The name had stuck with Jaden since the device had first mentioned it during initial questioning at Sluis Van. Galen Argyus’ Apprentice, Leoni Venusia had apparently been there and it appeared to Galen it might be linked to the rediscovery of Tython. When the Jedi Training Ship the Crucible set out into hyperspace for Eriadu, Jaden took the time to speak to the Holocron once more.
The Holocron’s Caretaker, the holographic visage of Master Yoda’s diminutive green form, closed its eyes, raised its large eared and summoned several streaming images and pages of information stained in red light. It started by showing its location, at the end of the Dragon’s Trail Hyperlane in what was now the space of the Corporate Sector Authority.
“The birthplace of the Sith, Korriban was…” The caretaker said. It recounted what little was known by Yoda of its early history. Jaden took notes on his datapad as the caretaker presented the knowledge.
“At some point the planet was conquered by an ancient power called the Infinite Empire…”
The fact caught Jaden by surprise. Another connection to that mysterious Empire.
“Enslave the population the Rakata did, but eventually abandoned the planet. The Massassi, planet’s native inhabitants, of greater concern they are.“
The caretaker continued for an hour at least. It told of the rogue Jedi that colonized it. Of the Sith Order that was born from Korriban’s sands. Of the empire that rose from it and was lost to the pages of history.
“Moag Wren? I heard a that guy,” Cortree said, “Likes a good hunt and threw his money around for all the best gear a couple years back. Even went to Raxus to find rare parts.”
“Any idea of his loadout?” Galen asked.
Cortree shook his head, “Expensive. Gotta be expensive. Be ready for anythin’.”
“My contacts on Eriadu have gone dark for the time being. Once we’re on planet they’ll be after us.”
“Maybe not. I got some friends in the docks there. I’ll see what I can do about dodgin’ the Moag…”
“Thanks Cor.” Galen said, “If you could please let everyone know that I need to spend some time with my apprentice I would appreciate it.”
Later, Galen sat with his apprentice Leoni Venusia in her quarters. Leoni had been on edge since the cave, but her anger had spiked up when they had been on Sluis Van when confronted by the reporters.
Galen needed his apprentice to calm down, so he spent a half-hour guiding her through a session of Meditation. But he also needed her to remember what happened to her master.
“Clear your mind.” Galen said, “Allow the Force to wash over you.”
Leoni’s felt the Force flow through her. Past the pain and fear she began to feel a calm. Her mind wandered deeper and deeper into her memory. She remembered her old master, she remembered Yavin IV, she remembered being called to leave on a survey mission in the Outer Rim. She could remember a long flight into parts unknown.
Then there was a torrent. Of emotion, of memory, of…power. She couldn’t keep track of it all. Tombs and sand like before. She let out sounds of distress and Galen placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. The help brought her out of the dark vision, aware that she had been sweating heavily.
“What did you see?” Galen asked.
“Nothing yet. “ Leoni said, “I think…I know I will remember in time. When I am ready. You will be the first to know, Master.”
“Thank you, Leoni.”
Their lesson on meditation was cut short when the bridge’s intercom chimed.
“We’re comin’ up on Eriadu.” Cortree said over the comm.
Jaden, Cortree and Leoni met up in the Crucible’s cockpit. Galen gathered himself as he reached out through the Force. Felt for his sister. He could sense that the message was from her…
“Did you get through to your contact in ground control?” Galen asked.
“Yeah,” the Fringer confirmed, “My buddy in ground control will delay reporiting our arrival for a while. If anyone asks, we are the Azure Fortune for the time bein’.”
Cortree toggled a control and the streaking starlines of hyperspace slowed to normal space. Before the Crucible appeared the familiar sight of their destination the Planet Eriadu. Above the planet on the other hand was a wholly unfamiliar sight. A long black, triangular capital ship that made the companions shutter in unison.
“Star Destroyer!” Leoni squeaked against the heart in her throat.
“What the hell is that doing here?” Galen growled, “They follow us from the Wheel?”
“No. That is not the same Star Destroyer…” Jaden replied.
Cortree punched a few commands into his scopes and zoomed in on the holographic rendering of the craft.
