“Transport four, you are fifteen minutes behind schedule. What is your delay?” The Commlink on the console of the Imperial transport said.
The message had been meant for the pilot and co-pilot who had been transporting a prisoner, the Jedi General Tetreen, to the Imperial Garrison on the other side of the planet Tython. The pilot and co-pilot would never respond to the message because Cortree Tincove, Captain of the Crucible, had shot them dead. Cortree and the Jedi Knights Jaden Windu and Galen Argyus had disguised themselves as stormtroopers and had hijacked the Transport over the Silent Desert to free Tetreen.
To rescue the rest of the Jedi imprisoned by the Imperial Garrison, the Allies had been forced to take creative measures…
“Transport four, do you copy?” The Commlink said again.
The new pilot and co-pilot responded as they took the transport to the air and continued on their original course over the Silent Desert.
“This is TK-724, the original pilot and co-pilot are dead.” Jaden Windu said in his best imitation of the stormtrooper he had taken credentials from.
“What happened?” The Base asked.
“The Jedi tried to escape and killed most of us. The Inquisitor managed to subdue her but she killed all but two of us Stromtroopers. Plus our commander’s wounded.” Jaden said as Cortree pressed a command into the console to create artificial static.
There was a long pause as Jaden awaited the answer. If they were not believed, getting past the defenses would become far more complicated.
“Again? Acknowledged Transport Four.” The Officer on the other end said matter-of-factly, “That’s the fourth time this month one of those Jedi tried to escape. Do you require any assistance?”
“Armory.” Cortree said, remembering the plan.
Jaden cleared his throat and began again, “Command, Inquisitor Second Brother requests permission to drop off our wounded at the Barracks and rearm before dropping off the prisoner.”
“Copy Transport four, save travels. Command out.” The Officer said. The Line went dead shortly afterword.
Jaden and Cortree let out a breath. Cortree grabbed Jaden’s hand in victory. Cortree punched in commands into the Auto-Pilot and looked over his shoulder.
“They bought it!” Cortree said, “Don’t seem at all suspicious. Managed to get permission to go to the barracks at the back of the base. We can hit the Armory and get some detonators.”
Galen walked into the cockpit with General Tetreen right behind. Galen stood in the Inquisitor’s garb, adjusting the black outfit of the dead darksider to his slightly different frame.
“Great, that should buy us some time.” Galen said.
“Your disguises will not last forever.” General Tetreen said, “They will discover us when it is the least convenient.”
“No offense, General but why didn’t the Legion try this before us? Disguises and such?” Cortree asked, genuinely curious.
“We did, Captain.” Tetreen confirmed, “The Imperial Garrison knows the face and voice of everyone on planet and doesn’t use many droids across planet. It has made false-facing next to impossible.”
“They know all of your faces?” Galen asked, concerned.
“Small planet. They’ve have sixty years to study us all.” Tetreen said.
“Well, they don’t know us.” Galen said.
The Transport crossed over the Silent Desert, passed the mounts of shifting sands and empty pieces of planet beneath them. They slowed as they came to the perimeter of the translucent energy of the Imperial Garrison’s Planetary Shield. The shield was strong enough to repel any bombardment if it had stretched over the whole planet, but this one was concentrated over the Imperial Garrison’s territory alone, further focusing its strength.
As the transport moved further into Imperial Territory beneath the defensive shield, two things drastically changed. The first was the distant sky. The Guardian Fleet, the mass of Droid-Controlled Starships orbiting Tython seemed to congregate over the Imperial Territory. Waiting for their moment. Waiting for their purpose…
Cortree looked at them through sensor scopes on the console, spotting the massive Super Star Destroyer right over the Garrison.
“If that shield goes down we need to bug out fast.” Cortree said, “That fleet is gonna glass this whole area.”
“What if we destroy the jammer instead?” Galen asked.
Jaden rubbed his chin in thought, “I don’t think so, Captain. Droids of that era would favor a ground assault if their communications were no longer disrupted. But they would also favor ground assault if they were unsure of friends or foe.”
“Meaning they won’t attack immediately unless we can take down both the shield and the jammer.” Cortree said.
“How long would we have before the droid fleet began attacking after the shield and jammer go down?” Galen asked.
“About five minutes. “ Jaden confirmed.
“What is that?” Tetreen said in a cold voice. Trandoshans couldn’t get goosebumps, so she just stood still.
The second thing that changed as the transport came in further was the near sky and the ground beneath. The ground turned from arable soil to black as pitch. Polluted. Dead. As the Allies reached out in the Force, the area felt dead. Then it felt cold as the sky changed to dark clouds. The Planetary defense shield became illuminated by the crash of thunder and the crackle of lightning from Ion Storms.
Jaden and Galen gasped in recognition of the phenomena.
“Just like Cassandra’s Hope.” Galen said, remembering his adventure with General Saberota.
“Just like Durace…” Jaden said.
“You’ve seen this before?” Tetreen said, “What is this?”
“The dark side.” Galen said, “A Planet being corrupted.”
“Coming up on the Garrison…” Cortree confirmed.
The Transport crested a canyon and the Imperial Garrison came into view. Four prefabricated bases connected by elevated walkways surrounding a space elevator. On the south side was the Research Prison, with the Shield and Jammer bases on just to the North on opposite sides both connecting to a barracks on the North end. The transport passed over the research base, following their programmed course to the barracks at the back. In the center of the base lay what the Imperial Maps referred to as The Spire, a Space Elevator stretching from the corrupted soil to the Orbital Station above.
