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Old 11-10-2006, 03:57 PM   #7
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Chapter 6

Tanith Vessa made a frighteningly bold move. For so many months, she had focused her attacks on the Outer and Mid Rims. But with a suddenness that could not have been expected, her full fleet descended on Coruscant. Unable to stand against her, the Republic soldiers did what they could to flee. The Jedi attacked, but many were killed. The Sith Hunters emerged from their training and joined the battles. Only by their intervention were the Sith armies repelled.

But Tanith Vessa herself was unstoppable. She swept into the Senate building, destroying offices, killing Senators and ending her rampage in the Supreme Chancellor’s office only moments later. There, she sat, almost as if she wanted to negotiate with the Chancellor. But he knew better.

“Why don’t you just kill me?” he wondered tiredly.

“I want the Sith Hunters to see their full failure,” Tanith answered. The Chancellor seemed puzzled.

“The Hunters?” he clarified. “Not the Jedi?”

“The Jedi also,” Vessa answered. “But the Jedi Knight responsible for my initial death is with the Hunters now... Jast Kevannis, or so I hear.”

“You may take over now,” the Chancellor said bravely, “but like all evil leaders, you will fall.”

“Evil?” Tanith wondered, sounding genuinely surprised. “I’m not evil... just focused on a goal... a goal of peace, something the Jedi don’t allow by continually attacking the Sith on sight.”

“If I tell you where the Sith Hunters are now, will you leave me alone?” the Chancellor wondered, hoping maybe he could bribe this woman. She smiled slightly.

“Tell me,” she answered.

“They’ve taken up defense of the Jedi Temple,” he said. “Defending a small group of Jedi children who could not escape your Dark Jedi armies. They’ve set up an impassable blockade in the Council meeting room.”

“And Kevannis is still with them?” Vessa demanded eagerly. At the Chancellor’s nod, she grinned... and thrust her saber through his chest. “Thanks!”

As he collapsed, lifeless to his desk, Tanith Vessa left to find the Sith Hunters.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

“We aren’t prepared for this,” Jast said quietly. Reibé smiled faintly.

“If we were ready for everything, nothing would be a challenge and life would be dull,” she told him. The Hunters stood in a semi-circle, wrapped around the children and other Jedi they’d managed to rescue from the oncoming waves of Dark Jedi.

“But can we really do what we’ve planned with Tanith?” Jast pressed, concerned. “She doesn’t use the Force. The Dark Side is using her... and it will do whatever it takes to continue, don’t you think?”

“That’s why we have to catch her as soon as she enters this room,” Reibé answered patiently. “She will suspect nothing. The Dark Side will suspect nothing.”

“She is coming,” Aysana whispered softly. “The Dark Side approaches.”

“Be ready,” Reibé urged.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Tanith Vessa walked casually up the steps of the Jedi Temple and went inside. As she passed her Dark Jedi troops, they snapped to attention and then dropped to their knees, bowing before their Dark Lady. But she ignored them all, gliding eagerly into the lift and impatiently punching at the button for the highest floor, the Council’s meeting room.

The door slid open and Tanith stepped through. She stared at the Sith Hunters and Jast in their little half circular formation for a moment. Then, she took a step back and sent a powerful blast of Force energy at them. Overcome, the Hunters and Jast flew across the room, slamming into the tall windows behind them.

“No!” Tanith screamed. “You will not take my power from me!”

“You’re stronger than you used to be,” Reibé remarked casually, picking herself up from the floor. “But you can’t kill us.”

Tanith shot her a devilish grin and extended a hand in Biral’s direction. The woman’s eyes widened as pain consumed her. Her mouth opened in a silent scream and the other Hunters combined their powers, thrusting Tanith directly through the doors behind her. Biral dropped to the ground lifeless and her body disintegrated into dust. Reibé stared at the door for a moment. Then, she looked down at what remained of her old friend. Slowly, her right hand closed into a fist.

“This ends today,” she said softly. But within the unified mind, the words were screamed by all six remaining combatants. Under their combined power, the doors crumbled similarly to the way Biral had died. Tanith Vessa was nowhere to be seen, but the Hunters knew exactly where she was. And it was to the Room of a Thousand Fountains they went.

We are Hunters. The hunt has begun. The prey is afraid of us. We will use her fear against her.

They swept into the Room of a Thousand Fountains, not at all surprised to find Tanith Vessa standing defiantly at its center.

“I can kill all of you with a series of thoughts,” Tanith growled, but though she sounded dangerous, she looked terrified.

“We can remove the Force from you,” the Hunters replied, undaunted. As one, they closed in on the Sith Lady. She took a step back and drew her dark blue saber.

“I won’t let you...” she whispered.

To her mind, the Hunters spoke, You can’t stop us.

And the sparring began. Tanith fought with an intense focus, intent on retaining her power. The Hunters fought with a grim determination, each of the six struggling for a physical connection with their opponent to further enhance the speed at which they could separate Tanith from the Force. Sabers flicked this way and that and, one by one, each of the Hunters tried to get a hold on Tanith. Jast managed to get close, but Vessa took a swipe at his arm, severing his left forearm when he could not retract it quickly enough.

“You were lucky once,” Vessa sneered, turning to face him, momentarily forgetting the object of the fight. “You can’t be lucky again.”

At that moment, she felt a hand on the back of her neck. Startled, she tried to turn, but Jast dove for her feet, tripping her and sending her crashing to the ground. As she struggled to regain her feet, the Hunters dove, tackling her to the ground. Every lightsaber that had been in use during the fight went flying in every direction. Reibé positioned herself at the Sith Lady’s head and stared down into her eyes.

“Please don’t,” Tanith whispered, begging, pure terror filling her eyes as she looked up into Reibé’s unfriendly eyes.

“You deserve every moment of agony we can give you,” Reibé answered. The Hunters channeled their energy together and Reibé placed her left hand on Tanith’s forehead. A near-inhuman scream echoed in the Room of a Thousand Fountains and Tanith Vessa squirmed in pain, eyes squeezed tightly shut as the Hunters worked to remove her from the Dark Side.

The Dark Side is working to take her spirit with it, the Hunters realized suddenly. At that realization, they altered their focus slightly, intent on keeping Tanith’s spirit with her body while completely removing the Force. The scream increased in both volume and intensity. All nearby plants shriveled and died and the fountains turned black. Then suddenly, an immense shockwave rippled outward from Tanith Vessa’s body and she went limp. The scream ended and the Hunters were launched forcefully away from the limp body. Slowly, the stood and re-gathered.

“She is unconscious,” Reibé said softly, “but she is still alive.”

“That’s what we wanted,” Jast murmured, just as he collapsed, the pain of his severed arm finally catching up with him. Reibé turned to Strider and Jack.

“Pick them up,” she said. “Take them to the infirmary.” Turning to Aysana, she said, “Inform the Republic and any remaining Dark Jedi that the war is over.”

“If we say Tanith was killed, her allies will not believe us,” Aysana pointed out.

“They would have felt the shockwave,” Strider answered, lifting Jast from the ground. “Your announcement will only confirm their greatest fear, even if it isn't quite true and send them running.”

As Aysana left to do as she’d been told, Jack carefully picked up the unconscious woman, almost as if suspicious she might still be capable of something. As they made their way toward the infirmary, Aysana’s message rang out through all of Coruscant, bringing encouragement to the Jedi and the Republic and sending the Sith scrambling to escape.

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Hidden Histories: The Galaxy Hacker

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