[FIN] The True Teachings II: Forbidden Knowledge
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Time passes. The Galaxy is thrown further into turmoil as the bloody Yuuzhan Vong war slowly escalates. The New Republic stands aside and welcomes her replacement – The Galactic Alliance. Both sides had their victories and their losses, some smaller, some greater thanks to which both sides started to forget the incident involving a certain Vong halfbreed.
''You have learned much since you came here and we are pleased, but your training is not anywhere near its completion. Listen carefuly, young one, everything you've read and was told about our history is true, but it is not the True Way of the Sith. You have been told about that so-called Sith Code... There is no peace, only passion... pffft. A stupid poem invented by empty-minded Sith... wannabees.''
''We are the only ones that can teach you what it means to be a True Sith and teach you we shall. It is our duty as it will be your duty to one day pass the teachings on. Now come, there is much for you to do today.''
''I follow, Master.''
The two figures disappeared into the dark corridors of the compound. The enormous city-like compound that laid on a dead and distant Dark Planet. In its orbit a wreckage testified of a year old conflict, a conflict whose end marked a new beginning, a new destiny for one person, a destiny filled with darkness and death, just as the road to reach it was. The name of that person was Ralik, the half Yuuzhan Vong, half human young man. A halfbreed orphan, genetically accelerated to adulthood Once a Commander in the Yuuzhan Vong Warrior caste, now something else... something... different.
In the one year Ralik had spent in that place he had indeed learned much. When he used the Force, it was like watching a master mechanic use his tools to fix the problem in a matter of minutes. Days passed and he trained more and more, learning also the history of the Sith, both the history of the fallen Jedi that called themselves Sith as well as the history of the True Teachings.
One might wonder how he managed to survive on that planet, alone, accompanied only by spectres of the ancient Sith. Well, the race that built the enormous compound where Ralik now lived, was extremely advanced. The planet was indeed barren and unsuitable for growing any type of food naturally, but the species that built the compound, the True Lords of the Sith, the unknown species that his Master, the one that lured him to this place, belonged to wasn't interested solely in mastering the Force and using it to rule the Galaxy, as so many of the Sith Lords tried to do. The mysterious species was also interested in developing science and technology, which is how they managed to develop a machine that produces food, well if you can call it food. It was nothing like the meals people eat every day, it was more of a dense liquid that was made of all the necessary daily nutrients. It wasn't very tasty, but it was food.
Another day, another lesson and Ralik actually started to enjoy it. He enjoyed it because he knew he would need all that knowledge one day, he still remembered what his Master told him when he first arrived to this place: ''Your time will come, young one, but it is not now.'' Ralik awaited that time with great pleasure and until it comes he will learn all that he possibly can, so that when his day finally comes nobody will be able to stop him.
The red, burning sun was slowly rising over the Jedi Academy. It was early morning and the courtyards were still empty, as were the training rooms. A few of the more dedicated students were awake, studying the history of the Order in the peacefulness of the Jedi Library along with their Masters.
Jedi Master Luke Skywalker was up for hours, meditating in his private chambers. This costly Yuuzhan Vong war occupied every corner of his mind, but despite his current preocupations, he never forgot that night one year ago, the night his Jedi Academy was intruded, when Ralik the halfbreed, Ralik the Yuuzhan Vong Force Sensitive infiltrated his Academy searching for nothing other than information of an ancient ship. An incident that in the end resulted in the disappearance of the Jedi Master sent after the intruder, Jedi Master Anduil Wrynn. Little did Luke know that Anduil was long dead. To him Anduil's fate was still uncertain.
''What did the intruder, Ralik, want with that information?'' Luke still wondered, he knew every story related to the ancient Ebon Hawk, but he still couldn't understand why would any intruder, especially a Yuuzhan Vong halfbreed that has only just discovered his affinity to the Force, bother to break into the Jedi Academy, only so he could get the data on a long lost ship. He could almost feel something clouding his judgement on the matter, but he could not yet break free of it – the unidentified dark influence that prevented Luke from understanding something as obvious as this. Sometimes Luke would think about it for hours, completely forgetting about the war, if nothing else.
As time passed and the Padawans and their Masters slowly finished their breakfasts and started to fill the courtyards and training rooms, Luke was slowly coming back to the present. He remembered that today he was supposed to give a lecture to the Padawans.
''What was it about this time?'' He started to recollect.
''Was it about the dangers of the Dark Side? Or was it about the fall of the Galactic Empire?''
''Don't you remember?'' An old and familiar voice asked, ''You are supposed to give them a lecture about the Rebellion's tactics during the war against the Galactic Empire.'' It was Obi-Wan, Luke's old friend and mentor. Luke often communed with him when he felt he needed guidance, or support.
''Ben! It's you.'' Luke responded joyfully.
''I always said you had a gift for perception.'' Obi-Wan joked.
''Yes, that you did.'' Luke said with a smile.
''But you aren't being much of a Jedi Master, if you can't remember your obligations for the day.'' Obi-Wan continued to tease Luke.
''I know. It's just that I have a lot on my mind, Ben, and with this war and everything...'', Luke paused, ''sometimes I need to put my mind on other things and that break in is something that I simply can't stop thinking about. It has something dark about it, but I don't quite know what.''
''You are more right than you know, Luke, but that matter, I can safely say, can wait a while.'' Obi-Wan replied, ''The most important thing right now is to win the war. Everything else is secondary.''
''Yes. Yes, you are right.'' Luke finally agreed.
''Good. Now you better start preparing for that lecture, you don't want to disappoint your students, do you?''
Another day at Yuuzhan'tar, the former capital of the Republic. Its surface, once covered by shiny, lifeless metal and concrete alloys, now covered with Vong lifelike biot. Even the atmosphere of the planet was changed, now, like most of the planet itself, even the sky appeared green.
Another day for Supreme Commander Kraal, filled with frustration and grief. Supreme Commander Kraal was a good friend of the long dead Xerx and had inherited Xerx's regiment as well as the responsibility of conducting an investigation of the events that lead to the disappearance of the worldship Raktajorr and the unfortunate disappearance of its crew as well as the disappearance of Supreme Commander Xerx.
This task sounded easier than it actually was. No matter how determined Kraal was to find out what really happened to that ship and its crew, the war with the Galactic Alliance, the former Republic always took presedan. Thus Kraal was often deprived of manpower, or weaponry, or ships, or various other necessities. These obstructions mostly came from the office of High Prefect Laerne of the Intendant caste, who didn't consider the fate of a missing high ranking officer of the Warrior caste a priority. Winning the war was what mattered to the High Prefect and in order to achieve that proper allocation of resources was necessary, better yet, it was obligatory.
This day was one of those when Kraal would go to a meeting with the High Prefect in order to discuss the amount of resources spent on his investigation. Those meetings would mostly end with more restrictions from the High Prefect, but Kraal considered it a duty to try to sway the High Prefect into giving him more ships, manpower, anything that could speed up his progress, which was almost nonexistant, again mostly thanks to the High Prefect himself.
The Intendant caste and with it the High Prefect's office was located in the quarter that once belonged to the Coruscant elite, you could say that it still does, in a way. After all, the Intendant caste were bureaucrats and polititians, so apart from some structural differences, you wouldn't find many others if you compared them with the aristocrats of the Republic.
Kraal had just arrived at the building and made his way up to the High Prefect's office. ''I really wish Laerne would see my point and help me for a change. Otherwise these meetings will completely lose their point.'' Kraal thought to himself as he entered the elevator. About a minute later the elevator arrived at the desired floor and Kraal exited it and entered the office.
The office itself was very interesting to the eye. It, of course, had a window with a breathtaking view on the Intendant quarter, but what was interesting was that the walls were painted in gold. It appears that Laerne really enjoyed its shine. To him it was a contrast to the rest of the planet.
''Ah, Kraal, come in. Come in.'' The High Prefect pretended to be hospitable.
Kraal entered and sat in the chair opposite to the High Prefect's chair, only Laerne's table stood between them. Laerne's chair was slightly taller than the one for his visitors, he enjoyed looking down on them.
''High Prefect, as you know I have submitted five requests for additional resources in the last month to your office, this meeting, as you also know was your response to them.'' Kraal made an effort to sound completely official, but respectful at the same time.
''Yes, yes.'' Laerne replied, ''But as I have told you on our countless previous meetings I need some kind of progress from you in order to allow more resources to be spent on your investigation. What have you found in the last year? Huh, Kraal?''
''We...'' Kraal started.
