[IG2K5] Talisman of Power (Do Not Post)
I hate repeating myself, but I'll make this clear one more time. Do not post on this topic, unless you're called Michael Halcyon or Reb Qel-Droma. This for the Talisman of Power IG2k5 Run-on written by the aforementioned, and any interruptions will not be appreciated. (If a moderator could move this to a private board, that would be most appreciated.)
It is rumored across the galaxy that ancient objects of magical or arcane power exist. Artifacts from the ancient era when the Sith ruled the galaxy unquestioned... a time when light was oppressed by the darkness.
But all things change, this is a reality proven true countless times again and again across the universe. And the Sith fell away into their own darkness; knowing one day they would return to conquer the Republic that defeated them.
And so it was a Republic was overthrown by a shift into a Galactic Empire, which fell away to be replaced by a New Republic. A Republic that was more apt at democracy than it's predecessor had been. It was a new dawn of heroes as the Jedi Knights returned and Rogue Squadron became once again the most dominant aerial force known across the galaxy.
But the Light could not burn bright for all eternity... all light diminishes at one time or another. It is the equilibrium of the dualities of Light and Dark, Sith and Jedi. And the Dark Brotherhood now matches its foes in not only ability, but the will to use their strength.
These events I rant on about appear on a galactic scale, shifting in trivial manners each day. But to see the true effects of thiw war it must been seen from the eye of a single observer... watching these sides battle against one another.
A Republic Scout was rumaging through the catacombs of a superstructure on the planet of Coruscant. His informants had fed him a line about ancient Jedi holocrons, but the artifact was too priceless to chance missing out on.
The Captain was sorting through moth eaten books, molded items and dirt when he finally kicked up something distinctly not useless. It was a small medallion of gold, with a ruby set upon the center of it... strange engravings spread across the obscure item. He clutched it between his fingers, eyeing the gem to place a price upon it.
A shuffle from behind the Republic soldier caused him to turn and draw his blaster. He saw nothing. But hidden in the dark was one trained in the Dark Arts of the Force; his cowl hiding his gleaming silver irises.
The Republic Captain strained to see into the darkness and was rewarded with a shaft of light; the light from the ancient weapon of Forse Users, a lightsaber.
The red blade whipped in towards the head of the Senior Scout as he deftly backed away from his approaching foe. With his blaster in hand he loosed several bolts of scarlet energy at his oncoming foe.
It seemed the constant barrage of fire was too much, or perhaps the Dark Jedi had been too arrogant. But as he neared he attempted to strafe the random bolts and lay a deathblow upon his enemy. A pair of bolts seared into the chest of the Force user, halting the passage of blood to his vaporized heart.
An instant smile was replaced by horror as the red blade cut deep into the Republic Officer. As the blade passed through his body the Dark Knight fell to the earth, his saber deactivating in the process...
The Republic Scout forced his com-link to his hand, changin the tactical frequency to 'distress' blurting out everything he had seen, "I am in the catacombs of the Coruscant Sector 25-A-113, and I have come across a valuable artifact... but a Dark Jedi he wanted it and... and... i'm dying... please come... to... my....aide..... immedia-" The transmission fell away into static.
Reb Qel-Droma sighed as he set foot on the concrete of one of Nar Shaddaa’s many spaceports. The ship he exited, a Corellian freighter, had seen better days, and in that respect was much like the spaceport itself. It was in essence not much more than an open space filled up with sturdy concrete, with some small buildings that had been built to provide the most basic of spaceport facilities. One of the local gangs seemed to have ‘redecorated’ at least some walls with paint to mark it as their territory. Some attempts apparently had been made to remove it, but a number of blaster marks told the outcome of that endeavour.
Most spaceports on Nar Shaddaa were actually properly maintained: the Hutts were at least smart enough to know what the origin of their wealth was. However, the captain of the freighter that had brought the young Jedi to this planet had a small ‘disagreement’ with the Hutts, and thus had landed at this small spaceport. Disagreements with Hutts tended to end badly, however, and Reb didn’t give the man longer than a month. But he was on Nar Shaddaa now, so it was no longer the Jedi Knight’s concern.
It didn’t take him long to find a taxi to take him to some of the more well-reputed districts of the planet. The pilot of the speeder regarded Reb with a suspicious look for a few moments. The Jedi Knight was wearing the traditional brown robes that had marked the wearer a member of the Jedi Order in the days of the Old Republic, the hood partially masking his face. The driver shrugged – he probably had carried far stranger creatures before – and told Reb to get in the speeder.
The trip to the business district did not take long, and the speeder stopped in front of the building whose markings proclaimed it to be an office of a company called Universal Exports. Reb paid the driver and entered the building. A woman was sitting behind a desk, and looked up as the young man entered. Two guards were standing in front of a sturdy steel door, and judging from the way they held their blasters, would use them if trouble arose. The Jedi drew back his hood, revealing his dark, short hair, and let his dark brown eyes rest on the receptionist.
“I’m expecting a package,” the Jedi Knight told the young woman, who looked at him with deep blue eyes.
“And what is your name?” the woman asked.
“Crush. Reb Crush,” he answered. It was the name he had known by for most of his life, but one he longer used. He handed over the identification card that he had acquired when working for the Imperial Navy, and which he technically was no longer allowed to possess.
“Thank you,” the receptionist said while taking the card. She punched in something on the computer in front of her, and handed back the identification card. “I will need to retrieve your package from the vault,” she told Reb. “Just a minute, please.”
He merely nodded, and watched as the woman entered the room behind the steel door. She returned a few minutes later with a small package in her hand.
“There you go, sir,” she said, while handing the package to Reb.
“Thank you,” the young man answered. He opened the package, and saw there were three key-cards inside, accompanied by a single note that simply said “Here you go. S.” Reb smiled. “This is indeed the package I was expecting. I’m glad to see it has arrived timely.”
“Universal Exports prefers to keep it’s customers satisfied,” the woman remarked, smiling slightly.
The Jedi Knight nodded again, and put the keycards into one of the many pockets of his robe, then tossed the empty package into a nearby waste-bin. He said goodbye, pulled the hood over his head, and went back into the streets of Nar Shaddaa.
After wandering for about half an hour, Reb finally found the faint ripples in the Force he had been looking for. He tried to locate the source, which appeared to be a bar named ‘Twilight’. Stepping inside, he noticed that it seemed to be remarkably well-managed for Nar Shaddaa.The bartender was busy serving drinks, and a band was playing loud music on a stage in the back. A crowd had gathered on the dance floor, and bodies were moving to the beat of the drums.
Reb noticed some stairs leading to the second level of the place, and decided to go there. There was a bar here as well, but instead of a dance floor there were various tables for those wishing just to have a drink with their friends. Most tables seemed to be occupied, but Reb still didn’t see the man he was looking for. He moved towards the wide balcony, which provided a splendid view of the city below.
There he finally saw another man in brown robes, sitting in at a table, facing a blue female Twi’lek. The man was of medium build, and had dark-blonde hairs. A carefully trimmed beard covered part of his face. He was obviously telling some tale, his hands moving animatedly to reinforce his story. The Twi’lek was an attentive audience, nodding, smiling and gasping at various intervals. Reb moved closer, so he could hear what he was telling.
“So, the rancor once again moved in to turn me into his dinner, but I wasn’t done for yet! As it’s mouth descended upon me, I activated my lightsaber and stabbed him right through his head! It was dead instantly, and it’s enormous weight crashed to the floor...”
“Right on top of you,” Reb interrupted the other, while sitting down between the man and the Twil’lek. “When I found you I thought it was the rancor moaning.”
The dark-blonde man sputtered indignantly, but the Twi’lek burst into laughter. “Well, I’m glad you did get me out from under that rancor,” he said to Reb, “despite the stench. We must’ve smelled funny for at least two weeks.”
Reb grinned at the memory. “It’s good to see you again, Mike.”
“And it’s good to see you again, too, young one,” Michael Halcyon answered. Reb had been his Padawan, and they’d been through many adventures together. Even though Reb was now a Jedi Knight in his own right, they still considered each other good friends.
The Jedi Master motioned towards one of the waitresses to get Reb a drink. “So, what have you been up to, my friend?”
“Now, that’s a long story,” the young man started.
Reb woke up next morning with a serious headache. They had spent last night drinking and exchanging stories, and finally had gone to Mike’s apartment. Reb vaguely remembered collapsing on the couch, which he was still lying on. As he tried to get up he felt a stab in his back. His body had obviously not approved of the rather awkward sleeping position. He made another attempt at getting up, and succeeded this time. He made his way towards the kitchen and prepared a can of coffee.
As he sat down at the table he noticed that the Twi’lek had emerged from Mike’s bedroom. Somehow Mike had not only convinced her to stay with them at the bar, but also come to his apartment. She wore a simple nightgown, which did little to hide her curves, and Reb could understand why Mike liked her. He vaguely remembered her name as something like ‘Aayla’, or ‘Ayala’, or something like that. He had definitely been drinking too much.
The Twi’lek smiled weakly at Reb as she sat down in the seat opposite to him. She obviously wasn’t feeling a lot better than him, and he shoved her a mug filled with steaming coffee. She thankfully took a few sips of the liquid. Reb emptied his own cup and filled it again. The headache seemed to have diminished a bit. The Twi’lek took another few sips of the coffee, and then started looking through various cupboards.
“Want something to eat?” she asked. Reb realised he was hungry, and got tossed a piece of bread before he could answer.
“Yeah, thanks,” he replied.The Twi’Lek had found some eggs and a frying pan, and was now baking them. The scent had awakened the last parts of Reb’s mind that were still sleeping, and his stomach definitely began demanding food now.
“Could you fix up some of that for me too?” he asked. “I’m afraid Mike’s training didn’t involve baking eggs.”
“Sure,” she said, while prodding at the eggs a bit. “So what’s training with Mike like?” she asked. “Besides getting yourselves into all kinds of dangerous situations.”
Reb pondered the question for a moment. “It’s hard work. He expects full dedication from his students, but I suppose that’s necessary. A Jedi does needs to know how to handle himself, and Mike has taught me a lot.”
The Twi’lek nodded while handing him a plate with a baked egg on it. Reb ate some, it tasted pretty good.
“So what about you?” he asked in return. “How do you end up sleeping with a Jedi Master?”
“Well, when I first met him I didn’t know he was a Jedi... I just thought he dressed kind of funny.” She grinned. “But well, we just talked a bit the first time, and he asked if we could meet again.” She paused a few moments to eat some of the baked egg. “One thing led to anther from there. I’ve spent the night here a couple of times now. He’s a nice guy.”
“Do I smell coffee and eggs?” Mike yelled from the bedroom.
“Reb, you’re making me nervous,” Mike said as the two of them walked through the streets of Nar Shaddaa. “What is it that you want to show me?”
“Patience,” Reb said, using one of the Jedi Master’s favourite phrases against him. “You will see soon.” Mike grumbled, but knew any further questioning wouldn’t help. After they had somewhat recovered from last night and refreshed themselves, Reb had told his former master he needed to show him something, but had been unwilling to disclose anything more. Mike was getting rather annoyed at being left in the dark.
They arrived at a section of Nar Shaddaa’s spaceport that contained the private docking bays. Reb was carefully checking the bay numbers, and stopped at one that was labelled 42D.
“Here it is,” Reb said, while sliding a keycard into the electronic lock. Mike reached out with the force, but couldn’t feel any danger. The door slid open, and both Jedi went inside the docking bay.
In the centre stood two sleek fighters: they consisted of a single cockpit, with wings extending to either side, mounting several laser cannons. A ring with large engines was attached to the fighters at the wingtips and a mechanical arm attached to the nose kept the construct suspended in the air.
