Galen Argyus had finally returned to Coruscant after healing from the wounds he had suffered at the hands of Trandoshan raiders who had kidnapped dozens of Wookiees from Kashyyyk for the Hutt slave markets. The idealistic Jedi had infiltrated Trandosha in Hutt Space and made a failed attempt to free the wookiees with the help of the Kashyyyk Liberation Front. He had been severely wounded and captured by the trandoshans. But not before he got a message out to the KLF who petitioned the Jedi Council for aid. The Council opted not to get involved.
Despite that Galen and the wookiees had been rescued by a small band of Jedi, led by General Saberota, who had gone into Hutt Space against orders. Many on the Jedi Council saw Galen as a maverick and a troublemaker and sought a way to keep him under control. To that end he had been called in to meet with Master Ashlan Kataar at the Jedi temple on Coruscant.
The Jedi Master sat calmly in an isolated meditation chamber that looked out on the skyline of Coruscant. Galen suspected that the reason for meeting him here instead of the main chamber of the Jedi Council was to limit the audience for his Seeker arguments. Galen waited impatiently as Master Kataar was in deep meditation. Finally when he felt like he couldn’t take it anymore the Togruta Jedi opened her eyes and regarded him intently. Galen met her gaze steadily.
“Galen Argyus you have often gone against the edicts of the Jedi Council. What do you have to say for yourself? How do you justify invading the sovereign space of the Hutts to further your own agenda?”
“Forgive me Master Kataar but I fail to see why freeing sentients from a lifetime of servitude should be referred to as ‘my agenda’. It should be the calling of all Jedi in the Galaxy to fight against the enslavement of sentients.”
The stately Togruta’s eyes narrowed, “It is not our place to judge the actions of governments. We must remain neutral no matter how distasteful that may beco…”
Unable to hold back Galen interrupted, “How can you possibly believe that, Master? There were lives at stake! We only did what was necessa…!”
The Jedi Master held up her hand and Galen stilled himself mid sentence. He mentally chastised himself for being so impulsive as to interrupt his superior. His gaze went to the floor as he struggled to control his emotions. Master Kataar continued on calmly as if nothing had happened.
“History has taught us what happens when Jedi become embroiled in Galactic politics. Such actions led to the corruption of Anakin Skywalker and turned countless others to the Dark Side of the Force creating the darkest time in the Galaxy’s History. We can never let that happen again.”
“But, Master, if we, through inaction, allow oppression and injustice to thrive while we have the power to do something about it we will likely create our own worst enemies! We will be despised for doing nothing by the victims of our passivity. We are part of the Galaxy! We cannot ignore it,” Galen rebutted his voice rising with increasing passion.
“Do you suggest we use our ‘power’ to invade Hutt Space and rule it as we wish?”
Surprised by the question Galen was off balanced, “No, master, of course not! But I…”
“From there I suppose you believe we should use our ‘power’ to rule the entire Galaxy? To impose our own morals and beliefs on all sentients?” Galen was silent. His eyes downcast.
“Of course you do not. Because such arrogance would lead you to the Dark Side,” Master Kataar said decisively.
“Many on the Jedi Council see your actions as dangerously presumptuous and some believe that you act only to increase your personal glory as the ‘Emancipator of Socorro’.”
“What? No, Master. Please! I have no interest in being a celebrit…”, Kataar held up her hand again and Galen went silent.
“I believe you, Galen” she continued again. “That is why I prevented a vote to exile you.”
Galen started at that and his eyes came up in shock. The Jedi Master held up her finger to quiet him before he could protest. “I am convinced that you act out of compassion, not to increase your own status.”
The Jedi Master sighed heavily clearly feeling a great burden of some kind, “Exile is distasteful. We recently had to exile two Jedi from the order for acting irresponsibly and endangering innocents.”
Appalled Jaden retorted, “But Master, how could you do that? If you exile these Jedi will they not continue on a path of destruction? Any acts they may commit will be the full responsibility of the Order that abandoned them!”
“Do not presume to lecture me on responsibility! They were using the secrets we taught them out of greed and taking bounties for the Hutts. We had no choice but to exile them!” Master Kataar replied her voice rising for the first time.
“I…I…Please forgive my impertinence, Master. I meant no insult.”
Master Kataar paused for a moment to regain her composure.
“As I said there were some who called for me to exile you for your actions. But, I have another solution. We will see if we can focus your efforts on teaching. Perhaps if you are responsible for a padawan you will act more sensibly in the future.”
“What? A padawan? You can’t be serious!”
“You may come in now,” the Jedi Master turned her head and called out to the open door way ignoring Galen’s objections.