''I'll tell you Kraal – nothing! You know that Supreme Commander Xerx proclaimed one of his underlings a traitor, you know that he organised a pursuit to capture that traitor, you know that he hasn't reported to anyone, even the Warmaster, since he left Yuuzhan'tar with one of our extremely valuable worldships, you know that the worldship left for Ruusan and that's pretty much all you know after a whole year of investigating.'' Laerne responded, offended in appearance, but he knew very well why hasn't there been any progress in the investigation, he was the one that prevented it.
''As you know High Prefect, one week after the worldship's departure from Yuuzhan'tar we sent a ship to search for its hyperspace signature, but too much time has passed and by the time our ship got there the signal has already dissipated.'' Kraal added, still trying to be strictly official and respectful, but it was becoming harder and harder by the minute.
''Yes, yes, I know all that. I also know that you have pulled some strings with the regional commanders to order their ships to continue scanning for the Raktajorr's signature every week which they still do, with no progress whatsoever, I might add.'' Laerne replied arrogantly.
''How could we make any progress when you take everything you can from us to halt it?'' Kraal thought to himself, but he knew that saying it outloud wouldn't bring a favourable outcome to this meeting, so instead he asked as politely and respectfully as he could: ''High Prefect, I know you aren't satisfied with our progress in this investigation, but I must humbly request that you give us any manpower and ships that can be spared. I believe that it would significantly hasten our progress.''
''I understand your position, Kraal'', Laerne started, ''but you must also understand mine. I am responsible for making the adequate allocation of our available resources that will help us win this war, so my answer still stands – I cannot give you any additional units without you showing me some significant progress.''
''I understand, High Prefect. Winning the war is a priority.'' Kraal said respectfully, but inside he was boiling with anger.
''Good. Now, if there was nothing else...'' Laerne hurried to end this meeting.
''No, High Prefect. Thank you for your time.'' Kraal said and left. ''Indeed, thank you for being such a stubborn idiot, Laerne, and for wasting my time again.''
Luke entered the main classroom. The Padawans were quietly sitting and waiting for him to begin his lecture, all three hundred of them. Several other Masters were also there to maintain order and discipline among the Padawans. Luke walked up to the speaker's platform and gave the sign to start the projector. The large cloth behind him soon portrayed pictures and schematics of the ships used by the Rebel forces during the war against the Galactic Empire.
Luke started explaining everything he knew about those ships and their capabilities, ship by ship. Then he explained in which battles were particular ships used, from small fighters to large frigates. After he finished with that he moved on to the strategy and tactics that were used back then, slowly explaining every detail he could think of. Then he moved on to the battles themselves, especially those in which he participated. After all, he knew most about those. When he finished he gave the Padawans a chance to ask questions about anything he talked about.
The questions were mostly related to the battles Luke participated in and were mostly in the following form: ''So, Master Skywalker, what was the feeling like, after performing such a precise shot as you did on th first Death Star?'' or ''Master Skywalker, what was it like fighting your own father? It must have been terrible!''
Luke tried to answer even those questions in a way that could teach the Padawans something, despite the fact that some of them were very painful for him, especially those about his father. After half an hour of questions his lecture was finally over.
Luke retired to his meditation chamber, relieved that the lecture was over. He sat down, closed his eyes and channeled his thoughts, soon after his mind was empty, empty of all the worries and problems. Then Obi-Wan appeared again.
''I take it the lecture went well?'' Obi-Wan asked with a dose of humor.
''Not really. Very few students paid attention to what I was trying to teach them, the others mostly acted like fans of movie stars. That's why I don't give many lectures.'' Luke said with sadness in his voice.
''Knowing that your words reached even a few souls is reason enough to be certain that you accomplished something.'' Obi-Wan said.
''You always know what to say, old friend.'' Luke replied, releived, he finally managed to relax a bit, ''but my point is that there's a war going on, I'm trying to teach them every military tactic I know of so that when they do get out on that battlefield they know what to do and the only thing they are interested in hearing are details of my confrontations with Vader.''
''You can't blame them. You are a legend in their eyes, Luke.'' Obi-Wan said.
''I know, but...'' Luke started.
''And you should really stop calling your father by his Sith name and start calling him Anakin.'' Obi-Wan interrupted him.
''Yes, you are right...'' Luke started again, but was interrupted by a knock at the chamber door.
''Hmmm. Looks like you have a visitor and I'm willing to bet that it's one of your more dedicated Padawans coming to get additional information on your lecture.'' Obi-Wan said with a smile.
''I thought Jedi don't deal in chances.'' Luke teased Obi-Wan.
''Well, no... We will continue our conversation later, it's rude to keep the guests waiting.'' Obi-Wan said cheerfully and disappeared.
''Come in!'' Luke said.
The doors opened and a Padawan entered. It was Dasha Kar, one of the most promising students of Luke's Academy. She was interested in everything the Masters teached them, but she was most intrigued by the history of the Jedi Order. She dreamed about becoming a historian of the New Jedi Order and was making enormous efforts to achieve her dream.
''I am sorry to disturb you, Master Skywalker.'' She said gently and respectfully.
''Not at all, come in. How can I help you?'' Luke asked.
''Well, sir... as you know I am studying very hard to become a historian of the Order...'' Dasha started slowly.
''Yes and from what I hear from your Master you are the Padawan most likely to accomplish that goal.'' Luke said, trying to calm her down.
''Thank you, Master... Anyway, I was studying the Old Republic ships and I came across an interesting vessel.'' Dasha continued a little calmer than before, ''Its name is the Ebon Hawk, the ship owned by the legendary Jedi Revan.''
''Yes, I am familiar with it. What do you wish to know?'' Luke asked calmly.
''The file says that the ship was last seen in the vicinity of Vjun and that it was never found. Well, I remembered that break in from last year, the intruder took only the data about that ship.'' Dasha continued, her voice radiating with confidence.
''Yes, that's true.'' Luke confirmed.
''Well, Master Skywalker, I also know that you sent someone after the intruder. I am interested to know what happened. Was the ship found?''
''I don't know. Master Wrynn, the Jedi I sent after the intruder, hasn't reported since his departure. His fate and what he found are unknown to me, but I fear the worst.'' Luke replied.
''But, why didn't you send someone to find him, to find out what happened to him?''
''Because of this war. It was a critical time for us and our Order and the Galactic Alliance couldn't afford it, we needed every available Jedi on the front, or here.''
''I see. Then I would like to request permission to leave the Academy and search for him and the ship.'' Dasha asked, completely determined to do it.
''I don't think that's a good idea at this time. Yuuzhan Vong patrols are everywhere, you could be captured, or worse.'' Luke was reluctant.
''Please, Master Skywalker. I'll be careful and for a piece of Jedi history as important as that ship, I am willing to take the risk.''
''I sense your determination. I suppose I have no choice but to allow you to go, nothing I say will change your mind. Very well, take one of the Academy's fighters and go, but be extremely careful. You are one of your most promising students and it would be a shame to lose you.'' Luke said, still reluctantly, but a little calmer about the whole matter.
''Thank you, Master Skywalker! Thank you! I promise I won't disapoint you.''
''I'd rather you promised to come back alive, but I'll settle with that one.'' Luke tried to joke.
Dasha laughed, said thanks one more time and left. ''Ebon Hawk.'' Luke thought, ''That ship obviously has an important part in all of our futures, but what? And what knowledge could it hold that drove its owner to hide it, but not destroy it?''
Dasha entered her room overwhelmed with hapiness. She has just told her Master about her departure. Her Master was even more reluctant, but since the permission came from the head of the Academy himself, Dasha's Master was forced to agree and simply give her some more warning about being careful and taking care of herself and finally ending it with ''May the Force be with you.'' She, of course, assured her Master that she will be extremely careful and promised to bring back the knowledge from the Ebon Hawk.
Dasha quickly finished some minor assignments she already had and started packing. She didn't plan to bring many things, but she considered one spare robe to be necessary, then, of course, some food and every piece of data on the Ebon Hawk. She didn't get a copy of the data yet, but it was only a matter of going to the Jedi Archives and downloading it into a datapad. She left that for tomorrow.
She laid down on her bed and gazed at the room ceiling. Soon the stony ceiling disappeared and was replaced by the vast and endless space. She floated through the vastness of space, the cosmic winds swirling her long brown hair. She remembered her home world of Nar Shaddaa, the Smuggler's Moon. She was one of the few humans that actually lived there and it was only because she could never save enough money to leave to another world. Her luck changed when she one day came across Jedi Master Kyle Katarn, who was on a mission there to investigate Hutt activity. He recognized the power inside her and took her to the Jedi Academy on Yavin. She passed all the tests with flying colors and was accepted into the Academy, she was then assigned to a Jedi Master and her training began. Even though Kyle wasn't her Master she still sometimes turned to him for guidance.
