Legends of the Force
Four Jedi uncover a dark secret that threatens to destroy the Galaxy as they know it...
Picking up where Ganner Slarwalker left off, friends become enemies as Cade's mission continues.
When a Jedi strike team vanishes on Umbara, two Jedi begin to unearth a conspiracy deeper than the Shadow Assassins themselves.
Over five years after the events of Ganner Slarwalker, our heroes must unite once more to face a new enemy.
Three missions to the forest moon of Anarto II crash together, leading to a climactic event not everyone will walk away from...
As Ganner walks down the path to darkness, he discovers the buried histories of Darth Massikus, the Shadow Assassins, the Brotherhood, Decien, and the ancient evil tying them all together...
Devastated after the Battle of Anarto II, Antimatter Squadron struggles desperately to both escape the Empire and battle their own demons.
During the darkest hour, destinies collide, plans crash together and loyalties are revealed during the final battle, the tremors of which the Galaxy will feel forever...
Click here to read the biography of Ganner Slarwalker with behind-the-scenes details!
Coruscant (born on Dantooine)
|Chronological and political information|
Jedi Order (formerly), his friends
Jedi Master (exiled from Jedi Order)
Jason Battleboots, Sen Qorbin
Galen Slarwalker (Father), Vara Slarwalker (Mother), Cade Slarwalker (Younger brother)
The Unity (ingame)
War Eagle, Defenders, Kahar Zamets Army, Intergalactic League of Ninjas (ingame)
Ganner then left to pursue Saris to Felucia, where he allied himself with a Republic task force known as Antimatter Squadron. Saris escaped, and the group perused him to an experimental interdictor cruiser known as the Reverence. On the Reverence, Arron, one of the squad members, ran away while Saris declared himself Darth Maricus and went about slaughtering the crew. He managed to escape from Ganner, but a stowaway named Dylan revealed that Maricus was going to Mandalore in order to accomplish some secondary goal involving the Death Watch. While Ganner learned that Maricus came to acquire 50 soldiers- including one of importance named Xux-, Siri, Maricus' mole in the squad, revealed herself to be a traitor, killing fellow member Blaze and attacking Hans, the leader. Hans fought her off, and Siri returned to Maricus in time to save him from Ganner and mortally wound him. They left to return to Umbara, leaving Ganner's and the galaxy's fate in the hands of Ranulph and Hans.
They took Ganner to Dylan, who was revealed to be the leader of a crime syndicate, and made a deal to get him to back them up on Umbara. When the forces were assembled, Varad tricked Dylan into activating the Brotherhood's prototype superweapon and killing most of the Brotherhood forces, along with a few Sith Assassins as bait. In the explosion, Ganner was knocked unconscious. While unconscious, Ganner had a vision in which Talzin explained to him the missing pieces of his past, and told him that the Binding had been preceded by another Ritual to expand his power in the Force. Ganner could only tap into this power when he left behind the Light side for a darker, grayer aspect of the Force. With this power, Talzin believed Ganner could stop Varad Zagg, head of the Sith Academy, from completing a dark plan to use the Binding to take over the Galaxy. Ganner woke just in time to sense the return of Massikus, and see the shuttle leave the Academy. For the first time truly abandoning the Jedi Code, Ganner embraced his newfound power to all but massacre the Sith, including Siri, Maricus, and Varad.
With the Brotherhood crippled and the Sith Academy destroyed, Ganner left with Ranulph and Hans for the Jedi Archives, their only hope of finding info on Massikus. After sneaking in and learning of his connection to Dathomir, Ganner narrowly escaped being caught in Order 66 when Arron found and kidnapped him. Arron revealed himself to actually be Cade, Ganner's younger brother, who had been hired by a vengeful Dylan to kill him. Wanting to disappear to spare his friends from any approaching conflict, Ganner agreed to fake death. The two parted ways after confirming Ganner's "death" to Dylan, and Ganner headed to Dathomir, now alone. On Dathomir, Ganner learned that although Massikus was indeed somewhere in the universe, he was not the being that had escaped Umbara. That being was Darth Ruin reborn into a new body. After learning the ritual of the Binding, Ganner followed him to Korriban where the two dueled as Ruin's body began to destabilize from overusage of the Force. At the climax of the duel, Ganner had a vision foretelling his final duel with Massikus on a snowy planet, that would most likely lead to his death.
Before he was to face his death, Ganner returned to all his friends to tell him he was alive and say goodbye one last time. Unbeknownst to the others, he took Galen with him to train him for the final battle. Over the next nine months, Ganner became the protector of a small settlement on Carlac while he prepared for Massikus' return. Nine months later, after a brutal attack on the village, Massikus came back to challenge Ganner. Ganner spent most of the duel stalling in an attempt to get back to his cave of residence, during which he discovered that Massikus had possessed Ganner's old ally Yula Ardinn. With the help of Galen, Ganner incapicated Massikus and entered Yula's mind to free her. In order to ensure Massikus would never return, Ganner allowed Massikus' consciousness to enter his body once more and killed himself before Massikus could take over.
The wind howled around us, both a product of the ongoing blizzard and manipulation through the Force. Heat and sparks flew around as my lightsaber met with those belonging to the person who had always been destined to kill me. Even amidst the combat, with each swing of my blade another moment flashed back to me. The Binding. Antimatter Squadron. Maricus. In the final duel, it all came back to me. This is the story of how I went from a humble Padawan of the Jedi Order to an aging exile fighting for his life in a blizzard in the Outer Rim.
The Man in Red
As an infant, I was given to the Jedi from my birth world of Dantooine. I had a pretty 'average' experience, as much as a Jedi can really have, until I was finally given a Master. His name was Jason Battleboots.
Jason was one of the most kindhearted people I ever knew. He was a living proof that there was always a good side to everything, that maybe, just maybe, peace really was possible. He never killed unless it was absolutely necessary, and more than once he managed to redeem our opponents.
But it didn't always work.
It was, what, twenty-two years before the Empire? Twenty-three? We'd been assigned to bring in a small-time (or so we though) underworld criminal named Garm Antiburst, had been selling spices illegally. We already knew where he was, we just had to capture him and bring him to the proper authorities.
It's all coming back to me now. I remember it so vividly.
Jason and I were about a block away, checking out the building from afar. I put the microbinoculars down and offered them to him, but he declined. It was just as well; there wasn't anything noteworthy on the outside from what I saw. I remember watching him take off his hood and looking into the world with his dark brown eyes, his sand blonde hair blowing in the wind before saying "Let's go."
He cut a hole into the ceiling with his dark blue saber, and we both dropped in. We landed back to back in defensive stances, surrounded on all sides by armed thugs and I activated my own lightsaber. Its emerald blade shot to life, lighting the room blue and green. "No one has to get hurt," Jason said. A tan man with a mohawk in red Mandalorian armor walked out to greet us.
"Garm," I muttered.
"Indeed," Jason replied.
"Well, well, well. Look what we have here. We finally got big-time enough for them to call in their so-call peacekeepers. Tell you what. I'll give you guys thirty seconds to vanish, and then we'll see just how much peace you can keep."
"We're not leaving without you under arrest and your shipment seized by the Republic."
He laughed. "All yours, boys!"
The henchmen opened fire. Jason and I synchronized in the Force, deflecting the shots harmlessly across the compound, and then we broke off, non-lethally neutralizing the thugs. Garm began to run, but Jason deflected a shot into his leg, making him fall to the ground. Finally, when the dust settled, Jason and I deactivated our lightsabers, and he handcuffed Garm. "Blue Force, this is White Rook. We've got him." he said. "Copy that. We'll be there in a minute to extract." After a minute (they were surprisingly punctual), the CSF arrived. They took Garm, and Jason and I stayed to wrap everything up. As the CSF began to open crates, I felt something looming in the Force. Judging from his reaction, Jason did too. "Stay back," he warned, and he began to walk forward. In the corner of my eye, I saw a red flash - a bomb. Then, the entire building went up in flames as the boxes exploded.
I went flying from the impact, but I was barely hurt. Jason had to have done something to protect me in his last moments. I remember how I sat there, utterly in shock, for what felt like centuries. Eventually, another CSF officer was the first on the scene. His hair was covered but he had a worn face, with dark brown eyes and a long moustache that went from end to end on his face. He saw the destruction, cursed, and then began getting me up and trying to help me regain my senses.
"You're all right son, you're all right."
I wasn't, though. Things were never the same after that.
RecoveryThe Order was very generous with helping me with the PTSD. This was back before the Clone Wars, when death wasn't the norm. I went through a lot of meditation along with the therapy. I don't know what the Order saw in me to believe I was still worth keeping around even after something that could've potentially ruined me forever.
In the meantime, I got a new Master. He was an Arcona named Sen Qorbin. Master Qorbin's teaching style was quite different from Jason's. Though all Jedi were, at heart, meant to maintain the peace, Qorbin was more on the aggressive peacekeeping side. He taught me hand-to-hand combat: martial arts - Teräs Käsi - and more regular street fighting. Then I learned the art of the blade.
Under Qorbin I learned each of the seven forms of lightsaber dueling. The training was far from easy, and I was certainly better at some forms than others, but he taught me to blend them all in a fight - something I'm grateful for.
Eventually, however, every Padawan had their trials. Jacen and Qorbin had taught me two different ways to view the Force, different ways to utilize it, and different ways to let it utilize me. A few more missions went by with nothing especially of note. Justice was withheld, casualties kept to a minimum, peace restored. Jacen's death was behind me now, but I projected his legacy. Eventually the Council deemed me ready, and my trials began.
Trials, Part One: Echoes of the Future
The Trials had five tests: Skill, Courage, Flesh, Spirit, and Insight. Thanks to Garm I got a pass on the Trial of Spirit, but that still meant four grueling tests of my mastery over the Force and myself. Qorbin and the High Council worked together to decide how the Trials would be given, and I was soon given my first mission. At dawn, I entered the Trials Chamber. I had seen inside it once or twice before, but as I entered, the lights were off. Flanked by Qorbin and Master Windu, I entered the dark room, with one lightsaber in hand, another clipped to my belt. "May the Force be with you," Qorbin said. Then he and Windu walked out, and the door closed behind them, leaving me in the blinding darkness.