“Master I…”, Galen stopped when a young woman with shoulder length red hair entered the meditation chamber her head bowed. The Jedi Knight knew immediately that the padawan had heard the entire exchange between him and Master Kataar.
The Jedi Master gestured to the young lady, “This is Padawan Leoni Venusia. Her master, Jaxor Kelrune is recently deceased.”
“Master Argyus will take over your training, Leoni.” She said in a kindly voice. “He is a compassionate and wise Jedi. You are fortunate to have him as your Master.”
“Thank you, Master Kataar,” Leoni Venusia acknowledged humbly. Looking up her face featured a crooked smile.
“I am honored to be your padawan, Master Argyus.”
Galen Argyus simply stared at her in shock.
The Crucible, owned and operated by Cortree Tincove after he salvaged it on Raxus Prime descended gracefully through the clouds of Coruscant and gently touched down on a landing platform at the Jedi Temple. A guard of several serious looking Jedi Knights awaited the disembarkation of the ancient Cruiser’s passengers. A tall, robed figure moved slowly down the ramp flanked by Jaden Windu and Cortree Tincove.
“General Saberota, please come with us,” said the leader of the troop of Jedi. “We have made the arrangements as we discussed.”
“I understand,” the old General turned to his companions, “Until we can get some answers it is best I stay under the supervision of the Order. I will see you as soon as I can my friends. May the Force be with you.” He clasped arms with Jaden and Cortree and turned away.
The cyborg walked toward the Temple with trepidation clearly etched on his face. He had not been back at the temple since Anakin Skywalker had led a legion of stormtroopers into it’s walls in an assault to wipe out the Jedi order. That had been the worst day of Gisaku’s life as he had failed to save countless children from the blade of Darth Vader and his clone troopers. The Jedi had been cut down by Vader himself while attempting to stop the slaughter. That was his last clear memory before waking up aboard the Crucible in a stasis pod.
The pod bore an uncanny resemblance to the one that the Cultists on Durace had hatched the Dark Side cybernetic warrior known only as Aurek. Which raised several red flags. And finding the same type of pod on the five thousand year old freighter crash site was disturbing. It suggested that there was something much deeper going on.
The General was left with some very disturbing questions. How is it that Saberota’s cybernetics were almost identical to Aurek and the ancient corpse found on the crashed ship? Where had he been for the last 100 years? Was he a danger to his new friends? To the galaxy itself? What ties did all of this have to the mysterious Infinite Empire? These questions raced through the Jedi General’s mind as he calmly made his way deep into the Temple.
Jaden Windu walked alongside Cortree into the temple carrying the case that contained the ancient holocron that they had found on Durace. Cortree carried his own prize. The head of the medical droid from the crash site. He had been working on recovering data from it but so far was unsuccessful. The droid was over five millennium old after all. It would take a good deal of time to restore the failed data.
As the pair entered the Temple Cortree looked around at some of the unfinished construction and even blocked off areas in the temple. He saw a flickering broadcast of the Galactic News Network on an old console with the host, Gul Shyssa reporting on what had happened on Durace. It was shocking that the Chiss Ascendancy had come out of hiding after over a decade without contact. Gul Shyssa was just hitting his stride when the console shorted out in a brief shower of sparks.
Cor walked over to the old console with open panels and began poking around. He felt almost drawn to the old transmitter that he found there.
“Looks like y’all need to give your help a raise,” said the mechanic as he instinctively began the reset protocols on the panel.
“The temple is still under construction,” Jaden Windu said slipping into a lecturer’s cadence.
“It used to be the Emperor’s Palace after all and it suffered extensive damage during the Civil War. The Jedi Order is being very careful to clear and inspect it before allowing anyone to endanger themselves.”
He began looking over the mechanic’s shoulder watching his dexterous fingers fly across the old circuits.
“Palpatine was a powerful Sith with many schemes,” he continued somewhat fascinated by Cor’s ability to fix nearly any device, “Master Skywalker did not want to reopen the Temple here at all but Grand Master Veshraan decided to move the Jedi Council here to be closer to the seat of government for the Republic.”
“Hey! Looks like I got something,” Cortree exclaimed. “These old logs have been in the data buffer since The Clone Wars it looks like.”
“Can you activate them?” Jaden asked excited. As an archaeologist he was captivated by the discovery.
“Yeah. Yeah I got it. Looks like several entries. Not sure if the files are all intact though,” Cortree said. With a click the holoemitter fluttered to life. The fringer continued to work the transmitter as the image stuttered from garbled static to an image of recognizable surveillance footage. They saw a group of Jedi around a holotable watching an incoming message from a robed figure.
