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Under Darkened Skies (a cancelled and forgotten PT idea)

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Hey guys. This is an old PT idea I had a while back. It is the same as the Clone Vader idea I which I put in my Random PT ideas thread (see here: http://originaltrilogy.com/topic/Random-PT-ideas/id/53911), but I had been going back on the old manuscripts I originally had and wrote the first five chapters (originally four) of what would have been part 1 in my trilogy.

It’s not the best PT I ever planned, but I do like a few of the ideas I had in mind. I would like to know what you guys think. Comment, critique, and enjoy.


PROLOGUE

Piracy, crime, corruption. These things spread across the Outer Rim of the galaxy like a plague. Hundreds of worlds, innocent or guilty of these things, had been afflicted severely. People were left starving and poor or suffered under tyranny of their governments. Soon, such things became notice of the rich and prosperous Middle Rim and Core Worlds. They sent their armies out to bring peace, bring justice.

Any Outer Rim world that retaliated was swiftly crushed. With nowhere else to go, those desperate worlds fell upon an age-old tactic: cloned soldiers. They were sent out against the “just warriors,” the respected soldiers and vaunted Jedi Knights of the Old Republic. Skirmishes spread across the galaxy, regular beings fighting against soldiers born in minutes and bred for war.

Skirmishes turned into battles. Battles turned all-out war. Years passed and more worlds were scorched into nothing. Heroes and villains on either side were lost to the flames of war, and the piles of bodies were stacked atop another.

During that war, twenty-five years before the fated Battle of Yavin IV, the story begins in the Outer Rim, where a Jedi Knight and his pupils have just saved a world from the fate of others. Unbeknownst to any of them, the galaxy takes a turning point that they never could expect…

"Adventure, excitement. A Jedi craves not these things!"

- Yoda

W.S.

Author
Time

CHAPTER 1

The sky was a little cloudy, Obi-Wan saw as he treaded lightly on the rocky plains. He could sense the death in the aftermath of the battle, the fallen corpses and machines littered the ground. Ships and fighters that were gunned down left huge puffs of smoke that trailed up to the sky. As a cold wind breezed through his Jedi cloak, Obi-Wan could only sigh at the sight.

The Battle of Skye had been hard, but the victory was worth it. The planet had been captured by a small contingent of clones, who put the planet’s people to work. While trying to run the world of Skye dry, Obi-Wan had been called to put a stop to it.

Everything had gone according to plan. The people, the S’kytri, were rescued from the work camps, and the clones’ machines that drilled into the planet’s crust for minerals, were taken apart. The losses had been great.

Sensing a presence beside him, Obi-Wan glanced over his shoulder. “Do you sense it?” he asked.

“Yes, master,” answered the young boy of seventeen standard years.

Turning around, Obi-Wan took a good look at his pupil. “Tell me what you sense.”

The long, blond bangs hid the teen’s eyes, but he didn’t hide his sad tone. “There is much pain here,” his student explained, his voice modified through the mask covering his mouth. “The people here have suffered much.”

“And?”

The boy looked up, bewildered, then he closed his eyes. “And… there’s joy, relief beyond,” he spoke before he opened his eyes.

“You sound confused,” Obi-Wan noted.

His pupil nodded, gesturing to the battlefield around him. “How can there be such happiness in this? A lot of people have been hurt. People died. How can I accept that?”

“You ask a good question.” Obi-Wan shifted his boots over a patch of grass. “Yes, there is great suffering. As a Jedi, you will see that across the galaxy, more now than ever. But remember, wounds can heal,” he explained. “The natives will cry and mourn their losses, but they also have the chance to see another day. In time, they will grow stronger and live prosperous lives.”

Obi-Wan’s pupil shifted a little uncomfortably in his black Jedi robes. “But master,” he said, “how can you be so sure?”

“I can’t. As my old master would say, ‘always in motion is the future.’ It is best not to fall into absolutes when dealing with such things.” Obi-Wan gave a mirthful smile. “Still, it is best to hope.”

Silence met Obi-Wan’s explanation, but he sensed a hint of satisfaction in his pupil. He spoke, “You should check on the survivors, see how they’re doing.”

The boy nodded and went on his way before his mentor called out to him.

“And Vader?!”

Stopping in place, Vader turned to his master. “Robes aren’t really good for the battlefield. You should get them changed,” Obi-Wan said, somewhat teasingly at the holes in his pupil’s worn Jedi robe.

Obi-Wan sensed his pupil’s embarrassment, despite the face mask his pupil wore, and smiled. It had been a little over a year since Vader began his tutelage under him. Then, just as now, Vader was just a young teenager, but Obi-Wan noticed a growth spurt. Vader was taller than himself and almost as tall as Anakin by now.

“Yes, master,” Vader said meekly before he went over the hill beyond the battle.

By himself, Obi-Wan stood and prepared himself to enjoy the silence and solitude. His hopes were dashed when he heard a beep from his holocomm on his gauntlet. Answering it, Obi-Wan saw the miniature a Republic trooper flicker to life. “Captain Cody, what is it?”

The captain saluted and said, “General Kenobi, Viceroy Organa is on the comm. He wishes to speak with you.”

“I’ll be there.”

Cutting of the connection, Obi-Wan sighed. “No rest for the weary,” he muttered before he went on his way, in the direction away from his pupil.


“Easy now,” Anakin said. “Keep the blade steady…”

Sitting atop the rock, he watched as the blue blade of his own lightsaber blaze through the air. The one holding his saber aloft was a young green-skinned S’kytri native. Like all of her people, she had large reptilian wings and a long tail, but they were still growing, since she was barely half the height of a regular human. She swung the weapon a bit too brazenly, but she had great control, Anakin knew.

“And stop!” he shouted after a few moments.

The S’kytri had already swung the saber down, so when she tried to stop it, her efforts were in vain. The blue blade was on its lowest setting, so when it struck the nearest rock, it bounced off it. Seeing sparks fly, the girl let out a yelp of surprise and let go of the saber. The weapon fell, stopped a mere centimeter off the ground, then flew back into Anakin’s waiting hand.

“Good job, Kharys,” he praised as he extinguished his saber, “you managed to not cut your own limb off on your first try!”

“Thanks…” the winged girl said dejectedly.

“Don’t look so glum. Most people can’t use a saber without destroying something on the first try. Trust me, I know from experience,” Anakin said with an assured smile.

They did little to assuage Kharys as she kicked a tiny rock away. “I wish I could have one of those, already. Then, I can protect my people.”

“Don’t worry, you will. But you’ll have to make one first.”

Kharys gave the human Jedi a curious look. “How do you make a laser sword?”

“First, you go undergo training for a year or so. Then, you go into a dark, scary cave, find a rock, and talk to it,” Anakin explained as if he was talking about the weather.

Kharys’ white hair flopped over one side as she tilted her head. “Are you serious?”

Before an answer could be given, footsteps drew both human and S’kytri to the rocky path. Walking down it, and clad in a tattered robe, was Vader, Obi-Wan’s other pupil. “Vader, what are you doing here?” Anakin inquired.

“I’m on my way to the S’kytri camp. What are you doing here?” Vader replied as he stood by the rock Anakin sat on.

Kharys answered, “He was showing me his laser sword. He let me even use it.”

As if his shock wasn’t obvious, Vader asked the other Jedi, “You gave her your lightsaber?”

“Is that a problem?” Anakin shot back.

“Aside from having no training, she’s just a child.”

“You’re not an adult yourself, remember?”

Despite the mask, Anakin felt Vader wince through the Force. He instantly regretted it and apologized. “Sorry. I didn’t mean it that way.”

“I know,” Vader said softly. He then cleared his throat. “Still, you gave her your saber. Master Kenobi often said that…”

“… ‘this weapon is your life,’ yes,” Anakin waved his free hand in a carefree manner. “That doesn’t mean I can’t give it away. Besides, I wanted to see how well she would do, and she did well enough, for a first-timer.”