“You’re right, Jaden. The one from the Wheel was a Pellaeon-Class Star Destroyer,” Cortree confirmed, “That one there is a… Victory IV-Class Battle Cruiser. Heavily Armored. Pinnacle of Imperial Firepower. Bigger…than most ships in the republic fleet. ”
“Look again. A Republic Escort.” Jaden said as he pointed to a trio of Republic Capital Ships lagging around the massive Star Destroyer.
Jaden zoomed the Visual Sensors on a line of ships moving in and out of the bays of the Star Destroyer, “It looks like it’s trading. No other Imperial Craft. No Tie-Fighters, Shuttles or Imperial Escort Ships.”
“Captain,” Leoni said raising a hand, “Maybe you could ask ground control.”
Galen smiled and nodded at his padawan’s thoughtfulness.
Cortree toggled the comms.
“Ground Control.” The other end said.
“Ground Control, this is the Azure Fortune.”
“What’cha need Cor?”
“Ah…Star Destroyer? Are you being invaded or held at blasterpoint?”
The Ground Control Officer recited the information like he had a hundred times before that day, “That there is the Imperial Starship Alderaan. Diplomatic Vessel. It’s got Authorization to be in this sector from the Republic Senate Sub-Committee on Imperial Affairs and the Sub-Committee for Relief Efforts until the Governor tells it to leave. Don’t bother it and it won’t bother you.”
The companions blinked in surprise, not recognizing the name.
Jaden Windu broke the silence, “They named an Imperial Starship…WHAT?”
“Cortree,” Galen suggested, “Don’t go anywhere near that thing. Just…just…fly casual.”
As the Crucible flew towards the planet and changed angle on the Alderaan, the companions could see that the ships going in and out were not imperial vessels, fighters or even commercial merchant ships. They were small, rusted starships that were barely space worthy. Cortree pointed out that they were not the craft of well off folk, but the craft of those who could barely afford a ship. A few clear merchant ships seemed to be turned away from the massive Star Destroyer.
“They seem to be transmitting somethin’.” Cortree said, toggling the Comm as the Crucible flew past.
“Attention all vessels, this is the Imperial Starship Alderaan. We are on a Mission of Peace as part of the joint Victory Without War Program. We mean no harm and have no intentions to start a conflict. As a recognized diplomatic vessel, this ship is Sovereign Imperial Soil under Republic Law. Any conflict begun with this ship could be considered an Act of War. Any fire will be returned in kind. As part of the Victory Without War Program, we offer food, constructible shelter, medicine and supplies for those in need of it for no charge of fee or favor in Docking Bay 4. Merchant ships wanting to resell the goods will be turned away and deceptions will face prosecution from the Republic. Those seeking weapons for purchase will find none. Victory Without War is the way of Peace…“
“Very unusual…” Jaden said, intrigued by the words.
“I don’t trust anything the Empire is trying to sell…” Galen said, clenching a fist.
The Crucible came in for a landing at the Eriadu City Spaceport. The port was abuzz with activity. The raggedy ships they had seen go to and from the Alderaan occupied every available landing site. Out of the crafts came hundreds of crates with Imperial markings. The local authorities gathered around the new arrivals, retasked for customs duty for the new imports. Crates were opened and inspected and let through. Just like the message said. Food, water, medicine. The people hauling them looked to be just as ragged as their ships.
The Crucible set down and the Jedi disembarked.
“We can use this opportunity to resupply.” Cortree said as they came down the gangplank, “No tellin’ what surprises Tython has in store for us.”
“Leoni, go with Jaden and Cortree.” Galen said as he put his hood up,“My sister will want me to come alone.”
“What if the Bounty Hunter finds her first?” Leoni asked.
“He will have to face a group of Jedi ready for him.” Jaden said with confidence.
“I’ll stay on the comms. Don’t be reckless.” Galen said.
Leoni forced an unsure smile, “May the Force be with us.”
“May the Force be with us…” The group said in unison, their feelings tempered.
“Are you sure these disguises will keep us hidden, Master Windu?” Leoni asked.