The minds of the Allies began racing as the base’s structures came into view.
Cortree looked at the back of the base, focusing on a section with empty ports on the outside, “That research base is too small. Looks like a section’s missing.”
Galen looked over the base as they passed by everything and started shaking his head in confusion. An AT-AT Walker marched below them. The image of it on the scope showed the correct markings of the modern empire.
“These bases have been upgraded.” Galen confirmed, “That technology is modern. That AT-AT is new.”
“Someone has been here before us? Resupplied them?” Jaden said.
“Impossible…” Cortree said,”Files said their star charts got destroyed. No one in their right mind comes this far into the black let alone out again without a map.”
Jaden’s eyes grew as they got closer to the space elevator. The Allies saw that it was made of a line of stacked rings of some material not quite stone and not quite metal. It had veins of power and light running through it from planet to sky. The Elevator connected at the bottom to some kind of ancient ruin.
“There it is…” Tetreen confirmed, “That is the Wellspring.”
“Why is an elevator connected to a Force Nexus?” Galen asked.
Puzzle pieces clicked inside Jaden’s head. The Archaeologist snapped his fingers in realization.
“That’s it! The Infinite Empire.” Jaden said, “Before the invention of the Hyperdrive, The Infinite Empire was rumored to use strange technology that allowed them to travel across the stars without one. But the planets involved had to be strong in the Force for the process to work. It is speculated that is the reason Empire was so spread out in clumps all over the Galaxy instead of being contiguous.”
“If that’s true then…” Galen realized, a cold lump forming in his throat, “The Empire is stronger than we thought.”
The Barracks building on the North side of the Imperial Base was crawling with Stormtroopers and Imperial Officers. A pair of AT-STs marched out on their patrols. Tie-Fighters launched and landed, providing Air Support to the base.
More than a few of the Stormtroopers and Officers sat aroundtables playing sabacc and watched the same holograms.
“Those Stormtroopers look bored out of their minds.” Galen said.
“Not surprisin’” Cortree said, “Backwater outposts like this are more ‘wait’ than ‘hurry up.’ If these were different circumstances, I could make a killing trading parts, supplies and luxuries with these guys.”
The Transport carrying the Allies touched down and the gangplank extended. Cortree and Jaden marched out in their Stormtrooper disguises with the surviving Stormtrooper Commander laying unconscious on a hovergurney. The pair met an Imperial officer and squad of other troopers on the deck. The two fake troopers saluted.
“The Inquisitor says there’s no need for the reinforcement.” Jaden lied, “The Jedi seems keen on Mind Tricks. Made us shoot each other.”
The mention of Mind Tricks made the troopers shutter. The transport retracted its gangplank and took off, heading back out.
“What happened to him?” The Imperial Officer asked, indicating the Stormtrooper Commander on the gurney.
“Jedi got ‘em.” Cortree said in his best stormtrooper voice, “Took that Trandoshan hand to hand. He deserves a commendation.”
“I’ll see he is.” The Officer responded, “Take him to Medical and report for reassignment.”
Cortree and Jaden saluted, picked up the gurney and marched away.
The pair of fake troopers came to the Medical Bay and handed the gurney to waiting medics. The medics took the commander’s helmet off. The trooper’s eyes were blank as the medic shined a light in them.
“Take care of him, guys. He’s getting a medal. We need to report in.” Cortree said, keeping up the act.
“How many surrets did you give him?” The medic asked.
“Two…maybe three.” Cortree said.
“That’s enough for him to sleep for a week. Who trained you in…?” The medic asked. Unfortunately when he looked up the two troopers had already gone.
Jaden and Cortree followed the signs and found their way to the Armory. The pair approached the Quartermaster’s Desk, which took up the room with a massive transparasteel window above a weapons drawer. The Quartermaster took his feet off the desk and put down the datapad he was reading as Jaden and Cortree put their blasters into the Weapons drawer. The pair of fake stormtroopers stood at attention and saluted the Quartermaster.
“What do you need?” The Quartermaster asked.
“Requisitioning new gear, sir.” Cortree said, “Need replacement blasters and the Second Brother needs Ordinance for Demolitions work. As powerful as you got.”
“What does the Inquisitor want to blow up?” The Quartermaster asked as a matter of course.
“Whatever he wants, sir.” Cortree responded.
The Quartermaster yawned at the fake troopers, obviously not suspicious as he put forth a datapad for the pair to sign, “Whatever… Sign here.”
The Pair signed the datapad and the Officer moved to the back of the Armory Cage and grabbed a few devices from a sealed case. He put a box of charges and a pair of blasters into the drawer and slid them toward Jaden and Cortree
“Just got these in.” The Quartermaster said with a grin, “Enjoy, but be careful with these.”
Cortree inspected the charges and sealed the case. The pair, picked up their new blasters, saluted and walked off. As soon as they were around the corner and down the hall in a safe area, Cortree opened the case and handed Jaden a few charges. Jaden looked down at the charges skeptically as Cortree engaged his commlink to Galen.
“Galen, we got the charges.” Cortree said.
“Do you have enough to destroy the Shield Generator or the Jamming Station?” Galen asked.
“How about both…and then some?” Cortree asked with a grin concealed by the helmet.