Mike gasped at their sight. “Those are Jedi Starfighters!” he exclaimed. “Where did you get those?”
“I accidentally came across their original design while looking for some more information about my heritage. I decided to tweak them a bit to use some more modern technology, and had them built by some...” he paused for a moment, “friends. Regardless of how I got them, they are some of the best craft in the galaxy, and there’s only two of them.”
Mike was still looking in awe at the spacecraft. They were the kind of craft that Obi-Wan Kenobi had flown during the Clone Wars. Somehow Reb had managed to build them again based off the original designs. His former apprentice continued to surprise him.
“So,” Reb asked. “Ready for a little test flight?”
Mike didn`t answer but instead walked over to the fighters. They were both build identitcally but marked differently. One had blue markings, the other yellow ones.
"Those are Kuat Systems Engineering Eta-2 Actis-class interceptors - the follower up to the Aethersprite-starfighter in utilization by the Jedi before the outbreak of the clone wars. Only few Actis were ever produced", the Jedi master stated.
Mike approached the blue on and softly ran his fingertips over the dorsal hull, almost caressing it. Reb couldn`t hide a broad smile.
"They are awesome! And, yes, I would very much like to take them out for test flight. Which one is mine?"
"I thought we`d let the Force decide", Reb answered, producing a small credit chip from under his robes. Mike examined it, recongizing it.
"That`s the JedCred."
"Quite indeed it is. Only fitting, is it not?"
"Well, you certainly are full of symbols today, young one. But yes, have a go. Tails, you get the blue one, heads, I get it."
"So be it."
Reb flipped the coin up into the air, several spaceships roaring over their heads high in the skies, as the credit slowly turned around its axis, sailing downwards. Reb caught it with one hand, slapping it on the back of the other.
"See, if you wanted the blue one so dearly, you could have just told me." The beard around the edges of Mike`s mouth twitched slightly. Reb grinned and offered his former teacher one of the keycards.
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The turbolaser bolts exploded right behind the Actis, following the fast starfighter with a trail of fiery clouds, only a second delayed. The nearby asteroids lit up in red-orange as the vessel tried to near them for cover. The turbolaser gunner was smart, however, and pulverized a smaller one just a few meters away. Small rocks were hurled at the Jedi starfighter who could barely escape them.
"Blast! This can really make you hate flying!" Mike commented, throwing a glance backwards at the Imperial-class II Star Destroyer trying to wipe him from the skies. Sweat pearled from his temples as he concentrated on his surroundings, reaching out with the Force to get an impression of where his enemies were and what their aims were. "Great Maker, those things are fast."
They were indeed. Nothing more than essentially a big engine and a cockpit, Halcyon threw the Actis into a larger growing roll, outmanoeuvering the pursuing TIE Defenders with ease. The slower Imperial machines weren´t able to follow as fast. Mike pressed the button for the weapons and had a barrage of red laser bolts rain down on one of them. It tried to escape but the Jedi master kept pinned it down. Just a second later, the shields were down and it exploded in a fast expanding fireball the got torn apart as the Actis pierced through it.
"Your old friends aren`t really happy to see you, are they?" Reb came over comm. Mike expanded his senses and found him in a dogfight with two other squadrons of TIE Defenders.
"Yes, I seem to have a knack for that", he answered dryly, zipping past the belly of the Star Destroyer, barely noticing the name on its side: Relentless.
"Could you remind me again why we wanted to take out those fighters on a test flight in Emperor`s Hammer-territory?" Reb`s voice was crystal clear - a result of the state-of-the-art communications phalanx.
"I didn`t know it was theirs. If I had, I had sent you alone."
"How nice. As punishment?"
"Yes. For them."
Mike had to cut the chatter as he passed by the lateral firing arcs of the Star Destroyer`s turbolaser, forcing him into a mad evasion spiral yet again. Reaching out with the Force, he got himself an overview over the battle.
"Six Missle Boats from Shield Squadron heading for our hyperspace rings", he altered Reb.
"Already got them", the Jedi Knight replied. "Just make sure the other squads return home so we can savely dock and make the jump to hyperspace."
"I`m on it. Did I already mention that calculating a jump and generally operating this flying podracer engine would be far easier with an astromech droid?" Mike threw a glance to the hole in the left wing of his fighter where normally, an astromech droid was supposed to be located. Batteries not included.
"With this? About six times now. Are you trying to tell me something?"
"Use the Force, Reb, use the Force." Mike yanked his craft into an opposite spiral just as another three TIEs from the Relentless tried to catch him in a crossfire. A green laser bolt seared over the right wing of his Actis, blackening it.
"Blast!" No sensors, no shields, no hyperdrive - everything that normally a pilot had instruments to for the Actis-pilot only had his connection and attunement with the Force. The starfighter sacrificed nearly everything for speed and manoeuverability. Granted, it was also a good protection against shipnapping.
"I don`t want to disturb you in your relaxed cruise out there, young one, but if you don`t hurry up, you`ll have one spare hyperspace ring - and that would be such a waste of materials." Slamming the throttle down, the starfighter decelerating to almost a full halt. The three TIE Defenders howled past the yellow-marked vessel, exploding in three fireballs as the Actis rained down barrage for barrage from its powerful cannons on them.
"I`ve got them. If you are done with your sparring over there, we can head out."
"Good idea, I was getting bored anyways." Punching in the throttle again, Mike just so escaped a fiery turbolaser-wall from the Star Destroyer. If they survived this encounter, it was because the Force had other plans with them.
Mike dodged a couple of the smaller asteroids and circled one of the larger ones. Diving into the asteroid field, he headed straight for the small, open area where Reb was already docking with his hyperspace ring.
"Got the coordinates?" Mike demanded to know.
"I`m calculating, I`m calculating! Three minus five... two in the mind..."
"Want to dock so I can hand you my calculator? Would that help?"
The Jedi master reached out with the Force, through the asteroids and over to the Relentless. Two additional TIE Defender flights launched just this moment. They wouldn`t take long to pick up their signals - in twenty seconds they would arrive.
The clamps on the hyperspace ring grabbed Mike`s Eta-7 firmly, the wingtips of the fighter closing down. During combat, they would fold open to provide the vessel with additional surfaces to sink the enormous heat it was producing. Mike took a moment to examine the six powerful engines, enabling the TransGalMeg Industries transport ring to accelerate up to 1.0 lightspeed.
"Calculations are finished. Transmitting."
"That`s Coruscant", Mike frowned. "Why there?"
"That`s the best idea you had today, young one." The Jedi master waited for the data to be transmitted. The TIE Defenders from the Relentless were already past the larger asteroids, hurling at the two Jedi with increasing speed. In just a couple of seconds they would be in firing range.
Then the calculations finished. Mike slammed on a button on the controls. The stars strechted into long, white lines as the hyperspace ring`s engines fired up, catapulting it into hyperspace and into safety.
"I am getting too old for this", Mike grumbled under his beard as finally the blue channel of hyperspace enveloped him and his fighter.
The two Actis starfighters slowly glided through the skies of Coruscant. They were flying over the old government district, and down below Reb could easily make out the huge dome of the old Senate. When the Senate had been disbanded by Palpatine, and all government offices had relocated to the Imperial City, it had been turned into a large trading centre. Some miles distant from the dome was the old Jedi Temple, which had been left alone even by the imperials. It was a grim reminder of the crimes committed against the Jedi by Palpatine and Vader.
“I’m going to take a look at the temple,” came Mike’s voice of the comm system.
“Why?” Reb asked. “There’s not much there but sad memories.”
“There are memories there of many generations of Jedi, not merely of the last days of the Order, young one. But you can go buy some astromechs in the meantime, I won’t be staying there long.”
“Very well,” Reb answered, watching as the other fighter slowly changed its course towards the abandoned temple. He slightly altered the course of his own fighter as well, and landed on one of the many platforms surrounding the dome of the Senate. As he jumped out of the cockpit he noticed that several burn marks now decorated the hull of the fighter, and the young Jedi grimaced. He had thought he’d fared better in their encounter with the Imperials. Quickly inspecting the extent of the damage, he was relieved to find that nothing had actually been damaged. Some fresh paint, and the fighter would be like new again.
Right now they needed some astromechs, however, and Reb walked towards the entrance of the large complex. Inside, the main hall was filled people moving about, moving from store to store. Flashing signs proclaimed the various wares that were being sold at shops, and at least a dozen escalators led to other sections of the huge mall. It didn’t take Reb long to find a store that sold droids.
It was only a small store, and it turned out the Jedi Knight was the only customer at the moment. Droids of various types were lined along the walls, each of them outfitted with a restraining bolt. A blue-skinned Duro behind the counter nodded as Reb entered the store.
“How can I help you?” the Duro asked.
“I’m looking for astromechs which can aid in controlling starfighters.”
The Duro looked at Reb’s brown robes for a few moments, and then pointed at two R5 units standing in a corner. “Those two are in excellent condition. Two-thousand credits each.”
Reb didn’t even need to look closely to know those droids were obviously overpriced. R5 units were among the most unreliable of the R-series, and a little bit of sensing with the force learned that their internals had seen better days.
“I’m looking for something more reliable,” the Jedi Knight told the shopkeeper, while slightly adjusting his robes to reveal his lightsaber. The subtle move was not without effect, and the Duro quickly walked towards two other astromechs. Reb grinned slightly.
“Would these droids suffice, perhaps, Master Jedi?” the Duro asked.
“Yes, that would be much better,” Reb answered after quickly inspecting the two droids. One was a R4-unit with yellow markings, the other one of the newer R7 units. Both seemed to be in optimal condition. After paying for the droids he went back to the docking platform, where there was no sign of Mike yet.
“Might as well make sure those droids actually work,” Reb mumbled to himself. He removed the restraining bolt from the R7. The little droid loaded itself into the Actis and began beeping ecstatically.
“Well, I’m glad you like my ship,” Reb told the little droid as he jumped into the cockpit to monitor what the astromech was doing. It seemed to be able to work with the ship just fine. Suddenly the little droid chirped again, and a voice mixed with static began speaking over the comm system.
“I am... Catacombs... Corusca... tor 25-... valuable art... Dark Jedi... dying... aid imm...”
“Dark Jedi!” Reb exclaimed. “Here on Coruscant! R7, can you find out where that transmission came from?”
The droid chirped and projected a map of the surrounding area, a pulsing dot denoting the origin of the transmission.
“That’s almost directly below us!” The droid chirped an affirmative. Reaching out with the force, Reb tried to sense Mike, but he couldn’t detect his presence.
“Great time to hide, Mike,” the Jedi Knight grumbled to himself. “You stay here!” he yelled to the R4 that was still standing on the docking platform. The droid beeped an affirmative, but Reb had already closed the cockpit. He fired up the engines, and the fighter was in the sky again.
“Find me a way to get to the lower levels,” he told the R7. A complex route was displayed on the cockpits only screen, leading through the many narrow spaces between the buildings on Coruscants lower levels.
“Do we really have to go through the waste launcher?” he asked the R7, who responded with a determined beep. “Great.”
The Jedi Knight let the Force flow through him, gaining a better awareness of his surroundings. He focused on the waste launcher, that was essentially a deep chute sealed by a force field. Waste was accumulated at the lower levels of the planet, and once a sufficient quantity had been collected, it would be launched at Coruscant’s sun. While the waste was being launched, there would be a short time where the force fields would be down, and Reb could dive down several hundred levels. Timing was essential, or he would end up as garbage as well.