“Of course,” Jaden said,“Master T’Ket loves flea markets. They are always a good place to find antiques others found worthless, but Archaeologists find priceless. The first key to being a good Jedi is the ability to blend in with the environment…”
Jaden, Cortree and Leoni used the lessons of T’Ket to blend in with the crowd as they searched for supplies for the coming trip to Tython. The marketplace was cluttered with stalls and penny credit merchants selling all manner of goods. But now the stalls were being overrun by the Imperial Crates from the Alderaan. Crowds of the hungry and desperate surrounded the crates as people gave away sealed packages of food from inside. A few of them looked like hired mercenaries, sent by the empire to distribute the requested goods. A few merchants tried to buy the crates of food, but were met with growls and displays of blasters. The mercenaries insisted at the ends of blasters that the food and supplies must given freely only to those who need it.
It was the damnedest thing any of the Jedi Companions had ever seen.
The group came to a flea market stall that Jaden sensed was the right one.
“Lesson two,” Jaden whispered, “The art of ‘The Haggle’.”
Leoni stood and watched as her fellow Jedi engaged the merchant in pleasant conversation for some new astrogation sensors…
Meanwhile, Galen moved quietly through the spaceport. He moved not just through the crowd but through memory. For a moment Galen was six years old again. He was being dragged by the arm of his sister towards a waiting ship. Galen saw himself walk into docking bay 47 and climb up the gangplank of a ship for parts unknown to him.
In the present, Docking Bay 47 was closed for maintenance. There was no ship waiting for him. Hairs stood on his neck as he searched the crowd for any signs. The crowd had no threats but a glance up revealed to Galen a shaped high in the sky. A shape circling the spaceport. Something the size of a Starfighter but too far away to fully make out.
“It that you, Moag?” Galen asked the sky, “What are you waiting for?”
Galen’s introspection was cut off by a new presence that moved in behind him. He had never felt a presence like it before but somehow he knew it. The figure, a little shorter than he, appeared silently behind him. Galen tried to look at the figure, but the figure matched his movements. What little he could see of the form’s face seemed steeped in impossible shadows.
“Not here,” A distorted voice said, “The sky has eyes. Go down the hall.”
Galen and the tail moved down the hall towards the front platform of the municipal Maglev train station as an empty car pulled in. The figure touched the turn style and the holographic display shifted rapidly and bleeped confirmation as the train stopped. Instead the entire train opening for passengers, only the doors in front of Galen opened.
“We are sorry, this train is being taken out service. Please wait for the next available train.” The droid announcer said.
Galen and his tail moved into the front car as the doors closed behind them. There was a clack as the front car decoupled and only a single maglev car rode out onto the track around Eriadu City. The light came up and the blinds came down, sealing Galen and his tail inside. The figure walked out in front of Galen at last and leaned against the wall for a moment, breathing heavily with the sound of fatigue.
“This place should be secure enough to talk.” The distorted voice said.
The figure toggled a control and the darkened face changed. The Holographic Stealth field dissolved and revealed a young face a few years older than Galen. Lean, fit and beautiful. A military-style bodysuit held a dozen pouches of gear, tools and weapons. A sword was strapped to her back. A pistol of some variety at her waist and a wrapped package slung over her shoulder. Galen guessed it a collapsed sniper rifle. But, Galen didn’t need to guess as he looked upon the figures face. The eyes, the hair and the features all made his stomach drop out and his Jedi training fade away.
For a moment, Galen Argyus was six years old again as he gave his sister Leena the biggest hug he could muster, lifting her off the ground. Tears streamed down his face. After so many years he felt whole again.
“I thought I’d lost you, sis.” Galen cried.
“You’re so tall, you little womp rat.” Leena Argyus replied.
Galen laughed and set her down.
As they held each other, Galen could feel something new in his sister. Something cold.
He released the embrace and wiped away his tears, “I heard you were in trouble.”
“You have noooo idea…”
“Explain it to me.” Galen said, sitting down.
“So…”Galen said, “Where have you been? Where did you go after Kashyyyk
Leena’s smiled faded a bit as she held up a part of he hair. At the base of her neck was a distinctive but tiny surgical scar.
“They took me back to Nal Hutta. I was bought, sold, bought again and again. It took me five years to figure out enough slicing to program a Medical Droid to cut out the tracking implant and remove the slave collar.”
Leena put her hair back down and leaned against the wall, “Five years of doing what I had to… I stowed away on a dozen ships until I got to the Core. I was legally dead so I couldn’t find anyone. But I was found. Found…and given a new purpose.”
Something seemed off to Galen, “Bounty Hunters? Assassins?”