“Perfect.” Galen said.
“I’ll take the Shield Generator.” Jaden said, “You take the Jamming Station.”
“Right.” Cortree said and the pair went in opposite directions.
Meanwhile, the transport made for an automated landing as a group of Stormtroopers led by an Imperial Officer stood at attention.
Onboard, Galen and General Tetreen looked at the assembled mass concerned as they touched down.
Tetreen nodded at Galen, “Let’s get into character…”
Moments later, Galen put on the helmet of the fallen inquisitor and started psyching himself up. He beat his chest and tried to orient himself, testing a new voice out.
“I am an Inquisitor!” Galen said to himself in a deeper voice than normal, “You will bow before me!”
Tetreen stood behind him sliding his Lightsaber up her orange jumpsuit’s sleeve, “Don’t go overboard, young Jedi. Just tell them what to do and they’ll obey.”
Galen nodded and helped Tetreen back into the Muzzle and restraints that Cortree had glued back together with a light adhesive. The restraints looked like they worked, but in actuality they could easily be gotten out of. Galen and Tetreen straightened up put on their immaterial guises. Galen grabbed the back of Tetreen Jumpsuit and pretended to weakly struggle as though she had taken injuries.
Galen hit the button on the console and the gangplank lowered. He stood out in front, pulling Tetreen by a chain behind him.
“Stand back!” Galen boomed in a deep voice and made grand gestures with his arms, “Your minds are too weak to resist her mind tricks. Leave her to me…”
The assembled mass quaked in their boots and the Officer turned to the troops, “You heard the Inquisitor, dismissed…”
The crowd departed and the pair descended the gangplank in their charade. The landing platform was in the middle of a wide open assembly area overlooked by a pair of blaster cannon posts. The Area led straight past the cannons towards a fork. The map had indicated that the right fork led to the prison, which was where they were cleared to go. The other went to, “Research.”
“We need to check out this Research wing.” Galen whispered, “We might not get a chance once the fireworks start.”
Tetreen nodded and the pair moved toward the left fork. As they approached, Galen finally got a good look at the writing on its side. He had seen the logos and markings before, on some of the data his sister had shown him on their way to Coruscant from Eriadu. The Force flowed through Galen and he could sense it was the same. This was part of something bigger…
The wing was clearly labeled in script at least sixty years old,.
Imperial Special Projects, Research Unit 1138
The Research wing forked towards a pair of nondescript project overlooked by observation windows. Galen and Tetreen continued their deception, pretending to be an Inquisitor and his prisoner.
Galen was unsure which path to take, so he breathed in and let the Living Force flow through him. He let the Force guide him to the left-hand path and the project labeled as, “Project New Dawn”. Through the windows the pair saw cloning chambers with technicians working on them inside. A single Imperial Officer, the Lab Head stood in the midst, going over their myriad of activities. Galen and Tetreen continued their charade and stepped into the room to find answers.
“Inquisitor?” The Lab Head said with a twinge in his voice as he and the entire stood at attention, “An inspection wasn’t scheduled until next week.”
“Silence…” Galen said in the deep Inquisitor voice, he was getting better at it, “Report your status.”
The Officer nodded, shaking in his boots. He guided Galen to one side of the room. Galen saw banks of not just cloning tubes but of other medical equipment.
“As you can see…” The Lab Head said, “We continue to make great advances in the Genetic Modification of live subjects. Our therapy techniques offer new opportunities for new military and civilian applications. We calculate that birth defects and genetic abnormalities can be almost eliminated from most of the active population at large…”
Galen nodded at the equipment as the Officer continued. He recognized some of the equipment from the reports he had read about the Imperial Remnant. Gene Splicing had become popular in the past few decades. “Purification of the Empire” they called it. The Ordering and Strengthening of Nature. This was where was being worked on it seemed. Maybe where it was born…
But what the Lab Head was telling Galen was clearly cutting edge research. Far beyond what was in regular use.
“That can’t be everything you have to report.” Galen boomed out, “What about the other project?”
Galen assumed there was always another project. Always another secret. The Force and his experiences with the Empire told him there was always another secret.
It paid off.
The Lab Head escorted Galen to the other side of the lab, towards a few specimen jars holding organic matter in suspended animation for study. Severed hands cauterized just below the wrist. Severed legs. A few taller jars filled with preservative.
“As I keep telling Colonel Valarus,” The Lab Head said, the name familiar to Galen, “I realize that the turnaround time for New Dawn is too slow, but every attempt at Accelerated Growth of subjects has failed. The tubes don’t work. It takes a lifetime to grow these subjects. The Accelerated Subjects have constitutions too weak for the most menial of deployment since the resulting subjects have minds beyond madness and a lifespan comparable to a Telosian Mayfly. The current process is the only one that works so far.”
Galen felt the power coming from the Force Nexus beneath his feet. It gave him an idea, “And the Wellspring has made that possible?”
The Lab Tech clasped his hands, exasperated,”Yes…that whatever it is down there plus the Dark Star Technology plus whatever it is the Grand Inquisitor and his Council has been doing to them has allowed for fully stable subjects, but only through the use of natural surrogates with no growth acceleration. A single subject will theoretically possess a full range abilities with memory retention…theoretically. But, it takes a lifetime to grow them and the implants still make them a little twitchy when they come online.”
