HOLONET’S FAVORITE PLACE FOR NEWS FROM TATOOINE TO CORELLIA
THIS IS GALACTIC NEWS NETWORK
LIVE REPORT: CHAOS ON ERIADU!!!
A News Reporter stood in a marketplace now covered in smoke before a floating sphere of a Holorecorder Droid.
“I am coming to you live from Eriadu City in the midst of a firestorm. While covering the repeated diplomatic efforts of the Empire in the wake of recent events, GNN cameras caught on holo an attack by a massive droid on a marketplace right here in Eriadu City. We are still getting details, but I can say for sure that the Droid fired a volley into the marketplace. The attack left dozens killed and dozen more wounded before it was brought down by Jedi Knights. Wait…”
The Reporter touched the commlink in her ear before bursting into motion, “I’ve just been told that the Jedi are in fact the group being led by Galen Argyus, the Liberator of Socorro who was recently involved in a Lightsaber Duel over Coruscant just days ago!”
A crowd of reporters flowed towards the familiar face of Galen Argyus, Jedi Knight and his apprentice Leoni Venusia. This time around, as the cameras closed in, the Jedi held their own. In the wake of the Battle with Moag Wren, Galen and Leoni together with fellow Jedi Jaden Windu and their ally Captain Cortree Tincove did the only thing they could. They helped the wounded.
The Cameras came towards Galen as he pulled people out of the rubble only to be preempted by Jaden.
“You, reporters! Help us with these wounded. We need to get them to the triage station!” Jaden shouted, interrupting their chance at a story. At first the Reporters were reluctant, but their consciences swayed them to do the right thing and help the people alongside the Jedi.
Jaden broke open the crates of Imperial Medical supplies and began handing them out to anyone who would help.
Meanwhile, Cortree ran down to the marketplace at a full run and went to the crates. The Tech Savant started up the crates’ complement of Medical Droids, bring them to life when they were most desperately needed.
Galen and Leoni took deep breathes and used the power of the Force to lift a massive piece of rubble off of a group of bystanders. The slab of ferrocrete rose into the air and the people beneath were pulled out by volunteers, thanking them as they passed. The Jedi strained under the effort of the power as a reporter’s recorder droid floated in for some close-up shots.
The floating orb beeped and flashed lights directly in the Jedi’s faces threatening to interrupt their concentration as they struggled to save the innocents trapped by the rubble. The Reporter stood before Leoni and thrust a microphone in her face. The strain was simply too much.
“Stop Talking!” Leoni shouted at the reporter, her face red with effort, “More helping!”
The aid continued as the emergency services funneled in to cordon off the area and took over for the overwhelmed Jedi. The helmeted Security Forces of Eriadu surrounded the Jedi and looked at them.
“You need to come with us.” One of them said.
It wasn’t a request.
Over the next few hours Galen, Jaden, Cortree and Leoni found themselves interrogated by the Eriadu Security Forces at the local station. They told the truth as they knew it: They had been conducting Council business on Eriadu when Moag attacked out of the blue. The one good thing about the media being around was that all of their efforts had been caught on holo and the evidence was clearly in their favor. The Eriadu Security Forces and the Mayor of Eriadu clearly didn’t like the Jedi, but the evidence forced him to side with them and thank the Jedi for their help.
Since Jaden, Cortree and Leoni hadn’t seen Leena Arguyus, or knew that she was involved, they didn’t mention her. Galen on the other hand told the story that he had gotten onto a monorail car when it malfunctioned. He didn’t mention his sister, but did speak of the Bounty on his head and took responsibility for the tragic events.
The Security Forces believed him, but politely told the group to leave as soon as possible.
Afterwords, the Allies regrouped at the Hospital.
“Did you get it?” Jaden asked Cortree.
Cortree smiled and opened his bag, revealing the memory core of the Tactical Droid, Katarn he had taken from the Basilisk to permanently disable it.
“That biggen won’t hurt anybody anymore.” Cortree said.
“Excellent.” Jaden said and turned to Galen,“You think there will be any more?”
Galen shook his head,“I saw a feed on the way here. The bounty’s officially on hold. No one wants to touch it after seeing the Huntmaster go down in flames.”
“What you think Mandalore’s gunna do?” Cortree asked.
“That’s beyond us, I think.” Jaden said, “Our Quest for Tython is more pressing. We should get back to the ship.”
“That would be wise.” Galen said.
The group stopped when Galen dodged a piece of fruit that had been thrown at his head. The thrower was a mother with a blaster wound in her shoulder. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she ran at Galen and slapped him in the face.
News holodroids seemed to appear out of nowhere to record the confrontation.
“Jedi! You did this!” The mother shouted as hospital orderly droids grabbed her, “You killed my baby!”
“I didn’t, we…” Galen said, shocked, at a loss at how to placate her.
“All your power and you still can’t do anything right! All you Jedi do is bring death and despair! Use your Force…bring my boy back!”
Galen looked at the grieving woman and his heart broke. The mother was dragged away screaming as the Jedi stood with his head bowed in sadness.