Dasha woke up early the next morning. The sun was just peaking over the horizon as she got up. She still had enough work to do before her departure and she wanted to get started as soon as possible. She made her bed and took a quick shower. She got dressed and went down for breakfast.
The dining hall was still almost completely empty when she came in. Most of the students were just getting up from their beds. ''Good. At least there's no line for food.'' Dasha smiled at her own thought. She aproached the food table, filled her plate and sat down at the nearest empty seat. She took her time eating her four sandwitches, in the meantime the dining hall was slowly filling up. When she finished her meal, Dasha took the plate and put in on the table designated for dirty dishes, then she left for the Archives.
When Dasha entered the Archives room she didn't waste any time. She quickly sat in front one of the terminals, took the datapad from her pocket and inserted it into the slot. She then found the Ebon Hawk file and downloaded it into the pad. The blue viewscreen showed a message confirming that the file was copied successfully, so Dasha took out her datapad and went back to her room to get the rest of her things.
Fifteen minutes later Dasha was at the Academy's hangar. As she entered she saw Master Kyle Katarn waiting near one of the X-Wings.
''Master Katarn.'' She greeted him with great surprise, ''What are you doing here?''
''Well, I heard you were leaving on a business trip so I came to say goodbye and wish you luck.'' Kyle replied.
''I thought Jedi weren't supposed to believe in luck, Master Katarn.'' Dasha joked with Kyle.
''Well, as most of the Academy's occupants know, I'm not your classic stuck up Jedi.'' Kyle smiled, ''Anyway, there's one more thing I wanted.''
''What's that?'' Dasha asked.
''It's a dangerous world out there so I brought you a going away present.'' Kyle joked as he was reaching out for his back. He took out a lightsaber and gave it to Dasha.
''Thank you, Master Katarn, but I don't plan to break into a Yuuzhan Vong base, or get into any kind of fights.'' Dasha replied as she took the lightsaber.
''Nevertheless, you should take it. You never know what the future brings. It can still prove useful for things other than fights.'' Kyle replied.
''I guess you're right. Well, I should get going. The sooner I leave, the sooner I can come back.'' Dasha smiled.
''Right. Just be careful out there.'' Kyle said and went for the switch to open the hangar doors.
''I will. Goodbye, Master Katarn.'' Dasha replied as she entered the X-Wing. Minutes later she left the Academy grounds.
The day Dasha left for Vjun was just another ordinary day on Yuuzhan'tar, even for Supreme Commander Kraal. He was awake the whole night, thinking, revising his options. The High Prefect couldn't care less about his investigation and will definitely not invest more money, or manpower in it. Kraal had to find a way to go around the High Prefect, he had to get those resources from someone else.
Kraal was an extremely respected officer of the Warrior caste, many men that once served under him were promoted and reassigned, but, despite that, most of them would be willing to help their former superior in any way they could. That is how Kraal managed to convince those ships in Ruusan's orbit to continue scanning for the Raktajorr's hyperspace signature in the first place. But this time, he feared, having friends in certain positions will probably not be enough. He could go directly to the Warmaster, but Warmaster Tsavong Lah was as obsessed with winning the war with disregard to anything else as the High Prefect was, if not more.
Kraal slowly got up from his bed and put on his bioengineered Vonduun Crab armor. He aproached the window and looked outside. The sky was as green as ever. Kraal took his Coufee dagger and placed it in his belt, then he took his amphistaff and left for his office.
Kraal's office was only a few floors up from his quarters. Usually Kraal always took the elevator up, but this time he decided to take the stairs. He needed the time to think and he thought a walk might help him. After about ten minutes Kraal arrived to his office. The stroll didn't help him at all.
Kraal's current office was actually the office once used by Supreme Commander Xerx. When Xerx's regiment was added to Kraal's, Kraal also inherited Xerx's office. He didn't use it right away. First he had it fine combed at least ten times in search for any kind of evidence about Xerx's whereabouts. He found nothing. Xerx had taken everything with him, including his numerous battle trophies. After a while Kraal made peace with the facts and moved in his new office. He didn't have many battle trophies and those he had he kept in his private quarters. The office was now strictly business-looking. Instead of trophies, the walls were filled with starcharts, battle plans and investigation reports.
Kraal came in and took a look around. The door closed behind him and he slowly aproached the starchart filled wall. He looked carefully at every single starchart, then at every single report, but nothing was there that he didn't already know. He then went to the large window that overlooked the Warrior quarter. He enjoyed the look for awhile, trying to clear his mind. Still no ideas, nothing.
Suddenly the viewscreen on his desk activated, it was a message from Communications:
''Supreme Commander Kraal, are you there?'' The Communications officer sounded over the viewscreen.
Kraal immediately went to his desk and sat down.
''Yes, this is Supreme Commander Kraal speaking.'' He replied.
''Sir, there's an urgent message for you from the Braxtaal.''
''The Braxtaal? That's Yondra's ship.'' Kraal thought, ''Patch it through!''
Yondra was one of those friends that were mentioned earlier. He used to be a Commander in Kraal's regiment, but he was promoted to a command post on the A-vek Iiluunu type starship, the Braxtaal, which was orbiting Ruusan for two years now. Yondra knew to appretiate his former command officer's understanding and intelligence and was eager to help Kraal out when he asked for those periodical hyperspace signature scans.
''Supreme Commander Kraal.'' Yondra greeted him respectfully.
''Commander Yondra! What a pleasant surprise.'' Kraal greeted him back.
''It's been awhile, sir'' Yondra replied, ''How goes your investigation?''
''Poorly. We are standing still for too long now, Yondra. The High Prefect stubbornly refuses to give me more manpower, or more equipment, or anything.''
''Then you are really going to like what I have to tell you.'' Yondra said over the viewscreen, filled with satisfaction.
''You found something? Tell me you found something, Yondra.'' Kraal was so excited that his heart rate rose.
''Our shapers have been working on a way to adjust our ship's sensors to detect a ship's signature long after it passed through an area.'' Yondra reported proudly.
''They succeeded?'' Kraal asked.
''Yes. They found a way to detect hyperspace signatures by scanning on a subspace level.''
''And you...'' Kraal started.
''Yes, sir. We found your missing worldship, or at least where it went after Ruusan.'' Yondra replied.
''That's excellent news, Yondra. Thank you.'' Kraal said, ''so where did the Raktajorr go?''
''I'm sending you our findings along with the data necessary to adjust sensors to scan on the subspace level.'' Yondra replied. His assignment was extremely boring and he was glad to do something even a little exciting for a change.
''I have received the data. Thank you. I am in your debt Yondra.''
''Think nothing of it, sir. I hope you find that ship. Yondra out.'' The transmission ended.
Kraal took a look at the data Yondra sent to him. ''Yavin IV? The Jedi Academy? I have to see this through personally.''
Kraal pulled some strings and in a few hours managed to acquire a Kor Chokk type starship, the Grondel, he personally selected his crew as well as crew that came from the Shaper caste. He had to make sure that no one sabotages his efforts now. After a year of standing still, this was a major breakthrough and Kraal wasn't about to let it slip its way to the ears of the High Prefect. If it did the High Prefect would surely reasssign even more men from the investigation with an explanation that there's no need for that much manpower in this investigation when it's progressing that well.
Kraal immediately took a transport to his starship. As he entered he was greeted by the ship's high ranking officers, among them was Master Shaper Jashra, the officer whose main purpose was to tend to the Grondel's sensors. Kraal greeted them and took a moment to talk to Jashra. He gave Jashra instructions on how to adjust the sensors for subspace scans, saluted and left to find his new office. Fifteen minutes later, after Kraal settled in, he gave the order over the comm. In half an hour the ship will depart for Yavin IV. It was to follow the exact path of Xerx's worldship, the Raktajorr.
''There is no good and evil, only strength and weakness;
there are no assumptions, only facts;
there are no rules, except those each of us makes;
there is no fate, only the Force.''
''That is the basic principle of the True Teachings, my apprentice, or, if you will, the True Code.''
''I understand, Master.''
''Hmph. That is yet to be seen, my apprentice.''
From high orbit Vjun looked relatively peaceful to Dasha Kar. She read all the available data on that planet, but this is the first time she will see its true nature first hand. As Ralik had done a year earlier, Dasha entered the Ebon Hawk's schematics and composition data into her computer and initiated the scans. Soon after she got the coordinated of the ship. She immediately descended onto the planet.