The Lab Head led Galen to the edge of the lab, one of the places where Galen had noticed there was a section missing. Galen scrutinized the area and the let the scientist keep talking as the Imperial Officer indicated the specimen jar on the end, a whole specimen. The sight took Galen’s breath away…
“I’m sorry Inquisitor, but I can’t tell you any more because of that turnaround time, the fact that most of the subjects are in the field being monitored by their handlers and most of my samples were taken to the other facility. I cannot tell you what I don’t know.” The Lab Head continued, “But I can say without equivocation that The Silent Inquisition in its current iteration is so far a resounding success…”
The specimen in the jar at the end was without a doubt a human Jedi Knight. The datapad in front indicated the sample’s important data, “Tythos Kelrune. Killed in Action. Sample recovered from the Battle of Geonosis.”
The dead Jedi’s face was the same. Jaxor Kelrune. Leoni’s former Master…
Galen’s pulse quickened. His mind raced at the implications. At the name the Scientist had spoken. The Silent Inquisition…
“Inquisitor…what is the prisoner doing in here?” The Lab Head asked finally, “Is she to be dissected?”
“That is none of your concern,” Galen said as he came back to reality,”You are to give me a full readout of all current research status on the double.”
“Yes, sir…” The Lab Head said.
The Technicians scrambled to get what Galen had demanded. A few minutes later the Lab Head emerged with a datapad. Galen took the pad without looking at it.
“Back to work.” Galen said as he walked off.
“May the Force Serve You Well…” The Lab Head said as Galen walked out of the Lab.
Before Jaden headed to the signal jammer station, he found a window overlooking the station. The Jedi then watched, waited and analyzed with an archeologist’s eye. He let the Force flow through him and let his instinct guide his careful judgment. Jaden saw the flows of traffic going in and out of the Shield Generator. He saw the formations form and move away. He saw one formation of troopers making up a patrol about to start that had a space in back.
Jaden marched in proper Stormtrooper fashion right into the empty space into the back of the patrol formation. The demolition charges were close at hand on his belt right where Jaden needed them. As the patrol went through facility, past the sensitive equipment and power stations, Jaden in the back stuck the demolition charges onto power conduits and structures. With the Force flowing through him, he felt more than thought about the best places for the charges to go. As the Patrol completed, Jaden placed the last charge on the central powerline for the Transport Grid, which he suspected would disable all the hyperlifts when the charges went off. As the patrol took Jaden around the Shield Generator a second time, Jaden realized that the points the Force had guided him to place the charges on would destroy the main power coupling, overload the main generator and cause extra potential devastation.
On his way out of the shield generator, Jaden secretly engaged his commlink, “Shield’s ready.”
“Good job.” Galen whispered over comms, “I think you’re need in the research wing called Dark Star, trooper. I don’t have time to check it out.”
Cortree Tincove on the other hand, marched the best he could for the first maintenance shed he could find close to the signal jammer and picked up a toolkit. He walked down the walkway to the guards out front and held out the toolkit in front of him like a badge of honor.
“Inspection time for the conduits for the refreshers.” Cortree said in his best Stormtrooper impression.
The Stormtroopers on guard were skeptical until they heard the word, “Refreshers” and let Cortree right through. Cortree took a quick glance around as he entered the facility. A few modern upgrades here and there but mostly the station was old Clone War-era tech. Probably converted from the Republic Inteliigence Outpost that used to be here. Old old tech meant…
Cortree’s familiarity with Technology told the fringer exactly where to place the charges. While performing, “Inspections” Cortree waited for guards to pass and placed charges inside the consoles right next to the mainframes. Then he placed a few in back on the support struts for the antenna and the transceiver. The trip took Cortree to a lower floor overlooking the central area of the base. A sight caught his eye as he finished his mission.
“Jammer’s ready and I think I found a ride. Meet you at the Prison.” Cortree said over commlink as he headed towards an AT-AT Walker on standby next to the station.
“Good job.” Galen whispered over the comms, “Everybody get ready…”
Galen and Tetreen had decided after seeing the New Dawn of the Empire it felt right to actually take Tetreen to the prison. The pair rounded a corner and found the structure. An open area surrounded by several Stormtrooper Ready Stations. Starting a fight here would be a real trial. Beyond them though were…
Racks and racks of pods of not quite stone or steel. A hundred and fifty odd Jedi stood in silent stasis. The pods were not exactly the kind Galen had heard about from Jaden and Cortree’s adventure to Durace, but the lines of energy that flowed from the pods into the ground towards the Spire gave him a few ideas as to their purpose. It wasn’t the imprisonment itself that angered Galen, though. It was the silence. Galen couldn’t feel them through the Force. He couldn’t hear screams or cries for help. Galen heard nothing from the Jedi Knights before him. He clenched his fist as he headed towards an area that caught his eye in the back.
The Maximum Security Wing was marked by a pair of Frost-Troopers armed with Cryoban Cannons standing before a massive blast door. Some type of chilled gas flowed into and out of several sections, formed condensation and making breath visible in this part of the base.
The Imperial Officer to the side held up a hand as a matter of procedure, “Identify.”
Galen once again made a show of it, putting on the mental guise of an Inquisitor.
“Stand aside,” Galen boomed, “I must get this prisoner to security immediately, Lieutenant. I cannot restrain her for long.”
The Lieutenant looked down at his datapad, “I don’t have any S-Class prisoners scheduled, today.”