“I know him,” Jaden said, “That’s Obi-Wan Kenobi!”
“He was a General during the Clone Wars like Master Saberota. He eluded the Empire for decades and was Grandmaster Skywalker’s first teacher. Can you play the video?”
“Wait. I have something…”
“I am….ppy to report that General Grie…..s dead!” the room erupted in cheers and the image went blank.
“Wait! Bring that back! Can you bring that back?” Jaden asked with excitement.
“Naw. The data is just too corrupted. I might be able to get more out of it with time. There are other entries though.”
He brought up an single image of a cloaked figure marching up the long stairs of the Jedi Temple with a whole legion of clone troopers behind him.
“By the Force. I think that is Anakin Skywalker,” Jaden said.
“Darth Vader actually,” said a familiar voice. A smiling Galen Argyus entered the chamber flanked by his new padawan.
“Galen! It is good to see you my friend,” Jaden said shaking his friend’s hand. “And who is this?”
“Jaden Windu, Cortree Tincove allow me to introduce you to my new padawan, Leoni Venusia,” Galen said introducing her with a flourish. The young lady bowed her head in greeting.
“Padawan?” Cortree exclaimed still working on the transmitter. “How did that happen? Y’all think we can get us some padawans to crew the Crucible? Might come in handy.”
“No. I am afraid that is unlikely. The padawan does have a new mission to present to us. A mission that the Jedi Counci…”
Galen went silent as another log came to life. It wasn’t very clear and the sound wasn’t functioning but they could clearly see images of Darth Vader cutting down any Jedi he came across in the surveillance footage. No matter what age they were. All of them were overcome by the slaughter and rendered speechless.
“I have read about the Jedi Purge but seeing it in action is…distressing,” Jaden said quietly. The log cut to a later point showing Obi Wan Kenobi sending an emergency message.
“…repeat. Do not trust your clone troopers. They have turned on the Jedi and are killing us wherever they find us. I say again. Tython Temple. Do not tru….one troopers. They have turned on t….You must stay an…otect the temple at all cos….”
“Tython Temple? That is the mythical birthplace of the Jedi Order!” Jaden exclaimed. “It is thought long lost and is supposedly located somewhere in the galactic core.”
“Cortree, can you trace the location of the temple from the signal?” asked Galen.
“Naw. There is no way we can do that. That part of the log was heavily encrypted and is almost totally degraded. Not even I can recover that. Sorry.”
“Perhaps I can try something instead,” Galen said closing his eyes and putting his hand on the transmitter.
Galen Argyus surrendered himself to the Living Force controlling his breathing and falling into a deep trance. He imagined himself being Obi Wan Kenobi, felt his confusion and distress as the Jedi order was decimated by the machinations of Palpatine.
He had visions of coming to the Temple with Yoda, the wizened Jedi Grandmaster. He felt the despair of discovering that his friend, his brother, Anakin Skywalker had murdered children and had become the monster that is Darth Vader. The site of the slaughter shook Galen to his core and touched on the tragedies of his own life.
Suddenly he was six years old again and hiding in a ventilation shaft from the Trandoshan slavers that had murdered his parents and taken his sister from him. Struggling to maintain his vision Galen forced down the old pain using the teachings of Master Tosh Diath. Fear and hatred threatened his control and with a snarl Galen refocused on his goal but not without a taint of anger and darkness as old emotions surged within him. He opened his eyes with a start.
“I know where the Temple is,” Galen exclaimed triumphantly to his fellow Jedi. He called up a galactic map and indicated a system deep in the Galactic Core. “Here,” he said. “It is in this region.”
“Well, that is nice an’ all but do yah happen to know a hyperspace lane leading to it? Because that there is No Man’s Land. The Deep Galactic Core is full of black holes and is the most dangerous region to jump into in the galaxy,” Cortree drawled.
“He’s right,” Jaden said shaking his head with disappointment. “We can’t take the risk without getting more information.”
A smile lit up Galen’s face as he had an idea.
“I believe my new padawan may be of help,” he said cryptically. “The Grandmaster of the Jedi Order from that time would likely have access to that kind of information right? Well, my padawan was asked to brief us on a mission the Council want us to undertake. A mission that might just hold the key to finding Tython.”
All eyes turned to Leoni and she didn’t shrink from their regard at all. She smiled her crooked smile in acknowledgement and understanding. “My master is correct. The Council has tasked us with going to the place where Master Yoda hid out from the Empire. A planet called Dagobah. The Empire expunged all records of the Old Jedi Order and no images of Yoda survived and they want to commission a statue in his honor. We have been asked to investigate Yoda’s home and find any images or effects from the old master. Perhaps he had the information we seek.”