As she was descending she found out that Vjun isn't as peaceful as she thought. There was a lot of turbulence in the upper atmosphere that made Dasha's landing much more difficult. Even so, she managed to ground her craft somehow and at the right coordinates.
The first thing Dasha noticed after she left her X-Wing were numerous craters in the ground. They were huge, the record of Xerx's bombardment a year ago. One more obvious thing was that there was no Ebon Hawk, at least not on the surface. ''There were many caves here, so I guess it is possible that the ship is underground.'' The wind started blowing. Dasha looked up and noticed that the weather started to change. A storm was coming. One of the everyday characteristics of Vjun.
Dasha quickly ran to one of the caves. She could hear the thunders in the distance. A few moments later bolts of lightning were flashing from the clouds above. The flashes didn't last more than a few seconds, but during those few seconds they made the night seem like a day. Dasha had no choice, she didn't know for sure that this particular cavern will lead her to the Ebon Hawk, but she entered it anyway. The storm was getting worse and she wasn't going to stick around to see how bad can the weather truly be on Vjun.
As Dasha descended deeper and deeper the caves were getting darker. She took out a wrist flashlight from her backpack, put it on her wrist and turned it on, before she continued further. On her way down Dasha saw a number of collapsed tunnels, which forced her to change direction. It made her journey much longer than it really was. She ran into a few underground beasts, but she managed to dispose of them without even using her lightsaber.
After hours of wandering through the half-collapsed tunnels, Dasha reached a large underground cavern. It was indeed the very one that hid the ancient ship she was searching for. Now, a whole year later, even this huge cavern was half-collapsed, covering completely almost the entire ship. As she got closer to the ship Dasha stumbled upon a dead body. It was badly decomposed and the only thing that hinted who that person was in life was the lightsaber, lying just a few centimetres from the corpse.
''By the Force! This must be the Jedi that Master Skywalker sent after the intruder. Anduil Wrynn, if I remember correctly.'' Dasha thought to herself.
''He actually found the ship...'' Dasha paused as she saw the wound on his chest, ''and that intruder. How unfortunate that the intruder prevailed.''
She moved forward and took a look at the half-burried ship. She was searching for an entrance and minutes later she found it. ''This is it.'' She thought, ''I have actually succeeded. I found it. Now all I have to do is figure out are the stories true, does this ship truly contain some ancient knowledge. First thing is first''
Dasha decided to bury the fallen Jedi Master, before she does anything else. It was hard work, digging a hole without any tools, she had to use her bare hands. After an hour and a half she finished digging. The hole wasn't more than eighty centimetres deep and not more than a meter long, but it would have to do. She rested for five minutes and then she dragged Wrynn's corpse into the hole. She didn't enjoy her task, but she considered it her duty to bury this Jedi. After another hour of filling the hole with the ground again her work was finally done. She sat on a nearby stone, took off her backpack and used it as a pillow. She desperately needed sleep.
After three hours Dasha woke up. She noticed just then that she got completely dirty from the digging. There was a small underground pond about five metres left of the ship. The water looked clean. Dasha took a nearby branch of dried underground wood and threw it into the water just to make sure, she knew that the rains on Vjun were acid. Nothing happened. It was just water. Relieved, she slowly took her clothes off and entered the pond. It wasn't very large, but it was slightly deeper than she was tall. After she cleaned herself up, Dasha took her dirty robes and washed them as best as she could. She left them on a nearby stone to dry and went for her backpack. She took the spare robes she brought and got dressed. ''I knew I'd need these.''
She then gathered some of that dry underground wood and made a small campfire. She slept for another hour and then she decided it was time to take a look inside the ship. She climbed up the ramp and went in.
In the last year the ships interior hasn't changed much. Mostly, it was dustier, there was also slightly more corrosion, but other than that it was pretty much the same. Dasha looked around and saw the two deactivated ancient droids – the Astromech droid in one corner and the unknown type in the other one.
''I can't believe it. These must be T3-M4 and HK-47! Incredible.'' She thought, ''Unfortunately, I don't have the time, or the tools to repair them and even if I could, I'd have to leave them here, my X-Wing isn't big enough for the three of us. Hopefully after they review my findings, the Order will arange a proper expedition and maybe even an excavation of the ship in the near future.''
Dasha took a look around the rest of the ship. She found the navicomputer, but after a few hours of attempting to bypass the voice lock, she gave up. She never was much of a hacker. She decided to try her luck with the ship's log. She managed to access it and she saw several files, she went to the most recent and played it. A hologram appeared behind her. It was a young woman, holding what appeared to be a double-bladed lightsaber. Dasha recognized her from her studies. It was Bastila Shan.
''Five days have passed since we left the Dark Planet.'' The hologram started speaking, ''Something happened to Revan when he killed that Sith Lord, he told me later that he saw the future. He said that the ship must be hidden, though we all insisted that the coordinates to that place be erased from the navicomputer, Revan forbid it. He said that such places, dark as they may be, serve their purpose and that this knowledge must wait for the right time to be discovered in the future. Hidden. Here on Vjun. A place only a few would dare look. Revan said that it is important for maintaining the balance in the Force. He ordered us to place charges on the cliffs and get to a safe distance before they are detonated. Then to bury the ship with only the two droids as its dormant guardians. I leave this message to whoever finds this ship: Be careful how you use the knowledge hidden here. If you aren't pure of heart and feel you are succumbing to the lure of the Dark Side, then leave this place immediately, otherwise you may be doomed forever.'' The message ended.
Aboard the Grondel life was going as usual. Every crewman did his, or her part that was required for the ship to function properly. The ship's sensors have been adjusted as Kraal wished. Everything was in perfect order. The ship will soon be at its destination - Yavin.
As the Grondel drew closer to Yavin an order came to gradually slow down. The ship was supposed to leave hyperspace somewhat further from the system, for no other reason than to avoid the Academy's sensors, just like Xerx did a year before. Slightly further from the Raktajorr's last known coordinates in this system the Grondel dropped from hyperspace. It was at that exact moment that Dasha arrived at Vjun. Kraal wanted this to be nothing more than a quick stop. They would perform their scans and immediately move on.
''Scan the area for the Raktajorr's hyperspace signature.'' Kraal ordered Master Shaper Jashra over the comm.
''Performing the scans. Please stand by, Supreme Commander.'' Jashra replied.
''I sure hope the trail doesn't end here.'' Kraal thought as he waited for the scans to be completed. ''I wonder what was the Raktajorr's next stop.''
Ten minutes later the scans were completed and Jashra reported over the comm: ''We have the results, Supreme Commander Kraal.''
''Well? What do they say?'' Kraal asked calmly, ''What's our next stop?''
''Vjun.'' Jashra reported, ''According to our results, the Raktajorr left for Vjun.''
''Interesting. Thank you Jashra, Kraal out.'' Kraal ended the conversation.
''I have to admit, this is a very interesting choice of places, Xerx, I only wonder why did you go to all these places. Can it be possible that the traitor you were chasing went to all of them and you were simply following him?'' Kraal thought, ''I'll get to the bottom of this one, I swear it.''
Kraal stood up from his chair and walked around in his office for a few minutes, contemplating everything he learned so far. He wasn't getting any conclusions, so the only rational thing to do was to continue following the trail and see where it leads him. He sat in his chair once again and contacted the navigations officer.
''Set a course for Vjun.'' Kraal ordered through the comm.
About a minute later the officer responded: ''Course is set, Supreme Commander.''
''Excellent, engage the hyperspace drive, we depart immediately.''
''Yes, sir.'' The officer obeyed.
The enormous, terrifying Kor Chokk station-ship slowly moved away from the Red Giant and entered hyperspace. The truth behind those one year old events was something Kraal would never think of. He watched through his office window as the Red Giant swiftly turned into a small dot and then disappeared completely from his sight. Hours alone divided Kraal from his next destination. He had no idea of a Jedi that was already there.
In the meantime the only thing on Master Shaper Jashra's mind was that adjustment to the ship's sensors. He spent every available moment to study it as detailed as he could. It was an enormous breakthrough for the Yuuzhan Vong and Jashra knew it. He wondered only two things – Where did the Supreme Commander get the instructions on how to adjust the sensors and why isn't that information available to the rest of the fleet yet.? He assumed that there was a good answer to each of his questions, but he had no idea what it was. He stopped thinking about it for now and concentrated on his duties on this ship. Hopefully after performing another series of scans when they reach Vjun, he will have a better chance to figure out the principle on which the sensors now work. As he always said: ''Using something and understanding how it works are two completely different things.''