As the Jedi walked out of the Hospital back towards the Crucible, news broadcasts flowed past them on holos.
“We will give you more information as this story develops,” a news anchor said,” I’m told the Ambassador to the Fel Empire is about to make a statement. We take you to the statement live.”
A man took over the holos as the Jedi travelled, an imperial officer of some high regard they didn’t recognize. As the Officer spoke, he sounded sincere. Strong, calmed and reasoned. He spoke in the address as a concerned man desperate to help.
“People of Eriadu, I am Grand Moff Matthias Tarkin, Designated Ambassador to the Republic for the Galactic Empire. I came to this planet as part of the Victory Without War program, a program meant to help those in need. I have heard about the tragedy that befell you today. My heart goes out to the victims…but I know that’s not what you want. You want to do what feels right, to respond with violence. The natural response is vengeance. Vengeance against the Jedi, the Mandalorians, even against the Empire. But that is not the answer. The details of this incident are not known at this time. Don’t jump to conclusions about this. Don’t follow the dark path. Don’t give in to fear, to anger or to hate. Following your feelings here will only lead to more tragedy. The wise choice, the right choice would be to heal. To seek peace.
“As long as the Starship Alderaan is in orbit above the planet, we continue to offer the same aid we’ve always offered. Food, medicine and materials to those who need it. I also offer aid to help in the repairs to Eriadu. To help promote peace.
“The Jedi in this matter by all accounts did their duty. They saved people and ended the threat. They did what was right and defended those who could not defend themselves.
“To the Jedi involved, I thank you. The Empire thanks you…”
As the Allies reached the Spaceport, local stations favored another broadcast…
“My name is Gul Shyssa and I’m here to ask you a question…’the Jedi Question.’ The Jedi Order: Guardians of Peace and Justice or Threats to the Galaxy? The past few months have been ripe with stories of both daring-do and conspiracy. Liberated Slaves. Bounties. Duels over Coruscant. Attacks on Space Stations and a new political power revealing itself in the Unknown Regions. The Senate’s Subcommittee on Jedi Affairs meets today questioning a century old Jedi General for his long history of questionable actions. Even now, Jedi Knights from all over the Galaxy, some not seen for years, gather at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant for unknown purpose. Should the Order be disbanded? Should they be pressed into service? Should they be imprisoned? Should their charter be expanded into a new Army of Light? All of these possibilities are on our panel tonight as all the eyes are on the Jedi and we seek to answer, ‘The Jedi Question’…”
“The Jedi Question?” Cortree asked, raising an eyebrow, “What kinda fodder is that?”
“Our future apparently.” Jaden said, considering the hologram, ”It would seem our Quest for Tython may have more impact that we originally thought.”
“Great…” Galen said as the allies finally made their way onto the Crucible.
They arrived in the common area to find Leena Argyus sitting down crosslegged before the Yoda Holocron. She turned to them.
“Oh, you’re back.” Leena said, smiling, “I let myself in.”
“I gotta change the security codes…” Cortree said, amazed she broke in so easily.
“I might have a few suggestions.” Leena beamed.
Leena gritted her teeth in pain as her brother Galen bandaged her up. When the Basilisk War Droid had fired into the crowd, even Leena had been hit by the blaster fire. The wound was small, but together with her exhaustion it was taking its toll.
“I don’t need your help, bro. Ah…” Leena said, a yawn cutting her off.
“The Force was with us today, but it might not stay that way if we don’t patch you up.” Galen said as he finished the bandage, “There.”
“Ready check complete, we’re taking off.” Cortree said over the intercom.
The pair stared out the window as the ship rose into the sky. Skyline became polluted sky, polluted sky became clouds and clouds gave way to space. As they left orbit, the slowed slightly to pass the mass of ships moving from the Imperial Starship Alderaan to the surface to aid in the recovery efforts. Leena leaned against the arm of her chair with her head in her left hand, looking at at the massive Star Destroyer as they passed it.
“There goes that opportunity.” Leena said.
“I still can’t get over seeing a Star Destroyer in the Republic.” Galen said, scratching his head.
Leena turned to her brother for a moment, “Do you not know why its here?”
Galen shook his head, “First I’ve heard of it was today. That Grand Moff Tarkin guy… thanked us.”
Leena looked back and pointed to the ship and its Republic Escort Ships. She spoke as though teaching a naive child.
“That is the Alderaan, the guy you spoke of is Grand Moff Matthias Tarkin, the Empire’s Ambassador and head of the Victory Without War Program.”
“Any relation to…?”
“Yes. The same.” Leena confirmed.
Grand Moff Wilhoff Tarkin was had become a legend as the man who ordered the destruction of Alderaan as a demonstration of the power of the first Death Star. The Tarkin family had been one of the richest dynasties of Eriadu for decades long before Galen was born. Matthias Tarkin seemed to be a relative of that family.
“Worst kind of Imperial.” Galen said. He had no love for the Empire.