“Her mind tricks made the guards aboard my transport shoot each other.” Galen lied, “You wish her to try again?”
The Lieutenant hesitated a moment and snapped his finger, “Open the door. Double watch on the prisoner.”
Another two Frost-Troopers came up behind Galen and Tetreen in addition to the Stormtrooper Guards there for the regular transfer. The Officer engaged the console and the massive blast door opened just long enough for the mass of people to get through into a sealed airlock marking another massive blast door. The second blast door opened revealing to Galen a dozen Cryotubes unlike the others. There were no connecting conduits of energy to these. The Jedi inside were just sealed inside. What made these twelve so dangerous? Galen didn’t know but he figured it would be a good enough to cause the kind of trouble he needed to free these people.
Galen’s eyes glanced to his left, spotting the pair of Imperial Officers overseeing the Mysterious Twelve. The Officers began lowering a new pod for Tetreen. It was time.
Galen tapped Tetreen’s chain in the previously rehearsed signal pattern. Tetreen elbowed Galen in the face and ran for the center of the room.
“The Prisoner is getting away!” Galen said, “Frost-Troopers, surround her!”
The Frost-Troopers complied and leveled their cryoban cannons just as Tetreen let a burst of Telekenisis. The Force Slam knocked the Frost-Troopers off their feet and towards the walls. Tetreen ended the maneuver raising a hand towards Galen.
Galen drew the double-bladed red lightsaber and “resisted” Tetreen’s power.
“She’s too strong…” Galen said as though under a vice, “Look out!”
Galen spun around in one deft move. Four Stormtrooper helmets fell to the floor.
Galen then threw himself into the console in front of Imperial officers as though he were thrown by the Force.
The Officers held up blasts and reached for the alarm. Galen raised a hand, stopping them.
“Wait.” Galen said, “I can handle this myself…”
The Imperial Officers hesitated.
It was the exact time Galen needed to make another sweep with the Lightsaber, cutting down the Imperial Officers.
Tetreen ripped off her muzzle as Galen held up the lightsaber to Tetreen.
“Trade you.” Galen said and Tetreen nodded in agreement. Galen threw General Tetreen the Second Brother’s Double-Lightsaber while Tetreen threw Galen his blue-bladed one.Galen ran to the console and pushed away the body of a fallen Imperial Officer. He opened console’s controls and looked through the available commands.
“Can you them out?” Tetreen asked.
“I think so. I’m not as talented with slicing as Cortree.” Galen admitted.
Galen looked at the readouts indicating the Prisoners were the most dangerous subjects in the prison.
“General, do you know these prisoners?” Galen asked.
“They are our heroes.” Tetreen confirmed, “These Jedi have caused more trouble for the Imperial Garrison than the rest of us put together.”
“What did they do?”
“They reprogrammed the Guardian Fleet in orbit above us now.” Tetreen said, “Among other things.”
Galen grimaced in concern. But to liberate the Jedi in the prison, Galen needed help. These Mysterious Twelve would have to do. Galen punched in a few commands for revival sequences for the prisoners.
“I think I got it.” Galen said, “I got it!”
The red lights on the outside of the cryopods turned green and let out a burst of cold gas. The pods opened and the Jedi came stumbling out.
Then Galen heard the familiar sound of an Imperial alarm.
“Great…” Galen said, holding up his commlink, “It’s time for an escape!”
When the alarm went off in the other parts of the phase, the Stormtroopers and Imperial Officers ran to the weapons lockers and began arming themselves. The voice of the command center blared out across the base amongst chaotic motion.
“Security Breach in Maximum Security Wing. All hands to battle stations. All hands…”
Cortree looked up to the troops forming up down the walkway and looked back to the AT-AT before him. The disguised Fringer nodded.
“I know this music…” Cortree said as he went through the AT-AT’s door and made his way to the Cockpit.
Cortree ran to the cockpit and immediately hit a few buttons on the commander’s console. The commands closed the doors behind him and unhooked the massive walker from the platform. Cortree jumped to the Pilot’s station and began moving the walker forward towards the Prison. The Stormtrooper squad right behind him on the platform shook fists at him and screamed at the fleeing walker. The commlink aboard buzzed in Cortree’s face.
“Walker Two you are not cleared for…” The Command Center said.
Cortree cut off the Officer in a scream,”Negative, Command. We’re mounted up and headed to cut off the prisoners’ escape.”
“Copy Walker Two.” The Commander seemed not suspicious given the circumstances.
As soon as Cortree was a few walker lengths away from the Jamming Station he moved to the next part of the plan. Cortree triggered the detonator on the Demolition charges he had placed. A series of sparks and fireballs erupted from the rectangular jamming dish, making it if fly to pieces. The building was still intact, but the force of the explosion shook the Walker and the rest of the base, sending up a cloud of smoke.
Cortree pulled out his personal Commlink to the Crucible and checked the air waves. Crystal clear now. He opened a line to the Crucible.
“Cortree to Crucible. Leoni, do you Copy?” Cortree said into the commlink.
A moment later an answer came back, “Leoni here. Ready. Copy.”
“Ready for transport. Come out for us. Watch out for Tie-Fighters.” Cortree said.
“Copy. Roger…oh whatever.” Leoni said, “Taking off now…AHHH!!!!”
The transmission garbled as Cortree heard the distinctive sound of liftoff in an enclosed space.