The force field went down, and the Jedi Knight let his fighter down the chute, engines providing full power. Down below, the capacitors were already charging up, R7 screamed. They kept plunging down, until Reb abruptly rolled the craft and pulled up, leading the fighter into a narrow space between two buildings. Behind him, several tons of waste were launched into space.
“Remind me to take the long route next time,” he commented to the R7 unit while taking a sharp turn, and plunging down a few levels. They were now so low that distinctions between individual buildings were hard to make: they were simply surrounded by a three-dimensional maze of concrete.
“Yes, I know we have to take the left turn!” he yelled while barely dodging a pillar that probably supported a building several hundred meters higher. They were probably below ground level now, if one could identify such a thing as a ground level on Coruscant. Something small slammed into the canopy, leaving a bloody spot.
“Hawk bats! Are we almost there, R7?” The droid chirped, and Reb slowed down his craft. He noticed a small speeder standing on a small plateau to his left, and landed his Actis next to it. The speeder bore New Republic markings, and most likely belonged to whoever had sent the distress signal he had received. As he powered down the starfighter, the surrounding area was once again surrounded by darkness. No sunlight ever came down here.
Reb took a small electric torch and got out of his fighter. The plateau he had landed on was larger than it had appeared from the air, and there was room for several more speeders. A doorway led into the structure the plateau was attached to.
“Stay here,” Reb commanded the R7 that had released itself from the starfighter. Several strange inscriptions surrounded the doorway, but he could not make out their origin. The doorway led into a narrow corridor, which ended in narrow stairs leading down. The stairs ended in a large room, illuminated by torches. The walls were decorated with carvings depicting a gruesome battle. The remains of several shelves filled the room, moulded wood and rotten books sticking out of the dirt. In the centre of the room was an altar, two bodies lying near it. One was wearing the uniform of the New Republic military, the other was dressed in black robes, a lightsaber still clutched in his hand. Reb kneeled next to them to check for a pulse. They were both dead.
It was only then that the Jedi Knight noticed there was a third figure hiding in the shadows at the far end of the room. He was wearing dark robes much like those of the dead figure near the altar. As he revealed himself, he activated his lightsaber, a crimson blade extending from the metallic hilt.
“You come too late, Jedi,” he spoke in a mocking voice. “We have retrieved the medallion, and now, you will die.”
Reb drew his lightsaber, the yellow blade springing to life. He took a defensive stance, ready to parry whatever the Dark Jedi would throw at him.
“I think not.”
Both opponents looked at each other, dead silence filling the room, the soft humming of the lightsabers being the only sound. Crimson tainted the walls and the shelves, dwarfing the mockingly soft light from the electrical torches. It was countered halfway over the room by a golden yellow, fending it off, claiming the other half of the destroyed room.
Then suddenly the Sith yanked his hand into Reb's direction, the movement following a sliced chair, hurling at the Jedi Knight's head. Qel-Droma, holding his saber high above his head, blade extending backwards in the ready-stance of the ancient Form II technique, went down on one knee, bringing the deadly blade around in a sharp angle, slicing up the chair right in front of him. He rose, making a fast step forward and bringing the saber around in a mirror slash, cutting a shelf into two that was hurled at him by his opponent.
The Sith growled out, jumping at him suddenly. Both sabers clashed, sending a bright flash through the room and up the stairs as yellow met red, crackling loudly. Illuminated by the two saber blades, Reb saw the face of his opponent, halfway hidden below the robes but burning with furious anger. The man's features were hard and chiselled from stone. He had a scar running up slightly his squared chin, the flaming blue eyes glowing brightly under his eyebrows. Reb gnawed his teeth as both Force-wielders engaged in a duel of strength, pressing against the other, trying to subdue him with pure power.
A second the fight prolonged, then both opponents yanked away from each other, twirling around, engaging in a fast paced battle of slashes and gashes. The Sith's saber came from the lower side, getting deflected upwards by Reb's blade. The Jedi followed the crimson weapon's path to gain strength, twirling and sending it flying downwards at the Sith's right shoulder. The Dark Jedi slammed it away with his saber, launching a counter-assault.
Both Force-wielders fought ferociously, the traces of the battle dug into their faces as the launched attack for attack, parried, countered, counter-attacked.
The Sith blocked Reb's high incoming gash, sending the blade to the side as he swivelled around, hitting the Jedi Knight hard in the chest with a powerful kick from his black boots. Reb stumbled backwards, jumping another meter out of range of the fast following crimson saber. Slash for slash, he jumped back until he finally got into a defensive position again. High rising the yellow blade over his head, he thrusted his left, open hand into the direction of the Dark Side servant.
The Sith got hit by an invisible force, knocking him off his feet and sending him flying over the room into one of the shelves not yet destroyed. He jumped up, shaking his head shortly, twirling his saber into defense stance as Reb jumped after him, sending his weapon thrusting at his heart. The Dark Jedi slammed it away with his own blade pointing down, flying out in a wide angle. He made a step forward and raised his clenched fist.
"Rck!" Reb suddenly got stopped and heaved into the air, his right hand flying to his throat involuntarily as he got choked.
"I have no time for petty fights!" the Sith exclaimed, his eyes burning with an inner fire. "Soon, this talisman will allow me to unleash powers the galaxy has never seen before! And you will not be able to stop me, Jedi!" He yanked his hand to the side, opening the fist and sending Reb with apainful crunch right into the wall where he slumped down, dizzy. The Sith deactivated his saber and threw a last glance at the Jedi Knight who shook his head to get clear again. Then he turned on his heels and headed for the outside.
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The yellow Actis pierced through Coruscant's skies, the golden sun reflecting on its wings, twilight creeping over the planet's many skyscrapers with its reflecting windows and the never-ending skylanes. Twilight, the Jedi master inside realized, like the twilight of the new age of the galaxy. The twilight of the ever struggling powers of the Force.
Mike turned his head as he zipped past the Imperial Senate with its many glass facades, holding so much memory and history.
He couldn't believe that the journemen from the DB had ventured so deep into Republic territory, desecrating the Jedi temple just to get their hands on artefacts or even items as mundane as lightsaber parts. The Jedi master closed his eyes, feeling again all the pain of the generations of Jedi murdered there, betrayed by the galaxy they had sworn to protect. Mike gave the Brotherhood-apprentices until the dawn of the new day to leave the places and never return. If they didn't, he would have to force them out.
They wouldn't find anything of value. The Jedi master looked at the small Jedi holocron he had been able to salvage from under a crumbled record storage. This small piece of ancient art was probably the only survivor of a time of light.
Mike concentrated on flying again. He pulled the Actis into a small slope, coming down on a landing pad in the vicinity of the Senate. A single astromech droid sat there as he touched down, opening the cockpit hatch.
"Hmm." Mike frowned as he stepped out of the Jedi starfighter. Placing the fists in his hips he looked around, scanning for the blue counterpart of his own vessel. From high above he hadn't been able to localize it - and right now that didn't change.
The Jedi master concentrated, reaching out with the Force and grazed over the minds of the numerous sentients down at the market place, searching for the familiar life pattern of his long friend and former apprentice. Nothing.
Just now Mike noticed that the astromech droid was whistling happily. The Jedi master opened his eyes and saw how the little droid had already lifted himself into the Actis' astromech-port.
"What the..." Heaving an eyebrow, Mike walked back to his starfighter, examining the droid. It was an R4-unit, one of those that had been designed for starfighter use. The R4-series was exactly the series that had been used for the Jedi starfighters, too. Its dome rotated to face the brown-robed man with its optical sensor, beeping and chirping.
"My binary is a little rusty", the Jedi master explained, opening the starfighter's hatch to check out the multi-utility display in the middle. Just then he remembered that the Actis had none of these superfluous items.
"Right, whoever you are, get out of my fighter."
The droid beep a short, strongly negative whistle.
"I said..." Mike stopped as he suddenly felt the presence he was searching for. Looking up to the skies, he saw the missing blue Actis zipping by, violating several air traffic regulations as he broke a skylane and dove down next to the southhub, whooshing through a holographical mega-ad.
"I've got a bad feeling about this", the Jedi master commented, hopping into his own fighter, lowering the canopy and firing up the engines.
As his starfighter shot up out of a narrow space between two buildings, Reb was glad to see that he was once again into the civilised parts of Coruscant; the sun once again shone into the tiny cockpit. Although the other force user had been able to escape, the Jedi Knight had quickly recovered from the attack with force, and was now following the New Rebublic speeder that the other had used to escape. The speeder was nowhere to be seen now, however.
Reb closed his eyes, and let the Force flow through him. He immediately became aware of his immediate surroundings. Anything that transpired left its mark on the patterns of the Force; major events often sent great ripples through the Force, and anyone who was aware of the Force itself could feel those. Discerning the smaller ripples was what required skill and talent, and in this aspect of the Force, Reb had plenty of both. The speeder had passed through this part of the skies recently, and had then taken a sharp turn. It had then flown into a large stream of traffic, and suddenly he was aware of the distinctive presence of one attuned to the Force. The Dark Jedi was near a dome–the old senate building, and another familiar presence was nearby as well.
Opening the eyes again, but keeping his mind focused on the presence of the force user, Reb launched his craft into the flow of traffic moving along the senate building, flying well above the speed limit. R7 uttered a clear protest against the reckless flying, but was ignored by his pilot, who activated a communications channel.
“So how was your trip to the Temple, Mike?” the younger man greeted his friend.
“Well, I ran into some trouble, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Would you mind explaining why you’re giving us Jedi a bad reputation among the traffic police?”
“Oh, the usual trouble,” Reb replied, seeing that Mike’s yellow-marked craft was now flying behind him.
“Yeah, I ran into a some Dark Jedi that mumbled something about an artefact and me being too late. We exchanged pleasantries, and then he decided to run. Oh, and he mentioned something about unleashing power never seen before. I must’ve heard that line at least a dozen times in my life, now.”
“Well, I get the picture,” the Jedi Master commented.
“Anyway, since you’re probably wondering which of these snails,” Reb paused a moment to dodge an air taxi that was fast approaching, “is the bad guy, let me point him out.”
The two starfighters were rapidly approaching the stolen speeder, and Reb manoeuvred his craft next to it. He could see the dark-robed figure inside the cockpit calmly steering his vehicle. Mike had gotten the hint, and was now flying on the other side of their prey.
“Let’s try to force him to,” Mike started, but the Dark Jedi had finally noticed his pursuers, and started a steep dive. “Oh, never mind.”
Pushing the controls forward, Reb sent his Actis plunging after the speeder, Mike following suit. Suddenly it leveled out again, and took a sharp turn, disappearing behind a large tower. Trying to gain on his quarry, the Jedi Knight tried to make the turn as he still descended, and got dangerously close towards the building. Through the windows he could see surprised faces looking at the craft speeding by.
As he completed the sharp turn, Reb noticed he now actually flying lower than the Dark Jedi, and cursed. Mike was flying somewhere above him, obviously in a better position to pursue the speeder, which had joined one of the many streams of traffic again. Thinking for a moment, Reb realised he recognised where that traffic stream went, and decided to take a shortcut.
“Where the hell are you going, young one?” Mike immediately asked.
“I know a shortcut, you just keep on his tail.”
“You bet. By the way, why has this R4 made itself comfortable in my fighter?”
“Well, I guess he likes you,” Reb remarked. “Be glad I left the R4 for you, this R7 of mine is commenting on my flying. Negatively.”
As he said that, the Jedi Knight put his fighter through another sharp turn. The R7’s continues muttering now became a despairing wail, as speeders of various sizes came towards the Actis at alarming speeds.