“I wrote up his dossier. I know a bit more about him than you.” Leena said.
“When the Empire fell, there were riots on Eriadu and the Tarkin family fled with the rest of the Remnant. They lost everything. Every piece of wealth. The rioters looted and practically destroyed the old Tarkin Family manor. Though today we call it Eriadu City Capital Building. Matthias was born to the Remnant Empire and grew up in the shadow of his ancestor.”
“Good for him…” Galen said, “I don’t see how he’s not another Imperial.”
“He took an interest in Galactic History. In the legacy of his family and something changed in him. I heard he was being groomed for big things, but instead he took command of a program that had been abandoned.”
“Victory Without War?” Galen said, remembering the term from before, ”What is it?”
“Humanitarian offreach with the Republic. Relief Efforts. Peaceful negotiations. Using Imperial knowhow to promote peace. Ease tensions.”
“It’s made a difference in places you wouldn’t expect, but with current tensions no one trusts him. It doesn’t help that his project’s undermanned and underfunded and the deal he brokered with the Senate was that he was allowed one ship for his efforts.”
“One ship? So he brings a Star Destroyer…Typical.”
“There are no other ships on that Star Destroyer.”
“No shuttles. No Fighters. Not even escape pods. Most of it has been converted for cargo space. He has to hire outsiders and get permission to even be in a system let alone go down to a planet in person. If that escort wants to bring that ship down…all hands go down with it.”
“It’s still a Star Destroyer…”
“You are correct. As a Diplomatic Vessel with Diplomatic Immunity, that ship is a hotbed for Intelligence gathering. Tarkin was also one of the youngest people in Galactic History to reach the titles of Moff and Grand Moff. He won’t go down without a good fight…but only after all other options are exhausted. He doesn’t want a situation like that.”
Galen shook his head, “Why? That propaganda about peace?”
Leena turned to her brother and looked him in the eye so he knew she was telling the truth, “He’s believer… One of the good ones.”
“You trust him?…”
“No…but I do have a stash of credits that says he’s getting ready to start a coup…or defect.”
“That sounds more like an Imperial.”
“At the end of the day…he still is. And he makes no bones about it.” Leena said as the Crucible finally went to Hyperspace.
The Former Republic Operative got up and yawned as she walked past her brother towards the guest quarters.
“I need some rack time.” Leena said.
“I’ll wake you when we reach Coruscant.” Galed replied.
“Oh, by the way. The Jedi Temple sent a few messages while you were out. I didn’t answer because it’s not my job.”
Galen suddenly remembered that they needed to check in with Master Kataar.
Master Veshlan Kataar’s holographic image didn’t properly convey her disappointment at the crew of the Crucible. It showed her sitting peacefully with her arms crossed, but somehow that was not enough to express the mood of the Crucible’s cockpit as the Jedi explained the situation to the Jedi Master. Jaden Windu decided it would be better for him to give the report.
“Tell me the honest truth,” Master Kataar said, her tone encouraging a very careful choice of words,”What happened on Eriadu? I want to hear it from you.”
“We were attacked by Bounty Hunters throughout our journey. Moag Wren was just the last of them.” Jaden said as calmly as he could.
“Why were you on Eriadu?”
“Resupplying the ship primarily,” Jaden said, “We needed to after we completed the mission on Dagobah.”
“You found Master Yoda’s ship?” Master Kataar asked.
Jaden brought up holos he had made of the ship and the artifacts they had recovered, “Completely intact, Master.”
“Excellent. Now about Eriadu…”
“We found something else, Master.”
Jaden punch in a few commands and the connection that Cortree had made from the commlink to the Holocron activated. The Caretaker, its visage that of Master Yoda appeared before the stoic Master Kataar.
“Greetings…What questions have you?” The caretaker said in the old master’s voice.
Master Kataar shifted. Her expression changed. Her mouth dropped open a bit.
“Master Yoda’s Holocron. Also completely intact.” Jaden said, “Together with the ship’s navigational systems, we have enough data to get to Tython.”
“Very…good.” Kataar said, regaining her composure, “Get back to Coruscant at once.”
“We are already en route, Master.”
“Very good. Now about Eriadu…”
“We were there to resupply, but I believe Galen is better at telling this part of the story.” Jaden said, letting Galen take his place.
Galen decided the best course was to be truthful to the Council. So, he told Master Kataar everything. About the bounty. About his search. About the Attack and then about his sister.
“When I saw her, I felt it. My sister also has talent in the Force. She must be trained for her own safety and for others.” Galen said.
“The Jedi Order is not in the habit of recruiting convicted murderers.” Kataar said, dubious of his story, “That is why she was being persued is it not.”
“She already has a lot of self-control. She only was tempted by the Dark Side because of her…profession.”
“As an assassin?”
“Is this a secure line?” Galen asked.
“Yes…” Kataar replied, confused.
Galen went with his feelings and spoke the truth, “Leena Argyus is an Operative with the Republic Strategic Information Service…”
Master Kataar froze.