''You have learned to use the Force well, my apprentice. You have learned to use it like a tool, but it is not enough. The Force is more than a simple means to an end, my apprentice. It is your ally. Connect deeply with it, with the midichlorines in your body, you remember when I taught you about them?''
''I remember, Master.''
''Good. Connect with them and learn to drive your power from both Dark and Light Side of the Force and there will be no limit to what you could achieve. That is the key difference between those so-called Sith and the True Teachings. That is their essence, my apprentice. Remember this well.''
''I will, Master.''
''See that you do, you will need it in your future.''
Dasha downloaded the final entry from the Ebon Hawk's log to her datapad and left the ship. ''I promised not to return empty-handed. I think this means I kept my promise. Now I just need to get back to the Academy.''
Dasha picked up the washed clothes from the rock and packed them into her backpack. They were dry now. She moved towards the tunnel she came through when an apparition materialized in front of it.
''You're going already?'' The spirit asked.
''What? Who are you?'' Dasha asked him back, terrified.
''You don't recognize me? Why, I'm the Jedi you burried just a few hours ago.'' The spirit replied.
''You are Jedi Master Anduil Wrynn!'' She shouted with excitement.
''How very perceptive of you.'' Wrynn's spirit replied.
''What did you mean by that first question?'' Dasha asked him, even more excited.
''I meant that you are going without knowing the secret of this ship. I thought it interested you.'' Wrynn's spirit replied in a sneaky tone.
''I heard that last recording in the ship's log. I know it has to do with some planet.'' Dasha replied, ''I will bring that information before Master Skywalker and the Council and leave it up to them to investigate it further. I have done my part, I don't have the necessary equipment to investigate it further.''
''What if I told you that this ship hides in its navicomputer the location of a place that can give you enough power to take over the leadership of the Jedi Order and destroy the wretched Yuuzhan Vong once and for all?'' Wrynn's spirit started to show its true face.
''What? I know what I heard in that message! The place you are talking about is clearly a place of darkness and I for one do not intend to fall to the Dark Side and betray the Order!'' Dasha replied fiercely.
''Oh, come on. You do not owe the Order anything! This is your discovery and yours alone. You have the right to enjoy its spoils.'' Wrynn's spirit insisted.
''No! I will not fall to the Dark Side as you apparently did!'' Dasha realized what Wrynn's spirit was about at last.
''The Dark Side isn't as bad as everyone portrays it to be. My only mistake was not falling sooner. If I had, I would not have died at the hands of that Vong halfbreed! I would have drawn the strength necessary to defeat him and the power he now most likely has would have been mine!'' Wrynn's spirit shouted in anger.
''I can't believe I'm hearing this. And from a Jedi Master, no less.'' Dasha cried in disappointment, ''What could have happened to you that made you betray your fellow Jedi in such a manner?''
''The Vong happened! The Order is too passive about them! I never agreed with that, but I tried to respect its leadership regardless to my personal disapproval of the Order's position about the amount of its participation in this war.'' Wrynn's spirit said bitterly.
''And you think that giving in to your anger is the answer? Falling to the Dark Side?'' Dasha barely calmed herself down.
''It's better than extinction!'' Wrynn's spirit replied fiercely.
''You are a disappointment to the entire Order and you bring nothing but shame upon it. You have indeed fallen beyond redemption. The funeral I gave you was more than you deserved.'' Dasha said and entered the tunnel that lead towards the surface.
''In the end, as you exhale your last breath while a Vong soldier mutilates your bodies, you will all know I was right!!'' Wrynn's spirit shouted from the large cavern.
Dasha ignored it completely and continued towards the surface. The tunnels were familiar to her now and the journey upwards shouldn't take too long.
It took her only an hour this time and she reached the exit to the surface. The storm had died down while she was underground. Only the desert wind was there now. Dasha moved out towards her X-Wing. She was glad her mission was over. He had a lot to tell the Council. When she reached her ship she took one more look around at the crater-filled terrain. ''What made those craters? It couldn't have been a storm. No, it was something else.'' Dasha thought, ''Ahh, that's not even important right now. I better get going.''
She entered the X-Wing but she didn't lift off right away. She sat in it for a while thinking, then she recorder her entire discovery in a form of a log and downloaded it into her datapad along with the Ebon Hawk's log. Then she lifted off.
As she was getting further and further away from Vjun's surface her satisfaction for a job well done grew. She was looking forward to return to Yavin and continue her studies in the relative safety of the Jedi Academy. Her hapiness soon changed into a feeling of unspeakable horror as she saw the enormous Yuuzhan Vong Kor Chokk type ship orbiting Vjun. The sense of dread in her eyes was undescribable. She plotted a course for Yavin and attempted to engage into hyperspace, but it was too late. The Kor Chokk's tractor beam was pulling her X-Wing towards it.
''Yes, soldier what is it?'' Kraal asked in an agitated tone. He was just starting to relax a bit when this soldier barged into his office.
''I am sorry to disturb you, sir, but I thought you might like to know that we have a prisoner.'' The soldier reported.
''A prisoner?'' Kraal was confused.
''Yes, sir. And a Jedi, no less.'' The soldier continued.
''A Jedi? What would a Jedi be doing in this part of the Galaxy?'' Kraal wondered.
''We caught her trying to leave Vjun. She was about to enter hyperspace when our tractor beam got her ship.'' The soldier reported.
''Interesting.'' Kraal said.
''You might want to interrogate her, sir, she might know something relevant to your investigation.'' The soldier suggested.
''Yes, indeed. Put her in a holding cell and in one hour put her in the Embrace of Pain and leave her like that for another hour.'' Kraal ordered.
''Understood, Supreme Commander.'' The soldier confirmed.
''That way she will already be half broken when I start my interrogation and will be more than happy to tell us everything she knows.'' Kraal added, ''You may go.''
''Yes, sir.'' The soldier saluted and left to carry out the order.
Even though he didn't seem like the type, Kraal could be vicious and cruel given the opportunity. He despised his enemies with the same intensity with which he respected his soldiers and he showed no mercy to his prisoners. The Embrace of Pain was a prisoner's worst nightmare. It was more mental torture than it was physical. Very few prisoners could withstand the Embrace of Pain for a longer period of time and in the end they all cracked.
Dasha was thrown into a holding cell as was ordered, but not before a few of the soldiers had their fun with her and for them fun mainly meant beating the snot out of her. She was lying on the prison bed, her clothes were soaked with blood and even torn in a few places. She sobbed, very quietly. ''What did I do to deserve this? I'm just a Padawan, all I wanted was to find that ship and return to the Academy. Why did the Vong had to appear now, of all moments?'' She sobbed, ''I have to get out of here, somehow I have to escape.''
An hour has passed and the guards took Dasha to the interrogation room and put her in the Embrace of Pain, then they simply left the room. At first she was confused. She didn't know what to expect next. She knew that she was brought to that room for interrogation, but she had no idea of the horror the Embrace of Pain would bring. Suddenly she felt it, a mild sense of pain in her head. She calmed down as much as she could, cleared her mind and surpressed the pain. She managed to resist the torture device for the first fifteen minutes, but then things started getting worse, the pain started to increase significantly. The two guards standing outside the interrogation room could hear the desperate screams coming from within, but they couldn't care less. They might have even enjoyed them.
One hour later Supreme Commander Kraal entered the room. He adjusted the torture device to produce a smaller amount of pain, just enough so she could talk. Dasha couldn't believe it, the pain was almost entirely gone. She was exausted and could barely catch her breath after that kind of torture.
''What is your name, Jedi?'' Kraal asked.
''D... Dasha... Kar.'' She murmured.
''And what were you doing on Vjun, Dasha Kar?'' Kraal asked with a cruel look in his eyes.
''I was... I was doing... some research for the Academy.'' She murmured again.
''Really? And would that research have something to do with a one year old incident involving a certain traitor to my kind and the officer sent to catch him?''
''What? I... have no idea... what you're talking about.''
''I'm not convinced. I'll ask you one more time: what do you know of a halfbreed traitor named Ralik and a Yuuzhan Vong officer named Xerx?'' Kraal insisted.
''I've... I've never heard of them, I swear.'' Dasha barely spoke.
''I'm still not convinced. It just seems as too much of a coincidence that the Jedi would investigate the same planet that this traitor, Ralik, chose to visit and that their investigation has nothing to do with that event whatsoever.'' Kraal said arrogantly, ''I will ask you one last time – tell me what you know!''