“Exactly. The Force is with us. It is guiding us to find Tython. I am sure we will find what we need on Dagobah,” Galen said smiling.
For several days the group of Jedi gathered the materials they would need for their expedition. Galen was convinced that his new padawan was reporting on their activities for the Jedi Council but said nothing about it to her. He was working hard to establish a relationship with her built on trust and didn’t want to accuse her falsely. If the Council objected to their goals they had ample time to intercede. In the meantime they had preparations to make.
They requisitioned a small shuttle pod because it was felt that the Crucible was too large to land on the uncertain surface of the swamp covered planet of Dagobah. They gathered supplies and equipment while Jaden did research on the ancient Holocron that he had brought back from Durace with his former master and current Chief Archivist of the Jedi Council, Master T’ket. It was slow going as they were taking every precaution with the dangerous Dark Side artifact. Jaden was unable to learn much other than the artifact was far older than five thousand years old. It suggested it might even be from the era of the Infinite Empire thirty-five thousand years ago. This was very exciting to the young archaeologist and his verpine master. But Jaden was eager to make his way to Dagobah and hopefully to Tython. To walk on the planet where the Jedi Order was founded would be a triumph. And from what he read it was a tradition for a new Jedi Order to send emissaries to Tython to meditate. Finally, the day came when they had finished their preparations.
They were heading to the Crucible’s landing platform to embark on their journey when Galen and Jaden sensed they were being watched. Galen signaled to the scholarly Jedi to distract his padawan and keep her out of harm’s way while he ducked behind some crates and circled back around in an attempt to sneak up on their tail. He failed.
“Stop where you are, Galen Argyus!” called out a familiar voice.
Galen stopped and turned to see a young woman standing before him. “Wait. I know you,” he said. “You’re Kerris Halcyon aren’t you? Your grandfather was one of Master Skywalker’s first students. We trained together on Yavin IV. You were expelled from the order years ago.”
A pair of identical twins stepped out from their hiding place both carrying lightsabers. Understanding lit Galen’s face.
“And you must be the pair of Jedi that was expelled from the Order recently for taking bounties. Master Kataar mentioned you.”
“We have names, " The Twin with a strange lightsaber said, “I’m Biggs and my brother’s Wedge.”
The other Twin, Wedge, telekinetically spun small stones in the air around him, “We gave ourselves those names to honor the old heroes.”
Names aren’t everything." Galen said.
“Galen Argyus,” Kerris said ignoring him, “We are here to bring you in. Porbotta the Hutt has put out a substantial bounty on you and your sister and we are here to collect.”
“My sister? W-what do you mean? She has been dead for 20 years now,” Galen stammered in astonishment.
“Your lies won’t save her, Argyus. You are coming with us and you are going to take us to your sister, Leena Argyus,” Bigges snarled.
“I asked you a question,” Galen said softly a dangerous glint in his eyes, “And you will answer me. What do you know about my sister?”
Lightsabers ignited and the three bounty hunters charged the lone Jedi with inhuman speed. But their reflexes were no match for Galen’s. He was a Master of Ataru and moved with a blur of motion that was too fast to be believed jumping through the air in an acrobatic leap that placed him directly behind them.
To his credit one of the twins managed to move away to prevent the flanking maneuver from being effective. Lightsabers clashed and sparked as the three of them cut and slashed at the elusive Jedi Knight. Galen’s blade spun and he flipped and twisted in a stunning series of moves that left him untouched.
Jaden called out to Leoni to stay where she was and took off toward the fight as soon as they all heard the crackle and pop of lightsabers clashing. Cortree followed and neither noticed that the young padawan was fast on their heels. They arrived just in time to see Galen jump off the floating platform suspended thousands of meters above the surface of Coruscant right into traffic. The twins leaped immediately after him while Kerris Halcyon ran over to a speeder bike and jumped on it. Jaden followed the group leaping from the platform as well and Leoni was right behind him.
“Oh, no you don’t,” Cortree whispered as he lined up a shot on the woman with his heavy blaster as she fired up the bike’s turbines. His barrage took the female bounty hunter by surprise and she gunned the engines to evade his barrage. Cortree shifted his aim and blasted the steering vanes of the bike causing it to spin out of control and slam into the side of a building exploding on impact. Kerris leaped from the back of the vehicle at the last second falling out of sight.
“Well, poodoo,” Cortree muttered lowering his weapon.