“If you have a student that could be taught in the ways of the Force, make sure she finds her way to the Temple. But tell no one.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about…”
“Very good.” Master Kataar said and then ended the transmission.
Galen exhaled in relief.
Later, Cortree and Jaden gathered around the ships main computer with Yoda’s Holocron in the main hopper.
“Are you sure this will work, Cortree?” Jaden asked.
“I looked at the bird’s specs and the systems are linked. Try it.” Cortree said.
“Caretaker.” Jaden spoke surely as he placed a hand on the Holocron to activate it.
The Holocron hummed and the Hologram of Yoda appeared.
“What questions have you?” The Caretaker spoke.
“Copy all data to the ship’s computer, please.” Jaden said.
“Why?” The Caretaker asked. A simple question, but if Jaden gave the wrong answer it might deny the request.
“Yoda was a great teacher of the Order.” Jaden said, “He oversaw the training of countless Jedi and this…the Crucible is a training ship. To make sure the Knowledge in this Holocron is preserved, there would be no better additional home for it. Additionally, the information will be of utmost import in our quest to locate Tython.”
“We could also use your aid in rebuilding the Archives already in the main computer.” Cortree added.
“Great wisdom, you have.” The Carataker said with a smile, “Commencing upload.”
The Holocron’s hum grew louder and the Main Computer sprung to life. The ship eagerly accepted the Holocron’s information. Now, the allies would have access to Master Yoda’s knowledge aboard ship after they gave this Holocron to the Temple for further study.
The upload ended when the humming and whirring stopped and a new hologram appeared on the Main Computer’s display. It was a smaller version of the Yoda Caretaker.
“Crucible travelling at Lightspeed. Currently on course to Coruscant. All systems operational.” The Ship’s computer said.
Later, Galen found himself standing in the training suite with his apprentice. The pair both had their lightsabers out and set to a training mode, but Leoni wore the ancient training helmet meant to block all outside perception except for the Force. Leoni swung at where she thought her Master stood as her master would circle her and strike at her saber from any angle imaginable. Galen always liked this training because it encouraged padawans to find their true power through the Force. It also encouraged a Jedi to work with the their partner even if one couldn’t sense the other.
While Galen had become something of a master of Ataru, the fourth form of Lightsaber combat, Leoni was still finding herself. She tried her new master’s style, by wasn’t as fast as Galen. She had some raw power to her, but didn’t have the focus for the more aggressive forms. Her style ended up being a chaotic mess that Galen had trouble predicting at times. If that was were the Force was guinding, Galen would see her through to it.
The first six rounds of exchanges went easily enough. Some stumbles. One big fall. By the fourth exchange Leoni was able to keep up with the master. By the sixth she managed to get good swings in and even an unexpected crescent kick.
It was on the seventh round of exchanges, Leoni finally drew on the power of the Force. When she did, Galen found himself actually having to work to deflect her blows. That is until a wild swing made Leoni overextend and she fell to the ground. Her breathing changed, becoming shallow and rapid. Then it turned to screeching, drawing Jaden and Cortree to the room and even awoke Leena from her slumber. Galen came to her, taking the helmet off of her and looked at her. He knew that look, the same look his sister had when Leena thought back to her past.
“What is it?” Galen asked calmly, “What do you see?”
Leoni’s breathing grew more controlled as Leoni got a hold of herself. Sweat came down her face. She finally spoke “I remember…”
“What is it that you remember my padawan?”
“I remember everything.” Leoni said, sitting down.
Everyone gathered around her as she spoke. She tried to be as clear as possible.
“Master Kelrune came to me one day and told me we were going on a trip. He didn’t say where. We got into a shuttle and flew for days. We ended up on a Planet at the end of a hyperlane, I didn’t know which one. It had dark power, I knew that for sure it was a place of dark power. It was a desert with tombs of ancient dead.”
“Korriban…” Jaden said.
“I remember we were exploring the old tombs, going through their history. Master Kelrune seemed to know the way and I could feel his power. He had told me when he was first training me that his father and grandfather were Jedi before him. He said that there was more to that truth than I could imagine. Then a new ship came. Master Kelrune touched me on the face with his hand and I felt his power. He told me to run to the Shuttle. Run to the shuttle, go back to Yavin IV and never look back. We started running and he started fighting someone I couldn’t see. I did as he told me and…blacked out. Then I woke up on Yavin IV.”
“You were close to him?” Leena asked.
“Too close…” Leoni admitted. She had promised Galen no secrets and she was sincere.
Galen rubbed his chin in thought, “I think it’s time we find out more about your old Master. There’s more to this…and I have a bad feeling about it.”
The Crucible came out of Hyperspace above Coruscant, the Capital of the Republic and went straight to the Jedi Temple. They parked on the landing pad and moved to the gangplank.
Jaden walked to the gangplank with the Holocron in hand beside Cortree, Galen and Leoni.
“Cortree and I can handle delivery of these artifacts.” Jaden said.
“After we speak to Master Kataar, we’ll check the Archives for more on Master Kelrune. " Galen said.
