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Old 09-28-2006, 01:25 PM   #19
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Chapter XVIII

"So be it .. Jedi"

Grand Admiral Morlish Veed watched through the bridge viewport of the Vindicator as the fleet of black spherical ships drew ever closer to Coruscant. All he had to worry a few hours ago was how to get rid of Darth Krayt and now, after hearing Ralik's announcement and seeing this enormous fleet the stakes became incredibly higher. A message came from the leading enemy ship:

''This is High Centurion Faren of the Lenari Imperium. In the name of Lord Ralik, the master of the True Teachings you will surrender, or die.''

''There will be no surrender.'' Veed replied and cut off the enemy ship.

''This is Grand Admiral Morlish Veed to all ships: prepare for battle, all TIE fighters prepare to launch, all Destroyers prepare to open fire on enemy capital ships.'' Veed ordered.

On the bridge of the Lenari master-ship High Centurion Faren issued a similar order. The spherical ships approached the Imperial fleet and as the Imperials launched their TIE fighters, swarms of black triangular fighters emerged from the spherical capital ships. The TIE's opened fire on the enemy fighters, inflicting some damage, but it took a TIE quite a few shots to destroy a Lenari fighter. The black triangular fighters performed evasive maneuvers and opened fire on the Imperial fighters. Yellow particle beams flashed from the black fighters and started ripping through any TIE that got in the way.

Imperial Star Destroyers opened fire on the spherical capital ships and after they've taken a few shots the black spheres shot back. Flashes of red turbolaser fire from one direction and yellow particle beams from the other lit up the space between the two conflicting fleets and fought for supremacy, as the fleets did. A black sphere fired its particle beam and one of the Star Destroyers blew up in a spectacular blaze of red and orange flames.

''Did you see that, Veed? We just lost a capital ship!''

''I saw it, Calixte!'' Veed answered over the comm, ''This is the Grand Admiral: all ships, target the closest sphere and open fire, perhaps a joint attack from our capital ships will be more than it can handle.'' He ordered.

Back on the surface of the Capital, the group of four Jedi, four Imperial Knights and three bounty hunters entered the Imperial Palace. The first thing they noticed was a deadly silence. There wasn't a sound that could be heard inside the palace.

''Stay sharp.'' Cade said, ''Something doesn't feel right.''

The group continued along the main corridor and when they reached the ground floor atrium they couldn't believe their eyes. At least fifty corpses lay there, all Sith warriors and not a scratch, or a laser burn on them. Cade thought he heard one of his companions make a sigh of amazement at the sight, but he simply ignored it, he focused all of his senses to detect any possible threats. His lightsaber was already in his right hand, ready to be ignited if the opportunity arises.

The group continued cautiously to the second and then the third floor. Along the way they had the opportunity to see Ralik's handiwork, first in the crushed laser turrets and then in the barely visible corpse of the Defel in the long, dark corridor. They arrived to the Throne room entrance without incidents and when they stepped inside, they saw a young Twi'Lek woman meditating just a few meters from the door they came through and meters behind her, sitting on the Imperial throne was a dark male figure with a red hood shadowing his face. ''Ralik.''

''You have arrived as expected.'' He said, still calmly sitting on the throne.

''So it is true.'' Sazen shouted, ''You are the dark threat prophesied by the ancients.''

''I am the one True master!'' Ralik shouted back, ''I have come to spread the way of the True Teachings across this galaxy. As its ruler, it is my destiny.''

''As you can see, we don't seem to agree with you.'' Cade replied smugly.

''You will learn, young Skywalker. The healer Jedi that Krayt was after all along. As you can see, unfortunately Krayt didn't get the chance to exploit your powers.'' Ralik said gesturing with his left hand toward Krayt's corpse.

''Well, I suppose I should thank you for that.'' Cade said with the same smug tone, his lightsaber still tightly held in his right hand, ready to be used.

''Ryleena, take care of the rest of our guests while I have a chat with young Skywalker.'' Ralik arrogantly ordered his new apprentice.

The Twi'Lek girl jumped into the air, igniting her red lightsaber and engaging Cade's companions as he ran toward the Imperial throne. The three bounty hunters took cover behind the rows of pillars on the left and right side, the three remaining Jedi ran after Cade, while Marasiah Fel and her three Imperial Knight guards ignited their silver-bladed lightsabers and engaged the Twi'Lek attacker.

As Cade approached the base of the throne he felt something happen behind him. He glanced back and noticed some kind of Force barrier splitting the throne from the rest of the chamber. Master Sazen, Master Tre'lyis and Shado Vao persistently attempted to penetrate the barrier, but without success. Cade was on his own.

''I recognize you.'' Marasiah said as she battled the Twi'Lek, ''You were the Sith that killed Elke Vetter, my mentor.''

