AN: Here's My October 2008 Entry. Some of you may not be familiar with the characters of Jade and her master Alaura. I introduced them in my fic Jedi Bloodlines which you can check out if you like
Jade Rand rolled to one side, sprung up into a defensive stance, and snapped on her lightsaber. She deflected the blaster bolts back at the droids easily and they exploded showering sparks and parts to the floor of the training room. She evaluated her work and extinguished her silver blade as she felt the presence of her master. She turned and saw Alaura emerging from the observation and control booth. She waited as the elder Jedi made her way over.
“I think that training program is getting too easy for you,” Alaura said with a smile “I'll have to make a note in the computer that you need to be moved up a level.”
“Thank you Master, but you didn't come here just to tell me that did you?”
Alaura smiled again, the girl was too smart for her own good sometimes, but as usual she was right.
“No, I didn't. I'm here because the Council has decided to give you your first solo assignment.”
Jade grinned, and she wanted to actually jump for joy. Ever since their battle with Darth Malice she had been chomping at the bit to get out and do something, anything, but both Master Skywalker and Alaura had thought it best to keep her at the academy and continue her training. She had spent endless hours studying Jedi history, lightsaber techniques, and training both with Alaura and with Kyle Katarn. Jade knew it was for her own good, but she was tired of being cooped up so having this mission presented to her was better than she could have hoped for and she didn't even know what it was yet.
“Well, don't keep me in suspense Master, what is it?”
“It's not anything glamorous Jade, I don't want to get your hopes up.”
“Master, I don't care! I just want to get out of here for awhile!”
Alaura smiled again “Okay, your mission is an errand for Master Tionne.”
Jade's smile faded slightly “An errand?”
“There have been rumors of a Clone Wars survivor on Nar Shaddaa, and Tionne hopes he might have information about the Old Order.”
“A Clone Wars survivor? A Jedi?”
“No, an Old Republic soldier.”
“Does he have a name?”
“Ryo Taske. He's been known to be a bounty hunter, and a mercenary, but Republic Intelligence believes he's retired.”
“Well, no one knows for sure really.”
“I don't have to tell you that Nar Shaddaa is a dangerous place Jade. You'll need to go forgo your Jedi robe for this mission, and wear civilian clothes.”
Jade nodded “I understand.”
“There's a ship in the hangar for you to take, it's a Mon Cal freighter. The Republic just bought a couple hundred of them and they were nice enough to donate a couple to us.”
“I'll leave as soon as possible.”
“Good, I'll see you when you return, may the Force be with you.”
Alaura turned and walked toward the exit. Jade clipped her lightsaber back on her belt and did the same. She had to admit, it wasn't quite what she would have envisioned for her first mission, but it still had a small element of excitement to it, and she'd be helping the Republic as well as the Jedi.
After leaving the training room Jade traded her Jedi robes for a simpler outfit consisting of dark gray pants, black boots, a white tunic, and a brown vest inside of which she concealed her lightsaber. She also strapped a small blaster to her right thigh. It was a habit she'd picked up from Alaura even though it was uncommon for Jedi to carry anything other than a lightsaber. She pulled her hair back behind her neck proceeded to the hangar where she found the Mon Calamari freighter waiting for her. One of the academy's mechanics Jax Lylin was waiting by the ship.
“Is she ready Jax?” Jade asked him as she approached.
“Yes ma'am, she's ready to go, and we've even made a few special modifications for you.”
“Yup, she only came with a laser turret so we took the liberty of adding two drop down blasters underneath the nose.”
“That's the kind of modification I like,” Jade replied with a smile. “What's her name?”
“I like it...well, I might as well get going.”
“Good luck to ya, may the Force be with you.”
“Thanks Jax, I'll see you when I get back.”
Jade boarded the freighter and was impressed immediately. The Mon Calamari definitely knew how to build a ship. She took a few minutes to get familiar with the controls and located the button that activated the additional weapons that Jax had promised. Then she ran down her preflight checklist and with that complete was ready to go.
“Jedi Rand to hangar control requesting departure clearance.”
“Clearance granted Jedi Rand. You're free to depart at your leisure.”
Jade activated the ship's repulsors, and once clear of the hangar, the main drive. She rose skyward, cleared the orbit of Yavin IV and programmed the ship's navicomputer with her destination. She engaged the hyperdrive, and decided with a two day trip to Nar Shaddaa in front of her it would be a good time to get some rest.