“Your sister already left by the way, her quarters are empty.” Cortree said, “Looks like she already left.”
“She does that.” Galen said as the gang plank lowered.
They had expected a landing party, but they hadn’t expected one quite so…big. Their original send off to Dagobah had been met by Masters Kataar and T’Ket as well as some temple ground crew. The allies had heard from Master Kataar that word of their discoveries and their missions had traveled fast, but not as much as this. Their current arrival was being met by over two dozen Jedi. It was the most number of Jedi Jaden, Galen and Leoni had seen in one place for a long time. Some looked as traditional as the allies in traditional robes. Others wore the flightsuits and armor of mercenary work. The allies recognized some of them as informal members of the Order, but recognized others as Jedi who had long since left the Order. Younglings, Padawans, Knights, Masters and those who had failed the training.
Cortree’s droids opened the Cargo Bay and the hover-palette with the remains of Yoda’s ship floated out and past into the Archive’s loading area. The landing party all reached out hands, not to physically touch, but to touch with the Force. They knew what the ship and its artifacts were. But they wanted to feel them with their power.
When the palette passed the landing party’s eyes and murmurs all gravitated to Jaden. Master Kataar held up a hand to hold back the crowd as Jaden passed. Jaden walked to the waiting Master T’Ket and handed him the Holocron. The Verpine Jedi placed a chitinous hand on the box of green crystal and with a force of will the device lit up. The Caretaker’s appearance drew a gasp and silence from the crowd as the Hologram spoke its greeting.
“Who seeks Yoda’s guidance?” The Caretaker spoke. The Hologram turned and looked to the crowd of onlookers. It considered the audience. Even the assembled Masters seemed in awe of the device.
“Hmm…The Jedi Order it seems. Many new faces. Filled with fear, doubt and disbelief, you are…” The Caretaker observed, “Who speaks for you?”
“Master T’Ket, Current Keeper of the Jedi Archives.” T’Ket said.
“As Keeper of the Archives, all of my knowledge is available to you.” The Caretaker said, “What questions have you?”
“None at the moment, but more to come later. Thank you, Caretaker.”
“May The Force Be With You.”
“May The Force Be With Us.” T’Ket said as the device shut down.
Noise came back all at once as the crowd mobbed up on Jaden to ask him about the mission. Jaden did his best to bring the crowd inside to the temple. Master Kataar stayed behind to greet Galen and Leoni, but turned to find no one standing there. She eventually found Cortree returning to the ship. The fringer bowed to the Jedi in greeting.
“Galen said he’d meet you at your office in an hour, Master Kataar.” Cortree said as politely as he could, “No disrespect intended. He had a pressing matter he had to immediately look in to.”
“Thank you for telling me, Captain.” Kataar said, understanding, “What matter?”
While Jaden had the others distracted, Galen and Leoni ran to the Archives. They combed through files, wading through mindless data about Master Jaxor Kelrune. They found records of his training under Grand Master Veshraan, the stories of his Legacy. However…they couldn’t find any other information to corroborate it. They looked over the data multiple times and it all looked wrong. Galen didn’t know as much about forgery as his friend Maze, but he could tell that the information about Jaxor Kelrune was fabricated. The truth he could gleam in the time they had was clear. Jaxor Kelrune entered the Jedi Order under false pretenses, used those pretenses for personal advancement and his actual identity as such was unknown.
Unable to find more information in the Archives in the time they had, the pair went up to the top of the temple to find Master Kataar waiting for them.
“We have much to discuss.” Master Kataar said.
Master Kataar took the the pair up to her office at the top of the Jedi Tower. The door opened and revealed Leena Argyus standing at military attention for the trio inside the locked office. Kataar looked at her and then to Galen.
“She does that.” Galen said.
Leena salute, “Captain Leena Argyus, SIS.”
“I know all about you. Take a seat and do not speak until I ask.” Master Kataar said as she ended and closed the door behind them, “Tell me the whole tale. Leave nothing out. You can count on my discretion, Captain.”
They started from the beginning and went until nightfall. Master Kataar listened silently and asked pointed questions at keypoints, but listened nonetheless.
“And then we reported to you and came here.” Galen finished.
Master Kataar steepled her fingers in thought. She looked to Leoni and Lenna, considering the both of them.
She stood up and turned to the window with her hands behind her back, considering the situation.
“Master?” Leoni asked.
“I believe you. The Bounty was out of your control. You did your duty on Dagobah and Eriadu and the order commends you for that. But, circumstances have changed. The Galaxy’s eyes are on us now, Jedi Argyus. More than you know.” Kataar spoke as she turned back to them, “You saw the crowd outside?”
“Yes. Many Jedi I haven’t seen in years were downstairs.” Galen said.
Master Kataar paced around them as she spoke calmly to them, “They came here for your group, to see what you found. Word of the recordings of Master Kenobi, of the holos of Order 66 spread quickly. More and more having been coming to Coruscant to see them and to help however they can. The uncovered more recordings. Daily life of the Temple in the days and weeks before the attack. When word of Tython spread, people started coming here. Despite my previous misgivings, the Quest for Tython it seems is bringing the Order back together. We must hold it.”