“Yes, I know we’re on the wrong lane!” Reb screamed as he dodged the vehicles coming at them, each roaring past the fighter with only inches to spare. Another turn and he was away from the traffic again, only to almost fly into a passage connecting two buildings. Then he was in large traffic hub, streams of traffic heading in all direction on various altitudes, speeders changing lanes all around him. Slowing down a bit, the Jedi Knight wondered in which direction he would need to go. Suddenly the New Republic speeder sped past him again, followed moments later by Mike’s yellow ship.
“Well, it was a shortcut,” Reb remarked to himself, sending his fighter after them.
Mike's Actis zipped past a slower hoverfreighter, just barely evading a couple of others. The fleeing speeder howled down into the overground lane, a set of ellipsoid channels, connecting various hotspots in the recreation disctrict of Coruscant's northern city. The Jedi master dove after him, the R4-unit on the wing screaming in joy as the walls closed in, leaving room for only one or two speeders next to each other.
A cacophony of hell and dark light streaked over the yellow fighter like a stroboscope as it zipped after the fugitive wailing. Mike gnawed his teeth, the metal neural interface on the right side of his forehead connecting him to the Actis already becoming slippery from sweat. He sped up, rushing through the tunnel with breakneck speed.
He was already almost out of the curve when he suddenly saw the traffic jam ahead of him.
The Jedi Master's eyes widened as he yanked the Actis' controls to the side, spinning it up at the round wall just a meter before the last hovertaxi, honking angrily. Top became bottom, bottom came up and numerous speeders and hovercraft bolted past above him as Mike tried to keep up the pursuit.
He dashed over a lorry, whirling the fighter to the side so he could go round a large transporter that nearly blocked the entire lane, the right wing of the Jedi starfighter scraping over the tunnel's walls for a split second, emanating a loud screach, breaking a cloud of sparks, lighting up the wall for a moment's notice.
"Blast!" Mike cursed, trying to get the fighter back under control. The R4-unit in his wing rotated its dome wildly, cackling intoxicated. Keeping up with the fleeing speeder, the Jedi Master threw an unbelievingly glance over to the mad droid in his ship, opening up a comm connection.
"This droid is insane! It is even enjoying this crazed race!" Mike yanked the fighter to the side, back to the ground as he finally got past the end of the jam. Howling out, the Actis began to close up on the fugitive as the Jedi Master reluctantly gave more speed. Laughter answered him from the comm system.
"Do you think this is funny, young one?" If he could have mustered enough concentration, Mike would have frowned.
"Of course not, Mike."
"Be mindful of your thoughts", the Jedi Master retorted gruffily, "they betray you."
"And here I was, thinking it was the laughter", the young Knight answered chortling.
"Well, I am just glad that you have so much fun, young one." The fleeing speeder bolted down the lane joining others from the side for the main deltaway leading upwards to capitol hill, producing a loud honk concert as he recklessly inserted himself into the lanes, making a handful of other speeders break abruptly. Half a dozen metallic crashes were followed by two explosions and lot of bright sparks flying into all directions. "Where in Unity's name are you?!"
"Free yourself from any distracting thoughts, Master Halcyon, reach out with the Force... and take a short look overhead", the answer came. Mike looked up, seeing Reb's blue fighter howling down an exit tube from the business disctrict that probably wasn't jammed.
"I'm glad you could join us. How about you take over for a bit? Wouldn't wanna hold back all this fun."
Both starfighters closed up on the fugitive who desperatley tried to escape. The fleeing speeder threw itself into a sharp curve, zipping downwards into the direction of the industrial district. In a second he was out of the overground lanes, dashing past high, blackened towers and through the burning flames of an exhaust shaft.
"We're losing him - the industrial district has too many hideouts", Reb stated.
"That's why you're getting out of your fighter now."
"Hurry." Mike softly nudged his Actis over to Reb's, watching as the canopy opened. While the Jedi Knight was carefully rising up, the airstream pulling at his clothes and hair, Mike unfolded the wingtips. The R4-unit whirled its dome over to Reb's ship, cheering for him as he ducked to narrow his profile.
Reaching out with the Force, the Jedi Knight made a suicidal jump over to Mike's Actis, just so catching the wingtips and immediatly getting pulled up into the air. He had to muster all his power to not get dragged off and getting splattered against one of the durasteel pillars miles behind them.
The Jedi Master concentrated, focusing solely on the very fast speeder in front of them. He let the Force flow through him, expanding to reach out for the pilot and his dark presence, feeling all of his surroundings. He waited... a bit more... just a bit... NOW!
Mike slammed in the brakes, pulling the Actis around, giving into the centrifugal force, sending the fighter into a barrel-roll. Reb let go of the wingtip as he got catapulted forwards, send flying through the air into the direction of the speeder.
The Jedi Knight ignited his saber, the yellow blade springing to life with a humm that got swallowed by the airstream's noise, as he plunged down on the fugitive, crashing down onto the rear, saber pointing downwards and piercing into the vessel's engines.
A bright explosion tore the speeder apart, sending Reb flying into the air again, expanding in a dirty, black ball of smoke. The speeder's engine sounds became a high scream as it plunged down into the industrial disctrict.
The Jedi Knight himself reached out with the Force, feeling his Actis approaching him. The R7-unit was piloting it, adjusting velocity and height to allow the Force-wielder to grab the right wing of his vessel. Soon it slowed down, allowing Reb to climb up the side and back into his cockpit, taking over again.
"It was indeed a good idea to buy those droid", the Jedi Knight mumbled, adrenaline pulsing in his ears. "R7! Get me a trace vector. We're going down!"
Looking back, Reb wondered where Mike was. Well, he would surely join him soon enough - he couldn't allow to lose track of the fugitive.
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"Driver's license, please."
"You don't need to see my driver's license."
"Like hell I do, Mister."
Frustrated, Mike reached for the keycard in his robes and handed it the black-uniformed officer, leaning out from his police speeder right next to him. The Actis' canopy was open, allowing the two men to speak directly, hovering next to a couple of durasteel domes with attached exhaust-fans.
This was just unfortunate.
The damaged speeder limped through the air liked a wounded bird; it leaned dangerously to one side and was rapidly losing altitude. Thick black smoke bellowed from the damaged engine, forming an easy trail for Reb to follow. The fact that the craft was still flying demonstrated the considerable skill of the pilot. Suddenly however, the cockpit canopy was blown away by considerable force, and a dark figure jumped from it onto a nearby rooftop.The speeder immediately started tumbling towards the distant ground, but it no longer interested the Jedi Knight. He steered towards the rooftop where the Dark Jedi had landed, opened his the canopy, and jumped down.
The buildings of the industrial district were more block-like than the towers that housed residences and businesses. The building that was fast approaching Reb was no different, and the large open space of the roof seemed to double as a loading platform for cargo. One of the huge freight-speeders was parked near the side, and the dark-robed figure was moving towards it, having found a new vehicle to continue his escape.
As Reb landed, he rolled sideways, positioning himself between the freight-speeder and the Dark Jedi. Agitated, the man activated his red lightsaber, striking at the Jedi Knight, who got up in a fluid motion, activating his own lightsaber, meeting the crimson blade in mid-swing. A loud crackling sound filled the air as the blades struck, the howling wind whipping up the brown and black robes.
“You are becoming quite a nuisance, Jedi,” the black robed figure spoke, his blue eyes carefully examining his opponent. “Why are you following me?”
“Why did you attack me?” Reb retorted. “I was merely responding to a distress call.”
“You were interfering, and you still are, in something important. It’s none of your business.”
Leaping backward, the Dark Jedi raised his saber. Reb took a defensive stance, ready to counter any attacks, concentrating on the Force. Feeling his opponent would try to choke him again, he stepped forward, swinging the yellow blade. The Dark Jedi parried, but his attention was forced back to the lightsaber duel. Reb launched another attack, which was again parried, before stepping back a bit.
“This became my business the moment your associate, or you, decided to kill someone,” Reb started another attempt at talking, and stalling. He would rather have Mike at his side now. “It became even more so when you said you’d unleash power untold upon the galaxy. Give me one good reason this isn’t my business.”
“It’s a personal matter, Jedi,” the other person sneered, trying to lunge at Reb, who easily deflected the attack. “And I doubt you in your protected life would understand. It’s not like you’ve ever lost someone you cared for.”
Anger swelled up in Reb, anger he was barely able to contain. “Never lost someone I cared for?” Reb yelled at the Dark Jedi, “I’ve seen the charred bodies of my parents as they were dragged from that burning speeder... I have lost those whom I care for most.”
“Fine, then you will understand that I seek revenge. This amulet will give it to me. Now, let me pass.”
“You think revenge will bring back your beloved ones?” Reb asked, somewhat recovered from his outburst. “Or that it will make you feel better? It doesn’t! I know, I have killed, killed for vengeance! And it only brought about more grief, more sorrow, but it would not bring back the dead, not even give me peace.”
“You are like all the others! I will avenge Jarla!”
“Give me the amulet! Stop running, and look inside yourself. Is vengeance really what you want, is it really Jarla would want?”
Reb knew he had made a mistake as soon he mentioned the name Jarla. He was lifted into the air and slammed into the hull of the considerable force, his lightsaber flying from his hands. Shaking his head, recovering from the blow, he could see dark robes disappearing into a freightlift, which started to descent only moments later. Groaning, Reb got up again, ready to continue his pursuit.
As he headed towards the lift, he saw the distinct shape of an Actis making its way towards the rooftop. While Mike landed his craft, Reb grabbed his lightsaber which had deactivated when it had fallen to the ground.
“You sure took your sweet time getting here,” Reb grumbled as Mike leapt out of his fighter.
“I,” the Jedi Master started explaining, before being cut off by the younger Jedi Knight.
Reb headed straight for several exhaust pipes connecting the roof with another, smaller building that seemed to be some kind of freight depot. Through a massive conveyor belt, huge waggons got pulled into a gargantuan, gaping maw in its side, swallowing them into the depths of the lower levels.
"Stop." Reb turned around. He saw Mike approaching slowly.
"What is it? We have to follow him quickly!"
"Patience, young one", the Jedi Master said. "You are aggravated and follow your impetuosity. Rash actions often lead to unintentional consequences."
Reb looked over to the freight depot, knowing that with every second they were standing here, speaking, the Sith would gain more edge on them. He knew that if they didn't jump after him, they would probably not be able to stop him, stopping him from making a fatal mistake both for himself and others. They needed to go - NOW.
The Jedi Knight looked back at his former mentor and wanted to urge him to follow him, as he suddenly sat down.
"Meditate with me."
"What? If we wait any longer, he will escape and bring doom over countless of innocents!"
"You don't know that for sure. The future is in constant motion", the Jedi Master reminded him. "You must be mindful of your feelings, young one. If the Sith escapes, we can continue to pursue him. But if you give into your feelings, act on them without a second thought, you place yourself in danger of the Dark Side. We are brothers - I cannot allow this!"
Reb exhaled, not even realizing he had held his breath. Of course Mike was right - it was just that he could feel for the Sith, knew what he was going through and what his feelings were.
Sitting down on the ground cross-legged, the young Jedi Knight closed his eyes and reached out with the Force. He felt the calming aura of his former teacher sitting next to him like a warming sunray in a winter's morning. He reached out further, felt life pulsating around him, through him. Reb felt the Force flow through him, giving himself into the natural channel of the living energy field, soothing his mind.
"And now we go", Mike commented as Reb got up. "Also, we better hurry - we've lost enough time already."
"I hate you."
The Jedi Master smirked as he walked up the pipes and prepared to decent to the depot.