When Jade awoke there was a message waiting for her from Master Tionne. She instructed the computer to play it and the Jedi Chronicler's image appeared in front of her.
“Hello Jade, you should receive this message before you land on Nar Shaddaa. I had a holodisk included in your supplies. I want you to record whatever Mr. Taske is willing to tell you, if you can find him. Also, there is a cantina there that Taske has been known to frequent, it's called the Musty Hull, you can start your search there. Good luck, may the Force be with you. Tionne out.”
Well, Jade thought, that was more information than she'd had before. She hadn't even contemplated where she would start looking for this guy. Maybe she'd get lucky and the cantina would be the only place she'd have to look. She could do an interview with Taske, and get off Nar Shaddaa in one day, that would really impress Master Tionne.
Jade passed the rest of the trip to Nar Shaddaa studying information on the Smuggler's Moon, meditating, and practicing some of the advanced lightsaber techniques that Alaura had been working with her on. She was sitting cross-legged on the floor of the cockpit when the navicomputer informed her that she was crossing into Hutt space and would be arrriving at Nar Shaddaa momentarily. She stood and settled herself in the pilot's seat. The ship came out of hyperspace on cue and she began her approach to the Smuggler's Moon. Obtaining landing clearance was easy enough, and she guided the freighter smoothly on to her assigned landing pad.
As she exited the ship she paid the dockmaster, and consulted her datapad. According to the map she was about two klicks from the cantina. She checked her chronometer, it was early evening on Nar Shaddaa, and it seemed to her it would be a good time for her target to be at the cantina. So, forgoing finding a room she started for the bar hoping to get this search over with quickly.
From the outside, the Must Hull didn't look like much, and it looked like less from the inside. It was anyone's guess as to how old the place was and Jade could tell that they'd never heard of a janitorial droid. There were maybe fifteen or twenty people in the place and most of them were sitting by themselves scattered throughout the cantina. Jade made her way to the bar, and sat down on one of the stools. The bartender, a slightly heavy set human with unkempt brown hair, made his way to her.
“What can I getcha?”
Corellian ale was the only thing Jade had ever drank and it that had only been when she was younger and her father let her have a sip of his. The bartender wasted no time in putting a glass in front of her, and as she took a sip he commented
“You know we don't usually get women like you in here.”
Jade eyed him “Well, I usually don't come in to dives like this.”
He smiled “You've got spirit, I like it. So, then you must be here for a reason.”
“and if I am?”
“I might be able to help ya...for a price.”
Jade smiled and extracted a hundred credit chip from her pocket.
“Tell ya what, if you can help me this'll pay for my drink and give you a nice tip.”
“So what's your trouble pretty lady?”
“I'm looking for someone.”
“Aren't we all,” the bartender quipped
“I'm looking for a survivor of the Clone Wars.”
“Those are hard to come by these days, but I might know where you can find one.”
“Here? On Nar Shaddaa?”
“Yup, he even comes in here every now and then.”
“When's the last time you saw him?”
“It's been a week, but he's like that.”
“When is he usually here?”
“Bout this time actually, but he hasn't come in tonight.”
Jade put the credit chip on the bar and pushed it toward the bartender.
“Thanks for the information, I'll keep checking back.”
“You're welcome little lady, you can come back any time you want.”
Jade rose from the stool and made her way out out of the cantina. It looked like she was going to have to find a room after all, and preferably one close to the Musty Hull so she could keep tabs on the comings and goings there. She was absorbed enough in her thinking that she didn't notice the two men follow her out of the bar. It only took her half a block, however to notice she was being followed. The men weren't being very discrete. She didn't know if they were looking to do, but they were about to get the surprise of their lives. Not letting on that she knew they were there Jade led them down a side street and she could feel them getting closer. That was when she stopped dead in her tracks with her back to them.
“Can I help you gentlemen?” she asked
“We heard you talkin to the bartender,” one of them said
“Yeah, and we know who yer lookin for.”
Jade turned to face the men “So then why don't you tell me.”
“You're lookin for Ryo.”
“You're right, I am.”
“Nobody finds Ryo,”
The men began to close on her and Jade didn't waste a second. Her lightsaber jumped from it's place in her vest, and to her hand. She snapped it on and the silver blade illuminated the darkened side street.