Slowly, torches began to light the room. It was certainly not as I remembered it. The floor was made of a purplish-gray stone, which also composed most of the walls. Along the walls were also intricately carved creases of red, running throughout. I quickly noticed a humanoid form on the other side of the room, seemingly male. He wore a dark black robe with a sash of some kind running across his shoulder. Aware of a massive Dark Side presence, I cautiously began walking towards him, and he started to speak in a raspy voice.
"There is no passion...there is solely obsession."
I continued walking.
"There is no knowledge. There is solely conviction."
I marched forward. If the Trial was simply to not be creeped out by an old man, I thought I did pretty well.
"There is no purpose. There is solely will."
I was almost upon him now. I could now see his hands were blue - Umbaran?
"There is nothing."
He turned, revealing that he was indeed Umbaran, wearing an armored chestplate. With a menacing glare in his eyes he activated a ruby blade, and I lit mine, its green shimmering as we faced each other.
Spontaneously, he dove towards me, his lightsaber extended straight in an attempt to catch me guard. It just barely didn't work, and as he flew past me I took the liberty of severing the upper and lower halves of his body. He landed behind me and, from the torso up, turned over, dumbfounded, to look at me. For a brief second I felt the rush of victory - and so easily! Then, he let out a menacing cackle.
"Did you think it was that easy?"
In a single motion, his torso leapt onto his now standing lower body, and they seamlessly rejoined. Seeing what I'm sure was a face of pure shock, he developed a gleeful, menacing grin. He raised his saber and charged me again, to which I responded by impaling him. Again, he seemed to be shocked by death, and then regained his composure before pulling my saber out of his chest. He deactivated it and tossed it to one side, before throwing me across the room with the Force.
I hit the wall and fell to the floor, and when I looked up, the light had been extinguished, leaving me in utter blackness. I activated my second lightsaber, and began walking cautiously back. Aside from the minute sound of my footsteps, and the droning hum of my lightsaber, the room was totally silent. I scanned the room with both my eyes and the Force, but darkness clouded them both. As I shuffled backward, I felt something wet drip onto my hair. I quickly turned around, to discover a glowing red, convoluted monstrosity of a Rancor. It was even bigger than any Rancor I'd ever seen, and had two tusks growing from either side of its mouth. As our eyes found each other, it let out a booming roar that echoed in the seemingly infinite room, getting much slobber on me.
It swung one arm at me, and I dove over it. I quickly rebounded and made a few slashes in its leg, but it seemed to be too thick to penetrate. It raised its leg to stomp me, and I took advantage of this to topple it with the Force. I leap onto its face and stabbed into its head, as deep as I could. This only seemed to anger it, and it stood up and threw me off, with my saber still sticking from its brain.
Another roar. Blast, this thing really didn't want to die.
I tumbled around on the ground, and it approached me, each step causing another tremor in the earth. It didn't really seem like trying to get my second saber would end well, so I started looking around for the first.
That's how my first Jedi Trial went. I stumbled around being chased by a rancor in total darkness looking for a lightsaber. I actually managed to find it without tripping over it.
I activated it, and turned to face the rancor. Seeming to understand what the stakes now were, it stopped for a moment, and we stood. Simultaneously, we charged at each other. It took a huge swipe at me with it's right arm, which I jumped onto and then used to propel myself into the head once more. I grabbed my other saber, and with a great deal of force managed to pull it out, albeit messily. The rancor roared once more, in pain. Mercy crossed my mind, but the rancor almost grabbed me in my hesitation.
With both sabers I ran across its body, slicing wherever I could to hurt and weaken it. It tried and tried again, but I could not be touched. Enough damage to the arms and it was defenseless. Enough to the legs and it fell, unable to get up. I quickly set to work on the brain, and finally I heard the organ sizzle, and the final disgusting breath leave its mouth.
Sweaty and tired, I turned off my lightsabers and sat down for a moment. The fight was over. Then, from the back of the room, came the sound of clapping.
I turned to see the room lit once more, revealing me to still be in the strange room I had been in before the lights went out. Walking towards me was an elderly Nightsister.
"Very well done!" she said, in a congratulatory tone. Her next words, however, shifted grimly. "But know that your true trials are still to come." She laughed, and her laughter rang through my ears as I woke up standing in the Chamber, alone.
Qorbin and Windu entered. "Well done," Windu said. His voice was also congratulatory, but he looked worried. "You've passed your first three trials."
"Three?" I replied, incredulously.
"The Trial of Spirit, already completed, and now the Trials of Courage and Skill." Qorbin responded. It was harder to tell with him, but it seemed he was concerned too.
"Your final two trials shall be determined in the field. They have yet to be determined, but we're working on it. In the meantime, take a break. You've earned it."
Jedi Master Sen Qorbin
I walked alongside my old friend Master Windu, through the long halls of the Temple. I could sense that he, as well as I, had been disturbed by the end of Ganner's trial. The fight with Ruin and the rancor had been orchestrated by us, but whatever he had seen had been shown to him by something outside the Jedi Temple. In fact, it seemed incredibly likely it had been a vision from the Dark Side itself. Mace spoke first.
"We need to know what he saw. Something dark is targeting him."
"Agreed. With all that has happened to him, I think he may have even been chosen by the Force for something."
"Perhaps. But to what end?"
"I know not, but I have a bad feeling about its intentions."
Trials, Part Two: The Four Padawans
Two days laterThe thing I remember most about Haruun Kal itself is the rain. Of course, the planet had more than one state of weather, but from when we landed until we left, it was a torrent. I was sent there along with three other Padawans to find an ancient temple and overcome the dangers inside. Accompanying me were Yula Ardinn, a female yellow Zabrak about a year younger than me, Bail Malakath, a stocky human male around three years older, and Tyrral Thraxton, a slender, male Miraluka.
I vaguely knew Yula as a pupil of a friend of Jason's, but I had no recollection of the others. Thus, I spent most of my time on the way there talking to her about the Trials, while Bail and Tyrral seemed content to be alone. Yula told me about the Trials she still faced‒Flesh and Skill‒and those of Bail, who she knew a little (Spirit and Insight). She didn't know anything about Tyrral, though, and it seemed he wanted to keep it that way.
Finally, I felt the impact of the surface, and we all rose. The four of us walked off the shuttle into the rainy jungle a few miles out from the temple (it was the closest place we could land). Yula spoke up first.
"Do you feel that?"I looked into the Force, and felt the others do the same. Something was in the jungle, practically intangible. I couldn't sense an affiliation for either the Light Side nor the Dark. Whatever it was, it was almost certainly within the temple.
"What is that?" Bail wondered.
"Only one way to find out," I replied.
We made our way through the jungle until we reached a clearing and the temple was visible. It was made of faded yellow bricks and stood tall, seemingly unaffected by the rain it must have endured for generations. We stood there for a moment, taking it all in. The pure Force energy was almost overwhelming here and whatever this temple was, it was undoubtedly a place of great power. And it was calling me, trying to pull me in. The four of us exchanged looks, and together we entered.
The first room we entered was mostly barren, with doors leading into other rooms on each wall. In the center, however, was a small shrine with a blue pyramid-shaped device on it- a Holocron. Being the only one of us with much experience using Holocrons, Bail walked up to activate it. It projected an elderly Krevaaki.
"Hello," he said. "I am Bodo Baas. Bodo Baas knows all probable futures, from his time until a time lost in mists and shadows .... I can help you."
We all had enough knowledge of the Jedi Order's history to know who he was.
"This isn't his holocron, though..." Yula stated, confused.
"You'll find this temple is more than capable of producing that which would seem....Improbable. However, at any rate, you didn't come hear to talk to an old man, I hope. Let's begin, shall we?"
The temple began to rumble around us, as though we were in an earthquake, and the door behind us closed.
"First, you must be divided into teams.... How fortunate, a perfect quartet. The Guardian, the Shadow, the Sentinel, the Sage. " He pointed at Bail, then Tyrral, then me, then Yula.
"The teams shall be the Shadow and the Sentinel, and the Guardian and the Sage." I stood with Tyrral as Yula walked past me towards Bail. The walls to our left and right slid upwards to reveal dark, seemingly endless corridors.
"Let the Trials begin."
Bail and Yula walked off into the distance, and Tyrral and I began down our side. We walked in silence for an indistinguishable amount of time in the dimly lit corridor, waiting for our test to reveal itself. Tyrral seemed content to keep to himself, as did I.
We continued on until we reached a circular room, like an arena. Another door slid close behind us, leaving our only chance of escaping in front of us. From the ceiling, a large droid dropped. It landed on its feet, with an electrostaff in its hands. As I activated and raised my saber, dozens others fell from around me in a similar manner, with a varying assortment of weapons. As Tyrral began to reach into his bag for some sort of contraption we backed up towards each other. As one, they all closed in to attack. It didn't seem like Tyrral was going to be contributing much, so without really thinking I took it upon myself to take them all on in defense of him. "Whatever you're doing, do it fast," I warned him. The first came, and I struck it down with ease. Then two, then three, and so on. The onslaught of droids was much more than I had anticipated, and I felt myself getting cut and taking hits that would be bruises down the line, with no sign of the attack stopping. Slowly my senses all faded, leaving only the will to fight, and as I watched a blue pulse stop all the droids in their tracks, even that went.
"Not gonna lie, I expected the Trials to be a lot more interesting than this." Bail simply wouldn't shut up. We walked through the torchlit walls, slowly turning green with the mosses of the jungle they had been in for so long.
"Paitence is a virtue," I reminded him.
"Yeah, but it's not exactly one of our Trials. Where are the obstaces? The enemies? The puzzles?"
Almost on cue, something slowly crawled out of the shadows in the distance. It was roughly my height. Lightly growling, with the light shining off its scales, I quickly identified it from my studies as an akk dog. They were native to this world. All I had to do was look it in the eye, and out of respect it would ignore me. As more crept out from behind it, I locked eyes with it. Immediately, behind me, Bail's lightsaber snapped to life. "Don't!" I yelled, but it was already too late. Ignoring me, the pack ran towards him. "Now this is more like it!"