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Taran Kerr paced down the large hallway, steaming of anger. What was it with these Jedi? Why did they always have to turn up at the most awkward times? If the Jedi had come in just maybe an hour later, everything would have been too late. But now there were even two of them! He wondered if they would double again if he met them again.
"Like spacing Dantooinian hares!"
Taran stopped as he left the hallway and entered an even larger assembly-hall. Conveyor belts everywhere transported metal plates and electronics from level to level, large assembly droids welding them together. The hall was filled from the noise of the machines, metal slamming against metal, electrical discharges fizzling here and there, lighting up the area in bright flashes.
Throwing a glance backwards, the Sith crossed through the assembly area, evading a number of black carrier droids, hauling containers with liquid metal to be used somewhere else. He stepped over three conveyor belts, rolling past a welding arm and slicing open an assembly droid that got too close. The big machine broke sparks as it swivelled to the side, crashing down a story below.
Taran looked up, gathered his hatred and reached out with the Force, manipulating the energy field around him. He bend his knees and jumped up the tall hall, landing on an extending ledge a dozen meters above him. The Sith pushed his left hand into the direction of the only available door, punching it out of its hinges with the Force.
As the Thyferran continued to advance deeper into the industrial zone, he produced the amulet from a bag of his black robes, twirling it in his hand. This small piece of alchemically enhanced Thiberium would help him to take vengeance on the galaxy.
Clenching his fist around the red-glittering artefact, he felt the veins under his face pulsating. The galaxy that had allowed his only true love to die! He would destroy it and everything in it!
The loss of Jarla had cut deep into his heart, extinguishing everything that had still been able to feel mercy and compassion for other beings. Leaving only a neverending black hole it had been easy to fully give into the Dark Side, becoming an instrument of its destruction and annihilation. And today, it would allow him to go out in a magnificant blaze of glory, destroying everything that had done him so much wrong during his life.
The only thing Taran desperatley needed was time. Time to concentrate. Time to focus and reach out for Coruscant's sun. But time wasn't in abundance right now with those pesky Jedi on his heels.
"What the?" Taran stopped abruptly. He had just entered a corridor lined with tall windows on the left side when he had noticed something that should not have been here. Stepping up to the transparisteel, the Sith gazed over to the wreckage of at least three old Trade Federation assault ships, halfway buried in the buildings outside, gilded by the fiery red beams of the setting sun. Narrowing his eyes and throwing a glance backwards, an idea came to his mind. If luck was on his side, he had just found the right tool to prolong the Jedi scum long enough for him to eradicate this planet once and for all.
As the window glass shattered in front of the Sith, he did not notice the presence of another Force-wielder nearby, watching him closely.
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The durasteel door slid open, giving way to a long walkway with a tall ceiling, leading over into the other section of the building. The corridor was a tunnel, connecting the two buildings far up in the air. Windows to the left and right allowed for the red light to flood into it, caressing the polished metal plates on the ground.
"I have a bad feeling about this", Mike stated as they walked through it. Both Jedi had their hands up their sleeves.
"You always have a bad feeling about things", Reb commented. "I can't sense any danger."
"We're closing up on our fugitive... and your sense aren't that attuned, young one."
Reb stopped, crossing the arms in front of his chest.
"And yours are?" he questioned with a challenging grin on his face. Mike stopped, turning towards him, crossing the arms in front of his chest as well.
"Possibly", he tilted his head slightly, heaving his brows.
The doors on the other side of the corridor slid open, revealing two old Trade Federation battledroids, blaster rifles in the mechnical hands. They walked down the corridor, coming to a halt roughly in the middle.
"Did you hear anything?" one of them asked the other, turning his triangle-shaped head left and right.
"No. Your audio sensors must be malfunctioning", the other replied, the sunlight reflecting on his yellow-marked forehead. "Continue patrol."
"Roger, roger", the first droid confirmed. He was about to walk further down the corridor when suddenly a familiar buzz exploded into the otherwise silence of the tunnel.
"Oh, oh", he uttered as a shadow landed right between the two, azure blue flaring up left and right, whacking the one in the head and stabbing the other in the chest. Both battledroids crashed to the ground at Mike's feet. Reb dropped on the ground next to him, looking at the metal scrap.
"Why do you always have to be right?"
"Bad habit", the Jedi master commented dryly, deactivating his two sabers.
“Where did these droids came from, though?” Reb asked. “I thought the last time they were was during the Clone Wars?”
“They were,” Mike answered while walking towards the end of the corridor. “There shouldn’t be any here, especially not on Coruscant.”
The door slid open, revealing an enormous hall. Several huge rusted machines suggested that it once had been the heart of a production facility, but which had long since been abandoned. The ceiling and much of the walls had collapsed long ago, letting through brilliant rays of sunlight, illuminating several huge metal balls, surrounded by a sort of ring. The metal had been burnt and blackened nearly everywhere, but both Jedi still recognised the shape.
“Droid command ships,” they said in unison, looking at each other.
“Enemy contact,” it sounded from behind a large machine which purpose was unclear. A moment later a dozen battledroids revealed themselves. “Attack!”
“Oh, great,” Reb remarked. “Couldn’t you’ve been wrong, for once?”
Shrugging, Mike activated his two lightsabers, and Reb followed his example. A barrage of red blaster bolts assaulted the two Jedi, but the three lightsaber blades twirled through the air, deflecting bolts, sending them back to the droids. Several got struck, and clattered to the ground. While the two Jedi advanced on the droids Reb used the Force to send some crashing into the wall behind them. They stood before the remaining droids, and several quick swings turned them into scrap metal.
“Well, that was easy,” Reb commented, when they suddenly heard an ominous sound coming in their direction, the sound of metal on stone.Two disks rapidly rolling towards the Jedi revealed themselves, and Mike cursed. The disks unfolded themselves, and became the insectiod shapes of droidekas. Their shields shimmered blue, and red blaster bolts once again were headed towards the two Jedi.
Both of Mike’s blue sabers moved quickly to deflect each bolt, but the shields of the droidekas stopped any that might do them harm. Reb, whose speciality was in fighting other lightsaber-wielders, and not blasters, had simply retreated behind his friend, practically using him as a shield.
“I hope it’s comfortable behind me,” the Jedi Master told his former apprentice, “but I really could use some help.”
“Let me try some thing,” Reb answered, concentrating on the Force. He extended his senses towards the droidekas, picturing them in his mind. He concentrated on one, and clearly became aware of the presence it left in the Force, or rather, it’s absence, as the Force folded around the metal. He focused on the internals of the droids, he could see the internal workings of the droid in his mind, the enormous amounts of power being pumped into the blasters, the finer circuitry that contained its programming.
“If you’re going to do something, do it fast!”
The words seemed to enter his consciousness from somewhere far away, like a distant dream. He kept focusing on the droid, and gave a hard mental tug at the conduit that supplied power to the shield generator. The connection snapped, and Reb focused on the second droid. Again, he could clearly see the internals, and with his knowledge of electronics, it didn’t take him long to identify the power generator that drove the droideka. Again he tugged at some connections, hoping the short circuit the electronics.
A loud explosion sounded through the hall, and as Reb opened his eyes, he saw the second droideka explode in a large fireball. The first one was already lying on the floor, blaster markings covering the metal.
“Now that’s a nice trick,” Mike said, smiling to his friend. “Just try to hurry a bit, next time.” Reb noticed that the Jedi Master’s brown robe had been singed in several places, and that his own robes showed some burn marks as well. Still, neither of them had actually been wounded.
The explosion had caught the attention of more mechanical inhabitants of the room, however. Around them the clanking of droids moving about could be heard, occasionally interrupted by a “Roger, Roger.”
“Perhaps,” Reb asked, “now would be a good time to use your finely attuned senses to lead us to the Sith we’re following?”
Mike looked at his friend for a moment. “Do I detect a hint of sarcasm here?”
Reb smiled broadly.
“Fine, this way,” he said, motioning towards one of the huge ships that had taken part in the Separatist assault on Coruscant decades ago. It had been shot down, like many others, but had apparently never been found; or nobody had bothered to get it removed. As they stood before the ship, Mike frowned.
“Strange,” he said.
Letting his senses extend, Reb could feel what Mike meant. The subtle echos in the Force that told him a Sith had walked here not long ago stopped in front of the ship, and didn’t continue in any direction.
“According to the Force, he should be here,” the Jedi Master said.
Both Jedi turned around, facing several groups of battle droids that had sneaked up on the them. Raising his still activated lightsaber Reb dove towards the nearest of them, stabbing it in the chest. Blaster fire erupted around him, and he quickly brought his saber back to a defensive stance, deflecting several bolts. A quick slice sent a robotic arm falling towards the ground, its owner having gotten a little to close to the Jedi. Reb deflected more blaster bolts, sending them back where they came from, turning more droids into scrap metal. As he sliced up another droid, he noticed two were about to fire on his unprotected back. Using the force, he pulled the blaster from the droid he had just downed towards him, catching it in his left hand, twisted his body, and fired twice.
“Uh oh,” the droids managed to utter before collapsing onto each other.
“How uncivilized!” Mike yelled from where he was deflecting blaster bolts and slashing at droids at the same time, his two blue blades creating a whirlwind of lethal energy. Stabbing at a droid, the blue shaft of energy went right through it, and sunk into the hull of the command ship, sparks flying from some electronics that instantly melted.
A rumble came from the ship, and an enormous door slowly slid sideways. It revealed what must have been the main hangar, ships and tanks still tied down to the deck. In the middle of the hangar stood a large formation of battle droids,which now turned towards the Jedi.
“Oh, not good.” Mike assessed the situation.
Reb frantically looked for a way to get rid of the droids, when he noticed there was a balcony at one end of the hall, suspended some ten metres above the ground, separated from the outside by transparisteel windows. One of the windows was broken, and suddenly he understood why they hadn’t sensed the echos of the Sith beyond the command ship. He had gone to the ship, activated the droids, and then backtracked. Now that Reb focused he could tell that the disturbances in the Force were indeed slightly different. Unfortunately, Mike’s telekinetic abilities were less than spectacular, and he would never be able to make the jump to the balcony. Well, Mike would have to find another way.
“If you’ll excuse me,” Reb informed Michael, “it’s getting rather busy here, and I’ve got a Sith catch.”
“What?” Mike said, but Reb was already sprinting towards the balcony. He leapt, using the Force to push him upwards, and sailed right through the broken window. The Sith had gone to his right. From below, he could hear Mike’s voice.
“Damn you, Reb.”
"I hate it when he does that."
Watching Reb's brown robe fly after him as he ran through the windowed corridor, Mike turned around, his blue-bladed sabers spinning into a defensive stance. In front of him, like a chain reaction, the old Trade Federation battledroids activated, rising in their place. One after the other, dozen after dozen, line after line, the landing ship's hangar lights flashing up with loud explosions.
Behind him, more battledroids arrived, forming up to a cordon, blaster rifles in hand. The metallic steps of the numerous mechnical soldiers echoed back hollow from the crates and machinery, collapsing over the Jedi master like a wave of impending doom, signalling his demise.
Normal battledroids were joined by superbattledroids, stretching out their arms, revealing their pulse blasters with metallic clacks, approaching as well.
Turning around, Mike realized he was surrounded. The droids from the command ship all turned towards him like a single man, beginning to join the approach. At least half a hundred blaster muzzles were pointed at the man in the coarse, brown robes who had one saber above his head and the other pointed into the direction he was looking at.
The Jedi Master closed his eyes, slowing down his breath and reaching out with the Force. He felt the living enery field pulsating through him like a golden, vibrant beam of warm sunlight, filling his mind and putting him at ease. He reached out further for the area, found the battledroids, knew where they were.