Leena shook her head and smiled,“The Republic Military. They admired my ingenuity, ability to adapt and blend in. They gave me food, shelter, education and a new home as an Agent with the Republic Strategic Information Service.”
Silence followed. Galen couldn’t believe it.
Leena picked up on the silence and confirmed it, “I’m a spy for the Republic.”
“A spy?" Galen stood silent, contemplating the implications, "Why didn’t you contact me?”
“The Jedi Code forbids attachments. I wanted to respect your new religion’s way of life.” Leena said without malice.
Galen chuckled at the thought, “You’ve never met the current order. We are more flexible on family these days.”
“And I wanted to keep you safe. You didn’t need to get involved in my business.”
“I’m a Jedi Knight. I can handle a little trouble, Sis.”
Leena laughed at that.
“Slavery is a drop in the bucket. There are many many more games going on, Little Brother.“
“Like what? What exactly do you do?”
“I make a better Galaxy…”
“Rhaan Cheska in the CSA builds a new line of droids? Agents like me make sure they have more design flaws and bugs before and after they reach market. I still have no idea where Gul Shyssa gets his intelligence for his newscasts. I have pirates raiding hyperlanes in the Deep Core. I have the Mandalorian Supremacy on the brink of Civil War and the only faction sympathetic to us lost power a century ago. And, for the past decade, I have being trying hard to make sure that the next batch of Hutt Gangsters that comes to power after the current ones kill each other off are ones that are sympathetic to the Republic and know that joining the Republic is a better way of doing business.”
“So, that’s your solution to slavery? Silently conquer the slavers one world at a time while innocent people die?”
“Don’t talk to ME about slavery, brother. Slavery is terrible. I’ve been a slave, dammit. But, Mom… always said you have to treat the disease and not the symptom. Slavery is a symptom. One of many. I treat the disease.”
“Slavery is a disease… We can’t just ignore it.”
“Would you rather we go to war? Turn Nal Hutta and Nar Shaddaa to glass? Start a revolution on Mandalore? Maybe we should just start a purge of all the imperials in the Galaxy. Our way is not fast, I admit. It’s not pretty, but in time things will change.”
Galen fell silent. He considered the words and moved onto another topic.
“What happened with Vargolla?” Galen asked.
Leena swallowed. “He was an asset helping me with my biggest problem.”
“That would be?”
“Ever heard of Special Projects Unit 1138?”
Galen sat and thought. He barely remembered a part of a report he had read.
“Not really. Who are they?”
“Imperial Army Unit. No one knows for sure what they are about. For the past few years they’ve been burning through credits digging up artifacts all over the Galaxy. They also seem involved with the Force Sensitives in Imperial Space disappearing without a trace. Your fellow Jedi, Jora Tarkin, mentioned it as much when he got debriefed. They made waves recently when 1138’s own Colonel Valarus attacked the Wheel with a Star Destroyer.“
Galen blinked, “That Star Destroyer?”
“That Star Destroyer.”
“What’s it have to do with Vargolla?”
“1138 was buying artifacts from everyone including the Hutts. I was using Vargolla to find out what was so damned important about a bunch of old relics.”
Galen thought for a moment about relics, “Have you heard of the Infinite Empire?”
Leena stood silent for a moment and shook her head, “1138’s Artifact hunt and the like is outside my experience. Lately I’ve been caught up cleaning up your messes and the messes of the other Jedi.”
“The SIS tracks the Jedi Order?”
“It’s a part of our mandate from the Sub-Committee for Jedi Affairs. Simple really. ‘No more Palpatines. No more Vaders.’ One of yours goes off the edge, we do what needs to be done.”
“The Senate has that kind of pull? That kind of authority?”
“The Senate could draft you all into lifelong service or revoke your order’s charter and political identity if they wanted to. Right now they just want to make sure you behave yourselves. The policy was the Jedi Council’s idea. But I don’t make policy, I merely enforce it. Especially when one of your own goes off the edge like the one last month.”
“Who went off the edge?”
“Some Jedi went to a planet designated off limits by the Jedi Council. When I set foot on world I…felt something.”
Galen steeled himself for the story. Leena’s calm exterior wavered as she remembered and became confused by her own tale.
“My implants and training keep me level-headed but I felt…angry. I don’t even remember leaving planet. Vargolla was just an asset. Doing what Hutts do. He still kept slaves for appearances sake. He didn’t free them like I wanted him too. He didn’t care about them, they were property. I went back to that slug and I got so angry…I felt something in me. Some strength I never had.”