''You can... believe what you will... but I don't know anything.''
''I see you have chosen the way of pain. I am going to leave you here for another hour, but this time I will double the amount of pain that you felt before! Perhaps then you will be more willing to cooperate.'' Kraal said and moved towards the door.
Kraal was just about to leave the room when he received a message over the comm: ''Sir, I have performed another scan for the Raktajorr's signature and I have found a trail leading to a place on the edge of the Galaxy, somewhere in the Unknown Regions.'' It was Jashra.
''Well, looks like I won't be needing you anymore after all.'' Kraal opened the door and called the guards, ''Take her to the airlock and kill her. I have learned everything I've wanted from her.''
Kraal left and the two guards released Dasha from the Embrace of Pain and dragged her out of the room. She was barely managing to remain concious. Then it hit her – the Yuuzhan Vong ship is going to that place mentioned in the Ebon Hawk's log. If they discover it, who knows what sort of disaster it could cause. ''I can't let that happen. It is my duty to try and stop them.''
Kraal entered his office. He just got back from the interrogation room. He sat down on his chair. He was just about to issue an order for departure when the viewscreen on his desk activated. The text said 'Urgent Message from Yuuzhan'tar'. Kraal accepted the message, but he immediately wished he hadn't. On the viewscreen he saw the stubborn, arrogant face of High Prefect Laerne.
''Hello, Kraal.'' Laerne said.
''High Prefect Laerne. To what do I owe this pleasure?'' Kraal replied sarcastically.
''A little bird told me you requisitioned one of our Kor Chokk's through illegitimate channels and left chasing for a new lead.'' Laerne said arrogantly.
''I wouldn't call them illegitimate, but more important right now is that I have made significant progress in my investigation.'' Kraal tried to change the subject. ''I handpicked my crew. Which one of them could betray me?''
''And that is supposed to justify an illegitimate field trip to... Vjun? And Yavin before that.'' Laerne continued with his accusations.
''There is nothing illegitimate about my investigation, High Prefect and you know that. Besides, I, as a Supreme Commander, have the right to requisition at least one capital ship and a crew to operate it.'' Kraal tried to pull rank.
''Perhaps. But that is a matter to be discussed in person. I want you to return to Yuuzhan'tar immediately. Your little field trip is over!''
''You can't recall us now! I am so close to finishing this investigation! Be reasonable, High Prefect. I have one more place to visit and I am certain that I will find an answer to what happened to Supreme Commander Xerx there. After that I shall return.'' Kraal insisted.
''You will return to Yuuzhan'tar immediately, or I will demand that you be stripped of rank and branded a traitor for disobeying a direct order!!'' Laerne shouted over the screen.
Something snapped in Kraal's head at that moment. Laerne was always halting his investigation with stupid technicalities, but this was the last straw. He could feel the answer waiting for him and that stuck up idiot Laerne decided that his ego is more important than closing an investigation of this magnitude.
''No, Laerne.'' Kraal finally said, ''Not this time. You have obstructed my investigation long enough, you stuck up, arrogant fool! I will proceed according to my original plan. When my investigation is complete I shall return and answer to the Warmaster himself, if I have to, but you will never bother me again!!'' Kraal shouted at the High Prefect fiercely and ended transmission.
In the meantime the guards have dragged Dasha to the airlock. This was her last chance, she had to try something. She mustered all her remaining strength and pulled out a knife from one of the guards. She stabbed one in the stomach and kicked the other one. Then she got up and quickly finished off both of them by slitting their throats. She just realized it – this was the first time she killed anyone and she didn't like the feeling. Unfortunately she will probably have to kill again, if she is to get out of there alive. She took the other guard's knife and slowly started to backtrack. First order of business was to find her equipment, then she'll try to find a way to sabotage the ship's propulsion and, if possible, weaponry.
Dasha wandered through the ship's corridors, avoiding any patrols. She had no idea where her equipment was held. Suddenly she heard someone approaching. It was a guard. She hid behind the corner, prepared one of the knives and waited for the guard. As he turned to the corridor she was hiding in, Dasha quickly grabbed him from behind and put her knife under his throat.
''Listen carefully, you will tell me where you keep the prisoners' belongings and I will not kill you.'' Dasha said, trying to appear calm.
''I will tell you nothing!'' The guard said proudly.
Dasha tightened her grip and pressed the blade on his neck. ''Tell me, or die.'' She said.
The guard was frightened this time. ''All right, all right. I'll tell you. It's in a storage room on the lower deck. The room is labelled 'Trophies'.''
''Thank you.'' Dasha said and quickly removed the knife from the guards throat and hit him in the back of the head with its handle as hard as she could. The guard fell down, unconcious.
She continued to sneak through the corridors searching for a way to the lower deck. After a minute, or two she found one and went down. The lower deck was almost entirely used for storage. Dasha saw a number of storage rooms with different labels like 'Weapons', 'Armor', 'Implants', etc. She looked around for a while and then she found the storage room the guard was telling her about, the one labeled 'Trophies'.
Interestingly, the room wasn't locked, or secured in any way, so Dasha had no problem in getting inside. She dug through the pile of stuff until she found her backpack. She opened it to check if everything's there and it was. Her captors obviously simply tossed it onto the pile when they took it away from her. She took out the datapad with the Ebon Hawk's log and her own log and put it in her pocket, then she threw away the two knives she took from the Vong guards and pulled out the lightsaber Kyle Katarn gave her from her backpack.
Suddenly a voice sounded over the comm: ''All hands prepare to enter hyperspace!''
Minutes later she could feel the ship moving with increasing speed. It was going to that dark place mentioned in Bastila's log. Dasha knew that if she was to do something about it, it had to be now.
''You have mastered everything I taught you so far, my apprentice and you've mastered it well.''
''Thank you, Master. I tried not to disappoint you.''
''And you did a fine job, especially when that last lesson is concerned, the one about drawing your power from both sides of the Force. Still there is something I didn't tell you then and I tell you now – you will draw your power from both sides of the Force, but you must not remain undecisive between them, you must align with one of them, only then will you be able to achieve your true potential.''
''I see. Then I shall align myself with the side of the Force that brought me here, the Dark Side.''
''Good. Good. Remember, be aligned with one, but draw your power from both.''
It was a quiet evening at the Jedi Academy. Luke was standing on a balcony, gazing at the night sky, looking at the stars. He sensed someone approaching, he turned and saw Kyle Katarn at the balcony entrance.
''You can't sleep either?'' Luke asked.
''No. I have a lot of things on my mind.'' Kyle replied calmly.
''Don't we all?'' Luke said, ''This war has drained the strength from all of us.''
''True. But I wasn't thinking about the war.''
''Then what about?'' Luke asked.
''I'm worried about Dasha, the Padawan you allowed to leave for Vjun.'' Kyle replied.
''Yes, I am too. Unfortunately, this war prevents me from thinking about it as much as I should.'' Luke said sadly.
''I sensed her through the Force, Luke. She was screaming in terror. Something happened to her, I'm sure of it. We have to do something.'' Kyle insisted.
''You know I would do anything to protect my students'', Luke said, ''but we have nobody to send. And you and I are both needed here.''
''Yes, I know damnit. I just hate to see a student like her get hurt, or worse and not be able to do something about it.'' Kyle replied bitterly.
''Even if we can't send anyone after her, there is one thing we can still do.'' Luke said with a spark of hope.
''What's that?'' Kyle asked.
''We can meditate and concentrate on her through meditation, that way we can give her the strength she needs to save herself.'' Luke replied confidently.
''Then that's what we'll do.'' Kyle said, ''Let's go. You can stare at the stars again tomorrow.'' He joked.
They left the balcony and went to the meditation chamber. Along the way they went for Dasha's Master, after all they needed all the help they could get. The three of them entered Luke's private meditation chamber and sat down on the floor, forming a triangle. They closed their eyes, cleared their minds and concentrated. They drew their power to locate Dasha from the very essence of the Force. They didn't know it, but they weren't alone in that room, the spirits of old Jedi Masters were there with them, Masters like Luke's friends and mentors – Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, then there were many of the old Council members, like Master Windu, Master Mundi, Master Fisto, Master Poof and Luke's own father, Anakin Skywalker. They formed a circle behind the three living Masters and were using their own essence to strengthen the efforts of the three.
It took them about half an hour, but they managed to find Dasha on a Kor Chokk station-ship, no less. She was in the cargo area. They saw her getting her things and they felt through the Force, trough Dasha when the ship started to move.