He entered the frenzy, slashing away only to quickly realize the armor of akk dogs could handle lightsabers quite easily. Instead, he let out a large burst in the Force, pushing the dogs away from him on all sides. I took advantage of this moment to run to him and tackle him, causing his lightsaber to deactivate.
"Shhh! Look into its eyes!"
He stared at the dog, and it stared back, and they held this gaze for a minute. At the end, it let out a long howl and followed the others back into the shadows whence they came. After sitting there a moment in silence, Bail remarked, "Ya know, you could've told me that sooner."
Panting and sore from fighting off robots, I laid Ganner down on the ground to catch my breath, holding my green lightsaber in one hand. The pulse bomb had taken out all the magnaguards in the room, but as I pressed forward, more that were seemingly unaffected had occasionally leapt out from the shadows to attack me. Now, as I stoo here for a moment, everything was silent.
"A thousand Jedi died cursing Darth Desolus."
I turned around to view the source of the voice: an armor-clad Pau'an with a shield.
"Now you too will-"
I charged straight at him with the Force, knocking him off balance and making him drop the shield. Our lightsabers met as I went in for another strike, and he easily overpowered me, knocking me back several feet next to Ganner. He raised his saber high above his head and sent it crashing down in a vicious slash, which I barely held back with my saber, putting us into another saber lock. He pushed, bringing my own blade closer and closer to my neck. Just as I couldn't take anymore, Ganner suddenly got up, activated his own green blade and impaled him. WIth a face of pure shock, Desolus blew away into shadows.
Ganner grabbed my and helped me up.
"Even?" He asked.
"Even." I replied.
We proceeded through a doorway into the final chamber.
Another hologram of Bodo Baas awaited us eagerly. "Welcome," he greeted us. "I believe the others will be with us shortly."
"Looks like we did it," Ganner commented.
"Indeed," Baas replied, "But--" Baas was cut off by a series of booms in the distance getting louder by the second.
Bail crashed through the walls almost 45 degrees to the right of the doorway. A tall, black-robed and hooded figure with a red lightsaber leapt after him with Yula in tow. Ganner quickly Force pushed him out of the way. He skidded back a few feet and looked up, darkness still covering all but one bright yellow eye.
"More than one...." His deep voice muttered. Bail got up, and Yula caught up to us, and we all stood with our sabers ignited facing him.
"I can see the headlines now- four Padawans gone missing on their first mission to a Temple in the Mid Rim." He taunted us.
"Five," Baas replied. He drew a saber, and with a flash, he was no longer a hologram of the Jedi Master. As the disguise disappeared, he was revealed to be Qorbin. He activated his turquoise lightsaber.
"Can you take four Padawans and a Jedi Master?"
"I have before."
"Not this one."
The yellow eye scanned us up and down, deciding whether or not to attack. Finally, the hooded figure turned and walked back into the shadows.
Trials, Part Three: The Four Masters
After the man disappeared, Qorbin told us our trials were complete. He also warned us not to speak about what we had seen here for some reason. He told me he was going to take care of it quietly, by himself. We never mentioned it again, but Qorbin was never quite the same after that; he was cautious to the point of borderline paranoia.
As for the four of us,we became close friends as we progressed into and through Knighthood, and became quite the team over the years. A week before the Clone Wars began, Tyrral and I became Jedi Masters. Two weeks later, Yula followed, then Bail.
A year later, the four of us set out to a new destination: Umbara.
We had grown up, but looking back on it after all these years, we were still kids, bright and full of hope. Part of me wishes I could go back to that time when I didn't know the Galaxy for what it really was, but the second we set foot on that planet it was over.
Our mission was a relatively simple one. The Republic was preparing to mount an assault on an airfield of tactical importance on Umbara. We were to infiltrate this base and take out its anti-air weaponry so the attack could begin. Frankly, we could've taken the whole base ourselves, but we were under strict orders not to do so. After we were done, we were to find somewhere to hide until the airfield was secured and then meet up with friendly forces.
Of course, no plan ever survives contact with the enemy.
Contact With the Enemy
Bail cut a hole in the ventilation shaft, and it plummeted to the ground. Somewhere down the corridor below, a battle droid's voice rang out. "What was that?"
The four of us exchanged glances. Something was off, but none of us could figure out what. We leapt in, trampling the droid under us. Almost immediately, more droids and Umbarans began to rush in and attack us from all sides. Bail and I joined together briefly to go on a rampage, destroying droids and Umbarans like there was no tomorrow. Finally, he cut down the last droid, and we stood for a second before moving onward. So far, so good.
We proceeded through most of the base in a similar fashion, nearly unstoppable. The only time we were ever halted was when a squad of Droidekas attacked, but Tyrral made short work of their shields with some sort of mini-ion blaster he had crafted. Then we reached the hangar, and the real fun began.
We each got into Umbaran heavy tanks. The hangar doors opened, revealing the base scrambling on full alert. There were four anti-air turrets, and we split up to take each one down. Amid the chaos, only a few Umbarans were even smart enough to realize we weren't on their side, but their blasters were useless against the armor.
We ditched our tanks on the outskirts of the airfield and sabotaged them as we ran off into the Umbaran underbrush. After making sure we weren't followed, we stopped in a clearing to rest and wait. Yula was the first one to notice.
"Guys, what is this?"
She pulled some small metal scrap out of the ground, and almost immediately I could feel darkness emanating from it. At her touch, it began to hover on its own, pulling other metal scraps out of the ground all around it, the darkness building the entire time. Finally, it formed a small pyramid. A Sith Holocron. We were all speechless as it began to fly off into the distance.
After another exchange of glances, we followed it.
The Dark Side was definitely calling it; I could feel it all around us. We sprinted after it, and as it turned a corner I felt yet another massive surge of dark energy. This was something that was never meant to be found. As we also turned the corner we stopped in awe.
The Holocron went ahead of us, and flew perfectly into a crevice on a door with the logo of the ancient order of the Sith. The door was part of a bigger structure, with two statues on either side of it, and stairs leading to the entrance. Suddenly, I heard a voice call out to me.
"Ganner, it's me."
It was Jason. He was on the other side of the door. Without thinking, I sprinted to it at full speed, before the others could react. I pressed my body against the door.
"Listen, we'll get you out, okay?"
"Ganner, don't! It's a trap!" Yula's voice rang out. But it was already too late.
Before my eyes, the door of the Sith Temple opened to reveal a group of silhouettes.
In the center of them all stood a group of four where the Dark Side was strongest. The smallest hint of moonlight allowed me to discern their faces. From left to right, the first was a young adult human male, who looked to be in his early to mid-twenties. He was a brunette, about my height and weight. I could sense (and see) uncontrolled anger in him.
The next to my surprise, was the Nightsister from my vision. She didn't seen to recognize me, instead sharing the same surprised expression as the others.
Even in the moonlight, I couldn't make out the face of the third. However I could see his raging yellow eyes, and the outline of his tall, bulky body.
The fourth was another human, about twice as old, with long black hair and a goatee to match. He seemed much more controlled than the other.
Behind me I heard the sound of lightsabers activating, and saw the same in front of me. Before I could react, however, the fourth leapt towards me, and suddenly my world was black.
When I came to (an action that surprised me; I was expecting to be dead), I found myself bound to what seemed like some ancient stone tablet, by my hands and feet. I think I was drugged in some way, because though I tried to use the Force, I couldn't.
In front of me were the Nightsister and the man I couldn't make out earlier. He was a red Zabrak (a Nightbrother perhaps?), and I won't go into detail, but his body seemed to be literally decaying. At this point I noticed the stench- definitely decaying.
He was talking to the Nightsister as my senses came back.
"Massikus, are you sure?" she asked. "We can hold on to him for a while longer, your current host isn't in the worst shape."
A very raspy voice (I don't think his throat was in the best condition at this point) replied. "I need him now. You saw what happened out there. I'll need that kind of power to hunt down the other three."
During the conversation, Massikus' Force presence touched mine, and then attacked it furiously. He invaded my mind relentlessly searching for information on the Jedi who had escaped, and I was powerless to stop him.
"We can send the Assassins after them-"
"Who? Saris? He'll be caught or worse for sure, and we'll be exposed. We are not yet ready."
"There are some who would think otherwise."
"It's final." He walked onto a slab adjacent to mine with the same bindings, and activated them using the Force. With a sly grin on her face and her hands glowing a vibrant green she moved towards him and place her hands on his temple. He fell asleep quickly, and she turned to me, her hands now red.
"You, unfortunately, don't get to sleep. But don't worry; in time you will play your part." I tried to escape, but I was too weak. While I was squirming, she put her hands to my head. Immediately an onslaught of pain was all I knew. In my body, in the Force, in my mind, in my very soul, I knew suffering for what it really was. She was wrong, though. The pain knocked me out pretty quickly.
When I awoke, I found myself once again bound to the tablet. I saw the three from before looking at me, expectantly. Talzin, the Nightsister, Arek Saris, the young apprentice, and Varad Zagg, his master. How did I know their names? For an answer, I reached into the Force, but I found only one thing. A massive, incredibly powerful presence in the Dark Side blocking me off from anything else. I tried to reach into it, but I couldn't. Shifting back to my previous goal, I strained to get off the slab, but it didn't even seem like my muscles were moving. Suddenly all the shackles were lifted, and I fell to the ground, straining to move a muscle but failing. Still, I landed on my feet, as though someone else had directed my body. Hold on... As if in response to that thought, my body stood up, but I wasn't in control. Someone else was.
"That's right, Ganner. You belong to me now."
In my mind his voice was a thousand times more insidious.
"Really, your consciousness wasn't even supposed to survive, but it is of no consequence. You are just another victim of Darth Massikus."
In my mind I tried to lash out, however I could. Nothing worked. Inside the head we shared, he let out a long cackle.
"Let the darkness consume you. I promise I will give you the least painful death I can." He was lying.