“Before I knew it I had killed him and the witnesses. I bugged out… But I didn’t give the slug enough credit. He knew who I was, somehow. He knew my real name… But my cover information held. The SIS hasn’t returned my calls so…I think I’m burned.”
“You think the SIS sent the Bounty Hunters?”
“No. Too public. They wouldn’t do that.“
“Why did you come here?”
“Lots of escape routes and for the big thing you probably saw on your way in.”
“The Star Destroyer?”
“It’s a Diplomatic Vessel. Diplomatic Immunity. I can use it and the Ambassador on board to ‘defect.’ I can use it to get close to Special Projects Unit 1138. I can find the missing Force Users.”
“No you can’t.”
“Why not, little brother?”
“The feeling you felt was the Darkside of The Force. You are like me. You have power, I can sense it. You could be trained as a Jedi. We could use someone like you…”
The siblings went back and forth, arguing the points for a while. The argument never got heated. But, both used every argument they could think of until it came to a head.
“Come with us. We can give you sanctuary aboard the Crucible. Please, Leena.” Galen said solemnly.
Leena sat back, “Say I come with you. Where could I go that’s safe?”
“We’re on a mission to find the Jedi Homeworld of Tython. It’s been lost for like 1000 years. A symbol of our order. It isn’t on any maps and maybe your commanders would appreciate you help rediscovering something that could bring the Jedi Order together.”
“So…you want me to help you go into uncharted space into an unknown situation with potentially galactic socio-political ramifications?”
Leena stood silent for a while, considering the possibility. She finally made her decision.
“Sounds like fun…” She said with smile.
Galen and Leena laughed together and smiled in each other’s company. They had a way forward. They had finally reunited. They were ready.
Then, something big landed on top of the Maglev Train car, splintering the windows with its weight, putting massive dent in the roof and tearing a hole to the sky.
The light of a red mechanical eye sensor peered through the tear and into the car.
A synthetic voice came from the thing, “Targets located.”
Another voice came from the thing, this one human sounding.
“Boy, you better run. I like a good chase.”
Galen looked to his sister. Leena looked back with a knowing gaze, smiled and nodded. They were both on the same page.
With impossible speed Galen dropped his hooded cloak, drew his lightsaber and ignited its blue blade.
“I am a Jedi. I do not run.”
Galen swiped his lightsaber at the splintered glass, clearing a way. Leena took the cue and took out the control for a small device just as fast. She toggled it and a holographic field surrounded her and made her disappear.
Galen jumped onto the rim of the broken window and then up into the air. He hung for a moment and passed through what felt like a shield. He found himself on the back of the massive metal thing. Galen didn’t take time to look at it. He just knew it was big. And it screamed …
Jaden Windu sensed the danger to Galen immediately, throwing a chilidog over his shoulder and into a nearby trashbin without looking. He turned towards the Maglev.
“Galen’s in trouble.” Jaden said, motioning for the attention of Leoni and Cortree who followed.
He held up a hand towards the passing traffic and flagged down a Droid-Controlled Autocab. The trio piled into the speeder and Cortree typed commands into his small datapad.
“Triangulating his commlink’s position and…” Cortree said.
Cortree typed commands to its destination console. The speeder took flight and flew straight towards the Maglev train. As the taxi’s alarms went off for the invalid destination, Cortree pulled a small device out of his belt pouch and stuck it into the droid’s credit slot. The slicing device tied the autocab to Cortree’s datapad for the time being and allowed him to override it’s safety protocols. As the cab rose past the maglev tracks the trio opened the side door, getting ready to jump onto the maglev train. Then they caught sight of the Train car and froze in shock.
“Look at the size of that thing!” Leoni said, flabbergasted.
The thing on top of the maglev train was too big to be a speeder or a conventional-sized fighter. Besides, Fighters didn’t have clawed arms and legs, a tail half its length or a dozen blaster ports on the front of its scaled hull. Fighters didn’t have a head that moved like a bird stretching out from the armored cockpit and astromech droid module. Fighters didn’t have glowing red eyes the same color as its back ion thrusters. Fighters didn’t mechanically screech when Galen landed on its back…
“Take me to oblivion…” Cortree swore, his memory going a hundred light-years an hour “That there is a Basilisk War Droid. Best…arsenal money can buy.”