Dasha left the Trophy room and hurried back to the upper deck. The Grondel was drawing closer to the Dark Planet with every passing minute, she had to think fast. She was confident that she could successfully sabotage the ship, if she could only find a proper computer terminal. She heard a voice then, it felt somehow familiar, friendly. ''Go one more deck up. Find the Propulsion Control room and hack into the terminal there.'' It said.
She hurried upwards to find that Control room and stop the Yuuzhan Vong before it's too late. She sensed a number of guards blocking her path, so she ignited her lightsaber and charged hoping to catch each of them off guard and dispose of them quickly. She ran as fast as she could, slashing any guards she bumped into along the way, she had to aim for the head, since the Vonduun Crab armor protected their bodies and could easily resist a Jedi lightsaber.
Few minutes later and a few dozens of guards less, she arrived at the door of the Control room. She took a look at her lightsaber, she realized that this was the first time she used that particular saber. She noticed the light blue color of the blade, it was the most beautiful color she's ever seen. Master Katarn must have gone through a lot of trouble to get such a pure and obviously rare crystal for that lightsaber. She turned the lightsaber off and that friendly and soothing voice sounded again. ''Excellent, Dasha. Now go inside and overload the ship's propulsion. When that's done the ship will immediately drop from hyperspace and start falling apart from the pressure. You won't have much time to escape when that happens, so you'd better hurry.''
Dasha obeyed and entered the room. She quickly dispatched the two unprepared officers and got to work. It took some time for her to hack into the ship's central core, as mentioned before – she wasn't much of a hacker. Fortunately for her it took a lot less than she expected, thanks to a sense of calm and calculation she felt during the entire process that she couldn't explain to herself. She knew, however, that it surely had something to do with that voice she heard before. She only wished she knew who was helping her. When she hacked in she did as she was told before – she overloaded the Grondel's propulsion system and rushed out.
Supreme Commander Kraal was in his office during this entire series of events. The growing satisfaction of finally solving his investigation was interrupted by an explosion somewhere on the ship. As it violently dropped from hyperspace, the whole ship shook as if there was an incredibly strong earthquake at work. Kraal lost his balance and fell from his chair, as did most of the crew and Dasha as well. He logged into the central core and noticed the overload in the propulsion system. He quickly turned on the intercomm and ordered an immediate evacuation of the ship. As he fled from his office to the hangar bay, only one word was in his mind and that word was 'Jedi'.
The Grondel shook more and more violently from the explosions as its crew ran in panic either toward the ship's hangar bay, or to the nearest escape pod. Dasha was running towards the hangar, luckily she checked the ship's schematics before she performed her little sabotage, so this time she knew exactly where to go. She was often losing balance and falling down, due to the tremors from the explosions, but she tried not to let that slow her down.
Kraal arrived at the hangar bay only to see his crew literally kill each other to get to a coralskipper. He saw Master Shaper Jashra leaving in one of the last transports. He couldn't move. The ship was falling apart around him and Kraal just stood there and watched as if he was glued to the ground, while the last of the crew left. Only one ship remained at the hangar, the Jedi's X-Wing. Kraal slowly turned around and saw Dasha run into the hangar.
''So, little Jedi, you managed to escape death.'' Kraal said with hatred in his voice.
''Yes, I did. And I wrecked your ship along the way.'' She replied in amocking tone.
''Yes, I can see that.'' Kraal barely replied.
''And I'm quite satisfied with the results.'' Dasha continued to annoy her torturer.
''You have ruined a whole year of investigation, you Jedi bastard!'' Kraal shouted in anger.
''You ruined mine first.'' Dasha replied, ''I came to Vjun to find an ancient Jedi ship. As far as I know it had nothing to do with your investigation, which I tried to tell you. All I wanted was to return to the Jedi Academy on Yavin, but I had to bump into you and you just had to capture me, you couldn't just let me be on my way. And then you ordered your guards to have me killed. You weren't a very good host, you know.''
Kraal could barely restrain himself from laughing. ''My guards might have failed, but no matter, that means I will have the pleasure of killing you myself.'' Kraal said as he swirled his amphistaff and assumed the battle stance.
''Very well, if that's what you want.'' Dasha said and assumed the battle stance, her lightsaber was already ignited.
Kraal tightened the grip on his amphistaff and charged towards Dasha swinging the amphistaff over his head and swinging downwards as soon as he got close enough. Dasha quickly blocked his attack and used every muscle in her body to push Kraal backwards. He swirled his amphistaff once more and assumed his initial stance, this time waiting for Dasha to attack. She took a few steps to the left, holding her lightsaber vertically in front of her with both hands, then she jumped over Kraal's head, swinging her lightsaber towards it, but he immediately ducked and raised his amphistaff to block the attack. Still crouching, Kraal waited for Dasha to reach the ground behind him and then he quickly turned and tripped her. She fell on her back and Kraal stood up, turned and prepared to stab her with his weapon. He pointed his amphistaff vertically and aimed for the heart. As he plunged it down Dasha quickly rolled to the right and evaded the death blow. She stood up and used the Force to pull the lightsaber, which she dropped when she fell, back into her hand. Kraal was getting angrier, a mere child was giving him so much trouble. Him, an experienced soldier, couldn't handle an eightteen year old human girl. He decided to change his tactics. The amphistaff looked much like a serpent, but it was also a weapon and a favoured one among the Yuuzhan Vong warriors. He let the staff slide down his arm until its head, then he grabbed the head in a special manner thereby loosening the staff and turning it into a whip. He swung the whip towards Dasha's lightsaber, almost managing to make her drop it. Almost, but not this time. He kept swinging the whip at her and she kept repelling it with her lightsaber. Then Kraal aimed for the legs. He swung the whip, managing to swirl it around her ankles and pulled her towards him. Dasha fell on her back once again and dropped her lightsaber. Kraal kept pulling the whip and Dasha towards him as she tried desperately to grab her weapon. She was now at Kraal's feet. He crouched and pulled out his Coufee dagger meaning to slash her throat. He slowly put the blade at her throaat, looking her right in the eyes. Kraal wanted to enjoy her terrified look as she dies. He let his guard down. Dasha used the Force once again to quickly pull her lightsaber back to her hand, she swiftly moved her hand to the side of Kraal's torso, it was one of the few weak spots of the Vonduun Crab armor. His look now changed to one of terror as she ignited her lightsaber, thereby stabbing Kraal right through his stomach. He fell down on his back in agony. Dasha looked upon him, while the Grondel was still falling apart around them.
''Your people are great warriors.'' Dasha said to Kraal, ''It is a shame we had to be enemies.''
''Perhaps...'', Kraal said as he was coughing up blood, ''Perhaps one day we won't be.'' ''There's an interesting thought.'' Then he died.
''I'll look forwards to that day.'' Dasha smiled gently and hurried to her X-Wing.
She flew out of the hangar with maximum speed, a few seconds later there was a large explosion behind her, the ship was gone. Only a small amount of wreckage remained. Dasha was finally relieved. She did her duty, now it was time to return to the Jedi Academy. She plotted a course, entered hyperspace, turned on the autopilot and passed out.
Hours have passed since the Grondel was destroyed. Most of its crew evacuated successfully, some of them were forced to land on Vjun, but there were others who went to Yuuzhan'tar for help. In the next twelve hours all of the survivors were on their way back to Yuuzhan'tar. All, except one.
A lone coralskipper slowly approached the Dark Planet. Its pilot was Master Shaper Jashra. He was a person with a very curious mind. He knew about the High Prefect's conversation with Supreme Commander Kraal. Being a member of the Shaper caste, the other crewmen, who were all from the Warrior caste, didn't trust him very much, so he had to use alternative methods to learn what was happening on the ship. He assumed that the entire crew would be branded as traitors and executed as soon as they returned to Yuuzhan'tar, seeing how their commanding officer disobeyed a direct order to return and none of them didn't do anything to counteract his decision. That is why Jashra decided to try his luck with that place they were going when the Grondel was sabotaged, besides he was very much interested to find out what was that investigation all about.
As he approached the Dark Planet in his coralskipper, he noticed the wreckage of a Yuuzhan Vong ship. ''This must be what's left of the worldship we were searching for. Looks like we were chasing ghosts, Supreme Commander Xerx couldn't have survived this.'' He thought, ''But, what possesses such power that can destroy a Yuuzhan Vong worldship?''
Inside the compound on the Dark Planet's surface the Dark figure was just finishing another lesson with Ralik.
''Someone is coming.'' Ralik said.
''Yes, I can sense him, too.'' The Dark figure whispered, ''He is of the Yuuzhan Vong.''