With my voice, he spoke. "This is a strong one, I can feel it. His mind still lingers by a thread."
"Does he pose a threat?" Varad questioned him. Of course Varad would want to know, the conniving little... Hold on. I could read Massikus' thoughts. Of course.
"No. He is but a small pond against the ocean of the Dark Side's power." Just as Varad was.
Just in the nick of time, Massikus reached out into the Force, and I could feel it within myself as well. Together though guided by him, we searched for Yula, Tyrral, and Bail. The three were together, escaping Umbara. Utilizing both of our respective levels of power in the Force, Massikus was able to locate them just outside orbit. During the events that followed, we were constantly tracking them.
"Yula, Tyrral, Bail. All vermin who will deserve the slow deaths they will be given."
"I know where the Jedi are," he said through me.
"You made your decision clear," Varad responded. "Go get them."
Without another word, Massikus left. He went to his quarters and found new robes to fit my body, and choose a doublesaber out of a large collection, mostly trophies from dead Force users, Jedi and Sith alike. As he walked through the Academy to the private hangar, each Sith we passed bowed down to him hesitantly. Weaklings.
Stunned by my thoughts, I tried to push him out to no avail. He laughed some more.
"Might as well get used to it, Slarwalker. Welcome to the rest of this body's pathetic life."
As he walked, I decided I might as well learn who my new enemy was, and I dove into his memories.
Massikus was able to block me from getting the full story, but I was able to slowly begin to piece it together. Massikus was an ancient Sith from thousands of years ago, dating back to the Great War. He was primarily a warrior, but when he uncovered ancient texts speaking of a way to live forever, he took a more studious position. He began experimenting on lesser Force users, mainly victims from the battlefield. While true immortality eluded him, he made a new breakthrough when he discovered how to transfer the consciousness of a Force user into the body of another. As his aging body began to lose its usefulness, he decided it was time to try it on himself. It worked, and he discovered he gained not only the body of his victims, but their power in the Force as well. For a long time, he went about causing chaos in the Republic, constantly shifting identities and getting stronger every single time.
However, this power came with a price. Eventually Massikus' power became more than his bodies could handle, and he had to step down from the battlefield before he ran out, and resolved to work from the shadows until he could find a body capable of holding his might. Somewhere between then and now, he ended up at the Sith Academy, where he waited for an Assassin to be produced worthy of his power. Then I came along. I was able to glimpse, through his eyes, the turning point. It was me, running rampant against the Sith, telling the others to run. They hesitantly complied, and I held the Sith off long enough for them to escape. It took Massikus letting out a barrage of blows that sealed his current body's fate to finally put me down. I could sense that not even he knew why I didn't remember.
As he began to take off, I learned his plan: Divide and conquer. Leave each one of them stranded and cut off from the outside world, then pick them off one by one. He was quiet now; he was too focused on the others. Silently, we took off into the night sky to kill my three best friends.
The Hunt Begins
It must have lasted weeks. They didn't have a hyperdrive, so Massikus toyed with them for what felt like forever, slowly pointing them in the direction he wanted them to run. Eventually we found our destination: Mustafar. Once we were close enough, Massikus shot their engines out like it was nothing and just let them crash to the surface. Then, he found a nearby mining complex, landed there, and dined before he set out to eliminate them. As he ate, he mocked me.
"I must say, I find your choice of partners intriguing. I think I'll kill Tyrral first, and then Bail. We'll see how much agony the girl can take before she gives in."
I was silent.
Finally, we set out into the inferno. They had crashed in a valley a few kilometers out, by a tall volcano. Using a technique of the Sith Assassins, Massikus was able to hide his presence from them while he quickly scaled the volcano, and called to them, his voice amplified though the Force.
Startled, they all turned quickly, struggling to make out the body the sound had came from. They must have recognized the voice, but in their minds it surely couldn't have been me.
"Watch this. It gets them every time."
He activated one red blade of his lightsaber and let it sink in for a moment. I could feel the menacing smile he was forming with my face. For just a second, he charged up energy in the Force, and then he leapt into the air, making my friends look like specks. Then, gravity regained control and we began to plummet towards them as he activated the second blade, and landed in a battle position, dust flying from the impact.
When it settled, in front of me were Bail, Tyrral, and Yula, lightsabers not even drawn, with looks of absolute horror on their faces.
Finally, Tyrral was the one to blurt out, "Ganner?"
Massikus laughed. "Ganner Slarwalker is dead. All that remains is Darth Massikus, the Destroyer."
Bail was the first to apparently come to his senses, activating his cerulean blue lightsaber. "Listen, Ganner. We can help you, but you need to fight back."
Almost incredulously, Massikus replied, "You really still think I'm him, don't you?"
I felt Yula's presence touch mine and Massikus' and then pull away almost instantly.
"Wh-W-.... What are you?"
"I am fear itself."
With these words, he leapt into combat. He opened with a lightning quick lunge at Tyrral he barely dodged, landed on his feet and turned around to face the group once more. Already, they were moving together to strike. Analyzing them in the Force, Massikus gathered that Tyrral was unknowingly using Battle Meditation, solidifying the choice to kill him first. Seeing Battle Meditation as too much of a wildcard factor, Massikus decided it was time to cut to the chase.
As the Jedi all leapt to attack, he let forth an outburst in the Force, essentially a push in all directions, and they went flying back. Moving at full speed, Massikus grabbed Tyrral by the neck before he even hit the ground. He let forth a burst of lightning, and Tyrral screamed in pain. Moving in to save him, Bail lunged toward Massikus. Without missing a beat, Massikus dropped Tyrral, grabbed Bail, and threw him at Yula. He turned back to Tyrral just in time to dodge his orange lightsaber. In the Force, I felt Tyrral reach out to me one final time before he died. Massikus raised his blade, and in desperation I pushed against it. It plunged, but just before it hit his heart, it stopped for a second, and then Massikus regained control. Tyrral was dead.
"Did you really think you could save him? Pathetic."
Despite his words, I could sense the fear in his mind. Deciding this fight was enough and it was time for the games to continue, Massikus retreated.
Fall of the Guardian
Something I learned about Massikus was that he didn't sleep. Instead, he meditated. I couldn't break into his mind to tell what it was about, so I ended up just waiting for hours. Massikus was so distracted by his meditations he didn't sense anything in the Force until the alarms in the facility began going off. He quickly snapped out of his trance, and dove into the Force to sense the cause of the disturbance. It didn't take long to figure out what- Bail and Yula. Seeming more annoyed than anything, Massikus stirred. He grabbed his lightsaber and then headed off through the facility towards them.
I felt anger surge through his, wait, my body as he realized their destination: The landing pad. He broke into a sprint, but they were already too close for him to beat them to it. He zoomed through lava-lit corridors and hallways until he finally reached the pad. Yula and Bail were running, with only a small flight of stairs separating them from Massikus' shuttle. He activated his saber, and Bail stopped. Yula kept running up the stairs, and turned to yell at him. "Come on!"
"Get out of here," Bail replied. He turned to Massikus and activated his lightsaber. "Don't let this be in vain."
She stopped for a second, her eyes watering, and then continued up the stairs and into the vessel. In bemusement, Massikus watched this all play out. Now he moved towards Bail, preparing to fight,
"You know," Bail remarked, "I always wanted to know which one of us would win in a duel."
As one, they both leap towards each other, meeting halfway in a saber lock. I could feel the intense heat and strain of the struggle.
"He's better than I expected, I'll give him that."
Finally, Massikus managed to push him back for just a second, giving Massikus time to build power. Behind Bail, the shuttle's engines begin to activate, and Massikus had an idea. Not one to waste time, Bail leapt again. Massikus Force pushed him back, leapt towards him, grabbed him in the air, and threw him against the engines as they fired up. Bail screamed, and the sound of sizzling flesh will reverberate through my ears for the rest of my life. I can't imagine the effort it must have taken, but he managed to leap out of the way of danger just before Yula lifted off into the night sky. Blast.
Lying on the ground, beaten, lied Bail.
"You fought well," Massikus said. "Better than most."
Looking us right in the eyes, Bail replied. "I haven't even started fighting yet."
Massikus raised his saber, preparing to plunge it into him. As he struck, Bail rolled out of the way, jumped up, and activated his lightsaber once more. Still, the wounds had taken their toll, and what was meant to be a wide swing became little more than a stumble. Moving quickly, Massikus sliced off his right arm, the one holding the saber, followed by both his legs in one sweep. As he fell, Massikus removed his left arm for good measure. Bail fell to the ground one last time.
"Know that you die with honor, Jedi."
He raised his sword, ready to decapitate. He swung, and again I tried to stop it. The blade faltered just above his neck.
Massikus struck back, applying all his power to finishing the blow. I did the opposite. For a minute, we struggled against each other. For the slightest moment I felt a shift in Massikus' emotions, and then he let go of the saber., and it plummeted. Unlike the events leading directly up to it, Bail's death was quick and painless. I gave up, and Massikus regained control again. He looked to the sky, and let out an angry sigh. Then, grabbing his lightsaber, he set off towards the crash site.
Speeding through space in the ship the trio had come in, rebuilt through the Force, Massikus activated a tracking beacon. The beacon wasn't on his shuttle, but rather on the shuttle belonging to Varad. Massikus had figured he would be followed. He was right. The shuttle was heading towards Dantooine, and Varad had no other reason to leave Umbara. Massikus followed.
I must admit, I was intrigued as to why Massikus would stop at such a place. He certainly wasn't following anyone, why would he be here? Cloaked just under the clouds, I saw the shuttle land by what looked like the remains of a Jedi Temple. An interesting location to kill an ancient Sith Lord. I landed my, technically Varad's, ship a few kilometers out and went into full Force stealth mode, swiftly moving in for the kill.
My first sign that something was wrong was that I felt nothing in the Dark Side. Nothing at all. Given the overwhelmingly Light nature of this place, it was hard to tell without breaking stealth if anyone aligned with the Light Side was here. I started following the tracks from the vessel, and it was immediately clear that these were a female's steps. Unless Massikus had decided to transfer his consciousness into the woman for some reason, I had a feeling this wasn't him.