Furrowing his brows, he conjured up the image of him fighting through them, unleashing a storm of whirling blades, cutting them down, deflecting blaster bolts, proving that man was still above machine, especially if the Force was his ally. Confidence filled his heart as he opened up his eyes again.
"I assume we can't talk this out?"
Suddenly, all hell broke lose.
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The droids fired. Thousands of red blaster bolts rained down on the Jedi Master who twirled around, rotating his sabers in circles, the blue washing out into disc-like shapes that welcomed the bolts and sent them flaring back into every direction. Numerous red energy flares went back, hitting the droids in the front, sending them down to the ground in metallic crashes.
Halcyon made a couple of fast steps and was at the cordon that had formed behind him. The first two battledroids got a slash right above their chest and down their head. They hadn't crashed to the ground yet as the Jedi Master already advanced further, knocking over one other droid and a fourth one with a rising gash over its belly.
A superbattledroid grabbed the head of one of its inferior versions and punched it to the side as it broke through the lines, aiming its pulse blasters at the Jedi Master, unleashing a barrage of high pitched yelling sheafs of death. Halcyon whirled around twirling one saber high above his head, the other yanking into the direction of the blaster bolts, sending them away, while at the same time cutting down two other droids with the first blade.
Swinging his saber another time, the Jedi reached out, sending down another two droids next to him, turning around in a circle, sending the other blade down on a mechanical soldier and cutting into his torso, bouncing back from the brightly glowing molten metal to slash at his neighbour, slicing off the half of his head.
The superbattledroid continued to fire at the Jedi Master who cut himself an aisle through the Trade Federation droids, sending them down and against each other in dozens, another dozen shooting themselves or recieving bolts reflected by the lightsaber blades.
Then Halcyon was in reach, turning around again and twirling one saber at his right side to gain momentum for a hard gash to the superdroid's chest, cleaving it and sending him staggering backwards while the other returned in a wide angle, severing off the head of another approaching enemy. The Jedi Master dropped to the knees, cutting off the legs of two other droids, one on each side.
Mike got up, jumped and somersaulted onto a crate, receiving deadly fire again. The azure blades twirled in front of him, sending away most of the sheafs, some bolts getting through and singing his robes even more.
"Get him!" one of the droid sergeants yelled as the Jedi Master jumped towards another crate and up a gangway several meters above. Already, several more metal soldiers were on their way.
Mike sprinted down the latticework way, jumping over the first approaching droid and stabbing him into the back without turning, the other saber coming around for hard hit against another droid's left shoulder, sending him into a spiral. The Jedi Master pulled his other saber free, finishing the work and dicing up the second one.
Sweat gleaming on his forehead from the concentration and still tapping into the Force, Mike rolled past two more enemies, coming up to reflect the blaster fire from a superdroid, not even noticing how the previous droids crashed to the ground left and right next to him. He took a run-up, jumped against the chest of the superdroid, dancing off from the metal plate and jumping back over the gangway high into the air, somersaulting to a save landing atop the droid ship, sliding down the polished metal.
Loud noises made him glance backwards. He saw how three more superdroids had followed him, crashing down on the ship's hull but recovering fast. A red rain of blaster bolts poured down on him, forcing the Jedi Master to jump into the gaping maw of one of the ship's hangar.
Rolling down the inclined floor, Mike came to a halt at a couple of crates. The superdroids were after him fast and the first one came already down the opening.
High pitched, the pulse blasters fired again, the red bolts singing into the ground and the far off walls next to the Jedi Master as he deflected them.
All three droids had now entered the hangar, pursuing their quarry with the stubbornness of a machine. The Jedi tapped further into the Force, using it to guide him towards the back area of the wide hangar were several large reactors were pumping energy into the ship's circuits. He let the mechnical soldiers approach - and then engaged them.
One gash to the left, one to the right and the first superdroid lost his arm. He pulled back, trying to evade the flaring blue of the deadly energy blades, his two buddies closing up to catch their wielder in a cross-fire. The Jedi Master jumped forwards and rolled past them, deadly bolts of energy exploding behind him on the deck plating. He came to his feet, ripping upward the right saber, producing a gash over the superdroid's chest, the other following suit with a horizontal cut over its belly. The Force-wielder cartwheeled over to him, cutting another droid's legs, and hit him right in the chest with his outstretched right leg. The first superdroid fell to the ground, breaking up at the saber gashes. The second one still fired.
The Jedi Master twirled the lightsabers around on his side as he jumped into the knees right in fron of him, the azure blades stabbing downwards through his head into the hangar floor.
Just then, the third droid had the opportunity for a perfect shot.
He used it.
"Ungh!" A barrage of red bolts seared into the back of the Jedi Master, sending him flying several meters through the hangar.
Mike looked up, shook his head and tried to dissipate away the boiling heat on his back. What the Halcyon's lacked in telekinesis they made up with control over mind and body. Others in his place would have been dead - not that he'd be any better in just a second: The superdroid snapped his blasters in position, pointing at him from several meters afar.
Only one chance.
The Jedi Master reached out and threw one of his sabers into his opponent's direction, hitting something in the ceiling, breaking sparks and sizzling.
The droid made a step. Then the upper part of the massive reactor came crashing down, burying the metal foe under it within a split second, shaking up the entire ship loudly. Mike's eyes widened as it slowly toppled over, crashing into the second one. Lightning was cast over the two metal and electronic hulks as a loud screeching filled the air.
"Uh, oh", the Jedi Master commented, getting up his feet. He started running towards the exit of the hangar bay when the reactors exploded.
A firewall emanated from the exploding reactors, swallowing up the area and razing through the hangar within milliseconds. In a bright flash of light, the critical mass joined the frenzy, sending thousands of secondary explosions over the hull of the ship, fuelling the firewall as it leaked out of the hangar, before consuming more and more of the entire command ship.
Mike Halcyon got catapulted through the air and into an opening on the other side of area where presumably freight shuttles would land. Rolling about, he hurried to get off his burning, brown robes, throwing them away. Crawling backwards, supported on his elbows, the Jedi Master watched as firey explosions rippled through the production hall, surely exploding in fiery jets to the outside. He himself couldn't see everything as the short corridor he had been thrown through obstructed most of his view.
"Well, that was close." Mike slumped to the ground, exhaling deeply.
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Reb ran down the corridor, metal doors sliding away in front of him to give way to the Jedi Knight. He slid over the polished floor, arriving in what seemed to be a large control room. Numerous control towers supported the high ceiling at least a dozen meters above him, gangways running around data cores and repetier displays glowing red in the twilight.
Carefully, his senses heightened, the Jedi Knight stepped up to the small flight of stairs that lead up to a control corridor around the entire area.
Reb saw how a crimson blade extended, stabbing at him from the shadows of a computer console, wounding him severly.
A flash again.
Reb's blade sprang to life in a loud explosion, coming up to deflect the Sith's weapon off him, as he had almost passed the console he had seen just a second ago.
"Yargh!" the Sith eloquently communicated his intent, jumping at the Jedi, attacking him with a barrage of gashes. Golden yellow clashed against crimson red as Reb parried high, low, high, on the right, to the left, gashed back! The Sith slammed the blade to the side, stabbing at the Jedi Knight. Reb used the momentum to twirl around fully, knocking away the Dark Sider's weapon.
The Sith lunged forward, trying to stab again. Reb jumped up, somersaulted over his opponent and came around in a crescent strike, severing a piping at the wall as his opponent fiercly parried the blow. Steam shot from the gashed surface, filling up the area with a white fog.
"WHY CAN'T YOU JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!" the Sith exclaimed, his blue eyes getting consumed by the Dark Side as he unleashed another barrage of quick hits at the Jedi.
"You're a Sith. You must be stopped!"
Reb parried, left and right, slowly walking backwards through the corridor, his boots finding support on a latticed gangway that connected both sides of the control room high above a slew of data cores.
Bright flashes of light sparked through the dark hall as the two Force-wielders battled, each one trying to gain the advantage over the other in a brutal battle.
The Sith gashed at the Jedi with wide strikes, his crimson blade seared through the air like hatred itself, a beast unleashed and out of control. Reb ducked, two supporting stanchions throwing sparks as they got sliced, smoldering.
The gangway lost its connection and came down flying, the Jedi Knight jumping off it and somersaulting down half a dozen meters to the ground, one leg stretched out wide to dissipate the force of the fall.
He came up, looking around. The Jedi's blade filled the area with a yellow gleam that leaked over the monitors and displays, floated over the computer cores and poured up a flight of stairs until it shone over the black boots of a robed and hooded figure, standing there.
With a familiar buzz, the crimson blade ignited.
Reb narrowed his eyes. This fight wasn't over. He twirled the saber at his side, bringing it up above his head, pointing slightly downwards, ready to parry all attacks. He was prepared.
That, changed, however, as another figure landed down behind him, howling out. Rising, Reb saw that it was the Sith he had followed and just battled.
Now there were two of them.
“I told you not to draw any undue attention, Taran,” the man standing at the top of the stairs spoke sternly. He appeared tall and muscular, with long black hair falling to his shoulders. A short, carefully trimmed, beard decorated his face, his lips curved in a slight, if cold, smile. Intense blue eyes regarded the other Sith, who ignored them, staring at the Jedi Knight instead, who had lower his saber.
“Nothing goes unnoticed by the Jedi,” Reb told the tall man, who turned his eyes on the Jedi Knight, and then laughed mockingly in return.
“Really, Jedi? So you were deliberately looking for three Sith, hunting an ancient amulet? Or did you just happen to be in the right place to encounter Taran there?”
“I was where I was because the Force willed it so. It was inevitable I encountered your apprentice, though I chose to follow him.” Again, the Dark Jedi laughed.
“You are quite entertaining, Jedi, though my apprentice is not Taran. Tell me, what happened to Devin?”
“He’s dead,” the Sith who was apparently called Taran answered flatly.
“A pity,” the other said, somewhat regretful, “but his demise was,” he paused, looking at Reb, “inevitable, as you would say. Before we get to the unpleasantness of our duties, might I know your name?”
“Ah, quite an interesting family history you have, but I’m sure you are aware of that yourself as well. I am called Barrin, and as you have probably deduced by now, I sent Taran to retrieve a particular item.
“Indeed. It was already ancient during the days of your ancestors, and allows one to tap into the Force in a way that I doubt you as a Jedi could truly understand, or appreciate. It was pure luck for me to come across a reference to its location – to think that it has laid in the greatest city of the universe for millennia! It must’ve been mere miles away from the Emperor himself, and still he never found it!”
“Perhaps it was not meant to be found by him.”
“Perhaps. Now, as you’re probably aware, you’re outnumbered. Since I am only interested in the amulet, and not you, I will allow you to walk away from here unharmed.”
What’s taking you so long, Mike? the Jedi Knight thought to himself. He wouldn’t be able to defeat both Dark Jedi by himself, but there wasn’t much of choice. He raised his saber in answer.
“Fine, then you will die.”
Concentrating on the Force, Reb closed his eyes. He felt the warm energy of life course through him, he was aware of his surroundings as if it were simply an extension of his body. Let the Force be your guide, he could almost hear Mike’s voice, like he had spoken many times during training.
With a roar the closest Sith hurled himself at the Jedi Knight, who calmly spun around, crimson blade meeting radiant yellow in mid-air. The Sith withdrew his blade to strike again, but Reb made a quick stabbing motion, forcing his opponent to take some distance. Behind him, the other Dark Jedi jumped down from the stairs, landing behind Reb, ready to strike. He had been felt however, and the Jedi twisted his body, moving his saber to deflect the incoming attack. A harsh crackling sound filled the room as the blades hit, but the yellow one was already moving again, aggressively forcing the Sith backwards.