“Even with our differences in views, I believe we will do the best we can, Master.”
“That’s not all.”
“What else has changed?”
“Somehow those holos also found their way to the press. It’s one thing to hear about Jedi in stories, but it’s another to see their daily life play out. To see their betrayal and slaughter with your own eyes. Now everyone in the Core has an interest in the Jedi. General Saberota is testifying before the Sub-Committee and holding his own in case you are curious. But news of Tython is changing the dialog already. The Senate is considering new legislation. It could mean expanding our powers and funding. It could mean a lot of other things too. New responsibilities. But regardless…the Eyes of the galaxy are on us. They want to know what the Jedi are. We must show them that we are what we have always been.“
“What does that mean for us?”
“We will train Captain Argyus for her safety and debrief her in private as long as she follows the orders of the Council. You will continue to do your duty. Train your Padawan and find Tython. We want to know what has become of it no matter its fate. If the planet is dead, we can still rebuild it. If the planet thrives…we want to know. Now go. May the Force be With Us.”
“May The Force be With Us All.”
The Crucible took off the next morning fully stocked and ready. The ancient Jedi ship headed out towards the Deep Core of the Galaxy. The allies onboard found themselves followed by a line of reporters. The reporters broadcast their live coverage to the Holonet.
“Legendary Jedi Ship the Crucible has been seen leaving Coruscant on a secretive mission with infamous Galen Argyus. What secrets are they after in the Galactic Core?”
Leoni stared out the cockpit’s viewport, admiring the ships coming alongside by for a closer look.
“Do you think they’ll follow us all the way to Tython?” Leoni asked.
“When they see where we’re goin’, they’ll bug out.” Cortree said, sitting at the Navigation console,“Sensible folk don’t go into the Deep Core.”
“We’ll find Tython. Whatever it takes.” Galen said, strapping himself into the Pilot seat.
Jaden booted up the sensor console and the holographic star charts as the group neared the Empress Teta System, the end of the Hyperlanes that led to the furthest reaches of the Core Worlds. As they neared the edge of conventionally known space, more that half the reporters changed course or stopped still as their navicomputers told beeped with warning klaxons of unsafe flightpaths.
“Our map from Master Yoda’s ship is far from complete,” Jaden said, “but based on stellar drift, I think I have found a few stars on the sensors that have not moved in relation to Tython.”
“Great, we have a star to steer by.” Galen said as he punch in the course for parts unknown.
It would have taken a few hours to reach Tython at Lightspeed, but without a confirmed Hyperspace Lane, the crew of the Crucible was forced to take the long way. Scanning of unknown space took up all the ship’s computing resources. They made the occasional short hop through Hyperspace to close the distances, but even those hops were dangerous.
Their first hop took them close to a blackhole, forcing them to hop out again at Lightspeed to escape.
The line of reporters continued to drop away as hours of travel became days. After a week, only a single ship continued to follow the Crucible. The Jedi looked at the last remaining ship with astonishment.
“Galactic News Network,” Galen said, looking at the ship on the ship’s scopes,”Tenacious bunch.”
“Stupid is more like it.” Leoni said, earning a smile from her master.
“Who do ya think is stupid enough to follow us out here?” Cortree asked.
“If the Force is with us? A team of disposable droids.” Galen said.
“If it’s against us?” Leoni asked.
“You don’t want to know…but that possibility requires a capital ship.”
The scopes beeped, turning their attention forward.
“Coming up on something… Wo!” Cortree said, cut off when something big flew past the ship. Galen’s speed allowed him to easy dodge it and the others that followed it.
“What was that? Did we hit an asteroid field?” Leoni asked.
“Looked like pieces of metal.” Galen said, “Sensors?”
“Debris, definitely artificial.” Jaden said.
Cortree leaned over the sensor console and smile. The son of salvagers knew exactly what is was.
“This ain’t an asteroid field. It’s a graveyard.”
The Crucible slowed and switched on its search lamps. The cones of light illuminated the pieces of debris floating past. The smaller pieces became bigger chunks of familiar forms. Chassis. Engines. Skeletons of hulls stretching for parsecs.
Ships. It was a graveyard of starships.
Cortree toggled a switch in the cockpit and the Crucible fired a sphere with a blinking green light at the edge of the debris field.
“Navigational Buoy deployed.” Cortree said, “That should let people find their way here and back to the major hyperlanes. It’ll make the return trip much much shorter.”
“Good work, Captain.” Jaden said, expanding the holographic display of the sensor console so the others could more easily see it, “I’m picking up remnants of the tail-end of the Old Hyperspace Lane Master Yoda spoke of. This whole section of space is safe passage from here save for this graveyard.”
Leoni bite her lip at the sight of so many starship pieces dead in space, “What do you think happened here?”