Cortree shouted into the comm without missing a beat,”Watch it, that’s my ship!”
“Sorry!” Leoni said before cutting off.
Galen threw the Inquisitor’s mask onto the ground and ran to the Jedi he released. The Jedi, barely conscious a few minutes before started ripping open the lockers next to the adjacent Containment Area that had been holding all of their gear for safekeeping. The Jedi soldiers distributed their gear, armor and lightsabers in the styles of the Old Republic. Galen approached a tall woman who strapped armor on in a practiced motion. Body language and the Force suggested she was the one in charge of this Mysterious group.
“You are the one we have to thank for this escape?” The woman asked, looking straight at Galen, ”Jedi?”
“My friends as well are no friends to the Empire.” Galen said, then extended a hand in greeting,”Galen Argyus, Jedi Knight. Just in from Coruscant.”
The woman smiled and shook his hand vigorously, “General Bohemond, Legion of Light. Make ready.”
Galen ignited his lightsaber and stood before the door as the various unfamiliar Jedi lined up next to him and General Tetreen. The Other Jedi ignited their own blades, each unique and old in style. Their Armor, just as ancient in design was also ready for action.
General Bohemond and her troops shouted in unison in a familiar statement as they raised their hands to blast door, “May The Force Give You Strength!”
The group of Jedi blasted the blast door with the Force all at once and ripped off and into a squad of Stormtroopers. The group of Jedi ran to towards the Troopers with Lightsabers drawn.
Galen led the charge as a whirling dervish of blue light as he shouted,”For FREEDOM!!!”
The crowds collided and Stormtroopers fell in droves as Cortree’s Demolition charge went off, giving the Jedi another moment of surprise. Blaster bolts flew through air. Some deflected back at their senders. Others stopped by raised hands throwing Force Blasts in the other direction. The troopers were forced back by the might of the Jedi, but their numbers kept replenishing from the Guard Stations on standby.
Tetreen ran to the readied stasis tubes and started opening them up, freeing the captives within.
“Suppressing Fire!”A Stormtrooper commander shouted he and his men unleashed a torrent of bolts towards the Jedi.
The bolts were sent back by the whirling dervish that was Galen Argyus and his mastery of Ataru. He leapt, jumped off the wall and into another squad of troopers, cutting them down. He kicked one against the wall while stabbing backward, taking the trooper in the chest.
In the walkway between the Shield Generator and the Prison, a squad of Stormtroopers pushed past a lone trooper who seemingly couldn’t shoot to save his live. The squad paid no mind the lone trooper, so they never saw Jaden Windu’s Lightsaber ignite. Jaden’s purple blade cut through the troopers in a carefully timed ambush.
“Jedi Windu!” Galen shouted, getting his attention and marking him as a Jedi to the Tythoni, “Check out the Dark Star Research before they destroy it. I’ll hold here.”
“Right!” Jaden shouted over the din before cutting down another trooper and taking up his blaster. He turned off his lightsaber for the time being and ran towards the Research facility.
Jaden held up his commlink as he ran,”Cortree, Galen could use some covering fire if you have time.”
“On it!” Cortree responded, jumping into the gunner’s chair. The display switched between options, showing his possible targets.
The other AT-AT had its back to Cortree, but he wouldn’t be able to turn around for a while. The Spire was too big to be hurt by the AT-AT. But…
Cortree caught a glimpse through the thermal scope of a caped figure moving towards the prison. The Force to him what it was. He took aim at the man behind the wall in front of him as the Walker drew closer.
“Inquisitor incoming!” Cortree shouted into the comms.
Galen cut down another trooper and turned to the new foe appearing from the Research wing as Jaden ran past him. The First Brother stood prim and proper in his black mask and cape. He drew a curved-hilt lightsaber and ignited its red blade.
Galen rushed towards the Inquisitor’s pointed finger. Lightning bridged the distance between them and Galen rolled with the force of it.
Galen had dodged most of the damage, but smoke still rose from him. The Second Brother raised his saber in salute.
Galen ran at the Inquisitor, swinging in a textbook Hawk-bat Swoop. The Inquisitor took a step back and swept the blow aside, throwing Galen off-balance. The pair matched sabers and circled.
But just then, Galen heard a voice over his commlink, “Fire one!”
Cortree’s AT-AT locked on and fired a blastercannon volley at the Inquisitor.
The Inquisitor leaped into the air just before the explosive attack landed, ripping a hole in the side of the Prison complex. The blast forced the Inquisitor backwards, forcing him to slide on the ground backwards.
Galen coughed up the dust from the destroyed section.
“Damn it, Cor!” Galen said.
“Check your Fire! Walker Two, report!” The commander said over the commlink.
“I was aiming for the Jedi. Checking fire.” Cortree said as he reoriented the AT-AT for a second shot.
The Inquisitor ran in and swept his red blade at Galen’s head. Galen deflected the strike and flipped up to his feet in a kippup. The Second Brother switched styles in the middle of his routine from the elegant Makashi to the diplomatic style of Niman. The Second Brother’s Blade flowed in one hand while his other pelted Galen with telekinetic strikes, slowly widdling down the Jedi’s defense.
The Inquisitor spoke in a melodious voice, “You cannot win this. The Force is not with you nor does it give the Jedi Strength. It serves the Power the power of the Dark Side.”