The Dark Jedi fell back, realising they needed to work together better if they were to beat the obviously well-trained warrior. As Reb examined his surroundings, he knew this room was unsuitable to continue this fight. It was some sort of control room, displays and computer cores lining the walls, abandoned desks and chairs looking over the monitors. There was too much open space, too many loose objects.
The two dark-clad men resumed their attack, coming at the lone Jedi from two different directions. Red blades cleaved through the air, Reb brought his saber in the path of one, jumping over the other. He spun around deflecting another swing, then rolled past the Sith, barely avoiding getting hit by the saber from behind him. A computer core had been ripped from its sockets and was flying towards Reb, a small gesture with his hand, and it slammed into the chest of the less experienced Sith.
Immediately the Jedi Knight jumped towards the stairs, landing at the top of them. The other Sith, the only with the long dark hair, the more powerful one, immediately ran towards him. As Reb walked through the door, his could see him racing up to follow. The door led to a metal bridge, spanning a large assembly room below. Machines were tirelessly putting together droids, loud clangs and other sounds accompanying the process. The bridge had a low railing to prevent anyone from falling off, but was only wide enough for one person.
Reb turned around, ready to face his opponents. The dark-haired Sith came storming out of the room, rising his lightsaber to strike at the Jedi Knight. Sparks flew as the sabers clashed. The Sith tried to use his physical strength to push back the Jedi, but Reb slightly drew back his yellow blade, counterattacking with swift strokes. Again the blades clashed, swiftly changing position, only to encounter the other blade once more.
The other Sith had now emerged from the doorway, and was soaring through the air, attempting to jump over Reb. Immediately the Jedi Knight took to the air as well, meeting the other in flight, locking their sabers, eyeing each other closely, waiting for the other to make a mistake. They hung suspended for a second, then used the Force to push each other backwards, tumbling through the air, landing safely.
Immediately a red blade come towards Reb, who had long seen it coming, deflecting it with little effort. Again the sabers clashed , and again, sparks flying, the red saber encountering brilliant yellow light again, and again. Suddenly a black boot connected with the Jedi’s chest, and he was flung backwards, to the centre of the bridge, where it broadened into a small platform. Though he got up quickly, he was already surrounded by the two Sith. Again sabers clashed, the yellow blade seeming to become a disk, the Jedi Knight spinning around to deflect each stab and swing.
Suddenly, Reb froze, crying out in agony. A red blade pierced his right shoulder, sending out waves of pain. Slowly, the victorious Dark Jedi, Taran, retracted his lightsaber. Unable to feel his right arm, Reb heard the clatter of a lightsaber falling on metal. Then a tremendous force threw him back to where he had entered the room, where he collapsed against the railing of the bridge.
“Well done, Taran,” the second Dark Jedi spoke, grinning wickedly. “Now give me the amulet, and I will show this Jedi the true meaning of power.”
“You won’t get the amulet!” the other cried out in rage. “I don’t need you anymore, I have what I want!”
The grin turned into a stone cold face.
“Fine,” he whispered. “Then you will die.”
A shriek of rage, and again sabers clashed on the bridge. Having somewhat recovered, Reb examined the wound in his shoulder. It didn’t seem that bad, he knew he was lucky his arm hadn’t simply been severed. Still, there was no feeling in his right arm at all. He wouldn’t be able to hold off either of the Sith once they finished their deadly duel over the amulet. Mike had better arrive, fast.
A white flash lit the room for a split second as the two red blades clashed against each other, harsh crackling echoing through the crimson-tainted assembly-room, falling over various consoles and radiating outside through round windows that showed Coruscant's night.
"I will kill you, Ven'ir, and then I will become the new Dark Lord of the Sith!" Taran exclaimed, sending gash after gash at the other man, driving him backwards through sheer power. Ven'ir gnawed his teeth, his face a grimace of hatred and anger. As he pulled back, step after black booted step, the veins under his pale white skin pulsated purple.
"You will never defeat me!" he yelled, suddenly yanking up his saber into Taran's gash, slamming away the other Sith's blade. He made a step into his opponent's direction, the left, gloved hand coming up to release a barrage of all-too-known crackling blue bolts of lightning, leaping directly into Taran's figure and sending him flying back over the gangway and several stories down below.
Ignoring Reb completely, Ven'ir deactivated his saber, grabbed the ledge with the right hand and jumped downwards, too. The Jedi Knight looked after him shortly and then frantically started searching for his lightsaber. The arm still numb, he couldn't find it. It must have dropped into the assembly room, too!
"Well, that's just great", he remarked, staggering up and walking over the gangway, trying to find a way downstairs.
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The black boots of the Sith Lord echoed heavily on the rusted metal, droids getting towed past him, the hall lightened by occasional fire from liquid iron carried around in large tanks. His saber ignited with a dangerous hiss as his former apprentice walked around an energy turbine, activating his saber as well.
"The amulet will make me the most powerful Sith in the galaxy - and you cannot prevent this!" Taran yelled. He jumped at his former master, the deadly energy blade slicing and dicing in the air. The black haired Sith rolled through the side - the metal fizzling as Taran's lightsaber slammed into it, leaving a bright glowing red mark.
The Sith Lord launched his counter-attack: Slash for slash, gash for gash the deadly blade slammed against the other, crimson fighting crimson like two ferocious Krayt dragons, each trying to break the opponent's resistance through pure force and power.
Over and over Ven'ir send his weapon down on the other man, driving him further backwards towards a number of reactors pumping energy through countless relays. Step by step he gained room, made the other lose it.
Then, however, Taran set one foot back and opposed his former master. Letting all the anger and hatred flow freely through him, he stroke out and hammered his saber against the other's, stopping Ven'ir's onslaught. Angrily crackling, the two crimson blades glued to each other, the faces of the two Sith nearing each other, distorted in hatred and wrath, trying to overcome the other.
Then, out of sudden, a soft thud stopped both of them.
Michael Halcyon, Jedi Master in slightly singed white tunics, got up after he feathered his fall into the knees. He placed the fists in his hips and grinned.
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In an instant, both Sith had disconnected. Ven'ir made a step backwards, his saber swinging easily to the side while Taran twisted his own weapon around into a defensive stance. The Sith threw a hateful glance over to his former master who answered it with the same intense. The enemy of my enemy...
"Out of my way!" Ven'ir growled. He stabbed his left hand into Halcyon's direction, blue lightning sparking from his fingertips, leaving the smell of burned ozone in the air. In the same instant, the Jedi Master's ligthsaber's blue blade exploded to life, bleeding off the lightning. Blue flashes danced around the blade as Halcyon slowly swerved it, beginning to circle the Sith with sidesteps.
Ven'ir and Taran followed suit, sidestepping into the other direction to keep the distance and the facing. Ven'ir's hand sank down, small blue sparks playing over his fingertips, as he realized that this one wasn't as an easy prey as his former apprentice.
Taran laughed. A mocking sound, acknowledging the fruitless attempt of his former master to subdue their opponent. He rose his left hand, clenching it into a fist, his eyes flickering yellow as he let the Dark Side channel itself through him, wiping away this insect that so foolishly disturbed their battle.
Halcyon saw what Taran was intending to do. He lifted his left hand as well, concentrating on how the Force flowing through him formed a bright, golden shield in front of him, deflecting away deadly red fingers.
"Very well", the Sith growled, sinking the hand to grip his saber. "We will dispose of you swiftly in the old fashioned way then, Jedi scum."
Then both Dark Side wielders separated, one going left, the other going right, until both were on opposite directions of the Jedi Master, twirling their sabers.
Mike raised an eyebrow, looking first left and then right.
"Not good", he commented.
Then the mayhem started.
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Blocking a slash left, Mike whirled around to parry one from the right, now from behind. He somersaulted over the Sith Lord, landing behind him and twirling around, the azure blade cutting through the air in a wide arc. The Sith yanked his saber onto his back, deflecting the Jedi's attack, swivveling around to assault the other man.
Saber clashed on saber in bright flashes as the three duellists became entranced in a deadly dance of shimmering red and blue, their weapons dancing through the air, the blades finding themselves up, low, left, right, up again, on the back, over the shoulder, each clash accompanied by a short and angry crackle.
The other Sith joined the frenzy, both sending slash after slash down on the Jedi Master who now started to have a bit of problems holding his ground. He retreated, his single blade rotating in the air wildly, parrying the ruthless assaults, holding off against the onslaught.
Crimson and azure tainted the assembly hall as the two Sith drove back the Jedi, leading him over a circular gangway around a preparation pit where the droids would get their outer plating. Steam emanated from below the metal lattice, licking up the combattants boots as they slowly but determinly battled their way through it.
Mike made a step back, feeling in the Force that he was nearing the edge of the gangway. He planted a brown boot firmly into the ground, fending off another barrage.
Then, suddenly, one of the Sith changed the angle of his attack in the last second. The Jedi Master reacted, parrying the blow with ease. For this short second, however, he let down his guard. The other Sith used it, thrusting his right palm at the Jedi. Halcyon received a hard, invisible blow to the face.
The Sith pursued, twirling around to kick him into the chest with his black boot. Mike got hit hard, stumbling over the edge and falling down to the ground several meters down. The air got thrust from his lungs as he rolled about, looking up to see the two Sith standing up there, looking down at him.
"And now, Jedi, you will die", the black-haired one prophesied, holstering his saber and reaching out with both hands, fingers spread apart.
Mike yanked his head back, looking up just in the right second to see a heavy ceiling-mounted blast furnace shaking and breaking away from its mounting, crashing down on him.
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"What?!" The Sith Lord yelled out in surprise and anger as the furnace got stopped short just a couple of centimeters above the Jedi Master's head, shivering in the air, turning slowly.
"Hurry!" Reb exclaimed, the left hand extended into the furnace's direction, sweat running down his temples as his mind fought against the Sith's.
He didn't have to say that twice. Rolling to the side, Mike just got away only a split second before the massive hulk crashed through the ground, sending sparks in all directions and crushing everything under it. The Jedi Master got up next to his former apprentice, lending him a hand to get up from his sunk-in position at the foot of a large turbine.
"That was close", the Jedi Knight stated.
"Too close", Halcyon agreed. He offered him a slender metal cylinder. "I found that over there. Want to keep it?"
Baring his teeth, Reb grabbed his saber and ignited it. Twirling it into a defensive stance, he pulled up to the Jedi Master in the moment the two Sith came around the preparation pit, each from a different side, their crimson blades flashing evilly.
"By the way, where is your second saber?" he wanted to know.
"I threw it away."
"Couldn't that have waited until after the fight?"
"I thought it to be more spectacular this way", the Jedi Master answered dryly. He raised his remaining one above his head, blade and left hand extended, fingers in a form-v, pointing towards the approaching Sith Lord.
Reb had the saber in his left hand, hanging down almost powerless. His robes showed a burn mark in the right shoulder.
"What is it now?" Mike demanded to know.
"Well, one of them - the one with the blue eyes over there - kinda stabbed me", the Jedi Knight explained.
"Great Maker, you always pick the wrong time for stuff like that!"
“Well, if you hadn’t taken your sweet time with those droids...”
“Oh, shut up, will you,” the Jedi Master commanded, concentrating on the Force. Suddenly Reb could feel his arm again, though he wasn’t exactly sure that was good. As he tried to move his arm, a wave of pain shot through his shoulder.