“You don’t know it would have worked. She could have hurt herself.”

“She wouldn’t. I was watching her, after all.”

“I’m right here!” Kharys called.

The two Jedi turned to the young S’kytri. “So, you are,” Vader said with a sturdy glare. “You should head back to camp. Some will be wondering why their chief’s daughter isn’t with her people.”

When Kharys met the masked Jedi’s glare, Anakin gently told her, “Go, Kharys. We’ll join you shortly.”

Kharys turned her stare from masked Jedi to Anakin. In the end, she sighed in defeat. “Very well, master,” she said and stretched her wings.

With a flap, Kharys flew into the air, and she flapped her way to her people. Once she was out of hearing range, Vader looked to Anakin and inquired, “‘Master?’ Master Kenobi won’t like that.”

“Well, he doesn’t need to know about that bit,” Anakin said before he stood up from his rock and towered over Vader. “You know, you shouldn’t be so hard on her. She is more powerful than you realize.”

“I do, and so does Master Kenobi. Anyone a mile away can feel her power in the Force. But she hasn’t had learned everything as quickly as I have.”

Anakin wasn’t sure if that was pride, pain, or both he felt from Vader, so he remained silent. Hooking his saber back to his belt, Anakin looked to Vader with a small grin. “It will be a while before we get to the camp. How about a race?”

“I don’t think that’s nec-”

Anakin did not let Vader finish, and he rushed off with a burst of the Force, cloak flapping behind him. Soon enough, Vader did the same and sped down the rocky path after Anakin.


The race up the mountain had been a quick one. Kharys, the fastest flyer of her people, reached the refugee encampment first. Of the two Jedi racing each other, Anakin was still in the lead, and Vader, who was at first against the idea, slowly inched closer to his fellow Jedi. Within ten minutes, Anakin skidded his feet to a stop, right in front of the S’kytri camp.

“I win!” he laughed to Vader, who came in a second later.

“Technically, Kharys was here first,” Vader said as he gestured to the young S’kytri in front of them.

Anakin shook his head in faux dismay. “Always spoiling my fun,” he said jokingly.

The trio approached the entrance to the camp. The guards, a pair of barrel-chested and spear-wielding S’kytri, saluted to their chief’s daughter and the two saviors of their world. The minute they came in, they saw a few S’kytri out in the open. Most were resting in their tents, and from one, the head of a child S’kytri, younger than Kharys, poked out and shouted to the others, “They’re here! They’ve come back!”

Like a swarm of locusts, the abled inhabitants of Skye left their tents and swarmed around the trio. The two Jedi were surrounded by the very people they had saved, crowding them with cries of praise.

“Thank you, heroes! Thank you so much!”

“May the Winds empower you!”

“Please, bless my newborn daughter!”

“Hail Vader! Hail the Skywalker!”

The last one brought a small irk to Anakin. The name, Skywalker, was what the natives had given him. Not that he didn’t complain, regular ‘walkers’ were looked down upon, but the name felt… off, for some reason.

Eventually, both Anakin and Vader managed to get through crowd. Kharys was not so fortunate, surrounded by her own people. Still, she managed a quick jab at Anakin. “Good luck, Skywalker!” Kharys called out before she was swarmed by her own people.

“Still, not used to that name,” Anakin said, once he and Vader were far enough from the refugees.

“I think it rather suits you,” spoke Vader as he walked with him. “You’re piloting skills did help in the battle, after all.”

“Why thank you.” While a bit surprised, Anakin took the compliment. He expected something a bit more snarky.

“… And you do keep your heads in the clouds.” And there it was. For a moment, Anakin thought Vader was going soft on him.

Still walking, the two headed for one specific tent in the camps. It was larger than the others and guarded by two Republic troopers, donned in white armor, who let the two Jedi in. What Anakin and Vader saw upon entering was a heated argument neither of them wanted to be a part of.

By the communications console, and arguing with the person on the other end, was Padme Amidala of Naboo. Her white clothes hung loftily from her body, as did her long braided hair. Her eyes pierced through Commander Tarkin, who donned the typical military uniform and had an air of superiority around him.

“… you must realize, senator,” Tarkin said, “that the people of Skye require protection more now than before. Who knows what will happen if we leave this world alone. The clones may come back with a stronger fleet and we won’t be able to retake it.”

“What I see if that these people have already suffered enough,” Padme shot back. “They’ve seen enough battle for one lifetime. Leaving the military. The soldiers have to leave.”

“That is out of the question. The military must been given control of the situation.”

“On the contrary, Commander,” Padme stepped in, “under the Senate’s rules, the military is only meant to place military control if a world is revolting or if under threat of an invading fleet. Neither case is happening here. If you have any problems, you’re free to discuss the matter with Supreme Chancellor Valorum. Until then, I expect you to keep your ships up in space.”

Tarkin frowned in defeat. “Very well, senator. We will play by your rules,” he said before the connection was cut.

Padme wearily sighed at the empty console and rubbed her temples in exasperation. Anakin approached Padme from behind and grabbed her in a big hug. He felt Padme almost jump in his arms, but she relaxed after he teasingly whispered in her ear, “You’ve been busy.”

“A bit,” Padme said, turning around to face Anakin. “A little bit of this, a little bit of that. The usual. It’s been a long day.”

“I can help ease that,” Anakin said before he pulled Padme close and kissed her on the lips.

Padme would have returned it if she didn’t notice the other Jedi in the tent. “Maybe not around other people,” she told Anakin after breaking away, then smiled at Vader. “Hello, Vader.”

Vader bowed his head. “Senator.”

Nodding back, Padme looked to the handsome face of her fiance. “What are you doing here?”

“Just checking on you,” Anakin replied as he kept his hands around Padme’s slender waist. “Like you said, it’s been a long day.”

“It has,” Vader interrupted. “Master Kenobi wanted me to check on the refugees.”

Padme parted from Anakin’s hug. “You don’t need to worry about them. They’re all fine, and I assure you they won’t worry about anyone interfering with them again.”

“So we saw.”

Hearing the slight edge, Padme rose an eyebrow. “You don’t agree?”

“No, but that’s a discussion for another time,” Vader told her. “I must go and inform Master Kenobi. You two, enjoy your… quality time.”

Vader left a slightly blushing Padme with her fiance, who put a hand on her shoulder and said, “Vader’s just being himself.You shouldn’t let that bother you.”

“It’s not just him. More people in the Senate think the same,” Padme muttered, pursing her lips at Anakin. “What do you think?”

“I think,” he said, “you’ve been working too hard.”

Before Padme could reply, Anakin had captured her lips with his again. This time, Padme did not break away.

"Adventure, excitement. A Jedi craves not these things!"

- Yoda

W.S.

Author
Time

CHAPTER 2

It was dark, cold, and wet. Those were the first things he noticed as he came to. For a long moment, there was nothing else, except the feeling of weightlessness and the sound of his own breathing.

Then, there was something from the quiet. A sound of some kind. A shout, he thought. And at last, he managed to open his eyes. Bubbles rose up and down, and through the transparent glass, he saw them. Computers beeping and blinking, people donned in white clothes, and cylindrical tanks, identical to the one he was in, lined up against the wall.

The darkness was gone, but the cold and wet remained. Where he was, what was going on, or even who he was, he had no idea. He was just a body floating in a sloshing and slimy substance.

Bacta, his mind told him. This stuff is called bacta. You’re in a bacta tank.

The words echoed in the back of his mind, as if he was supposed to know it from getgo. Still, he couldn’t help but feel something strange, even unknown about them. He knew the words, but had no connection to them. Were they important to him? Why?

Again, that automatic part of his brain answered. You’re not fully developed. You need bacta, if you want to grow into a perfect being.

Again, he was confused. ‘Grow?’ ‘Perfect being?’ None of the words seem to make sense to him.

The shouting came back, cutting him away from his thoughts. He saw the men in white running back and forth, giving out commands that were barely audible to him.