Jaden pondered the revelation, “In the past…such droids were used to hunt Jedi and fight entire armies.”
“That thing is a DROID?” Leoni squeaked.
“They’re about as intelligent as a dog. Linked directly with their pilots. But, this one seems smarter somehow. I want one…just not one right here, right now.”
“Get us closer, Captain.” Jaden said calmly, drawing the lightsaber of his ancestor.
“Right.” Cortree replied, already starting to reprogram the droid driver.
Galen steadied himself on the back of the Basilisk. He saw that on its back were a pair of cryotubes meant for transport and labelled for him and his sister. The hatch for the sealed cockpit opened and Moag Wren, Huntmaster of the Mandalorian Supremacy jumped onto the massive droid’s back. The afternoon light glistened off the chromed durasteel of his Mandalorian Battle Armor and the pair of custom heavy blasters on his hips. Galen couldn’t help but take in the various trophies that hung from his armor. Wookie hair cords. Trandoshan claws. Imperial officer insignia welded to the front.
“I like a good hunt.” Moag said.
“Don’t make me destroy you. Leave us alone. This hunt isn’t worth the credits.” Galen said, readying his lightsaber.
“Can’t do that, slick. I got a reputation to uphold. I’ll give the credits to your Order.” Moag’s hands moved to his blasters.
“Okay, then.” Galen said and moved with lightning speed.
Galen braced himself and drove his lightsaber down into the droid just above where he figured the power core was in a flawless strike with all his might. The lightsaber blade could cut through any substance and with but a few seconds, Galen’s strike would destroy the power core and cause an explosion.
Or at least that is what Galen expected to happen.
Instead, Galen’s blue lightsaber blade passed over the hull of the basilisk and did absolutely nothing. Nothing at all. No cut. No burn. No boom.
Galen blinked in surprise.
“Nice try,“ Moag laughed, turning to the Droid’s head “Katarn: Locate secondary target.”
“By your command…” A synthesized voice said.
Without warning, Moag drew his blasters. The Custom Blasters fired a rapid, machinegun volley of blaster bolts towards the Jedi. Galen was faster, deflecting the bolts with practiced motions of his lightsaber. A few bolts whizzed past his defenses and told Galen’s senses that any one of them could fell him.
The droid began tearing up the Maglev train car, searching for the now invisible target, but it couldn’t find its target. Lenna invisibly leapt off the train into a roll on the tracks.
Cortree fired his own heavy blaster at Moag as he leapt though the shield and onto the back of the Basilisk with style. Cortree’s shots sparked off Moag’s armor and Moag continued shooting at Galen, the shots that passed through his defenses heading towards Cortree, forcing the fringer to take cover behind the cryopod meant for Galen.
Galen continued swatting down the blaster bolts as he force leapt onto the other side of the bounty hunter into a flanking position. Moag fired a machinegun volley of blaster bolts at Galen with one blaster, then fired another volley at Cortree with the other, forcing the Fringer to stay behind cover.
As the Basilisk’s claws tore the roof to pieces, Jaden stood in the autocab’s entryway and held out a hand. He grabbed the pieces of the roof with the telekinetic power of the Force and hurled them towards the bounty hunter as distraction. The pieces of metal hit the bounty hunter, but the Mandalorian’s armor stopped the impacts cold and his helmet’s targeting software kept a lock on Galen and Cortree.
Cortree punched commands into his datapad and shouted into his commlink, “Galen, watch your z-axis!”
The autocab immediately lowered and parked itself on top of the Bounty Hunter and onto the back of the Droid beast as it leapt off the back of the maglev train car. Galen stood to the side, over the Bounty Hunter’s exposed head. The speeder’s weight crushed the droid and ground its hull against the track. The Basilisk bird-like head looked out and its sensors caught a glimpse of movement across the raised bodies of a billboard stretched across the distance between the train and the nearby marketplace structure. The thing’s vision switched to infrared and Leena’s form became a stark contrast.
“Secondary Target located, heading toward marketplace.” The droid spoke.
Moag lay underneath the autocab and looked up towards the marketplace.