I followed her tracks into the ruins. Sitting in a wide chamber, with a small pond and a hint of sunlight from above, was the Zabrak from before.
"I don't know who you are, but you'll have to try a little harder to hide from a Jedi Master."
A master, eh? I accepted the challenge.
"I didn't come here for you, so maybe before your life ends you can make yourself useful. Where's Massikus?"
She rose. "Stranded on Mustafar, where he'll stay until I make it home and warn the Jedi Council about him."
"On the contrary. You won't warn anyone about anything again."
"I'll warn you right now this isn't a fight you want to start."
I activated my lightsaber. "But it is."
"Very well then." She remained motionless, leaving me to initiate the combat. And so I did.
Massikus found his shuttle parked not far from the rubble of a Jedi Temple on Dantooine even he had never seen it undestroyed. Through our connection, he could sense Yula, and we could sense Saris too. He quickly landed and ran inside to see the two of them locked in combat. Neither of them were wounded, and they seemed to be fairly even. When we entered the room, they both stopped. Saris spoke up.
"Lord Massikus! I-"
"Silence! You will be dealt with later. Leave."
Saris look at Yula, then back at us for a moment, then deactivated this lightsaber and ran out. In the Force, he briefly touched me and I could feel the shock in him.
"Now, where was I?"
Massikus' crimson blade snapped to life. "I can feel Ganner in there. How long do you really think you have before he wins?"
"Much longer than it's going to take me to kill you."
In objection, she deactivated her weapon and spread her arms wide, beckoning me to slay her.
"Or will it?"
I knew I had to save her.
Massikus, mostly still in control, walked towards her. With every step he took, the strain increased, and he shook.... Hold on. Not he, I. He struggled to raise my lightsaber while I deactivated it with ease. Yula's face visibly grew calmer.
"Y-Yula..." I began to form words.
She closed her eyes and raised her arms, her hands reaching for my forehead.
Before they could arrive at their destination, I heard a lightsaber activate behind me. Without thinking, I pushed Yula away- hard. She flew across the room, hitting the other wall and falling unconscious immediately. As soon as I had processed this, I was impaled. I looked down to see another red blade bursting out of my chest. It retraced, and I turned, falling to the ground. It was Saris.
"Tell me, Ganner, Massikus, whoever's in there, have any last words?"
Against the light, the silhouette of a fourth figure in hooded robes approached. "Not for you, he doesn't." He activated a deep blue lightsaber, like the blade of the ocean itself. Scowling, Saris turned.
"And you would be?"
"Call me Galen."
And with that, I passed out from my injuries.
Could it be him? It had to be. Still, I had to focus on the enemy at hand.
"I don't know who you are, but there's always an easy way and a hard way to these things, and you can measure someone's intelligence by which way they choose. Choose wisely."
He raised his saber and charged at me. Bad choice. Swiftly, I charged towards him in a sudden counter-attack, catching him in the face with the hilt of my lightsaber. He fell, inertia keeping him moving for a brief moment before he stopped. With the Force, I picked him up and shot him out through the hole in the ceiling. He probably would survive. I ran to the Jedi- It had to be Ganner, I could sense it, and began to carry him. Looking across the lake, I saw that his female companion had left. In my haste, I decided it was of little consequence. With Ganner, I left what was left of the Temple, and headed home.
I woke standing in the middle of a clearing surrounded some abandoned buildings, and further out, by a field of tall grass. Examining myself and the surroundings, I found myself clad in more typical Jedi gear, with my main lightsaber clipped onto my belt. In the Force, Massikus was not tethered to me. Immediately, I began to fully reach out once more as I began to take in my surroundings in more detail. The buildings were broken and withered with age, and on the other side of the village stood another being.
He was certainly bulky, and wore heavy black armor covering nearly everything but his dark gray face and his red eyes. The Force quickly confirmed my suspicions. This was Massikus. I activated my lightsaber, and he followed suit. We both walked towards the center to exchange words before the inevitable duel. Massikus spoke first. "Some sort of bubble within the Force. I'm impressed."
"Why are we here?"
"Because there can only be one of us."
Really, that was all there needed to be said on the matter. We both knew what was coming, and leapt into the final duel.
I gave Ganner some water as he laid on my bed. Bleeding slightly on his black and red robes, I had many questions for him. Unfortunately, he wasn't conscious for me to answer them. He was very warm, but I could sense his fever did not come from disease; rather, it was from the Force. At my side my wife, Vara, asked "Is it him?"
"It has to be. I felt it in the Temple, or what's left of it. Something inside him is blocking me out, but it doesn't feel like him."
"What is it then?"
"An alternate personality, maybe? Some sort of Force leech that latched on to him? Chances are only he knows."
"Can you help him?"
"I have to try."
Placing my hands lightly on his head, I reached out towards him in the Force.
Thrown through one of the huts, I landed on my feet just in time to roll out of the way of another slash. Massikus just kept coming, never giving me a chance to recover. I was almost constantly retreating, blocking and dodging, but never giving in. I didn't think I was going to break any time soon, but neither was he. Massikus attacked again and I held my ground, bringing us violently crashing into a saber lock. I pushed, my arms feeling like they were about to fall off. Aside from the sound of our blades colliding the air was still.
Then, to our left, another blade hissed to life.
"If you're smart, you'll back away from my son." Galen stated. Massikus and I looked over to see a man who indeed looked like an older version of me. Holding his saber from before, he was dressed in white robes with battle armor underneath, and his hood pulled back, giving way to a familiar worn face like looking in a mirror 30 years into the future, with brown hair like mine and a goatee. His eyes, however, were another dark brown.
"Okay, time's up. Made a choice?"
Massikus actually snarled and raised his weapon. I took a quick stab at him, which he dodged, giving Galen time to close in. Galen attack with a large overhead swing, which Massikus blocked. Again, I stabbed him and this time my blade met his flesh. He let out a short gasp, and dropped his weapon.
I pulled my weapon upwards, cutting his top half in two.
In an instant, my senses returned to the real world.
The Knight Returns
I opened my eyes as I quickly sat up, blinded momentarily by the light. I was one in the Force, stronger than I was before but I felt a sort of void where Massikus' strength had been. Standing in front of me was Galen, and a woman. She was shorter than him, and her face was softer and smoother. Her hair was strawberry blonde, and I immediately noticed her eyes- they were the same shade as mine.
"Mom?" I whispered.
"Welcome home," she said.
They took some time to explain everything to me. Their names were Galen and Vara Slarwalker, and they were indeed my parents. Galen was a former Jedi Master himself. Though he was presumed dead, he had merely withdrawn from the teachings of the Order to live differently. Vara was a woman he had met on a passenger freighter during his travels as he searched for a better life.
They had high hopes for me as soon as I displayed my Force and gave me to the Order believing I would go on to do great things. They tried to keep up with the news of my exploits with Bail, Yula, and Tyrral. They also had another son two years after I left, named Cade in my honor. Then, when he was 3, Cade vanished. Galen spent a long time searching for him, but never found him. They hadn't heard from him since.
I told them how I had been bound to Massikus and what had happened since, leading up to the fight in the ruins. When I was over, Galen asked, "So what now?"
"I can't go back to the Order, and even if I could I don't have time. Saris is getting away, and I need to catch him before he can escape to the Temple and warn them that I'm coming for them- and mark my words, I am."
"I ought to give you this before you go." He handed me an orange lightsaber crystal. "This belonged to my Master, who gave it to me when he died. It was found on Kashyyk and is very potent. I'm sure you'll need it."
As the three of us moved in for a hug, Vara spoke. "We're so proud of you."
When all was said and done, I set out with new gear. I still had Massikus' tracking device and identified Saris' destination as Felucia. I took off into hyperspace to bring him down.
Even from orbit, I could feel the pure life emanating from Felucia. As I got closer, impossible as it seemed, it only grew. Finally, I reached the surface and stepped out. I had never felt more immersed in the Force as noises rang out all around me. Against this surge of life, I felt the Dark Side pulling deep from within the jungle. Saris. However, it was more than just him. I couldn't place my finger on it, but there were definitely some other beings here with questionable morals. Focusing on Saris, I entered the jungle.
At first I felt just a light thump. As I pressed on, it grew stronger and stronger, until it was practically a localized earthquake. Then, suddenly it stopped, causing me to take my focus off of Saris for a second. Sensing something behind me- no, it couldn't be- I turned slowly. Standing in front of me was a full sized Rancor. I activated my new orange lightsaber as it roared.
I sensed danger in the Force, and rolled away just in time to dodge a rocket that flew past me into the Rancor's open mouth. I turned to look at the source and found a tall, blonde man, who dropped a now useless rocket launcher. "Looking for me?" he asked.
"Should I be?"
"That depends on whether or not you can help me. I'm part of a special ops squad working for the Republic. Long story short, we were raiding a Sep base a few klicks out and the rest of them got captured."
"Where is this base?"
Reaching out in the Force in that direction, I felt Saris, among other Force presences.
"Then let's move."
My new friend (who I learned was named Hans) and I stood, covered by the underbrush, observing the base. There wasn't a lot to be made of it from outside, other than the presence of a few AATs and a hangar with some droid starfighters and a few shuttles, one of which belonged to Saris. The plan we shortly formed was rather simple: Steal a tank, burst into the base, get everyone out, and then Hans would pilot the squad out while I stayed behind to deal with Saris.
As the droids patrolling the perimeter turned and began to walk to the other side of the base, Hans and I grabbed our weapons and made a dash for it. We quickly hopped inside one of the tanks and powered it on. Hans took the gun while I was the pilot.
"Now we're talking!" he exclaimed.
He moved the turret about, taking aim at a few tanks and firing. They exploded forcefully, launching our tank several yards. Had our shields not been activated, we too would have been blown up. Alerted by the noise, droids began pouring out of the base. I unloaded onto them with the cannons as Hans blasted a hole into the base.