“… Xanatos’ dead… Jedi coming… do we do?”

“Disconnect the… from the tanks!”

“… won’t survive!”

“Orders are…”

Moments passed, and the men in white went around their duties. He watched them play with their computers. He barely managed to catch some of the tanks suddenly going dark. The bodies inside moved around a little before there was nothing.

Then, pain roared in his head. He heard the screams in his mind, the screams of the other people in the tanks as their lives went out one by one. His hands grabbed his head, wanting to turn off the screams. He could not and suffered hearing the voices cry out in terror before they were suddenly silenced.

All of a sudden, through the cries, he managed to hear something. Before long, there was something else…

A loud BOOM echoed, and the tank, perhaps the entire room, shook, making him just barely look. Smoke filled every corner, covering the men in white with cloud of gray and black. First thing was shouting, then a loud hum as a rod of blue light swung through the smoke and struck down any who approached it.

Events ran too quickly for him to process. What was going on? Why was he hearing all these screams in his mind?! What was happening to him?!

It was at that point he noticed the bacta in his tank was starting to turn dark. Now, he was afraid. He was about to join the poor fellow and be nothing more than a floating corpse. And he would feel it all as he died.

As he thoughts those morbid thoughts, he saw the blue light came through the smoke and struck the tank. The glass shattered, and he slid out onto the floor like a newborn out of its mother’s womb. He yanked the breath mask off, and he finally felt fresh air. His efforts for breathing it in were rewarded with spurts of bacta coughed up from his lungs.

Slowly, he rose until he sat in the puddle of bacta and shivered from what little of the slimy substance still clung to him and his modest clothing. After clearing his lungs of the putrid liquid, he took notice of the other bodies lying around him. They weren’t like him, who was dressed in a thin suit of clothing. They were the men in white, the same who had tried to terminate him, and they lied motionlessly, with horrible burnt scars stretched across their bodies.

Standing over the corpses was a man. This man was not donned in white, but in a light uniform and a brown cloak. In his hand was a cylindrical hilt, from which the blue rod of light came out of. The man stood with an aura of calm… and regret. Not just towards him, but to the others lying at his feet. But who was this man to have such sympathy for him, let alone the people who had tried to kill him?

A Jedi Knight, recalled his programmed mind. An enemy.

He thought about that. An enemy? That couldn’t be right. This Jedi had helped him, saved from the same fate as the others. If he was an enemy, why would he do such a thing?

Eliminate him, the voice in his head commanded, but he tried to shut it out. Eliminate the Jedi!

“Don’t be afraid,” the man, the Jedi, said. “I’m here to help.”

The Jedi’s voice brought a feeling. He could only describe it as calm, at peace. The parts of his mind that cried out for the Jedi’s destruction faded away.

No longer haunted by his thoughts, he spoke. The sound of speaking for the first time had hurt his throat, and it came out in a hoarse croak. “Y-you can help me?”

“Yes, I can,” the Jedi smiled, and his beard seemed to do so too. “My name’s Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan Kenobi. What’s yours?”

He opened his mouth, then stopped. Then, he looked down at band around his wrist. On it was a tag on it: VDR-142.

At last, he looked up and answered, “Vader, sir. It’s Vader.”


At the sound of a high-pitched and constantly repeated beeping, Vader’s eyes snapped open. He rubbed a hand over the weary eye sockets before he rolled on his side. By the bed, the source of his disturbance continued to ring, until Vader finally pressed the button and answered.

“Yes?” he said with a small yawn.

Captain Cody’s voice came through. “Sir, Master Luminara and her student have just arrived.”

A bit of excitement leaped up Vader’s throat as he raised his head from his pillow. “Where are they, now?” he asked, a little more loudly than he wanted.

“By the console chamber. They and General Kenobi are waiting for you.”

“I’ll be right there,” and with an excited click, Vader shut off the comm and sat up from his bed.

Barriss is here, he thought excitedly as he pictured the bright green face of Luminara’s pupil and her warm smile.

Vader had seen that same smile back when he first met Barriss at the Temple. Then, he was just inducted into the Jedi and in dire need of companionship. Vader had found it in a few Jedi students, Barriss more special than the rest, so he would be glad to be with her whenever he had the chance.

It was not long before Vader had put on his dark uniform. After putting on his pants and boots, Vader neatly pressed the seams of his tunic and added the long, flapping cloak to his Jedi look. His mask, the last thing left, rested by the mirror in his quarters, so Vader went over to grab it.

Vader’s hand halted when he looked at the mirror. It was meant to be just a glance, to see if he was primed and ready for Barriss, and the Jedi Masters. Then, it turned into a long, deep glance.

As Vader stared at the mirror, he looked at the face in it. He saw the familiar deep, blue eyes, cleft chin, and wavy, blond hair. He had the same muscular look to him, albeit he was a bit scrawny due to him being genetically a few years younger. Still, it was the same look, the same face.

The face of Anakin Skywalker.

No else, other than a few, knew about Vader’s secret. The masters on the Jedi Council had told him to use a partial face-mask hide his identity from everyone. The reasoning was as such; if anyone knew about the truth of Vader’s origins, there would be a major panic. People would be in a uproar over the Jedi having a clone among their numbers.

A clone. As distasteful as the word sounded, Vader couldn’t deny it. He was clone, nothing more. A mere copy, made from a Jedi pupil’s DNA, no doubt taken from some severed limb. Obi-Wan assured Vader otherwise, but the words did little to hide the truth lurking in the back of both their minds.

Slowly, Vader slid the mask into place, hiding portion of Anakin Skywalker. He did not need to worry about that. Now, he had to meet with someone important to him, and he would meet her as Vader, not Anakin’s copy.


As the morning sun quickly rose over Skye’s mountains, Obi-Wan stood atop the landing pad that was situated on the mountainside. The grounded shuttle in front of him let out some steam, and the boarding ramp lowered onto the floor. The two leaving the shuttle were Mirialans, one in her forties and the other of fifteen standard years, their brightly colored faces sparsely covered in individual tattoos of their people and donned in dark dresses.

“Master Luminara,” Kenobi greeted the taller of the two cordially.

Luminara eyed Obi-Wan momentarily before she bowed slightly, so the dark headdress atop wouldn’t fall off. “Knight Kenobi,” she returned, her voice crisp and smooth, before she turned to her fellow Mirialan, covered in a blue cloak and hood. “You know my pupil, Barriss.”

“A pleasure as always,” Kenobi said to the younger Jedi, who returned the greeting with a curtsey. “I take it this isn’t a social visit,” he told Luminara in all his cheerful humor

“Sadly, no,” Luminara sadly smiled. She glanced at Barriss. “Perhaps, we should discuss this more privately. Barriss, you don’t mind, do you?”

“No, master,” Barriss answered in her soft voice, though both her elders sensed the dismay in her thoughts.

“You needn’t to worry, Barriss. You’ll have someone to keep you company,” Obi-Wan said, sensing Vader’s presence rushing towards their group.

Before Barriss could say anything, Vader was walking on the rocky plain on his way to the landing pad. Upon arriving, he gave his greetings to each Jedi. “Master Kenobj, Master Luminara.” Vader paused when his gaze fell on the Mirialan girl. “Barriss.”

“Vader,” replied Barriss.

Obi-Wan, sensing the spiked emotions from either pupil, said, “Vader, why don’t you take Barriss to the camp? I’m sure there’s plenty for.you two to catch up on.”

“Yes master,” Vader said eagerly, and he walked away with Barriss at his side.

After the Jedi students were out of sight, Luminara whispered, “Are you sure that’s a good idea? Leaving my pupil with yours?”

“They’re young, but they also responsible. I’m sure they can face any danger.”

“Save for their emotions,” she argued. “You sensed it in them. It raged inside like a storm. I’m afraid Barriss may be making a mistake if she puts her feelings for your pupil.”

He gave a raised eyebrow. “You mean afraid if she goes against the Jedi Code?”