“Hold still!” Mike said. “I’m not done yet.” Slowly the wound began to close, but then the two Sith decided to resume their attack. Reb clumsily deflected an incoming red blade using his left hand, Mike’s blue lightsaber blocking the other attack.
“I think we’ll have to postpone the treatment,” Mike commented.
“At least I can fight again,” Reb said while taking his saber in his right hand. The pain in his shoulder had somewhat subsided; he would be able to ignore it for now. The Sith attacked again, but this time Reb was properly prepared, easily blocking the blow. Sparks flew, and the two opponents stared at each other, keeping their blades locked. The Thyferran’s fierce blue eyes met Reb’s calm stare, they struggled, both mentally and physically, and suddenly the Sith was blown backwards, a smile of victory on Reb’s face.
“I’ll take this one,” Reb yelled towards Mike, who was engaged in a fierce duel with the other Dark Jedi. He jumped behind the machine where he had thrown his opponent, slashing with his yellow blade. The Sith rolled sideways, barely avoiding the blade, and got up again, deflecting another blow.
Attacking with fierce slashes, the Dark Jedi came at Reb, who jumped behind another machine for cover. A red glowing trail covered the metal where the red saber struck the device.
“You won’t get amulet!” the Dark Jedi screamed, raging madly. “You won’t!”
Reb merely smiled, getting an idea. He sensed the amulet was hanging from a chain around the Sith’s neck. Using the Force, he gave a slight tug at the amulet.
“You won’t!” the Sith again screamed, grasping the amulet in alarm, with such force that the chain snapped. He looked at the amulet in his hand, and then realised his mistake, too late. He had been distracted for a few moments, enough for the Jedi Knight to launch one deadly attack. He looked at the shimmering yellow blade in his chest, looked up one final time, and then collapsed.
The amulet rolled from his hand onto the metal floor. Reb picked it up, examining it closely. It was about the size of his hand, a flat golden disk, like a large coin, with the outline of the head of some strange animal carved into it. The eyes were formed by two small rubies, eerily reflecting the yellow light of Reb’s lightsaber. Several arcane symbols were inscribed surrounding the head,which the Jedi Knight could identify as ancient Sith runes. He had no idea what they meant, though.
Shaking his head, Reb put the amulet in one of the pouches of his robes. Whatever power it might possess, if Sith were looking for it with such fervor, they would have to keep it safe. They weren’t done here yet, though. Sounds of lightsabers hitting each other could still be heard from the other side of the chamber.
“I’ll probably have to save Mike, again,” Reb sighed to himself.
In a bright flash, crimson met azure, crackled, flickered, hummed dangerously. Jedi Master and Sith Lord crossed sabers, pushing against each other with force, trying to overcome the other. The black-haired man grimaced in hatred, pulling up closer, intensifying his push.
"You will die here, Jedi! I will kill you and your apprentice, and take back what is rightfully mine - the amulet!"
Mike gnawed his teeth, trying to hold against the other man. He looked up, heaving the eyebrows in astonishment as he saw how the Sith called upon the powers of the Dark Side, a strong wind suddenly rising, pushing against the Jedi.
A crate came sailing over the two duellists and crashed somewhere in the back into the wall. More and more crates followed, an assembly droid sliding past aswell. The Sith's face became even bleaker, greyed out as the Dark Side fuelled itself from the man's energies, sucking away the very life itself. His eyes became a sick, yellow color, his cheeks shrunken, as he made a step into the saber lock, pulling in and gathered even more power. Then he unleashed it.
The sabers crackled when Mike couldn't withstand the pressure. He got knocked off his feet and catapulted backwards a dozen meter, crashing into a large tank and slumping to the ground. Holding his head, the Jedi Master looked up to see the Sith Lord advancing, cackling manically. He heaved his left arm, fingers stretched out. With an almost diabolical fizzle, blue lightning shot from his fingers, licking after the Jedi.
Mike's eyes widened. He reached out with the Force and somersaulted upwards onto the three-meter-tank just a blink before the lightning crashed into the metal, sending offspring everywhere. The Sith Lord lifted his hand further, another fork of lightning shooting from the fingertips...
...and got grounded on the Jedi Master's azure blue blade.
"Not so fast."
Mike pulled into the knees, jumped and came shooting down on his opponent, his saber spiraling wildly in the air.
The Sith Lord rolled forward, the deadly blade of energy cutting open the metal lattice on several parts just where he had stood a moment ago. Swivelling around, Ven'ir parried Halcyon's wide gash.
Twirling the saber at his side, the Jedi Master send slash after slash towards the Sith Lord who parried and blocked with heavy bashes of his own, crimson weapon. As the Jedi approached, Ven'ir had to walk backwards slowly in order to still have enough room. Howling out in anger, he had to resort to parrying the fast and carefully aimed blows of his opponent for the time being.
Both combattants battled fiercely, pacing through the montage hall over to a flight of stairs in the back area that lead upwards. Ven'ir ducked under a mighty stroke, a metal piping behind him exploding in sparks, the cut glowing deeply red.
The Sith Lord sprinted up the nearby metal stairscase, evading yet another attack. The metal hammered loudly under his steps as he ran up towards the upper area where a dozen ledges crossed through the assembly hall, each leading to different sections and for different purposes.
"Leaving so soon?"
The area around him lit in azure blue, Mike came walking from behind a number of crates and droid hulks, saber pointed slightly down over the extended left hand with the figure-V, aiming at the Sith Lord.
"Come here, Jedi, and experience the true power of the Dark Side!" Ven'ir growled, bringing up his saber in a defense stance, walking slowly backwards onto one of the ledges. Only about a meter wide and without rails, the assembly street extended below dizzingly deep, the cranks and crashes of dozen of different plants echoing up towards the Sith hollowly.
Ven'ir allowed himself a smuck grin as the Jedi Master stepped on the ledge aswell - just as he had expected. Jedi were so easy to manipulate.
He allowed the brown-haired man to approach him further until both duellists were roughly in the middle. Then he waved his hand across from left to right.
A cooling tank ripped itself free from the far, far away walls and came sailing through the air, heading straight for the Jedi Master. Mike saw it coming fast enough, twirled his saber and made a half turn, setting one foot forward and slashing over with the other side, cutting away the piece of metal.
The Sith Lord waved another time and an even larger hulk came flying over, this time from the other side.
Continuing his approach, the Jedi made another step, his saber flying around for a couple of quick slashes, one, two, three - then the remnants of the metal supporter dropped down, hitting something on the ground far below the two Force-wielders.
Ven'ir growled. He yanked his hand into the direction of the white-tunicked man, sending a large, round platform at him. The black metal disc with the brightly glowing railway spots sliced through the air, aiming at Mike's chest. Somersaulting over it, the Jedi Master came down right in front of the Sith Lord, gashing at him from the bottom left, forcing him to concentrate on the saber fight again.
Both blades crossed again in a loud, harsh crackle, the white flash lighting up the hall for a moment as the platform bolted downwards, burying the carry-cables of a free-hanging conveyor under it. The cables snapped, stopping the conveyor. Large urns with molten iron stopped in their tracks, shaking dangerously.
A gash from the left - the Sith blocked! One from the right - Ven'ir brought around the saber again! Gash after gash, slash after slash, the Jedi Master rained down on the Sith Lord, determined to end this once and for all.
Wrath and anger fuelling him, the Sith held his own. Ven'ir took the initiative, slamming away Mike's saber and lunging forward to impale him. The Jedi Master jumped up, twirled in mid air and landed right behind Ven'ir, however, unleashing another barrage of deadly swipes.
The Sith Lord yanked his saber back, parrying the first two slashes before he made a quick jump forward, turning around to face his enemy again.
"Die, Jedi scum!" he screamed throwing his saber at him. The deadly crimson blade washed out in the air as it rotated towards the other man. Mike bend in the knees and cartwheeled off the ledge that got sliced behind him, a red, molten cut making it suddenly sink down fourty-five degrees as it lost stabilization.
Grabbing one of the cooling hoses, the Jedi Master used the momentum to swing around in a wide arc, landing back on the ledge again, immediatly slicing at the Sith from below who only barely parried it. Gashing downwards in a slanted stroke, Mike drove Ven'ir backwards. Rotating the saber-hand at the wrist and supporting it with index- and middle-finger of the other hand, he slash upwards in the same motion, severing the other man's arm.
"Aaaaaaaaaaaargh!" the Sith yelled as his lightsaber sailed downwards, followed by his black-clad limb. Ven'ir stumbled away from the Jedi Master's blue blade.
In a fluid motion, Mike disengaged the saber and threw it up into the air. He pivoted around, lunging up from a ducking position, grabbing the saber hilt as it came dropping down in the middle, landing a hard, metal-supported uppercut right on the Sith's face, yanking his head back and knocking him off the ledge.
"NOOOO!" Ven'ir yelled as he plummeted down into the abyss, crashing into one of the urns with the molten iron, cutting off his scream instantly and permanently.
A wave of blue energy exploded from the urn as the Dark Side was unleashed, consuming the body and emanating upwards towards the hall's ceiling, tainting everything into a sick, blue light.
Mike made a step forward and looked down, watching the waves of pure Dark Side energy rippling through the area.
Then everything was over.
[center]* * *[/center]
"What happened to the other one?" Reb asked as Mike pulled out of an assembly lift.
"He got disarmed", the Jedi Master commented dryly, clipping the saber back to his belt. A jet of fire shot up behind him as another droid was fused. "Did you get the amulet?"
"Yes. Here." The Jedi Knight reached into his robes and produced the golden disc, handing it over to the other man.
"Hm." Mike examined it closely, turning it around to view it from all angles. Holding the artifact on his left palm, he stroke with the right hand through his beard, thinking.
"Can you decipher the runes?" Reb asked. Both men sat down on a handful of crates with droid vocoders. Mike looked over to his former apprentice, his face pulled into one of his 'Here is a lecture for you'-ones.
"Quite so, young one", he confirmed and reached out for the center of the ingraved animal's head, sinking his fingertip on it for a second. Suddenly, a soft click signalled life coming back to the ancient piece of art.
"Don't you think that's perhaps a bit dangerous?" Reb arched an eyebrow. Before Mike could answer, however, the golden disc opened up like a flower, giving way to two small figurines of men with lightsabers, entwined in a deadly duel. Soft music started to play.
"Only if you are allergic to millenia old chimes, young one", the Jedi Master smiled, looking down at the precious piece of art he was holding.
"A music box?!" Reb was dumbfounded. He gazed down on the silver disc where the two figurines were now rotating around a middle axis. "All this entire hassle for a simple music box?!"
Within an instant, he was back on his feet.
"I have enough of this! Everytime we meet, it's getting more and more dangerous - and the reasons for that more and more ridiculous! I just wanted to have a nice flight in the starfighters, buy some astromech droids and maybe save the galaxy - but this is too much! Even for me!" Pointing his index finger at his still sitting former teacher, the Jedi Knight leaned forward.
"Enough!" He crosscutted both arms in front of his chest, underlining his statement. Immediatly, he regretted it, however. Grimacing, Reb sat down again, holding his still injured arm that was now sending lances of hot pain through his body.
Mike just smiled and turned back at the disc. He placed his finger on another part of it, stopping and having it fold back into itself again.
"All in all, I'd call it a good day", he commented, handing the golden artifact back to Reb who stored it in his pouch again. "Let's go."
Both Jedi got up, dusted themselves and headed for the exit. Around them, the assembly hall lay partially in ruins, still continuing to produce droids for Coruscant's upper population.
However, if the Jedi Master had waited just a second longer with the artifact, the evil, red glitter in the rubies on top of the disc might have not escaped him...