staff to distract Wrynn for a moment and then he kicked him in the torso. Wrynn moved back a few steps, holding his stomach with his right hand. ''You will not defeat me, Vong.'' Wrynn rushed towards Ralik, swinging his lightsaber with only one hand.
Suddenly Ralik saw a weakness in Anduil's tactics and he immediately exploited it and knocked Anduil's saber out of his hand, after which he stabbed Anduil through his left leg. Anduil fell down, but was not about to surrender.
''I will not let such untold power fall in the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong!!'' Anduil shouted furiously, ''I shall gain that power and destroy your damned race once and for all!'' Anduil fell to the Dark Side and wasn't even aware of it. A poor end for the Jedi Master.
''You can shout about it all you want'', Ralik replied, ''but you are still going to die now!''
Anduil attempted to fry Ralik with lightning, but in his anger he forgot that the Yuuzhan Vong cannot be harmed by the Force. Ralik plunged his amphistaff into the fallen Jedi's heart, just then his eyes slowly started to turn red, just like they did in his vision. As the fallen Jedi exhaled his last breath, the expression of Ralik's face turned into a dark smile, filled with satisfaction. Ralik pulled out his amphistaff from Wrynn's body and left for the surface.
At that moment the Raktajorr entered Vjun's orbit. Scans were showing that the stolen vessel was still on the planet. Supreme Commander Xerx couldn't suppress the satisfaction. Ralik was finally in his grasp.
''Triangulate the traitor's position'' Xerx ordered through the intercomm. He was walking back and forth with impatience.
''We have his coordinates, Supreme Commander'', the crewman replied two minutes later.
Xerx sat down in his chair and set the viewscreen on his table to show that location.
''Excellent. Commence bombardment of that position!'' Xerx ordered with untold pleasure.
Ralik was halfway to the surface when the ground started to shake. ''What now?'' he wondered, then he heard an explosion. He realized that this was no earthquake, someone was bombarding the planet.
He ran as fast as he could and reached the exit, luckily unharmed by the tremors. Bombs were falling over the entire area, Ralik realized that this wasn't just anyone that was bombing the surface. His former comrades have tracked him down. He hurried into the Rebirth and lifted off. He punched in the coordinates from the Ebon Hawk's navicomputer and as soon as he left the planets orbit, he engaged the hyperspace drive. The Raktajorr followed.
Ten hours later the Rebirth had reached its destination, a Dark Planet at the outer edge of the Unknown Regions, just outside the galaxy. One enormous structure could be seen on the planet's surface. It was obvious where Ralik had to go. Just as he prepared to land, the Raktajorr arrived.
Supreme Commander Xerx opened a comm channel to Ralik: ''There you are, traitor. I always knew it would come to this, half-breed, I knew you couldn't be trusted and that you would betray us, now I have the satisfaction of killing you for it.'' Xerx wanted Ralik to know who his executioner was.
''You old, arrogant fool!'' Ralik replied fiercely, ''I have gained power you can only dream of and here I shall reach my full potential! No one will stop me, especially not you!''
''And how do you intend to stop me in that little ship? I shall destroy you and then I shall finish off this dead planet! All guns, open fire!'' Xerx ended the transmission. The expression on his face soon showed an evil smile.
Hundreds of plasma cannons simultaneously fired on the Rebirth. Ralik engaged in evasive maneuvers but he knew he couldn't withstand that kind of firepower for long.
The whispering voice from his dream finally returned: ''You are so close! You must not be stopped now!''
''But how can my small craft resist the power of the worldship?'' Ralik asked the voice.
''It cannot, but you can. The worldship is more of a creature than a ship. That means it can be killed. Use your power, use the Force. Concentrate!'' The voice replied.
As before, Ralik obeyed the mysterious voice. He felt the creatures the worldship consisted of. The Coralskippers, the Dovin basals, the wormlike Dread Weapon and the Rikyam, the central brain of the Raktajorr He thought it and they died, one by one. The enormous worldship bursted into bright green flames and slowly started to fall apart. The hated Xerx was dead. Ralik watched the ship burn with great satisfaction, he almost smiled as he plotted a course and started his descent to the Dark Planet.
As the Rebirth slowly descended to the dead planet's surface, the voice sounded once again: ''You have succeeded. Come to the throne room, we are waiting.'' Moments later Ralik landed onto the enormous structure. He looked up one last time, what remained of the Raktajorr was still slowly burning in the sky with that same bright green flame. Ralik wished it would burn forever, thus forever serving as a monument of Xerx's downfall. He gazed at the burning wreckage one more minute, then he entered the building.
He wandered through the compound for a whole hour, on his way he saw ancient armor and weapons, ancient carvings on the walls that portrayed some kind of history. From what he gathered the carvings told that a Jedi came here to confront the True Teachings, he battled with the Master of the Teachings, demonstrating both skill with the Force and with blades. After a long and difficult battle the Jedi managed to defeat and kill the Master, after that he left never to return again. The ones that survived the Jedi's visit made these carvings to serve as sources of insight to any future visitors of this place, then they left too and were never seen again. Ralik was certain that the Jedi portrayed in the carvings was Revan. After all, the voice told him that only one ship returned from this place and that ship, the Ebon Hawk, was Revan's.
As Ralik continued further through the compound, he wondered where did those survivors go and how come there are no records of this planet anywhere. He saw the training rooms, the prison, the former occupants' chambers, the meditation rooms, even the burial chambers. As old and ruined as the huge building appeared to be, it was strange that most of the lights were still working. At moments he wondered if he was only imagining that voice, this place was obviously deserted, but then he found the throne room.
As Ralik entered the throne room he saw the dark, hooded figure from his dream. What was even more strange to him, he could see right through the figure. Eight more transparent figures appeared, four of them to the left of the dark figure and four to the right, they formed a semicircle. Ralik couldn't recognize the species, but it was clear that neither of the nine was human.
Though Ralik couldn't see the dark figure's face, he could still see the figure itself more clearly. Though transparent, the robe that the figure was wearing appeared to be red with a black armor on the torso. The figure's alien hands also appeared black.
''Welcome, young one'' the dark hooded figue whispered.
''It was you'' Ralik said, ''You were the one talking to me this whole time, but who and what are you?''
''We are the spirits of the ancient Sith Lords, all except me drawn from the distant tombs they haunted for millenia to this place'' the figure replied.
''But why?'' Ralik was confused, ''For what purpose?''
''To train you'', the figure said, ''And when your training is completed you will be the most powerful Sith Lord that ever lived and eventually you will restore the Sith to their former glory.''
''But with this power I can assume command of the Yuuzhan Vong forces and destroy any who oppose me!'' Ralik said arrogantly.
''The power you wield now is but a fraction of the power you possess.Your time will come, young one'', the figure said, still whispering, ''but it is not now. You still have much to learn and we are here to teach you.''
''The True Teachings? You are talking about them?'' Ralik asked calmly. He understood his destiny at last.
''Yes, young one. The very ones.'' The figure replied.
''Very well, Master.'' Ralik replied, calmer and more satisfied than ever.
The dark figure was pleased: ''Welcome to the fold.''
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