“I do,” Luminara said slowly. “The younger ones are becoming more… resistant to the Code. It was a miracle the council even allowed your other pupil to marry.”

Obi-Wan smiled at the thought of the couple. “Anakin has been more peaceful since he proposed.”

“Yes, but I fear what may happen to our students if they can’t control their emotions, especially for each other.”

Obi-Wan tried not to sigh. The Jedi Code, at least the one in the last millennium, forbade intimate relationships and marriages. Old hardliners in the Jedi profusely enforced the rules, even moreso during wartime. But Obi-Wan, the lax Jedi he was, took a different approach as he did with Luminara on the subject.

“Whatever you may think, Master Luminara, it may not be the best to worry. If they’re happy, then that should be enough. We need every light we can get during these dark times.”

“What do you mean?” Luminara asked quizzically.

“I received Bail’s message,” Obi-Wan said solemnly. “We’ve lost three more worlds. They were scorched.”

Luminara was silent for a long moment. Three worlds. Three worlds turned into burning husks. Three homes lost and lifeless. Three dead spots in the Force. “Did he say anything else?” she managed to say.

“Only that we need be ready. Refugees will coming in to Coruscant, soon enough. He said his forces will take care of them.”

“Don’t worry, Obi-Wan. This suffering won’t last for much longer.” When Obi-Wan looked at Luminara, she simply said, “The invasion is underway.”

Obi-Wan’s eyes widened. “You’re sure?” Luminara nodded, and he let out a tired breath. “At last, it will be over.”

“Good!” cried out a third voice. “I was wondering when I would finally have my wedding!”

Both Jedi turned and saw Anakin walking towards them, cape flapping behind him. As he stepped on the landing pad, Luminara pursed her lips at Kenobi. “You know, I’m still unsure it was a good idea to let your pupil in on this.”

“Anakin has proven himself capable in the past. It was his idea the masters used to form this invasion, after all,” Obi-Wan defended.

“Nice to know I’m appreciated,” Anakin spoke wily.

Luminara’s wary stare softened at the young Jedi. “I apologize,” she told him, “We are just so close to ending this war, and…”

“I know,” Anakin said, more seriously. “I get not telling the other students about this. You don’t want there be a leak.”

Nodding, the Mirialan turned to Obi-Wan. “The masters will be gathering on Coruscant to discuss the plans. Will you be there?”

“Soon, but there’s something I wish to take care of first,” Obi-Wan said, which caught Anakin’s interest.

“What are you going to do, master?” Anakin asked with interest.

“I’d like to take a detour, first. There’s a place I haven’t visited in sometime.”

“You can’t do that,” Luminara said. “You know the others have been preparing for this invasion for weeks. If we delay any longer, then we may lose the opportunity.”

“Actually,” Anakin interjected, “there’s only a week or so before we begin anything. I can substitute for Master Kenobi, in the meantime.”

Now, Obi-Wan warily stared at him. “Are you sure, Anakin?”

“Yes, master, I am.” Obi-Wan remained unconvinced, so Anakin added, “I’ve dealt with plenty of mission briefings before, master. I think I can handle a couple of meetings with the council.”

After a moment, Obi-Wan gave in. “Very well,” he agreed reluctantly. “Just don’t do anything rash.”

“Hey, it’s me,” Anakin grinned, then he turned around to leave, unaware of his mentor’s wary look.

“That’s what worries me,” Obi-Wan thought aloud as he watched another student and friend leave him.


“This sky is beautiful here,” Barriss said in her voice that sounded melodious to her fellow Jedi pupil.

Sitting beside her on the cliff, Vader commented, “It’s certainly a nice change from Coruscant.”

A silence fell over the two Jedi pupils. After giving Barriss the tour of the S’kytri camp, Vader had taken her to a secluded spot, away from constant noise of machinery and people. Here, the two watched the blue sky shift and change, as large beams of sunlight passed through parting clouds and shone on large rock formations.

Leaning back on her two hands, Barriss said, “I wish I could stay here. It seems like a nice planet to live on.”

“I know the feeling,” Vader replied, “but the locals are another story. They don’t take kindly to mere ‘land walkers.’ Anyone without wings on their sacred lands is heresy.”

“They treat you nicely.”

“Only because I helped save the planet. Anyone else won’t receive that much treatment, save for Senator Amidala, and that’s because she’s Anakin’s ‘mate.’” The slight bitterness in Vader’s modulated voice surprised Barriss. “Enough about me. How is your training going?”

“Well,” Barriss paused for moment, “I’ve been going over my saber drills back at the Temple. Master Drallig says I’m doing well, but I do have some ways to go. Maybe in a few years, I can take my trials and become a Jedi Knight.”

“What about your master? She must be doing something to help your training.” A downcast look formed on Barriss’ face, and what could seen of Vader’s own expression turned into concern. “Barriss, is everything alright?”

Barriss slowly leaned forward and hugged her knees to her chest. “It’s just… I know Master Luminara has been busy with the war effort, so she always leave me alone to my studies. But these days, she’s been meeting with other masters more often. She’s been more distant. She rarely tells me anything about these meetings… It feels like…”

“… she’s hiding something from you.” Vader saw Barriss’ surprise and explained, “Master Kenobi has been busier these days too. Whenever I ask what he’s been doing, he always says it’s a secret.”

“Do you think they have something big planned?”

“I don’t know. But they’re our teachers,” Vader said assuredly. “I’m sure they will tell us whenever they can.”

Barriss’ yellow face brightened, if just a little. “Maybe you’re right,” she whispered.

Again, the two sat there in silence and watched the sky shift and shape itself over and over again in uncertainty.

This post has been edited.

"Adventure, excitement. A Jedi craves not these things!"

- Yoda

W.S.

Author
Time

CHAPTER 3

It had been a mere few hours later that everyone had come back to the landing pad. Obi-Wan and Vader by the edge, watching Anakin and Padme slowly bring their things aboard the shuttle that Luminara and Barriss had arrived in. As Anakin came back out, Obi-Wan approached him, with Vader in tow.

“Take care of yourself, Anakin,” Obi-Wan said holding out his hand.

“You too.” Anakin shook Obi-Wan’s hand, then glanced momentarily at Vader. “Try to keep on an eye on him, Obi-Wan. He might get you into trouble.”

“Funny,” Vader shot back at Anakin’s joking remark, “I was going to tell Master Luminara the same thing about you.”

The smile across Anakin’s face slightly irked Vader, as it always would. The interplay between the two came to an end when the two Mirialans returned to the landing pad. “The shuttle is ready,” Luminara began, “we will have everything ready for when you come back.”

“Of course,” Obi-Wan nodded to Luminara. “If there’s anything, call me on the comm.”

Off to the side, Kenobi and Luminara’s young pupils merely stared at each other. “Be careful,” Vader whispered to Barriss.

“You as well,” she returned warmly. “Anakin told me where you’re going might put you in ‘a bit of a snag,’ as he says.”

“He did, did he?” Vader shot a glare at Anakin, who was grinning at the two apprentices. He did not need the Force to know what Anakin was trying to pull on him.

“Barriss, it’s time to go,” Luminara’s voice cut in.

One by one, Luminara, Anakin, and finally Barriss boarded the shuttle’s ramp. The vessel, already piloted by one of the soldiers, let out steam as it began to ascend.

“Oh yeah!” Anakin called to Vader over the roaring engines. “Tell Kharys I’m sorry I couldn’t say goodbye!”

Vader nodded, but his eyes were more focused on the sad look Barriss, whose face was hidden by the shadow of the shuttle’s hull. Kenobi, meanwhile, kept his eyes on Luminara, who shouted to him, “Kenobi! May the Force be with you, Kenobi!”

“Take care, everyone! We will see you within a week’s time!” Obi-Wan waved back.

By then, the ramp closed shut, and the shuttle flew off, leaving the world of Skye for what was beyond it.


“It feels like forever, since I was in space!” Anakin stretched his arm before he took his seat.