A loud series of explosions rocked the base. Immediately, a dozen droid voices lit up in a torrent of confusion and chaos. "What happened?" I yelled, but they were beyond listening. Surely these nitwits couldn't be the force that was at war with the Republic. Then again, given how easy it was to reprogram into seeing me as an officer, maybe it was possible. In the Force, I sensed Ganner and another presence, not Force-sensitive. Could Ganner really have overcome Massikus?
If so, a tactical retreat seemed like the best decision. Still, I had to be sure. They were heading straight for the cells, and I moved to intercept.
I busted down another wall and through the cockpit HUD I could see five figures locked in shielded cells. Then, a blur jumped in front of the camera and I rolled (as much as I could with my limited space) out of the way in time to dodge a crimson lighsaber blade plunging into the tank. "Get them out!" I shouted to Hans as I tore off the hull with the Force. Standing between me and the prisoners was Saris. He pulled his lightsaber out of the hull as we faced each other.
"I must say, Slarwalker, you have a talent for escaping apparent death."
"Let's see if we share it."I activated my orange lightsaber as I leapt at him. He rolled out of the way and I pushed him farther, taking the fight outside and away from the cells. In the corner of my eye, I saw Hans running towards the controls, taking down a few droids with his hands as he ran. I continued pushing towards Saris, leading him away from the others. They all picked up weapons from fallen droids and began making their escape.
"CONCENTRATE FIRE!" Saris ordered. By some unfortunate miracle, none of the droids fired at the escapees, but rather at me. With my concentration shifted to deflecting the dozens of shots being fired at me, Saris ran for his transport, not even bothering to stop to take out the escapees. I was too bogged down to stop him as he flew into the atmosphere, running away a second time. Noticing this, the others turned and shot down the droids that I didn't take care of.
When the last one had fallen, one of the escapees, a short blonde woman, spoke up.
"We're going after him."
With that, we got in one of the other shuttles and took off into the skies to bring Saris down.
Rise of Maricus
The Mandalore System
One moment I was meditating as my shuttle cruised through hyperspace, and the next I was nearly thrown across the room as I was abruptly stopped. In my window was a Republic cruiser with some unsightly bulges- gravity wells? A message came through.
"Unidentified vessel, this is the Republic Cruiser Reverence. prepare for tractor beam lock. Failure to comply will result in your termination."
As we followed Saris through hyperspace, I acquainted myself with the crew. I also learned that each member of the squad was actually a criminal of some sort that the Republic had captured and decided to use for their own purposes.
Hans Novastar, the man who had helped me rescue the rest, was the closest thing the team had to a "leader" aside from their overseer, some Admiral. Hans was a commando of sorts and was arrested launching a successful attack on the fortress of a Hutt the Republic had secretly been negotiating with.Next was Ranulph Darkhitch, a tan young man with blonde hair and a goatee to match. Ranulph was the techie of the group, arrested for hacking into Coruscant's military databases and uncovering secret plans for superweapons. He was also the youngest, at only 18, though he looked much older.
Siri Tokolighter was the blonde girl from before. She was also somewhat young, being 21. Siri was the crackshot of the group and was arrested for attempting to assassinate some big-shot known as Xalandra Nova. In fact, the shot was dead on, but a Jedi Master known as Kahar Zamet deflected it just in time.
Fourth in line was Blaze Terrant. He was stocky with auburn hair, and was arrested for going into casinos claiming to be the fastest shot in the galaxy and shooting down anyone who dared to challenge him. Needless to say, he was quite the gunslinger.
Last but not least was Arron Radion. Hans told me that he was a big-time bounty hunter who had worked for the Hutt he killed, and was sort of the jack of all trades of the group. The torture he endured while captured must have been too much, however, because he was very reclusive and never spoke.
The team had been sent to Felucia to kill the general of the base and destroy as much as they could. Saris, in what I gathered was an attempt to hide from me, infiltrated the base, disposed of and replaced the general by reprogramming all the droids to see him as the general's replacement. Now, since Saris technically was the general of the base, they could get away with going with me to take him down. And so, the six of us sat on the ship as we were violently thrown out of hyperspace. "Unidentified vessel, this is the Republic Cruiser Reverence. prepare for tractor beam lock. Failure to comply will result in your termination."
"Impossible..." Ranulph muttered.
The ship began to slowly pull us in.
I walked out of my shuttle, with a small patrol of clone troopers staring blankly at me, guns raised. In the middle stood a captain, with a cyan shoulder pad and a kama. "Mind giving us a name?"
It was time. In my mind, I knew the name at once. It was new, and yet, it had always been mine. I could sense their fingers tightening on their triggers as I took my time. Despite myself, a small sneer was beginning to form.
They froze at the word. In their single second of hesitation, my lightsaber flew to my hand.
With my blade as red as the blood I was about to spill, I attacked.
I felt a large ripple in the Force. Saris was here, and had revealed himself, presumably to the clones. Right on cue, over the intercom, I heard screaming and gunshots. Little by little, voice by voice, the screams quieted, until finally either Saris or a single clone had lived.
I didn't have much faith in the clone.
"Why, that's you, Ganner, isn't it? Incredible."
"Surrender, Saris. You've got no backup and no way out."
"Arek Saris is dead. I just killed him."
"How awfully nice of that Saris-sounding scum to take care of him for us," Ranulph sarcastically remarked. The rest of us sat momentarily in silence as the tractor beam pulled us in closer and closer. Finally, Ranulph was the one who broke it.
"So what exactly is the plan, anyway?"
Hans began thinking.
"Ranulph, you need to get to the bridge. Get help, find something to stop Saris.
Blaze, you and Arron need to lock down the hangars. Saris isn't getting off this ship.
Siri and I will, uh, patrol the ship. Ganner, you can sense Saris, so you'll be the most essential component of the plan. I think this goes without saying, but you'll need to track him and coordinate with Ranulph and the rest of us to keep him in while you two do whatever you do." He handed us all holocoms.
The ship began to pull into the hangar, and through our hull, the carnage was remarkable. Squads of clones laid in pieces across the room. The ship landed. Saris' voice rang out over the ship's intercom.
"Now boarding six walking corpses."
"I know the layout of Republic cruisers well enough to know that came from the bridge," Ranulph says.
"I'll come with you," I reply.
"All right, everyone split up!" Hans says.
"Oh, yay, ship duty. Such fun." Blaze mutters as we all go our separate ways.
Darth Maricus (AKA Saris)
Using the ship's cameras, I scanned around looking for any stragglers besides Ganner. All across the Reverence were my little pieces of art. I flicked through the ship, but no one was left. It was time to call Varad and make my escape.
"He's splitting off," Ganner said. "I'll go after him. You get to the bridge." With that, he quickly took a left down another blank corridor and quickly vanished. When I approached the bridge, there was no door to open, and I could see the carnage from across the hallway. There was not a single clone in sight, and the walls of the bridge looked like someone had made modern art with only gray and black. By some miracle, the computers were barely scratched. However, just as I began to examine them, I heard a sneeze. Quickly and silently I spun and drew my pistol, but no one was there. Just as I was about to dismiss it as nothing, a section of the ceiling opened up, and a man dressed in colorful robes fell past, screaming.
"Hans, Siri, someone, get up here. There's a freaking stowaway."
As he stood up and brushed off his dusty, fancy clothes I got a closer glance at him. He was tan, with golden eyes and black hair. He had about the same physique as me, tall and slightly skinny. He was also, somehow, wielding a sniper rifle.
"Hello there," he said. "I'm Dylan and I'm sure we can talk things out."
Truth be told, ship duty was pretty dang boring.
"You know, we could make this more interesting. Play a game of pazaak or something." Arron was still mute, staring out the window. A long silence ensued.
"Fine, have it your way."
Another long silence. Maybe I could annoy him into talking.
"You know, that Siri is quite the looker. And did you see the way she was glancing at Hans during our briefing? I'm telling you, man-" The airlock opened.
He had left the ship. I quickly followed. He was running towards Saris' ship. "Arron!" I yelled.
He stopped and turned slowly.
"I hate to do this," he said.
Before I had time to react, he drew his pistol and shot me. The last thing I saw was a blue flash - he had stunned me.
As I ran through the halls, a door opened in front of me that Ganner promptly jumped through. Yet again, we watched each other, preparing to strike.
"That's Maricus to you, Slarwalker."
"Right then. Shall we?"
He activated his sabers. I did the same. I knew I couldn't take him in a fight, but I quickly found a solution to that as a blonde man and woman walked behind me.
Ranulph"Okay, okay, let me explain. So I'm sitting here in this ceiling nibbling this rifle because I'm really hungry, right? (I'm still really hungry.) Then I hear a lot of people screaming and stuff, right? Then it gets reeeeal quiet, and there's some other voice who doesn't sound like everyone else saying some random stuff I can't understand. Then I guess he walks closer to me, 'cuz I hear him talking about finding his 'secondary objective' on Man-dollar or something. Then he got real quiet and I figured I was alone so I started thinking about my friend named Price, he's pretty cool, you should meet him. Then you showed up. Also I bit a little bit off the scope."
"So I'm sitting here in this ceiling nibbling this rifle because I'm really hungry, right? (I'm still really hungry.) Then I hear a lot of people screaming and stuff, right? Then it gets reeeeal quiet, and there's some other voice who doesn't sound like everyone else saying some random stuff I can't understand. Then I guess he walks closer to me, 'cuz I hear him talking about finding his 'secondary objective' on Man-dollar or something. Then he got real quiet and I figured I was alone so I started thinking about my friend named Price, he's pretty cool, you should meet him. Then you showed up. Also I bit a little bit off the scope."
"Nope, you're out of chances."
I activated my comlink. "Guys, Saris has some sort of ulterior objective on Mandalore."
Silence. What were they doing? I moved to the cameras to find out. There was Saris, apparently holding Siri hostage, with Ganner and Hans on either side. Just great.