''I was and now I'm going to kill you too.'' Ryleena replied and used the Force to push Marasiah back and slam her into a wall, leaving her unconscious.

''I will protect you, Princess!'' Ganner Krieg shouted as he charged at the Twi'Lek while the other two Knights tended to Marasiah. Meanwhile, Rav, Syn and Deliah realized that this Sith, or whatever she was, couldn't be beaten by blaster fire so they joined the three Jedi to try to get to Cade.

''Come closer, young Skywalker.'' Ralik demanded from his throne. He slowly stood up and held out his left hand toward the young man. His amphistaff tightly gripped by his right hand.

''You are too melodramatic for a Sith Lord.'' Cade mocked.

''Who said I was a Sith Lord?'' Ralik replied, ''This one, on the other hand...'' Ralik gestured again at Krayt's corpse, ''He thought he was a Sith, your cousin here, but he was simply a desperate Jedi. Nothing more.''

''What do you mean by ''my cousin''?'' Cade asked with disbelief.

''Allow me to introduce Darth Krayt, once known as Jacen Solo.'' Ralik joked with a twisted sense of humor, ''Apprentice of the Dark Lady Lumiya, self proclaimed Sith Lord and now a rotting corpse. He sensed your ability to revive others, you know. That's why he wanted to hunt you down so badly. He wanted you to save his life.''

Cade ignited his blue lightsaber and swung it at Ralik who quickly blocked it with his amphistaff. Cade kept pushing, but Ralik successfully held his ground. ''You can't win this fight, young Skywalker. It's a lot less painful for you to simply surrender.''

''We take what is given.'' Cade said quietly, ''I will not surrender with the galaxy at stake.'' He swirled his blue-bladed lightsaber at Ralik again and Ralik again blocked his attack.

The red and silver blades clashed over and over as Ganner Krieg did his best to outmaneuver the Twi'Lek woman. Unfortunatelly Krieg was slowly getting tired, his focus slowly dropping. Marasiah regained consciousness thanks to the healing techniques applied by Sigel and Draco and as she struggled to regain her sense of balance she saw Krieg battle with her mentor's assassin. Krieg swung his lightsaber at Ryleena, but his attack was blocked. At that moment Ryleena saw a chance and managed to disarm her opponent. Krieg cried out in pain as she plunged her red blade into his chest and as he fell down he heard Marasiah's scream. ''I'm sorry, Princess, I failed you.''

''Now for the main course.'' Ryleena said as she approached the Princess. Draco and Sigel prepared to battle her, but Marasiah prevented them

''No.'' She said, ''I will deal with Elke's murderer.''

The two Imperial Knights reluctantly stepped aside as Marasiah gathered all her rage and grief and focused it at the approaching threat. Marasiah held her hands at Ryleena and let the energy she gathered take shape. She held Ryleena in a tight grip and with a swift move of her left hand she tossed the Twi'Lek with amazing force at the same, already cracked window at which Ralik threw her some time before. As she slammed it the glass broke completely and Ryleena fell out into the abyss. ''It will be a long fall, but all the more painful when she finally hits the ground.'' Marasiah thought, relieved to be rid of the anger she felt.

''You cannot win Skywalker! If I wanted to, I could kill you with one thought.'' Ralik said as he blocked another Cade's attack.

''You keep saying that, but I'm not convinced.'' Cade mocked.

''The only reason why I haven't killed you yet is because I want you to follow the True path, to be my apprentice.'' Ralik explained as he swirled his amphistaff at Cade's blue blade.

Suddenly a lound sound echoed from the outside. It was the sound of a ship's engines. Outside the Throne room's rear glass wall, directly behind the throne itself an ancient ship emerged. The Ebon Hawk. Ralik and Cade watched as the ship fired at the glass and broke it, sending tiny sharp pieces of it at the direction of the throne. ''What is this?'' Ralik and Cade wondered simoultaneously as they disengaged from attacking each other. The ship's ramp lowered and standing on it was a rusty-red assassin droid, the same one Cade and Deliah saw at Rik's.

''Statement: Goodbye, dark threat.'' The droid said in a mocking tone and fired at the surprised Ralik from his blaster rifle, completely ambivalent to Ralik's futile attempts to destroy him with the Force. He, HK-47, was protected by a special crystal that, much like the ysalamiri of Myrkr, created a field that blocked out the Force.

Cade and the droid watched in amazement as Ralik's body disintegrated into small granules and vanished along with the Force field that kept the others away from the throne. ''I'm still alive.'' Cade heard Ralik's voice in his head. ''Did you really think I would be killed that easily?.'' ''This wasn't him!'' Cade shouted as the rest of the group approached the throne.

''There's a space battle above Coruscant and he's there, waiting for us.'' Cade told the others.

''Statement: Then hurry up and get aboard, meatbags! I am not going to lose my target.'' HK-47 said.

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