Sitting beside Anakin, his fiance chided him. “We were on Skye for only a couple weeks, Anakin,” said Padme.

“And it felt like forever!”

Padme shook her head and smiled at her soon-to-be-husband. For all the love and care he gave her, which she gladly returned, there were times Anakin’s sense of adventure was too much. He was always moving, never wanting to stay in one place for a long time.

“Hopefully, you won’t be as restless when we get to Coruscant,” Luminara said, drawing the couple’s attention to her seat across from them. “We are going to need you again soon.”

“Yeah, I know,” Anakin nodded, which caught Padme’s interest.

“Is there something I should know?” the only non-Jedi said.

“I’m going to be talking with the council about something.”

The council? The head of the Jedi Order? “And that is?” Padme could only inquire.

“Sorry, can’t say,” he responded, which made Padme even more curious, and turned to Luminara. “Hope the council won’t mind if I’m with my fiance for a while, first.”

Padme glanced across the shuttle again, to where Luminara and Barriss sat. Luminara’s expression remained stoic as ever upon addressing Anakin. “I believe that shouldn’t be a problem.”

Confused, Padme looked to Barriss for an answer. Barriss could only shrug when she met Padme’s gaze, leaving the senator to guess at Anakin’s hidden meaning. “Are you going to be asking the council’s blessing for our engagement?” she threw into the air.

Anakin snorted. “I did that once, and that was more than enough.”

“My father wasn’t that bad, Anakin. I thought he took it quite well.”

“I seem to recall differently…”

Padme rolled her eyes, catching the slightly bemused looked on Luminara and the confusion on Barriss. “Well,” Padme sighed in mock defeat, “I suppose you can keep your secrets.”

“Thank you, dear,” Anakin grinned at her.

“Is this how you usually… flirt?” Barriss asked after watching the display of ‘affectionate talking.’

“Well, some days it’s quite ro-”

“Not to the young one, Anakin!” Padme admonished him. “You have to keep her mind clean.”

“If you’re done flirting,” Luminara interrupted the two humans again, “maybe we can enjoy our flight with other talk. It won’t be long before we get to Coruscant, and hopefully, Kenobi if he’s on schedule.”

“Don’t worry. He will be,” Anakin told her.

“Entering hyperspace. Please remain strapped in,” called the pilot.

As the shuttle entered hyperspace, Padme could only wonder about the strange looks Anakin and Luminara had on their faces.


Sitting at the head of the table, Count Dooku kept his stoic expression as he listened in to the raised voices of alien representatives. The count of Serenno and a former Jedi Master, he had the patience for long, pointless conversations and debates that would bore another to death. He often dealt with them daily, so he knew when to speak and when not to.

The arguments today were the same as yesterday and the days before. They were losing the war against the Republic. Badly, in fact. World after world that once left the Republic were forcibly taken back. Dooku’s circle of allies were scared of what to do next, so they gathered on Serenno, the count’s planet, to form some counterattack. The result, sadly, ended in pointless bickering as to who would get more forces, who would command them, and such. Hands, tentacles, and other appendages slammed on the long, wooden table, a rare commodity for most, but no one cared and foolishly pounded it.

“Fool” was a good word to describe the rest. They were all fools. They acted like fools, they talked like fools, and they thought like fools. And these fools were part of the Separatists.

“But who is more foolish? The fool or the one who leads him?” asked a distant whisper, only heard by Dooku.

After some time, he stood from seat. “Gentlemen, ladies, please!” he called out to the others at his table.

The representatives of the Separatists allowance-humans, Twi’leks, Duros, Mom Calamari, and others-slowly stopped arguing and listened to the deep voice of their leader. Dooku stood tall, like a statue on Coruscant, and diplomatically addressed them all.

“I see this meeting hasn’t delved anything useful,” Dooku said, with all the posh and finesse of a rapier. “We shall reconvene within an hour. By them, I hope you all shall be more… understanding of one another’s viewpoints.”

Hesitantly, the Separatist representatives left, not wishing to question their leader, or be put under his piercing glare. They trailing on the pristine floor and exited the room, until there was no one left. By then, Dooku felt a familiar dark presence in the room, hidden from the weak-minded.

“They’re gone now,” Dooku called out to the darkness of the conference room.

As he emerged from the shadows, Darth Maul lowered his hood to reveal the set of horns adorning his bald head. “Their prattling never ceases to amaze me,” the Zabrak said, his red and black face snarling.

“A necessary evil,” the count remarked nonchalantly as he went over to the window and pulled opened the curtains. “Does your master have any new information for me?”

Maul’s hellish eyes squinted against the incoming light. “The Jedi will be ready to attack soon. With a standard week.”

“I see.”

“There’s more,” continued Maul, who moved out of the light, “My master has made an agreement with the regional governors. They’ll be given completely control of the recaptured territories. The Senate believes it will be a temporary measure.”

“Of course, they do,” Dooku said, as if talking to a child.

Maul stood, impatiently glaring at the count. “What else do you want? I have given you information, as you requested, and-”

“You have given me the basics. What I need are details,” Dooku interrupted as he twirled to face Maul. “Our agreement is as such; you provide me with information and I give you the means of destroying our enemies, piece by piece. This arrangement cannot work if you’re unwilling to divulge the information I need to wage this war. And I doubt your master would be pleased, if you returned empty-handed.”

Left with little choice in the matter, Maul admitted, “The Jedi will be launching their invasion fleet from Rishi. They’ll be using the Nexus Route to pass through the Separatists ships undetected.”

Dooku smiled. “You see. That wasn’t so hard, now was it?”

Dooku sensed Maul’s killer intent grow, but he remained calm and fished out a small data disc from his tunic. “This,” he held it out, “should hold up my end. It is only a small list, but should give your master what he wants.”

The killer intent was still there, but Maul slowly and reluctantly accepted the count’s “gift.” As Maul closely examined the disc in his gloved hand, Dooku spoke up, “Now, I believe that concludes our business.”

“Dooku,” he heard and stopped to look at Maul’s grim expression. “You may be cooperating with me, but rest assured, if you plan to betray my master, then know he will already see you betrayal coming. He may not be as forthcoming as I have been, and he certainly won’t be as merciful.

“I understand that quite clearly,” Dooku frowned while throwing on his cape. “If you’ll excuse me, I must attend to my speech.”

Stepping out of the dark chamber and onto the balcony, Dooku immediately heard the cries of the thousands from down below. They all gathered in the plaza outside his estate and cried his name over and over again, “DOOKU! DOOKU! DOOKU! DOOKU! DOOKU!”

The center of the people’s galaxy stood tall and firm, donning the black uniform and long cape. Back straight, Dooku raised his hand, and all the shouting faded away. Then, he began.

“Friends, citizens, hear me!” he cried, his voice amplified by the microphones in his cape. “For centuries, you have lived in nothing but poverty and destruction! As the Core and Mid Worlds flourished, you have suffered under the tyranny of pirates and outlaws! You were ignored, left to rot like a corpse!”

The valley of bodies remained quiet. Dooku felt their fear. Fear of the power in his voice, fear of the Republic, and fear of loss raked against their minds. Only just the start of what he had planned.

“Even on Coruscant, the people make themselves believe they are better than you! They lie to their own people and to each other! They claim that the Outer Rim cannot be fixed! They say that nothing can be done!”

Roars of anger waved off the crowd, and Dooku enjoyed the feeling as he continued. “The deception at Galidraan revealed to me the truth of the Republic! They are too complacent! They only care about themselves and their power! They want to keep it to the few! They believe you all to be nothing! Are you nothings?! Are you worthless?!”

A loud, hate-filled “NO!” answered Dooku. Good. Very good.

“No! Yet, they don’t see it! As of now, more worlds have been recaptured by the Republic! Thousands of peoples are forced to work in their factories and mines!” A few boo’s came from the crowd, adding to the affect. “Yes, this is the truth! You remember the worlds when the Republic first invaded with their fleet! Geonosis! Ryloth! Cato Neimoidia! Mandalore! All of them were crushed in the name of ‘peace!’ Their homes were destroyed in the name of ‘justice!’”