“She's a Jedi!” one of them exclaimed
“Very observant,” Jade said sarcastically “Now, which one of you boys wants to be first.”
Neither man made a move and one of them spoke up.
“You'll have to forgive me Master Jedi, I have to be very careful of people who come looking for me.”
Jade lowered her lightsaber “You're Ryo Taske.”
“I am, and this,” he said gesturing to the other man “is my associate Zef Lo.”
“And here I was thinking finding you was going to be hard, what exactly were you going to do to me?”
“We wouldn't have hurt you, only knocked you unconscious until we got you back to my place to question you.”
“I see, you do know I could have killed you both just now don't you?”
“We all have to die sometime Jedi.” Taske said “and I should have died long ago.”
“You said you have somewhere we can talk?”
Taske nodded “Yeah, follow me.”
Jade snapped off her lightsaber and returned it to its place of concealment and walked behind Ryo and Zef. They led her through some less than desirable parts of the city and finally to a run down apartment building, and to a small two bedroom apartment on the second floor that to Jade seemed barely adequate for someone who'd made their reputation as a bounty hunter and mercenary. She made a comment to that effect:
Ryo turned to her “Hey, I'm not exactly a popular guy, and not all the people who come looking for me are as nice as you.”
He motioned to a chair “Have a seat.”
Jade nodded and settled into the old chair that was surprisingly comfortable while Ryo and Zef pulled two chairs from their makeshift dining area, turned them around backwards and sat down.
“So, who are you and what possible interest could a Jedi have in me?” Ryo asked.
“My name is Jade Rand, and there's a rumor that you were a soldier in the Clone Wars.”
“And what's so special about that?”
“The Jedi Council thought you might have information about the Old Jedi Order.”
Ryo laughed “Well, they thought wrong. I don't know anything about the Jedi Order.”
Jade's face fell and Ryo must have read her expression because he continued “But I can tell you about one particular Jedi if you'd like to hear about it.”
Zef interjected at that moment “Ryo, are you sure?”
“She's dead Zef, and somebody should know her story.”
“Do you mind if I record this?” Jade asked
“I wouldn't have it any other way.”
Jade extracted the holorecorder from her pocket and slipped the disk in that Master Tionne had supplied.
“Any time you're ready.”
“Just to give you some background...Zef and I were ARC Troopers..advanced reconnaissance and part of a special operations squad that I commanded under General Kenobi's army. The first time I met Kierra Jien was on Terra Sool....”
We had been part of the advance party on Terra Sool and accomplished our mission long before the main group arrived. Once General Kenobi landed the fighting became fierce and we did our part. As we drove the Seps back I took command of a larger part of the main body when they're commander went down.
“Advance!” I shouted. I knew we had the Seps where we wanted them and all we had to do was push.
My men pressed forward and the blaster bolts were flying through the air between the two armies. We advanced into a gap in the Sep lines and then I realized I'd made a mistake. They were trying to draw us in and suddenly the damn droids were everywhere. The fire was so intense I couldn't tell who was shooting at who. I thought for sure they were going to roll us up, but there was was no way in hell I was surrendering. I encouraged my men to fight on, hand to hand if we had to. Then, out of no where I see this streak and a flash of yellow. I had no idea what was going on, but then I saw her, she was standing in the middle of the droids! I'd heard about what the Jedi could do, but I'd never seen one in battle since we weren't part of the main army. She was human, jet black hair, and she fought like a cornered animal. She cut the droids down left and right and I regrouped my men and we pressed them again. With her with us we were unstoppable and then the gunships arrived and the rest of the Seps surrendered soon after. When the shooting stopped I found her standing by herself near a bombed out gun emplacement.
“I wanted to thank you.”
“For what?” she said turning to face me
“For saving our butts back there. If you hadn't come along those droids would have had us.”
“Just doing my job,” she said but then she smiled “but you're welcome.”
“Ryo? I didn't know clone troopers had names.”
“I'm not just any trooper, I'm an ARC ma'am.”
“So you are Ryo, I am Kierra Jien.”
“Thanks again,” I said.
After our chat I rounded up my squad which had come through the battle with only one loss. That left four of us. As we sat around talking General Kenobi found us.