"You, behind me, don't even think of pulling anything." Saris slowly backed away from me. Hans kept his gun trained on Saris' head. As soon as he was next to Hans, Saris quickly threw him with the Force against the wall. He threw Siri at me, whom I jumped over, and started to run. As he ran down the halls he sliced a vent open, causing a gust of gas to blow me off my feet across the room, leaving the 3 of us left behind in a heap. Over the comlink, Ranulph began to panic. "Guys, Saris is headed for the hangars, Arron is gone, and Blaze is unconscious. He's gonna escape!" I slowly got to my feet and parted the gas so that I could run after him but I knew he was already too far gone. I got into the hangar in time to see him leave with our shuttle.
"Blast it all."
Minutes later, we all assembled at the bridge. As I entered I immediately took notice of the stowaway, who I could since was... off, in some way. "Price! You made it to the part where I come in again! And you're still not banned!" He said.
"Stop with the nonsense," Ranulph said. "What is Maricus- apparently what Saris calls himself now- planning?"
"I don't know, all I caught was something about Mandalore and a second objective and Vizla."
We all looked at each other in confusion and surprise.
"Vizla?" Hans asked, hesitantly.
"Vizla works for the Death Watch."
We all took a collective moment to realize the trouble we were about to get into, which was ruined when Dylan burped quite loudly and then said "Gesundheit."
"May I do the honors?" Ranulph inquired.
"Be my guest."
With a nice whap on the head from Ranulph's pistol, Dylan was down for the count. From there we returned to our shuttle. "I have a plan," Hans announced as we all sat down. "And I don't think you're gonna particularly like it."
"Good. Find the target and leave swiftly. No one can know." Even over the holo, Varad's voice was commanding.
"Of course, Master."
"And one more thing-- Slarwalker must not leave alive."
I hadn't told him anything about Slarwalker.
Minutes later, I opened a second comm channel.
"It's time to take him down. Finish off the others and wait for my signal."
"It will be done," the mole replied.
"It had better. Maricus out."
GannerDressed in possibly the stupidest bounty hunter outfit to ever "grace" the galaxy with its presence, complete with a little green cape and a black mask, I walked out the shuttle into the docking bay. A Mandalorian in black and red armor came over to greet me. He hesitated for just a second before he walked up to me, datapad in hand. "Need some ID, he said." I handed him a fake Hans obtained for me, and he scanned it.
"Starlord? Really?" He remarked.
As soon as his head and attention were away, I activated a jammer hidden in my left glove that would disable any nearby recording devices. Then, I punched him with my fist enhanced by the shock glove on my right hand. It didn't take him out, but he stumbled, and a crack on visor told me his vision was probably down. I walked up to him and slammed him on the ground. The datapad came out as positive, which ought to have delayed suspicion of me for a short time. I took the ID, his datapad (you never know when something like that could come in handy), quietly tucked his body in the corner, and proceeded into Mandalore.
"It went smoothly," I muttered. "Got some potential intel also." As I walked in, I stuck a small chip onto the datapad that allowed Ranulph to remotely access it.
"Scanning now... Ever wonder what Mandalorians do in their downtime?"
"Good. You don't want to know. No mentions of an Arek Saris, but exactly two of a Maricus. Displaying them on your visor now."
"You can do that?" The words flashed to life in front of me.
JayJayJohnson: Did you hear about that guy, Maricus?
Reedman211: Maricus, as in the one trying to make that deal about some "infusions?"
JayJayJohnson: That's the one. He weirds me out and I really hope we don't end up working for him.
Reedman211: Tell me about it. You should've seen how he was eyeing Xux.
"That's all he got out before you knocked the guy unconscious."
"Interesting. Infusions could have something to do with the ritual, but why would Varad want that? All it would take is one body, and certainly he could find a more sustainable one than a Death Watch member."
"Your guess is as good as mine. At any rate, stop Maricus and it won't matter. I've got Hans, Siri, and Blaze running recon for Vizla and Maricus right now, so it's only a matter of time."
"Copy that. Heading out now."
HansStanding on an empty rooftop, I scanned the city. Ranulph had programmed my mask to look for beings matching Pre Vizla's or Maricus' biological signatures. Judging from her swearing, Siri, on the other side of the roof, was having no luck either. Blaze was down below, making sure no one came too close to finding us. Suddenly, two red bodies were outlined- one fitting Maricus and one Vizla. "It will be done," Siri whispered.
I quietly sent Ranulph the signatures and their coordinates. Just as I did it, I felt a blaster poke me in the back.
"Siri, what are you doing?"
"Carrying out the will of the Force."
I needed to keep her talking while I looked for a way out.
"Sorry, I thought Ganner was the Jedi here?"
"I serve no Jedi." She vocalized the word with such disgust I thought she was actually about to vomit on me. "I am a Shadow Assassin, like my master, Darth Maricus, and you will perish before me."
The only exit I could see was to jump and pray my jetpack could save me. I could also attack Siri, but I had no idea if I would be able to take her.
"How could you do this? After all we've been through?"
My words seemed to make her hesitate just a bit, giving me the opening I needed. I quickly elbowed her in the face, causing her arm to move off target as she fired. I leapt off the building and spun to shoot back as I fell. Instead, I saw her leap towards me. She grabbed me as my rocket activated and we flew wildly through the sky in a frantic melee. We careened onto a large taxi speeder and stood up facing each other. Between the two of us was Siri's pistol. We both leapt for it and I grabbed it first. We both quickly drew away from each other, and I stood pointing it at her.
"Any last words?"
Her response was to fall back off the taxi. I was moving too fast to track her. Suddenly, Blaze's voice rang over the comms.
"Where are you guys!?!?! There's DW's everywhere and I can't take much longer!"
"Hang tight," I responded. I was too far though. Blaze was going to die.
"I don't have time!" A explosion went off in the distance, and the comm went to static.
As soon as Ranulph gave me the location I began running and jumping towards him. At last I had a physical visual on where the site was. With a lightsaber my left hand, I carried onwards.
I could vaguely since Maricus' presence in the vicinity. However, I couldn't reach out and get a closer position on him, because now I needed to keep my Force presence small. He was definitely in this building, though. I touched my earpiece and asked, "Ranulph, can you get a bead on him?"
"I can do you one better," He replied. A red outline signifying his body appeared somewhere a couple stories down the building. In addition, an audio feed began to play.
"-ven if I agreed to this, and I'm not answering yet, what's in this for me?"
"Glory. Eternal glory as being the man who lead the Death Watch, and the entire galaxy, into a new age."
"And then, I suppose, once our business is finished you'll turn your backs on us."
As the conversation played out, I crept down dark floors, my orange blade giving me warmth in an otherwise chilly building. Using the Force to dampen the sound, I deactivated my lightsaber as I entered the floor they occupied. The walls of the room were all glass, and Maricus was walking with a tall man in decorated Death Watch armor towards an elevator: Vizla.
"The men are loyal to you and only you, Pre."
"...I can get you fifty men right now. But I will need them back in a month unharmed."
The two men walked in the elevator. Both turned to face me, though I wasn't visible to them.
"I agree on one condition- I need the one you call Xux."
"I can get him, but you'd better pay well for this."
"Do your part and I'll do mine. Now, I have business to attend to. I'll see you on Umbara."
Maricus pressed a button and the door began to close, but before it did, he stepped out with the speed of the Force.
I drew my other saber, and ignited them both. Staring me down with his yellow eyes, he ignited his own.
"You're here earlier than I anticipated, Ganner, but you've only hastened your demise."
"Funny, I could say the same for you."
He ran towards me, saber raised, but I simply extended my hand and Force pushed him into the closed elevator door. I leapt towards him, sabers poised to impale, but at the last second he dodged out of the way, grabbed my throat, and slammed me against the door. I tried to raise my sabers, but he was Force pushing them down, so I tried a different tactic. I pried open the doors with the Force, and we both fell back into the shaft. I grabbed his arm, quickly spinning so that he was on the bottom, and landed hard on the elevator, deactivating all our weapons. Out of breath, with my head spinning, I rolled off of Maricus, who was knocked out cold. "Ranulph," I gasp, "Get me out of here."
I stood up, still holding my lightsaber. I knew I could kill him now, and all this would be over. All I would've needed to do was kill one unarmed person. I knew it was against the Jedi code, but I wasn't a Jedi. What was I? I pushed the button to activate the saber, and looked at Maricus in the orange light. I turned the saber upside down, raised it with both hands, and as I prepared to take his life, the window broke behind me.
I turned in an instant to see who it was, and time seemed to slow. Through an explosion of glass, Siri flew towards me with a fiery red saber raised. She had cuts and bruises across her face, chest and arms, more than could've come from the glass. There was a fire in her amber eyes as her blade ran through my chest.
There's no better word to describe the feeling of having a beam of pure plasma burning through your chest as you lie on the ground than hot. It was like my insides were melting, and I took a second to reflect on the fact that they probably were. Shocked, I tried to form words but didn't have the energy, and I plummeted to the ground, rapidly losing consciousness. Maricus stood, and Siri talked with him for what feels like an eternity as they watched me, though I couldn't make out any words. At long last, Siri pulled her saber out of me, and I let the relief of death finally take me.
When I got to Ganner, Hans was already there, trying to apply first aid. "What in the world happened?" I asked. Ganner had a bad lightsaber wound in his chest.
"Siri was a traitor. She must have attacked Ganner and ran off with Maricus."
"Damn it. We'll kill her for that."
"Agreed, but we have to get Ganner out of here first."
We both looked at him for a second, thinking, and then a thought occurred to me.
"Don't worry- I have a plan."
Eye of the Storm
Lying next to a bed of lava outside the doorway to a main chamber, I entertained myself by shooting some lightning between my fingers. Inside, Maricus was speaking to his Master. I'd never met Varad, but one day I was going to help Maricus kill him. He had barely spoken to me since we left Mandalore. I killed Ganner myself, but he was still mad at me for allowing the others to escape. He refused to see that they were of little consequence and couldn't put even the tiniest dent in our plans if they wanted to. I saw motion out of the corner of my eye, and looked up to see Maricus leaving as the door slid shut behind him. I joined him and we walked together through the halls as the other Sith went about their business.