Memories of suffering flashed through Dooku’s mind. They were not his own, but the memories of the people down below. The very people who were criminals, smugglers, and murderers as much as they were mere workers and farmers, felt the brutally of the Republic in some form or another. Loved ones losts. Homes torn down. Worlds destroyed.

Perfect.

“This hypocrisy will no longer last!” Dooku proclaimed. “Together, we will show the Republic the truth! We will show the galaxy what it means to be free!”

The crowd roared once more, and Dooku did not quiet them, this time. He raised his hands, waving at the “generous citizens” under his Confederation. Win or lose, this would be a war the galaxy would not forget. The victor would leave this galaxy in flames. Nothing would get in the way. No bureaucracy. No republic. And certainly no Jedi. All of them will be destroyed in the great fire that was to come.

Then, the galaxy will truly be free.

"Adventure, excitement. A Jedi craves not these things!"

- Yoda

W.S.

Author
Time

CHAPTER 4

Captain Cody found the words “prison ship” were perfect to describe the vessel he traveled upon. According to the Senate, the Lictor-class ship, and many of its kind, were meant to hold prisoners and “keep them in safe custody” until they received a trial. The one thing was that the prisoners weren’t normal soldiers, prisoners of war.

They were Jedi.

Not regular Jedi, not the ones who defended the Republic. No, these were for the bad Jedi, the ones who turned traitor and joined the rebels. These were the ones who went “over to the Dark Side,” as Cody heard so often. Ond such Jedi had been captured on Skye and held in an individual cell aboard the ship.

Cody hadn’t looked at the cells themselves, and he did not want to. The bridge alone gave an uncanny vibe, with the dark corners and dimly lit command consoles. They men using them were dressed in black armor, meant to serve the Republic. Cody himself was a clone, born in the vats on Kamino and bred to fight in the army, so he had a pretty good idea on what servitude what like, but he worked with men. These soldiers acted more like droids, if anything.

“Captain, we’re receiving a message from General Kenobi,” one of the soldiers announced automatically.

“Patch it through,” Cody nodded his helmeted head. Soon enough, the console in front of him lit up with two familiar faces, to whom Cody saluted. “General, Commander Vader.”

“At ease, captain,” said Kenobi. “How is the prisoner?”

“He’s secured as you ordered, sir,” Cody replied.

“Be sure to keep an eye on him, captain. He may be restrained, but he’s still very dangerous.”

“Very well, sir. Is there anything else?”

Obi-Wan paused in thought. “How long will it be before you reach your destination?”

“A couple of standard days, sir.”

“Once you’re done, return to Coruscant. There is something I would like to discuss.”

“What, sir?”

Obi-Wan gave a bearded smirk. “I’m afraid you’ll have to wait, captain.”

Cody slightly turned his head to Commander Vader, who gave a shrug. An apology or just plain confused, Cody wasn’t sure, since Vader was always an enigma to him. “Very well, general,” Cody told Kenobi. “I will rendezvous with you on Coruscant.”

And with that, Kenobi and Vader vanished from sight. Cody was left alone in the silence of the bridge. Nothing else to do, and keeping the general’s advice, even if it was against his better judgment, he told the officers, “I’m going to check on the prisoner.”

Sadly, no one else on the bridge objected or offered to come with him.


Within his cell, the former Jedi Knight Maw tried to yanked himself free from the electronic binders that kept him arms motionlessly. Unable to, the Boltrunian snarled with sharp teeth, and his craggy face, covered in numerous scars, scrunched up at his vain attempts to break free. After a number of times, Maw stopped ,and let dark-clad form hang there like a motionless puppet.

Eventually, the door slid opened, and in came the warden of his cell, the cursed clone captain Cody. “You’re wasting your time,” he said. “Those binders were specifically made for containing people like you.”

Maw growled, trying to use the Force to peer into the clone’s mind. “You will undo these restrains, now!” he commanded.

The good captain remained still for a second, his expression hidden by his helmet. Then, he said, “Nice try, but that won’t on me. General Kenobi has given me plenty of training to deal with you.”

Kenobi. Maw’s anger grew hearing that name. The blasted Jedi Knight and his pupils defeated and imprisoned him aboard this ship. They beat him, humiliated him!

“And don’t think to try it on anyone else,” Cody added. “They receive similar training. They aren’t so weak-minded,like your friends were.”

“Just you wait, clone!” Maw swore. “When I get out, I will remove your putrid stain from the Force! There won’t be a bone left of you or your crew for the worm to feed on! I will…”

Maw stopped, feeling another presence outside his chamber. His anger still boiled, but the flames were kept to a standstill. Cody, blind to the Force, merely crossed his arms and taunted, “You’ll what, Maw? Go on. You were going to say something.”

The door opened, and the familiar presence made himself my own. “I don’t believe that will be necessary, captain,” said Jedi Master Krell.

The Besalisk, four armed and almost frog-like appearance, easily caught Maw and his warden’s attention. The Jedi Master easily towered over the pathetic clone, who glanced upward at him. “Master Jedi,” Cody greeted. “I thought you were in your quarters meditating.”

“I was, until I heard a noise coming from this chamber,” Krell explained and one of his two right hands stroked the small beard on his wattle. His yellow eyes turned to the prisoner. “Hmm, Maw. Former Jedi Sentinel. Once sought to destroy the Dark Side. How far you have come.”

Maw bared his teeth at the Jedi Master, but held back his tongue. “That won’t do you any good,” Cody told him with a wily tone. “If you keep doing that, you might get some wrinkles.”

“Return to your command post, captain. I shall take it from here,” Krell said before Maw could retort.

Cody glanced at Maw then to Krell. “Yes, sir,” he acknowledged with a salute.

Once the door slid behind clone, Maw finally hissed at Krell. “Why have you done nothing?! I should be free by now!”

“It is not my fault you were sloppy,” Krell shot back. “You were supposed to hold Skye. But you lost to a mere Knight and two children.”

Again, Maw bit back his tongue. “It still doesn’t change a thing,” he whispered. “I can’t be stuck here forever.”

“Don’t worry, my friend,” Krell grinned, his eyes glinting with malevolence as he made his exit. “It won’t be long, now. You just need to wait.”

Alone once more, Maw hung from his restraints and growled at his situation. As much as he hated to admit it, Krell was right. For whatever planned the Besalisk, all he could do was wait.

Anger rising again, Maw pulled on his restraints.


Coruscant was the same as ever, Padme found as she walked onto the planet’s surface. The heart of the Galactic Republic, it was standing testament to rest of the galaxy. The planet being one, big city, Coruscant was filled with sparkling skyscrapers, man-made structures that went down several hundred levels, and hundreds of thousands of human and alien species in each level. Today, there were few planets that could compare to it. That being said, Coruscant was far from perfect.

Upon arriving, Padme’s first decision was to inform the Senate. She took a hovertaxi and went straight to the Senate dome. It wasn’t too hard to find; a giant steel dome surrounded by small statues of ancient Republic guardians and chancellors from long ago. After she paid the driver, a multi-tentacled Revwien, Padme strode blast the many wealthy citizens, senators, and representatives.

“Senator Amidala, is that you?” Padme heard through the crowd

Stopping, she turned and was surprised to see a familiar face. “Vice-Chancellor Palpatine,” Padme gasped, immediately bowing.

The Vice-Chancellor of the Republic, an old, graying man beset in long dark robes and accompanied by a pair of Senatorial guards, Palpatine gave a warm smile. “No need for formalities. We are old friends after all,” he said.

Padme, albeit a bit embarrassed to be wearing a simple white uniform in front of the Vice-Chancellor, managed to smile back. Palpatine had been a mentor in her early days as a senator. “Thank you, Vice-Chancellor. What brings you to the Senate?”