“I seen plenty of starship graveyards like this one.” Cortree said, “Massive battle. Leaves a trail of dead ships. Great for salvage if you can get there quick…but this one looks cleaned out already.”
Galen set a course to move them closer to the larger pieces for a scan, “What kind of ships are they, Jaden?”
Jaden punched in a few commands, “Scanners are picking up remains of multiple large starships. Capital Ships. Frigates. Can’t get a good reading on the age. Too much radiation.”
“If they had core meltdowns that makes sense. But, if this is the end of a hyperspace lane, this is also a great place for an ambush. Keep your eyes out.” Cortree warned, “What’s the most complete ship? Might be able to get some answers.”
Jaden scrolled through the scans until his eyes stopped onto a piece larger than the others, “This ship looks almost entirely intact.”
Galen took the Crucible by a massive starship of that lay adrift. Cortree looked out the cockpit window at the vessel and whistled in surprise. The Tech Savant knew that kind of ship by heart, having salvaged a few himself. The ship sat silently in space.
“Munificent-Class Star Frigate. Staple of the Clone Wars. 825 Meters across…155,000 Battle Droids aboard,” Cortree said, “Sensors say this one’s called ‘Diligent’.”
“Munificent-Class?” Jaden perked up, “That’s a Separatist ship.”
“What’s a Separatist ship doing this far inside the Core?” Leoni asked.
“Let’s find out.” Galen said, bringing the ship to a stop alongside the bridge for a docking maneuver.
Jaden’s scopes beeped in alarm. Galen turned to him.
“Trouble?” Galen asked.
“Radiation is spiking. I can’t get a good scan through it. Need to recalibrate…” Jaden said as he punched in controls, “Looks like the escape pods have been jettisoned.”
Cortree, the veteran fringer pointed to several areas of the scan, “Looks like the Reactor’s leakin’ radiation. It’ll cook us in our spacesuit after more than a few minutes.”
“We’ll have to work fast.” Galen said, getting up to get the spacesuits.
Minutes later Galen, Cortree and Jaden found themselves floating in the airlock in their spacesuits, getting ready to disembark as the air was slowly let out and the artificial gravity dropped. Leoni sat in the Crucible’s Cockpit, ready for anything.
“Best things to get are the navicomputer and the blackbox of the main computer.” Cortree said over the group’s commlink.
“I can move the fastest, so I’ll take the navicomputer.” Galen confirmed.
“I’ll get the Blackbox then.” Cortree said.
Jaden pulled a cable that led from a spool on the ship to himself, “This safety line should allow us to get back more quickly.”
Cortree placed a hand on the hatch as the airlock’s depressurization sequence finished. He looked down to the radiation gauge on his suit.
“Radiation from that reactor will cook us in five minutes starting from… Now.” Cortree said as he opened the outer hatch.
The allies pushed off the Crucible and floated towards the ship. Jaden dragged an ascension cable behind them as the gap closed and their radiation detectors began to increase in readings. The trio had tools ready when they reached the outer hatch of the Diligent’s bridge. It took only a few seconds to bypass the now dead mechanical lock and open the hatch.
The allies exhaled a collective sigh of relief that there were no bodies floating on the bridge. There were droids, however. Cortree recognized the B1 variants still floating around their ready stations. The ship itself only required a small flesh & blood crew, so most of the stations were manned by droids like the ones he had restored in the past as helpers and bodyguards. Cortree floated past a Super Battle droid that turned in circles forever with its arms at its sides.
“Are these droids live, Cortree?” Galen asked as he pushed himself off the walls.
“Don’t think so,” Cortree said with trepidation, “But I don’t want to find out.”
Jaden looked around the bridge, dragging the Safety Line behind him and checked his radiation detector, “Four minutes.”
Galen reached the navicomputer and began pulling it away from the console.
Cortree reached the computer core and began the old motions of salvaging. His tools whirred quickly as he detached the components he didn’t need and let them float away.
Jaden’s eyes caught sight of a console right next to him. He floated towards it and inspected it.
“The Communications Console is intact” Jaden said over the commlink.
“Might have some old logs on it.” Cortree said as he reached the blackbox, “Think you can pull it?”
Jaden looked over the console and found the switches at the side for easy disassembly. He pressed the needed buttons and the communications system came right out.
“Yes.” Jaden said, looking again to his radiation detector, “Two minutes.”
Galen pulled out the last connection for the Blackbox in record time. He let out a cheer and raced off the bridge like a rocket with the power of the Force.
Cortree and Jaden both follow him as their radiation detectors went from red to black. The pair both grab the safety line and engage the attached motor, dragging them both off the ship and back to the Crucible as the Radiation became too much.
Later the allies found themselves in the lounge gathered around the consoles they had recovered now wired to the main holoprojectors. Jaden combed over the information form the Blackbox. He decrypted the personal information the the Captain had stored there in a backup drive he hadn’t intended others to see.
“According to the Captain’s Log they set out as part of the fleet that attacked Coruscant at the End of the Clone Wars.” Jaden confirmed.