“Ryo, good work on sabotaging their air defenses, you definitely made my job easier.”
“All in a day's work Sir.”
“Good, I have another mission for you.”
“We're ready General.”
Our missions after that took us all over the galaxy, and before our mission on Rendii General Kenobi told me he was sending us help. She met us at our insertion point on Rendii, and our help was none other than Kienna Jien.
“It's good to see you again Ma'am.”
“You too Ryo, ready to go?”
She laughed “Let's get to work.”
With Kienna with us our missions went twice as fast. She was quick thinking, and more than capable in battle. Time and again General Kenobi gave us missions that no other unit could accomplish by itself, and time and again we made them happen. It was that way until we got assigned to a mission here on Nar Shaddaa. Republic Intelligence had found a small Sep base here and they wanted us to make it go away. The Hutts were allowing the Republic to use their space to move ships and supplies, but apparently didn't care that the Confederacy was setting up a base here.
So, we did what we always did. We inserted covertly and using the intelligence we'd been provided we started to make an attack plan. The night before we were going to attack was when everything changed. Kienna had retired early to meditate or whatever it was that Jedi did. My men and I including Zef were sitting around talking when I got a message I never thought I'd get.
“Execute Order 66.”
We all looked at each other, and no one spoke. We all knew what Order 66 was, and we all knew what we were supposed to do.
“Wait,” Jade said stopping Ryo “What was Order 66?”
“You're a Jedi and you don't know what Order 66 was?”
“I've never seen a specific reference to it, no.”
Ryo sighed “Order 66 was a contingency order that all clone troopers were conditioned to obey without question. It branded the Jedi traitors to the Republic, and called for the immediate execution of all Jedi.”
“By the Force,” Jade breathed “So that's how Palpatine did it.”
Ryo nodded “That's how he started it anyway. Can I finish now?”
Zef looked at me after I replayed the message, there was no mistaking it.
“What do we do?”
Even I didn't have the answer to that question. I knew what we were supposed to do, but how could we just murder her? She'd saved our lives, fought with us side by side, and now they wanted us to kill her.
“I know what I'm going to do,” I said after a couple of minutes
“I'm going to save her, keep her hidden some how, some way. She deserves that much.”
“What about the order?” one of the others asked
“To hell with the order, I won't kill her in cold blood, and anyone who doesn't agree can leave now.”
No one uttered a word in objection, and we started to talk about what we'd do. When we had a plan, I went to wake up Kienna.
“Ma'am,” I said poking my head into the room where she slept
Hearing my voice she sat up in her bed “What is it Ryo?”
“I need to talk with you.”
I explained to her the message I'd received, and what it meant. She looked at me with a blank expression on her face.
“What do you intend to do?”
“Protect you, watch your back like you've watched ours.”
“Where will we go?”
“We can stay here, the Hutts control what happens here. We can fade into the background and hide.”
“All of your men are with you on this?”
“I'll follow your lead Ryo.”
“We stayed here on Nar Shaddaa for years, and as you can see Zef and I are still here.”
“What happened to Kienna?” Jade asked
“In the end she died. She ventured out to look for other Jedi with the other two members of our squad. Vader found them and killed them all after his spies gave him her location.”
“I'm sorry.” Jade said
“Don't be, Kienna Jien was a warrior and a fighter until her death. She died fighting for what she believed in, and she wouldn't have had it any other way.”
“I'm glad that you told me her story. I can take this back to Master Tionne and she can record it in the Jedi Archives. You know the Republic could use soldiers like you.”
Ryo shook his head “Our time is done Jedi. We've given our service and done our time, it's up to new blood like you to fight now.”
Jade nodded “I had better get going.”
“Why don't you stay here tonight, it's late, and I've kept you up half the night with my story.”
The apartment wasn't exactly Jade's idea of quality lodging, but she was tired, and she didn't want to seem ungracious. So, she accepted Ryo's offer, and stayed the night in Ryo's bed while he slept on their couch. In the morning they walked with her back to the landing pad and as she boarded the Voyager Ryo stopped her.
“You make sure that story gets recorded.”
“You have my word.”
“Good, and do me one other favor.”
“What is it?”
“Forget you found me.”
“You got it.”
Jade started up the ramp and as it was closing Ryo said
“For what it's worth, may the Force be with you.”