“I was going to ask you the same thing, my dear. I understand you were on Skye.”

“I was, and it’s been liberated,” Padme answered jubilantly. “I’m here to give my report to the Senate.”

“Ah, I see… another victory for the Republic.”

“Yes. Hopefully, this war will end soon. Then, we can peace.”

“And you can go on with your wedding, correct?” Palpatine added with a smirk.

“How-?” Padme asked, but the Vice-Chancellor cut her off.

“My dear, Anakin has a nasty habit of spilling such information. Congratulations, by the way.”

“I see. Thank you,” Padme commented, forming a mental note to talk to her fiance. “And you have some business here, right? Is there something going on in the Senate?”

Palpatine’s eyes shifted, only by a little. “Well, I’m not at liberty to say, but there has been some new… developments.”

Padme blinked her eyes. “Developments?”

“I’m afraid you will find out when you attend the meeting,” was all the Vice-Chancellor said before he and his guards left the area and a confused Padme.


The flight to Coruscant was shorter than Anakin had expected. Upon arriving at the heart of the Republic, he was the first to get out, parting ways with Master Luminara and her pupil, who went to meet with the other masters and the Supreme Chancellor, and Padme, who went to meet with the Senate. For Anakin, his destination was right in front of him.

In the midst of Coruscant’s tall skyscrapers and exquisite luxuries, the Jedi Temple stood tall and proud as it had for centuries. When he first arrived at the Temple, Anakin had been surprised by the sheer size of the ancient ziggurat and the spires sticking out of it. Inside felt bigger than the out, with long corridors and halls made of fine materials, ancient and ornate patterns etched onto the floor, and much more.

Anakin’s boot echoed on the floor as he trailed down the Temple’s corridors. Already, he could hear the constant chatter of apprentices and initiates. About what, he couldn’t hear the exact words, and his curiosity grew up on seeing a rush of tunic-clad apprentices.

Anakin grabbed one by the shoulder, stopping her in place. “Hey, what’s going on?”

“Haven’t you heard?” asked the apprentice, a green-skinned Rodian.

“No, I just got back. Now, what’s going on?” Anakin shot back impatiently.

“There’s going to be a Knighting! All the apprentices heard about, and we just want to see it.”

That caught Anakin’s attention. “A Knighting? Really?” he asked almost skeptically. The apprentice nodded, he said, “Take me there.”

The Rodian did, up one of the many stairs and down another corridor. The area of interest was by the bronzium statue of the great Jedi Master Odan Urr, with a swirling cloak and an ancient, unlit saber and power pack on him. Anakin saw the statue loom over the gathering crowd of Knights and apprentices. When he came closer, Anakin whispered in surprise, “No way.”

At the center of the commotion, a young apprentice, a ghostly white-skinned and bald Rattataki, knelt by the base of the statue. She was dressed in the white garb of a Jedi apprentice. Her master, the legendary and Ky Narec, stood in front of her, his green saber ignited and at ready.

It was rare to see a Jedi knighted outside of the council chamber, let alone seeing it with a large crowd. Anakin himself was surprised that he managed to catch the knighting just in time. He was rather envious that it wasn’t his master knighting him, instead of this apprentice who knelt in front of everyone. The expression on her face was of calm and serenity, but Anakin could feel the excitement radiating off of her.

As the green blade passed over the apprentice’s head, Anakin began to remember the warm feeling of a lightsaber blade, the sizzling smell of blasters bolts, and the kind voice of an old Jedi Master.

“Remember, Anakin. The Jedi trials will test you in ways you cannot imagine. It is for every Jedi not only to prove their skill and courage, but to face their demons. In time, you will face those trials, and it will be them that shape you into the Jedi you are meant to be…”

Then, as Anakin reminisced about the wizened Jedi, the voice of Ky Narec brought him back to the present. The Jedi Master smiled as he brought his blade on his pupil’s right shoulder, then the left, and then back to right, bestowing the ancient rites of passage on her.

“By the will of the council, by the will of the Force, I dub thee, Asajj Ventress, Jedi Knight.”

The procession over, Narec deactivated his saber. The knights and apprentices all around began clapping in congratulations. Anakin to joined in the thunderous applause while Narec’s pupil, the Jedi Knight Asajj Ventress, rose on her two feet. Ventress’ gaze fell over the gracious crowd, grateful for all who came to this special moment.

Her eyes met his briefly, and her lips turned into a proud smile. Anakin merely grinned back, as if to retort her smile. He and Ventress had their little rivalries, one always wanting to one up the other. Ventress may have beaten him to knighthood, but Anakin promised himself that one day, he would be there. He would be knighted and make Obi-Wan, Padme, and everyone else proud.

"Adventure, excitement. A Jedi craves not these things!"

- Yoda

W.S.

Author
Time

CHAPTER 5

Vader never thought he was that good at meditation. It was one of the few things he had little control over. Often, he would try to meditate to find some vision of the Force, as other Jedi would… or so what Master Kenobi had told him.

Taking deep breaths and exhaling them, Vader did his best to himself steady. The few masters at the Temple taught him how to control his breathing. So, he practiced his breathing, whenever he had the time. Vader’s had been practicing for half of the journey to wherever it was Master Kenobi was taking him, and his attempts had been less than satisfying.

Then, just like now, Vader sat in his quarters aboard Master Kenobi’s ship. And the only thing he saw was darkness.

A frustrated breath left Vader. He needed to learn more. He wanted to be a good Jedi. He needed to perfect it, if he was going to be that. So, Vader continued with his meditations. He did as he was taught and slowed his breathing. Everything seemed to fade away, until there was nothing left but his breathing, so he focused on that. In, and out. In, and out. In, and out. In…

A flash.

Explosions rang out as great warships fired at one another.

Flash.

A dark figure stood victorious with a red lightsaber in hand.

Flash.

By the dark figure’s feet were the bodies of Jedi. Masters, knights, even students. A face stood out from the dead, and it was…

“Barriss!” Vader cried with an audible gasp.

Moments passed, and he realized he was back in his quarters. A cold sweat ran down his unmasked face, and if anyone came in as he was he, they would have seen the complete and utter fear. Vader did not even wonder how much time had passed, as every bone in his body shook with fear.

A hand over his chest, Vader inhaled and exhaled to calm his thumping heart. He knew what he saw. A vision. He had a vision. Why though? Why happen now of all times?! So many questions ran through Vader’s mind he barely try to process them all.

The chime on his comm made Vader jump from his sitting position. Reaching for it, he answered, “Yes, master?”

“Are you alright, Vader? I sensed something…”

“No!” Vader cried out, then said with less excitement, “No, it’s nothing. Just a nightmare, that’s all.”

There was silence on the other end before Kenobi said, “Very well… Just to let you know, we’ve arrived.”

Looking out the window in his quarters, Vader saw that he and his master. Outside was a giant dustball of a planet, and filing through his implanted memories, Vader could only sigh at the sight of sand. The course, rough, and irritating sand.

Welcome to Tatooine.


It had been some time since Anakin last visited the Room of a Thousand Fountains. Taking a seat by one of the meant fountains, he took in the scenery. The chamber itself was a garden inside the Jedi Temple, with literally a thousand fountains all over to provide an aura of peace and serenity. Many Jedi came in to meditate and study. Anakin just wanted a place to sit, especially after the events of the past few weeks. It was the peace he needed.

Well, it would have been if not for a Togrutan youngling, who called out, “Hey, Skyguy!”

Anakin turned to the little menace running into the Room of a Thousand Fountains and right towards him. “Hey, Snips,” Anakin waved back.

“Ahsoka?! Ahsoka!” Barriss’ voice called out as she came in after the Togruta.

Anakin raised his eyebrows at the Mirialan. “When did you get back? I thought you were with your master?”

“I… was…” Barriss managed to say between breaths. “… she wanted me… to come back… while she talked… with the masters…”

“I see,” he nodded, then jabbed a finger at the Togrutan girl. “And this little one?”