“Wasn’t that the one where they, ‘kidnapped’ Chancellor Palapatine?” Galen pined.
“The same.“ Jaden confirmed, “Looks like they were ordered to radio silence and were in reserve Galactic south of the main battle to tie up the Republic Fleet.”
The Jedi Archaeologist booted up one of the logs. The holo was of a Muun captain who clearly looked frustrated.
“Diligient Captain’s log.” The message spoke, “Still on commlink silence after a week of flying around in these hyperlanes Dooku gave us. I keep asking for more intel on this mission, but the only response I ever get from command is, ‘Don’t ask.’”
Cortree booted up the communications board that Jaden pulled out, “Lucky. This board’s still got data on it.”
The fringer brought up the communications log. Jaden looked to the last two entires.
“What is the last entry?” Jaden asked, indicating its priority, “Flagged as utmost important.”
Cortree brought up the entry and laughed, “No wonder. It’s the kill code they sent out at the end of the Clone Wars.”
Galen raised an eyebrow at that, “That’s the one that shut down the droid armies isn’t it?”
“Yes.” Jaden confirmed, remembering his history “That code was sent out Galaxy-wide. It shut down every Separatist ship exactly where it was.”
“This code looks like it was written for bottom credit,” Cortree said, “These guys cut corners everywhere. No wonder the reactor’s leaking and they abandoned ship. Would also explain the dead ships out there. They didn’t have enough hands on board to pilot ‘em.”
“What’s that second to last communication? It’s the same priority.” Leoni pointed out.
Jaden brought up the holo and when the speaker’s image appeared everyone’s heart stopped at once. They got close up to confirm what they were seeing.
“Is that who I think it is?” Galen asked.
“Yes…” Jaden confirmed as he started the message. The speaker was an older gentleman with a white beard in a black tunic with a cape flanked by a pair of battle droids. He sounded just as regal as the records used to say, even with the battle that visibly raged through the viewports behind him.
“This is Count Dooku. I have a new mission for you of utmost importance. Take your fleet to the following coordinates on the designated hyperspace route. Destroy all threats in system, capture the fifth planet and all enemy personnel. Do not destroy any major structures on planet. Expect little resistance compared to your forces… “
A droid moved forward and whispered into Dooku’s ear, “Count, the Jedi are here.”
Count Dooku nodded and continued, “After capturing the system, secure it and ready yourself for a Siege on Coruscant and raids on the Core Worlds. Dooku out.”
The communication ended and drew silence from the room.
Jaden punched in a few commands and drew up the metadata from the message.
“Was that?” Galen asked.
“Yes…” Jaden confirmed, “Timestamp confirms that was Count Dooku’s Last Order before Anakin Skywalker defeated him.”
“Go back to the Captain’s log. What were they doing here?”
Jaden pulled up the entries from the ship’s log. He browsed a few of the entries until he found the data he needed. Cortree ran to the navicomputer and pulled up the star map that Dooku sent them.
“It seems the Diligent was parked here as part of a reserve force for the invasion. “ Jaden confirmed.
“That must mean the Vanguard was already headed to Tython.” Galen said, “And that Count Dooku knew about Tython.”
“I got it!” Cortree shouted. The Star Map enlarged and the stars shifted after a few command keys.
“Finally! Tythons actual location compensated for stellar drift.” Cortree said, “We should be able to jump straight there from the end of the graveyard.”
“Good work.” Galen said.
The trio ran to the cockpit and took their positions. This was it, they were ready for anything.
“All stations ready?” Galen asked. People responded in unison.
“Punch it!” Leoni said, more excited than the rest of them put together.
The Crucible went to Lightspeed for a few moments and came out again soon after. With their connection to the Force, the allies didn’t have to check their charrs or scopes. They knew. The somehow knew they were in the right system.
They had found it…
But that wasn’t all they found…
As they approached the planet their scopes screeched in alarm. The images of the ring silver objects orbiting the planet gained static as they tried to capture it.
“What the hell is that?” Galen asked.
Jaden checked the sensors again, “Military Grade Jamming. It’s coming from the Planet. Blocking Sensors and Communications.”
Cortree punched in a few commands to focus on the ring of silver.
“What’s that orbiting the planet?” Galen asked, “More debris?”
Cortree looked and nodded, “Nope…those are starships. They’re in orbit like a picket line. Some are destroyed though, looks like the remaining ships are using them for cover and concealment.“
“What’s that?” Leoni pointed to an image on the side of one of the ships visible on the scan.
Jaden brought the image up, punched in commands to clear up the image and said, “Looks like some of them are from the Clone Wars. Other look more recent. We can’t get a better look until we get closer…”
The image cleared up as best it could and rendered solidly on a symbol on the side of one of the ships. Jaden ran the symbol through the ship’s computer and immediately got a result.
Cortree looked in surprise and checked the computer, “No way…”
“What?” Leoni asked, pushing past.
“The starships in orbit,” Jaden said, “Are branded with an ancient symbol of the Jedi Order…”