''The Yuuzhan Vong?'' Ralik asked, ''How could they have found me here?''
''I don't think they did.'' The Dark figure replied, ''I think this one is the only one.''
''Yes, I sense nobody else approaching the planet.'' Ralik confirmed.
''That is good news. Kill this one and ensure your own safety.'' The Dark figure insisted.
''No. I sense that this one might prove useful to me.'' Ralik replied.
''Useful? How?'' The Dark figure whispered.
''I sense he is of the Shaper caste. He can produce many useful implants for me.'' Ralik explained.
''Implants? Why would you need implants, my apprentice?'' The Dark figure objected.
''Your race's history has taught me that mastering the ways of science is equally important as mastering the ways of the Force.'' Ralik replied coldly.
''Heh, heh, heh. You have learned your lessons better than I thought. Good.'' The Dark figure was pleased.
''I tried to be extremely careful in our classes.'' Ralik replied with a dose of humour.
''Very well. You may keep this one alive, but be careful with how much knowledge you share with him, he is not entirely trustworthy.'' The Dark figure said and then disappeared.
Ralik went to the Throne room to await the newcomer. Jashra's coralskipper just landed on the large building. Jashra left the ship and entered the building. He was amazed with it and terrified at the same time. The most terrifying thing was that he thought he was hearing a voice calling to him, leading him to a certain part of the compound. He wasn't imagining it, that was Ralik's doing. Ralik was leading him straight to the Throne room.
As Jashra entered the Throne room he saw a figure sitting on the shadowed throne. He approached slowly and the figure stood up. He could see the figure's face now.
''You must be Ralik.'' Jashra said, ''The halfbreed traitor to the Yuuzhan Vong.''
''Yes. Yes, I am.'' Ralik confirmed, ''I sensed you coming. How did you find me?''
''Sensed me? How?'' Jashra was confused.
''With the Force, of course.'' Ralik replied, ''You see, the Jedi believe that the Yuuzhan Vong species is not a part of the Force. They are wrong, as I've come to learn. Every single creature has a spark of the Force inside, no matter how small that spark is in some creatures, it is still there. That is why the Jedi cannot harm us with the Force, they can't sense that little spark inside us. But I can. Now, tell me, how did you find me here?''
''I was part of an investigation force whose goal was to find out what happened to Supreme Commander Xerx. Our commanding officer managed to get his hands on instructions that showed him how to adjust our ship's sensors to scan for a hyperspace trail on a subspace level. The trail would eventually lead us here, but let's just say that we had some trouble with the ship's propulsion and we failed.'' Jashra replied.
''Ah, I see. A Jedi sabotaged your efforts. She didn't want to allow you to find this place of darkness. I sensed her, too.'' Ralik added.
''Yes. Exactly.'' Jashra confirmed.
''You have taken a great risk by coming here. Why did you do that?'' Ralik asked.
''Because I am now a traitor, just like you, so I came here to offer my services to you, in exchange for your protection.'' Jashra said.
''Very well, Master Shaper Jashra, you may remain here with me and my teachers.'' Ralik replied coldly.
''Teachers?'' Jashra asked and in that moment the spirit of the Dark figure appeared next to Ralik.
''Yes.'' The Dark figure whispered, ''We, the ancient Lords of the Sith are his teachers and we have come to agree that your services will be highly useful to our pupil, but beware, Shaper, we will not tolerate a slightest hint of treason.''
''Y... yes, I understand.'' Jashra said, terrified. He could barely breathe.
Dasha's X-Wing was slowly approaching its destination, the Jedi Academy on Yavin. She was exausted from the torture and the fight and was unconcious during the whole journey back. Images flashed in her head, in her subconcious mind. Suddenly the random images from her life disappeared and there was nothing, but darkness.
A few dots of light started to appear and it wasn't as dark anymore. In the dream Dasha was once again flying through space. Those dots of light, she realized, were stars and they moved past her with incredible speed. She saw something approaching. It was a dead planet with an enormous structure on its surface. Suddenly Dasha found herself inside the structure and she wasn't alone. She saw a dark, hooded figure two metres in front of her.
''Where am I?'' She asked.
''You are still in your ship, on your way to the Jedi Academy.'' The Dark figure whispered, ''This is just a dream.''
''Who are you?'' Dasha was even more confused.
''That is of no importance.'' The figure whispered, ''What is important, however, is that I have brought you here to thank you.''
''Thank me? For what?'' Dasha was completely lost.
''For destroying the Yuuzhan Vong ship, what else.'' The figure replied.
''What is this place?'' Dasha asked.
''This... this is a place you heard about in the Ebon Hawk's log, girl.'' The figure whispered with satisfaction.
''What?'' Dasha was terrified.
''Yes, this is indeed the residence of the True Teachings, the very place the Yuuzhan Vong would have discovered, if not for your... timely intervention.'' The figure gloated.
''It can't be.'' Dasha couldn't believe it. The fear in her grew.
''Oh, yes. And I have brought you here, in your dream, to thank you for protecting it.'' The Dark figure gloated, ''Thanks to you, my work remains uninterrupted. My apprentice grows stronger and wiser by the day and he will continue to do so for quite some time, until his training is complete. And when he learns all I have to teach him, he will unleash his power upon the Galaxy and none will dare stand in his way. All thanks to you, Dasha.'' The figure and the dark room Dasha was in disapeared with the figure's evil laughter still echoing in the background.
Luke Skywalker was finishing breakfast when Kyle Katarn came in with news.
''Our sensors have detected a small ship approaching Yavin.'' Kyle said, ''It's an X-Wing!''
''You think it's Dasha?'' Luke asked.
''I am sure of it.'' Kyle replied with great joy, ''The ship was on autopilot, our technicians are bringing it in as we speak.''
''Excellent. We were due for some good news!'' Luke said cheerfully.
''Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go to the hangar and meet her!'' Kyle said with great excitement.
Luke stood up and they left for the hangar. When they arrived there, a couple of minutes later, a guard waited for them.
''Where is she?'' Luke asked the guard.
''In the medbay, Master Skywalker. She was in pretty bad shape when we found her.'' The guard reported, ''Here are her things.'' He handed Dasha's backpack to Kyle.
''When can we see her?'' Kyle asked.
''We should let her rest for awhile.'' Luke interrupted him.
''Yeah, I guess you are right.'' Kyle replied, he opened Dasha's backpack and found a datapad in it.
''What do you suppose is on it?'' Luke asked.
''Hopefully, some answers.'' Kyle said, ''We should take a look, maybe it can clear a few things up for us.''
They went back to Luke's private chamber and inserted the datapad into his terminal. There were two logs on it, one was Dasha'd and the other appeared to be from the Ebon Hawk.
''She found it.'' Luke said.
Kyle selected Dasha's log and started the playback.
Dasha's voice started to speak: ''I have found the Ebon Hawk. It was hidden deep under Vjun's surface. I have also found the corpse of the Jedi Master Anduil Wrynn and buried it. A few hours later his spirit appeared before me and I learned that prior to his death Master Wrynn fell to the Dark Side. He attempted to draw me to the Dark Side too, but I managed to resist.''
''By the Force.'' Luke said.
The journal continued: ''After numerous attempts I have failed to bypass the voice lock on the Ebon Hawk's navicomputer, but I have managed to download a log from the ship, that you might find particularly interesting.''
''That other log on the datapad!'' Kyle said.
''I am currently being pulled into the hangar of a Yuuzhan Vong ship, I am recording this log so that if something happens to me my discovery is not lost. I have also provided the coordinates of the Ebon Hawk's exact location on this datapad. It is my hope that the Order will one day be able to arrange an excavation of the ship and discover its secrets entirely.'' The log ended.
Luke and Kyle were extremely intrigued. Luke selected the log from the Ebon Hawk and started its playback. They saw the holoimage of Bastila Shan explaining Revan's last adventure and the secret contained within the Hawk's navicomputer. They were both left speachless.
After a few minutes they went to the medbay to see how Dasha was doing. One of the doctors greeted them.
''How is she?'' Luke asked.
''Not good, Master Skywalker. We have no idea what's wrong with her, but ever since we found her she kept repeating one thing over and over.'' The doctor replied.
Luke and Kyle approached the bed in which Dasha was laying. They couldn't believe their eyes and ears. The look in Dasha's eyes was one of undescribable terror and she repeated one sentence over and over in a paranoid tone: ''He is coming, the unstoppable Dark Lord, the whole galaxy will tremble at his feet and then the whole galaxy will burn!!''
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