Galen flipped over the Inquisitor and jumped off the wall. His kick staggered the Inquisitor, who spun and matched his saber strikes again as a squad of storm came in towards Galen. Galen’s move allowed him to flank the Inqusitor, pitting him between Galen and the AT-AT on the other side of the hole.
Meanwhile, Jaden dashed into the research wing and headed straight through the door for Project Dark Star.
He found the scientists inside the room pointing blasters at him as he entered. Jaden thought quickly and just let the Force tell him what to say.
“Jedi are attacking!” Jaden said, “The Grand Inquisitor wants a backup of all project data. Evac protocols, now!”
The scientists moved and started compiling information, ignoring Jaden.
Jaden let the Force guide him to where he needed to go, to the information that would be important to the galaxy. He immediately found himself in a nightmare. Autopsy Tables with Aliens on them lined the wall. The aliens were smooth skinned humanoids whose tall craniums had eyes extended on short stalks. Pieces of technology seemed grafted to their bodies.He didn’t recognize them immediately, but felt they were familiar to him. Then it hit him.
They were the Rakata…the people of the Infinite Empire.
The implications gave Jaden more questions, but he kept going around the room grabbing samples and pieces of data to analyze. The data on the systems next to the autopsies showed Jaden glimpses of research at adapting pieces of a larger Rakatan device to living tissue and modern technology. Theories about what such things could be used for raced. Cellular Regeneration. Inhibited Aging. Augmented abilities….but there was more lab to be explored.
In the back of the room Jaden found a holoprojection of the known galaxy. The Star Map had several planets in many different sectors highlighted. Planets all over the galaxy in the Core, the Mid Rim, Hutt space, the Empire, the Outer Rim and even the Unknown Regions and beyond into uncharted Wild Space. A few of the points noted on the map in the Unknown Regions formed a familiar pattern to Jaden.
A search pattern. They were looking for something. Something big… Something scattered…
Jaden downloaded the Star Map for further analysis.
Galen found himself in saberlock, trying to stare the power Inquisitor down.
“Give into it, young Jedi.” The Second Brother said, “The Rage. The Anger. Use it. Let it consume you…”
Galen’s sweat and courage dripped down his face and sizzled on the lightsaber blades. This Inquisitor was right. Dark thoughts came to Galen for a moment…
Then he heard a voice over his commlink, “Fire two!”
Galen down out of the way as Cortree fired another volley. This blast took the Inquisitor in the back, though his sweeping lightsaber deflected some of the blasts away. The energy ignited his cape, setting his back on fire.
The Inquisitor cut away his cape and threw his black helmet away. His face was that of Count Dooku.
The Second Brother held up his commlink, “Destroy that Walker! It belongs to the Jedi…”
“It will be done, my lord!” The commander of the other AT-AT said over the commlink as the giant walker circled around and took aim at Cortree’s Walker.
Cortree turned the AT-AT towards the other walker and locked onto the side of the neck. He hoped that the AT-AT had enough firepower for the job.
The Inquisitor came at Galen again. The strikes built up momentum as a squad of troopers from the shield generator wing came over the walkway and surrounded Galen. Galen’s speed allowed him to deflect their blaster bolts, but their presence combined with Cortree’s new threat outside meant that Galen was running out of room to maneuver and hide.
Galen tried a desperate gamble. He came in hard and let the Inquisitor into his defense. Galen elbowed the inquisitor in the face, and clipped the inquisitor’s left arm, then spun back around sliced the darksider across the belly.
The Inquisitor let out a groan as Jaden emerged from the lab with all the research materials he could secure in a pack over his shoulder and still fight.
Several Stormtroopers approached Jaden as he walked out of the Research wing and aimed blasters at him for a moment. Jaden pointed back towards the lab.
“A Jedi was just spotted in the research area!” Jaden said, maintaining his disguise, “They need backup!”
The Stormtroopers ran right past him. When the were around the corner, Jaden looked over the battlefield and decided.
“It’s time, now.” Jaden said and pressed the button of detonator on his charges.
At first nothing much happened, the charges barely made a sound inside the Shield Generator, then something sparked something else and the Shield Generator was replaced by a fireball that knocked out all the windows on the base and took all of the power offline. The fireball became a pillar of smoke and ash and the walkways from the Barracks to the shield generator to the Prison fell to the ground as the Planetary Defense Shield fell.
A new alarm sounded.
“Evacuate to the Spire. Repeat. All hands evacuate to the Spire.”
Cortree and the other AT-AT exchanged fire. The Other AT-AT missed by a small margin, but Cortree’s blast struck true on the side of the neck. The massive enemy Walker lurched as the blast immobilized the head and disabled the front left leg.
The stormtroopers continued shooting at Galen, forcing him into the Inquisitor, who was a match for Galen’s own skill. Galen desperately defended himself against the Inquisitor’s onslaught, which continued to widdle his defense to nothing. He considered the dark side…But no.
Galen used the last bit of strength he had and reached into the Light of the Force for more speed and strength.
The Inquisitor swung at Galen’s head and the Jedi jumped over the blow and kicked the Inquisitor in the forehead. Galen’s sword went up under the Inquisitor’s defense and found the Dark Sider’s heart.
The lights in the clone’s eyes went out and Galen pushed him out of the hole in the wall.