“Katarn, attack mode!” Moag said as he toggled his jetpack, sweeping out Galen’s leg as he flew forward out form underneath the speeder. Galen’s Jedi reflexes allowed him to stay standing.
Moag fired a machinegun volley behind him and Galen deflected them in kind as the bounty hunter flew through the window into the marketplace.
“By your command…” The droid said as it rose on all fours.
The Basilisik War Droid screamed…
The droid clawed the the autocab and fire blaster bolts toward it. Jaden and Leoni ducked as the claws and bolts tore through the autocab’s outer hull. The angle was strange for the basilisk, preventing it from getting a good hit in. But the damage it did manage shorted out Cortree’s slicing device. The driver droid’s safety protocol’s engaged and the autocab detached from the beast’s back.
Cortree tried to override the cab, but it was no use. He used the time to move up the beast’s back towards the base of its neck. He moved to a hatch and desperately tried to open it.
Jaden noticed the movement, the chance to get onto the beast faded and he decided quickly. Jaden Windu leapt toward the Basilisk, passing through its shields and grabbed a handhold on the side of the droid, one meant for climbing up the side. The Jedi barely held his grip as the droid lurched from side to side trying to shake him off of level a blaster towards it.
Further down, Leoni jumped onto the roof of the Marketplace and ran back towards the Mandalorian.
Galen force leapt onto the billboard and leapt off of it, tumbling through the window and after the Mandalorian.
Through his helmet, Moag Wren scanned the marketplace below for the invisible Leena. The Marketplace was huge, the tracking software couldn’t sift through all the movement and heat signatures. Moag knew Leena’s tradecraft let alone her holographic tools would allow her to hide and then escape his grasp.
But the Huntmaster had a reputation to uphold.
The Bounty Hunter designated his target zone with a laser light and gritted his teeth as Galen came into view.
“Katarn, drive the girl out!” Moag seethed.
“By your command…” Galen heard from the commlink as his sight traced the laserlight to its target.
“No, stop! No!!!” Galen screamed as he ran as fast as he could towards Moag.
The Basilisk engaged its ion engines momentarily to rise into the air. The sudden movement drew the attention of Jaden, who sensed the coming danger. He flipped over and hooked a foot through a hand hold, hanging upside down. Jaden desperately hacked at his target, a weapons cable underneath one of the armor plates. But the lightsaber couldn’t cut through fast enough.
The War Droid aimed its blasters, let out a synthesized screech and fired a volley into the marketplace. The blaster bolts tore through the roof and into the crowd of people.
People screamed and fell and died.
The companions couldn’t stop or undo the massacre, but they moved to avenge it.
Jaden Windu’s violet lightsaber blade found a gap in the primary blaster’s power cable and cut off the droid’s volley into the crowd. Cortree Tincove moved to a panel and struggled to get it open. He motioned to Jaden to strike at the bottom of the panel as the pair dodged the swipes from the war droid.
Galen continued forward and rushed towards the Mandalorian as he raised blasters towards him. Galen reached for the power of the Force to gift him speed and swatted down the blaster bolts without thought.
Galen reflected a blaster bolt into the Bounty Hunter’s faceplate, distracting him for an instant. The Jedi screamed as he struck blindingly fast, swiping his lightsaber across the Bounty Hunter with everything he had.
The alpha strike cut through the Mandalorian’s armor and burned through his dominant shooting hand, blaster, chest plate and head. The Bounty Hunter’s head snapped back, knocking off the Helmet that now had a cut burned into its front.
Galen felt his balance disappear as the Bounty Hunter kicked him with technology enhanced strength. The Jedi flipped back and regained his footing, exhausted form his efforts.
Galen looked up and found the dark skin and red cybernetic eye of Moag Wren. The Bounty Hunter had a nasty head wound and was breathing hard from the alpha strike, but he looked ready to go three more rounds with a Rancor and win.
“That your best shot?” Moag said, “Your sister is dead or run away like the mouse she is and your lightsabers can’t stand against my Basilisk. Do you yield?”
“Argyuses don’t yield…” Galen said.
Moag screamed as put his remaining blaster in Galen’s face, ignited his jetpack and extended a vibroblade from his injured arm, moving in for his own alpha strike…
Which was cut short as a sniper shot slammed into the back of the bounty hunter’s exposed head. The Mandalorian crumpled and fell forward, dead.