“Hey! I have a name!” shouted the girl, to which Anakin pretended to ignore.

“I’m sorry Anakin,” Barriss apologized with more air in her lungs. “Ahsoka wanted to see you as soon as I told her you were here.”

“You don’t say…” Anakin said as he eyed the girl in front of him. “Well, Snips, you’re definitely taller than the last time I saw you.”

Snips, or rather Ahsoka, merely replied with a grin on her orange face, “I’m growing up too quickly for you, Skyguy. The next time you’re away, I might be even taller than you!”

“Pssh, like that will ever happen!” Anakin grinned back, putting a hand atop Ahsoka’s headdress.

As Ahsoka tried to free herself from Anakin’s ‘wrath,’ Barriss could only sigh. “Ahsoka, you can’t bother Anakin, right now. He’s been busy.”

“Don’t worry, Barriss. I just want to ask him something,” Ahsoka assured her, then asked Anakin, “Why can’t Jedi marry?”

Anakin’s lips thinned. Oh boy. That discussion again. “Why do you want to know?”

“Well, I asked Master Jocasta, she gave me the same answer-love leads to the Dark Side-but when I mentioned you, she didn’t say anything.”

“Well, I guess I’m an exception,” Anakin said vaguely. “Not the first time it’s happened.”

Ahsoka’s confusion remained glued to her face, so Barriss took it upon herself. “Ahsoka, there have been instances yes, but it is not permissible for a Jedi to have attachment.”

“Why not?” asked Ahsoka.

“Because of the danger,” Barriss explained, repeating what her master had told her. “When attached to another, you risk leaving yourself open to pain. That person you care can be gone the next minute, and you will susceptible to the Dark Side. That is why Jedi, myself included, try to not attach ourselves with others.”

“What about you and Vader?” Anakin shot back with a grin.

Barriss was unable to come up with the right words. “Well… I…” sputtered out of her mouth.

“Oooooh, someone has a cruu-uush!” Ahsoka said in a sing-song voice.

“Ahsoka!”

“Careful, emotion leads to the Dark Side,” Anakin chuckled.

“Please, don’t encourage her!” Barriss told Anakin, who laughed at her.

“But it’s so cute, isn’t it?”

“Adorable, even!” squeaked Ahsoka.

“Ahsoka, I’m telling you, if you don’t stop this…”

“Vader and Barriss sitting in a-”

“That’s it!” Barriss shouted, lunging for the Youngling. Ahsoka dodged, and in moments, the two were running about the place.

Anakin’s laughter rang out in the chamber as he watched Barriss chase after Ahsoka. Apprentice and youngling ran all over the place until they headed for the entrance, where a shadow of a female figure strode through. By the time Ahsoka noticed, she had already bumped into the figure’s legs, and she stared up at a pair of glaring blue eyes.

An annoyed Asajj Ventress put her hands on her hips. “What’s going on, here?”

“Knight Ventress! We’re sorry!” Barriss apologized.

“Right, we are,” Ahsoka nodded frivolously.

“You didn’t answer my question,” Ventress said.

Ahsoka started. “Well, Barriss confessed she has a crush on Vader…”

“I did not!” cried the accused.

“On second thought, I don’t want to know,” Ventress interrupted, rubbing at her temples. “Get out of here, you two. Take your gossip somewhere else.”

“Right!” Ahsoka gave a mock salute. “We’ll talk about Barriss’ crush on Vader elsewhere.”

“Why you-!” Barriss cried, as she chased Ahsoka past Ventress.

“Watch it!” Asajj said, but the two were already gone. She sighed in defeat before noticing Anakin. “Hey, Anakin.”

“Asajj,” Anakin waved. “How has the life of a knight been?”

“Riveting. Fifteen minutes of nothing but talking to the masters,” Ventress replied dryly as she sat next to Anakin and sighed. “You know, I thought when I was knighted, I thought I would be going on missions and helping others. Instead, I’m just stuck here.”

“Be glad you’re not out in the field.”

The words came out a bit bitter than Anakin wanted. Asajj heard them and replied sympathetically, “I am. Just thought I’d be doing more for the galaxy.”

“Maybe when your saber skills are as good as mine.”

“Is that a challenge?” Asajj’s eyes pierced Anakin, who grinned back. She stood and grab hold of her two sabers, one in each hand. “Well, why don’t we take care of this the old way?”

Anakin stood himself and grabbed his own saber. “You sure? Last time, I checked our scorched was four for me and two for you.”

“That can change,” Asajj smirked, activating her yellow blades. “This time, I’ll try not to damage that face of yours.”

“Careful, wouldn’t want my fiance to see us. She might get jealous,” Anakin quipped before he lit his saber.

“I don’t think she has to worry. As humans go, you’re a bit dull.”

“Hey! I’m pretty handsome. Just ask the other female pupils!”

“Like that’ll prove anything,” Ventress waved it off as she crouched down and launched herself at Anakin.


“Master,” Vader inquired as he trailed behind Kenobi in the hot desert, “why did we land so far out here? Why not at a spaceport?”

“Because the nearest ine is a hive of scum and villainy,” answered Obi-Wan, who led the trail. “We’re here for a short visit, and any troubles we’ll have will only delay us.”

Obi-Wan heard a small huff of disapproval from behind him. Vader, so used to more regulated and cooler temperatures, had never experienced anything like Tatooine. It would give him nice experience, or so Obi-Wan thought.

After some time, Obi-Wan set his sights ahead. There it was, a small dome of a homestead with the moisture vaporators dotted all about the sand. Next to the homestead was a pit, that no one would notice from afar. Outside, by one of the droid helpers, a young man, blond and in thick desert robes, worked diligently on that appeared to be broken wires and circuitry.

As he and his student approached the homestead, Obi-Wan called out, “Need a hand?!”

The robed man was surprised that he almost jumped. He whirled around to glare at the interloper, when he stopped, his eyes now wide with surprise. “Ben?” the man uttered.

“Hello, Owen,” Obi-Wan smiled. “I hope you don’t mind, if I drop in for a bit.”

“No, not at all,” the man, Owen, said in his shock. Turning back to the homestead, he called out, “Beru! We have some visitors! Why don’t you come on up?”

A few moments later, a young woman with a short haircut and purple robes came out. “Who is it?” she asked, but her question was answered when she set her sights on the Jedi in front of her. “Ben?!”

Before Obi-Wan could open his mouth, the petite woman laughed herself and entrapped the Jedi Knight in a tight hug. “Aha, it’s so good to see you!” she exclaimed.

“You too, Beru,” Obi-Wan managed to wheeze out as he returned the hug.

Once Beru released her grip and stood with Owen, she took notice of Vader. “So, who’s your mysterious friend here?” she inquired with a toothy smile.

“This is my other apprentice, Vader. Vader, say hello to Owen and Beru Lars.”

“Hello,” Vader greeted.

Seeing the curious stares from Owen and Beru, Obi-Wan was glad Vader wore a mask. No doubt, his face would shock and surprise Owen and Beru, and Obi-Wan preferred to avoid a case of mistaken identity. Also, ever since he awoke from the vat, Vader had knowledge, memories of Anakin’s past. Mere bits and pieces though. Vader was still as much of a stranger to the couple.

“What happened to Anakin?” Owen asked, bringing Obi-Wan out of his thoughts.

“He’s on Coruscant,” Obi-Wan replied. “He’s taking care of something for me while I’m away.”

“How long do you plan to stay?”

“Not long. Just a day or two.”

“Oh, Owen stop interrogating him. The two must be boiling out in this weather!” Beru exclaimed before she grabbed Obi-Wan’s hand and dragged him back into the homestead. “Now, why don’t you come inside? We have some blue milk, if you’d like.”

Obi-Wan smiled at the warmth he hadn’t felt in some time. “I think that would be terrific.”

"Adventure, excitement. A Jedi craves not these things!"

- Yoda

W.S.

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