Cortree and the other Walker targeted each other again and fired, both walkers hitting each other. The Other Walker’s blast made sparks fly inside Cortree’s AT-AT. But, Cortree’s rapid fire blasts nailed the Walker on the Neck at its weakpoint, making the other joints on the walker explode, making the main chassis fall between the legs that came apart at the joints and fall in opposite directions. The Chassis hit the ground and smashed all over the ground below.
Cortree breathed a sigh of relief as he searched for another target…
…Just in time for the Crucible to descend and extend its gangplank onto the prison’s walkway.
“Yeeho!!!” Leoni screamed as she fired the Blasters in all directions, holding off the Tie-Fighters.
A message came in on every one of the base’s remaining holoprojectors as emergency power cam online. An automated message played on the sliced systems, displaying only the ancient symbol of the Jedi Order.
A calm synthetic voice said, “This is Tython Guardian Fleet. All non-Republic personnel set down your weapons and surrender in ten minutes local time. Non-compliance will result in obliteration from the Ionosphere. May the Force Give You Strength…”
Jaden finally took off his Stormtrooper helmet and looked at the last surviving squad of troopers giving Galen and the other Jedi trouble. He held up a hand used the Force to telekinetically throw the troopers out of the hole in the wall.
“Get to the ship!” Jaden shouted to the others, guiding them towards the Crucible’s waiting gangplank.
Cortree emerged from the hatch on top of the AT-AT, ran across the top and leaped through the hole in the wall he made. He fired his blaster into the retreating stormtroopers and made his way back to the Crucible.
Galen, Jaden and Cortree held off the last of the Imperials too brave or stupid to run away as the Jedi Prisoners piled into the ship behind them. The three Allies were the last ones onto the ship, helped on by Cortree’s droids who were acting as crowd control, filling up every available space.
Cortree closed the hatch retracted the gangplank and pushed a command into the intercom, “Leoni, get us out of here!”
The Crucible circled around and flew as fast as it could to get out of the area. Cortree, Jaden and Galen found their way to the cockpit just in time to see the sensors displaying a sight they would never forget.
The Guardian Fleet fulfilled its purpose with the most awesome, precise display of firepower the Allies had ever seen. Night turned to day as th Imperial Base crumbled around the space elevator.
Then there was a flash of white light and the Tython Orbital Station vanished. Poof.
The minds of the Allies raced at the implications.
“Teleportation…” Galen said, “You were right.”
“It requires more research.” Jaden said, showing off the satchel of artifacts and research materials he took.
Galen smiled and handed him his own imperial data disc, “Yes it does. There are many things that need to be explained.”
The Crucible returned to Balian City to find the Starship town in celebration. People cheered in the streets as Imperial Officers and Stormtroopers were led at blasterpoint by Guardian Fleet Battle Droids. As the Crucible passed over the city, they passed the smoke from the explosions that had surged across the Imperial installations as self-destruct devices destroyed all the modern technology on planet. The crowds followed them as the ship headed towards the Jedi Temple.
The Jedi Training Ship landed in front of the Jedi Temple in the central courtyard, where a legion of Battle Droids awaited them. The gangplank lowered and the Jedi Prisoners piled out in the arms of medical units and surgeons.
Jaden, Cortree, Galen and Leoni were the last ones off the ship. Their appearance drew silence from the crowd as the Jedi all parted. The Allies found themselves standing before an old grizzled Jedi with a white beard dressed in ancient styled armor and carrying a serious, grim expression. They could sense that of the assembled mass, he was by far the most powerful. The Allies stood at attention as the man approached them and looked at the Crucible with a familiar expression. Somehow he knew this ship…
“You are the allies that helped take back Tython?” The old man asked.
“That would be us.” Cortree said.
“Who sent you to us?” The old man asked.
“We were sent by the Jedi Council to find Tython.” Jaden said.
“It took us a while, but we found you.” Cortree.
“The Force guided us here.” Galen said.
Leoni raised a hand, “I flew the ship at the end there…”
The statement drew a glare from Galen.
“What are your names?” The old man asked.
The allies gave them.
The Old Jedi smiled and put a fist to his chest, “I am General Balian. Today, I proclaim that you four are to be known as Heroes of Tython!”
The speech drew cheers of the crowd. Celebrations began and continued long into the night.
Days later, the Crucible came out of Hyperspace above Coruscant.
The Jedi Training Ship went straight past reporters and into the Jedi Temple’s inner docking bay to another waiting crowd of Jedi. The ship landed amidst silence.
Jedi Master Kataar and Grand Master Veshraan flanked General Gisaku Saberota and Leena Argyus in front of the crowd as the gangplank lowered. Galen, Cortree, Jaden and Leoni emerged all at once to find several dozen waiting gazes. The Allies looked around as the assembled party came in closer.
Galen gulped at the sudden attention from the Grand Master himself.
“Well? Did you find Tython?” Leena asked, breaking the silence.
Galen smiled and stepped aside.
“Better…” Galen said as an envoy of Armored Jedi emerged from the Crucible. The sight drew gasps and murmurs from the crowd.
General Balian pulled back his hood and stood before the Grandmaster of the Jedi Order. He stood at attention and bowed to the Grandmaster.
“I am Jedi High General Jeris Balian of the Legion of Light, Commander of the Tython Guardian Fleet, Captain of the Allusis and servant of the Galactic Republic. Reporting for duty, Grandmaster.”
With that introduction, a New Hope for the Jedi Order and the Galaxy was born…
But many shadows still remained…