Galen fell for some time aiming for the main traffic lane of airspeeders. He landed on the roof of a speeder in a three point stance. He got up and jumped from one speeder to another leading the twins on a dangerous chase. It seemed he would leave them behind but he tripped when an angry dug pilot kicked out at him in annoyance after he landed on the hood of his speeder. Galen fell to the next layer of traffic below and, twisting desperately, managed to barely land atop a bus going in the opposite direction. Unfortunately he lost his lightsaber on impact with the bus’s roof.
“I’ve got it master!” his padawan screamed as she continued her dive after the lightsaber excitement apparent her face.
“What? No! Leoni, get back here!” Galen started to follow his reckless padawan but one of the twins landed next to him on the bus and began swinging at Biggs, the Jedi with his odd looking lightsaber. Galen managed to duck and flip out of the way of the series of thrusts and cuts from the bounty hunter but it took all of his attention. He very nearly lost his head when the twin adjusted a knob on the saber’s odd hilt and the lightsaber’s blade grew a meter in length giving the bounty hunter far more reach than was typical.
Galen was able to dodge the twin’s blows but was getting increasingly desperate as he noted the second twin was fast approaching. But luckily Jaden appeared in rather spectacular fashion. Using magnetic boots to adhere to the bottom of another oncoming airspeeder the cerebral Jedi blocked the twin’s approach. Jaden was hanging suspended upside down swinging his blade at the startled opponent with assured calm.
Galen reached up his hand without looking and his lightsaber slapped into it. He activated it just in time to block a deadly blow that would have cut him in half.
“Perhaps padawans aren’t so bad after all,” he muttered to himself under his breath.
The passengers on the bus, mostly schoolchildren, erupted in cheers when the Jedi went on the offensive driving the bounty hunter, Biggs back with a rapid fire series of quick cuts. Seeing that his brother was in trouble the second twin, Wedge, disengaged from Jaden and jumped onto the bus behind Galen. He began concentrating on the Force.
Realizing that the amount of power the twin was gathering would likely destroy the hoverbus Galen leaped away putting as much distance as he could between him and the children aboard. Unfortunately, this left him wide open to the assault. Pure telekinetic Force slammed into the Jedi Knight and he crashed into the open bed of an oncoming speeder truck, stunned.
Jaden caught up to the hover bus at that point and was engaged by the first twin as the second one leaped into the back of the speeder truck anticipating his triumph. Galen was queasy and found it hard to focus clearly suffering from a mild concussion. He struggled to rise while wiping blood from his mouth as the bounty hunter approached grinning.
“You are mine, Argyus. The bounty on you is enough to make us all rich,” Wedge said opening his coat. He activated a second lightsaber and two more floated out telekinetically and began circling around him in a barrier of light. The four blades menaced the concussed Jedi as the bounty hunter stalked his intended prey.
“You are willing to sacrifice the lives of innocent children just to make a profit?” Galen asked incredulous. “I owe Master Kataar an apology. She was right to exile you. You are no Jedi.”
The battered Jedi stood up resolutely holding his lightsaber in a guard position. “I am going nowhere with you. You and your brother will surrender immediately for endangering the lives of those children. I cannot allow your recklessness to continue.”
“That will never happen,” the brother snarled.
“Very well. I offered you a chance.” With that Galen exploded into motion charging straight at the bounty hunter. He reached the perimeter of spinning blades and blocked one on his lightsaber while somersaulting forward past the second one before it came down on him. He ended up in a crouch right in front of the surprised bounty hunter who swung his right handed blade at Galen’s head with the left handed one scissoring toward his legs. Barely pausing Galen used his momentum to spring up over the flashing blade aimed for his legs while deflecting the second lightsaber with a flick of his own blade. He spun, landing just behind the brother and thrust his blade back at his unprotected back. The lightsaber erupted from the bounty hunter’s chest and for a moment all was still. Then Galen closed down his lightsaber and the bounty hunter fell to the truck bed along with all four of his lightsabers.
“NOOOOOOO,” screamed the unwounded twin, Biggs jumping onto the truck bed.
Galen reactivated his blade and aimed the point at the brother’s throat.
“He still breathes. Surrender now and we will get him the help he needs,” Galen said calmly. “Do not make me destroy you.”
The twin’s lightsaber fell to the ground. Galen moved aside as the brother ran to cradle his wounded sibling in distress. Galen sighed and picked up a datapad that had fallen out during the battle. On it was the bounty featuring his image. Next to his picture was the image of a young woman who Galen recognized immediately. The file claimed that she had been behind the death of a Hutt.
“Leena. It is you,” Galen whispered overcome with a jumble of emotions.