Agent Leena Argyus stood there, her sniper rifle raised and her holographic field collapsed.
“Damn right, brother.” Leena said, smiling.
Galen smiled back as he heard the worst sound on the planet. The synthesized voice of Katarn the Basilisk as it descended on ion engines above the siblings.
“Targets acquired,” The droid said as it aimed at Leena with its primary weapons, “Initiating anti-personnel strike.”
The power cable Jaden cut sparked and prevented the weapons from firing. The droid tried to compensate as Cortree finally opened the panel with Jaden’s help. The Fringer fired his heavy blaster into the guts of the droid, cutting primary power cables loose. Then, he grabbed one cable from the main reactor and shoved the live wire into delicate circuits and the main drive-train with more amperage than it was designed to take.
The panel sparked as Cortree’s maneuver created power surges inside the Basilisk, causing explosions and sparks all over the droid. The Ion Engines sputtered and the Basilisk fell like a stone back onto the Maglev track.
The Basilisk looked back up at Galen and Leena and took aim.
Then, Leoni recklessly leapt off the marketplace’s roof at Basilisk and slashed her green lightsaber across its birdlike head. The lightsaber sparked off. The Basilisk swiped at the Padawan, knocking her out of the air and sending her tumbling over the Maglev track.
“Leoni!” Galen shouted as he ran and leapt in front of his Padawan without thinking.
The two Jedi stood in front of the Basilisk War Droid point blank as it reared up on its haunches. The damage had been done but it was still moving.
Leena threw a smoke grenade between the Basilisk and Galen, but knew it wouldn’t do much…
The pair, master and apprentice Jedi didn’t have to look or speak to each other to know what they had to do. They only had one chance. If they missed even one move, they would both be disintegrated and then the droid would move on and keep killing more innocents.
The Basilisk leveled its anti-starfighter blasters at the Jedi and fired.
For the first time, Galen and Leoni moved as one.
Their lightsabers wove a complex barrier as they intercepted the vehicle-class blaster shots. The Jedi knocked the bolts back at the Basilisk. The shots impacted, ripped through the chassis and punched holes through the Beskar armor plates, exposing the Durasteel beneath.
Galen and Leoni ran at the Basilisk, weaved between each other to confuse its tracking algorithm and stabbed into the beast’s exposed insides. The Lightsaber blades turned the durasteel orange then to liquid, then ran the blades through…
The Basilisk War Droid screamed as its core melted down and its power system sparked, overloaded and exploded inside the armor plates. Blue smoke surrounded Cortree and Jaden as they leapt from the droid to safety and the giant beast fell limp.
The beast hung for a moment on the side of the maglev tracks, then gravity pulled it down and it fell to the street below. It landed with a crash.
The companions looked down at the droid, ready for anything.
“Help.” The synthesized voice said from the fallen beast, “I require aid. Please. Anyone…”
Cortree and Jaden made their way down to the wreck, opened the cockpit and laughed.
“The Droid has been neutralized!” Jaden shouted, “All that’s left is the…head.”
Right over the command seat, hooked into the controls for the systems sat the severed head of one of the most formidable Droids from the Clone Wars.
“Wow…” Cortree said, “A Baktoid Combat Automata T-Series Tactical Droid…head.. No wonder it could find Leena anywhere.”
Cortree began to examine it just as the droid lodged a protest together with the crushed Astromech unit as Jaden moved towards the Marketplace to help tend to the wounded people.
Up on the Maglev tracks, Galen and Leoni caught their breath as the made their way back tot he marketplace and over to find Leena. Except they found the spot she once occupied empty. Galen’s commlink buzzed and he answered it.
“I’m not leaving you now bro, just headed to your ship if that offer’s still good.” Leena said over the comm.
“It sure is. I’ll see you there, Sis.” Galen said, smiling.
“Roger. You should get out of there too before…”
Out of the marketplace came a crowd of reporters with holorecorders. They looked desperately for the people responsible for saving the crowd, demanding answers.
“More reporters…” Galen said dejected, “How are we going to handle this, now?”
Leoni looked at her master and said, “Together, Master.”
Galen looked back at her, “No more lies?”
“No more lies. No more secrets.”
“No more recklessness?”
“Only if you stop getting us both into trouble…”
Leoni smiled and Galen smiled back. The pair finally trusted each other.
They were finally a team…