"Despite your best efforts, we are closer to success than ever before." He said. "I was just trying to take advantage of an opportunity to rid us of an enemy. You would have done the same thing."
He turned to me and I could see the rage he barely held back upon his face. "I would not have failed." he said coolly, grabbing my throat and lifting me off the ground. "Did you think there wouldn't be consequences? Because of your foolishness, because I had to take responsibility for your idiocy, Lord Zagg is most displeased." He let me go and I sat for a moment, catching my breath. "Go to the training room until further notice. I will not let you continue to drag the new order down." He muttered, walking away.
"Remind me again why we're here?" Hans asked.
"I did some research on Dylan after we met him. He's a big time criminal, with experimental Republic military-grade tech. We need his help."
"That was rhetorical," He muttered.
We walked into the medbay.
"You owe us for this, big time," Dylan said. He was looking at Ganner, in a bacta tank. He was flanked by a dozen and a half members of his crime ring, the Brotherhood. "Say we go along with this insane plan to maybe kill a Sith Lord and topple a conspiracy shrouded in mystery. That's a lot of risk for us. What's the reward?"
As one, each of the Brotherhood members raised blaster pistols of various types at me.
After thinking for a second, I responded, "Lightsabers. Where there's tons of Sith, there's tons of lightsabers, and I bet you could make a fortune using those things on the black markets."
Dylan put his hand to his ear and asked, "Price, is this guy telling the truth?" After a few seconds, he nodded, and they lowered their weapons. Dylan leaned in close to me, and whispered in my ear, "If you don't come through, I will kill you, him, and everything you love." He leaned back again and began barking commands. "Alright, boys, move out! Except you Oriuss, you stay here and keep and eye on our guests."
We both watched Ganner float for a moment in silence. Oriuss, a Pantoran, looks over at me and asked, "What's the plan anyway?"
"Well, once this guy wakes up..."
Gathered in the main hall, the 50 Mandalorians stood before me. Talzin stood to one side of me; Saris stood to the other. "You're probably wondering why I've gathered you all here."
"The truth is, we are here to make the perfect soldier. And you, well, one of you, are going to be that soldier."
Finding Xux was truly a miracle for the cause. Everyone could sense his strength in the Dark Side, and he didn't even know it.
"So, to the point- all of you are going to fight to the death, and if you don't, we'll kill you." To prove this point, I allowed Saris to stab the closest Mandalorian. The melee began, and I turned to leave so that I could meditate for the ritual to come.
"....Now, we won't know the full extent of their threat until the attack begins. If we can safely get feet on the ground, we'll take the area by force. If we can't, we blow it up once Ganner is clear. We're packing enough firepower to do some damage to the mantle. We've got little to no idea who is in that temple or what their plan is, but Ganner and a few backups should be able to take care of any threats. Miss anything?"
"Uh, yeah, pretty much all of it."
"Basically, kill the bad guys but don't die."
Behind us, Ganner said "Got it, when do we go?"
We looked out the window at hyperspace, just as we stopped. Umbara was before us. The dark planet where this all began for him would where it all ended.
Dylan's voice rang out on the intercom, "Get ready, brothers. This is gonna be like the good old times!'
"Right about now."
"Let's do this," Ganner's voice trailed off, and I caught him as he fell unconscious.
Covered in red, Xux stood in his armor amongst the corpses of the folly.
"Will he be ready?" Varad asked Talzin. She looked up to the sky.
"It is not him you need to worry about."
Against the moon that filled the night sky, a large outline suddenly appeared. It was barely visible- it had to be cloaked, and Slarwalker had to be behind it.
"It is him."
After making sure all systems were working properly, I took a moment to look down at the red and black surface of the planet where it all began. Where Ganner Slarwalker died and Darth Massikus took his place. Why there?
I supposed an answer would reach me shortly. The drop pod counted down the seconds until I reached the surface, and I thought I could faintly see the drop pod with my equipment in the distance, but it was hard to distinguish it with such a dark background.
My first objective was to secure the Umbaran airfield. If anything could shoot the HQ down, it would be there. With any luck, however, it'll be just like I left it. Following that, I was to keep the area on lockdown and wait for the Brotherhood forces to rendezvous. The temple wasn't far and I could use the help in the assault. Hopefully, Eclipse protocol would be ready by then, but the Sith had proven to be quite troublesome thus far and we couldn't take the risk.
The surface was coming up. I braced for impact.
Umbaran Sith Temple
"This is Ganner. The airfield is clear. There's some artillery here but it's offline and we can probably use it ourselves."
Behind me, Varad asked, "Tell me, my student, what should we do next?"
"Send some acolytes over to the airfield, to watch from the shadows. We'll evaluate their forces and strike accordingly once they think they've settled in."
Varad chuckles, and said, "You heard him. Get the acolytes out there."
"THROUGH POWER, I GAIN VICTORY."
Yet another training droid. I'd gone through the Sith Code dozens of times, and the machines kept coming. They weren't getting any stronger, either. It jumped in the air, staff raised to stab me, and I took the advantage to simply Force push the staff of the last robot through its chest. I sensed danger behind me, and as the robot fell I used the Force to grab the staff, turn, and barely stop myself in time from decapitating Maricus.
"Well, well. You might make a Jedi slayer after all."
"To what might I owe the honors?"
"Ganner Slarwalker is alive and he is coming. We will kill him, or he will kill us all."
"As you wish, Master."
"And when this is all done, we will point our guns to Varad."
The airfield was all clear. A few anti-air guns and tanks that someone had tried to repair was all that was left of the Umbaran airfield. I activated my comlink. "It's clear. Come on down." Like a meteor shower, drop pods began to rain in, quickly deploying a local Brotherhood field base. Out came Ranulph, Hans, and many Brotherhood mercenaries. As they set up, I decided to meditate. All around me I sensed a strong Dark Side presence. In fact, it felt literally all around me....
The Shadow Assassins were upon us.
I activated the voice modifier.
"Dylan, this is Atom. We're moving eastbound towards the Temple. The airfield has been overrun by Sith assassins. Go ahead and light up the airfield, over."
"Atom, from my screen, you guys haven't moved a bit."
"The enemy must be running interference of some kind. Trust me, we're outta there."
"Copy that, initiating Eclipse protocol..."
The moon was blotted out by the space station as it began to glow purple.
As the world went black, I felt a lot of danger. Then, the grey fog became red. Dozens of crimson lightsabers surrounded us on all sides. I reached out in the Force to find Siri, but quickly pulled back when I realize the Sith weren't the danger here.
It was the station.
The sky turned purple as a prototype superlaser prepared to fire. Jedi, mercenaries, patriots, and Sith alike took just a second to look to the sky and see the oncoming storm. Then each ran their separate ways. As I head edinto the thickness, I turn in time to see the purple laser hit the surf-
I woke up, quickly adopting a battle stance, though no one was around. In fact, the planet seemed almost serene, like it was untouched. The moon wasn't blocked. In fact, there was no evidence a fight had even occurred, and certainly no craters. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw movement and began to follow it. It was 4 Jedi.
Could it be..? No, it was impossible.
I had to know. I followed them.
They were running in the direction of the Temple, though I couldn't make out who they were.
After making sure they weren't followed, they stopped in a clearing to rest and wait. I approached from afar, and it was them. It was me. I kept my distance, fearing what interference would reap. Just as I remembered it, Yula was the first one to notice.
"Guys, what is this?"
She pulled some small metal scrap out of the ground, and almost immediately I could feel darkness emanating from it. At her touch, it began to hover on its own, pulling other metal scraps out of the ground all around it, the darkness building the entire time. Finally, it formed a small pyramid. A Sith Holocron. They were all speechless with faces of sheer surprise as it began to fly off into the distance.
After another exchange of glances, they followed it.
They followed it down the path as I observed. As they turned the corner they stopped in awe.
The Holocron flew into the door to the Temple. I knew what came next.
"Ganner, it's me."
It was an illusion of the Dark Side. Without thinking, I- that is, the other Ganner- sprinted to it at full speed, before the others could react. I pressed my body against the door.
"Listen, we'll get you out, okay?"
"Ganner, don't! It's a trap!" Yula's voice rang out. But it was already too late.
Before my eyes, the door of the Sith Temple opened to reveal a group of silhouettes. Left to right: Maricus, Talzin, Massikus in his old body, and Varad.
Both groups activated their lightsabers and Varad leapt at my past self. Unlike last time, I didn't black out. Varad's strike was strong, but my past self stood his ground in blocking it, defiance in his eyes.
"RUN!" He yelled.
Then he unleashed a bold flurry of attacks as the others hesitantly ran. I didn't know I was capable of putting up such a fight, holding off Varad, Maricus, Siri, and countless other Sith. Only when Massikus stepped in did I finally fall. As past Ganner lost consciousness, the world began to turn black, except for one person: Talzin.
"Impressive, is it not? She asked. "I'm sure you're very confused. Let's continue."
When I came to, I was in the room where it happened. I saw myself bound to the tablet. I saw the pain and the fear in my eyes- eyes that looked at me, but through me.
Talzin and Massikus stood in front of him, as they had before.
"Something was helping him out there, I'm sure of it. And getting in his head is the only way to find out what." He was talking to the Nightsister as my senses came back.
"Massikus, are you sure?" she asked. "We can hold on to him for a while longer, your current host isn't in the worst shape."
Massikus replied. "I need him now. You saw what happened out there. I'll need that kind of power to hunt down the other three."
He concentrated on past me. I knew what he was doing.
"We can send the Assassins after them-"
"Who? Saris? He'll be caught or worse for sure, and we'll be exposed. We are not yet ready."
Funny how that worked out.
"There are some who would think otherwise."
"It's final." He walked onto a slab adjacent to mine with the same bindings, and activated them using the Force. With a sly grin on her face and her hands glowing a vibrant green she moved towards him and place her hands on his temple. He fell asleep quickly, and she turned to past me, her hands now red.
"You, unfortunately, don't get to sleep. But don't worry; in time you will play your part." He tried to escape, but he was too weak. While he was squirming, she put her hands to his head. I knew what was happening now. Past me lost consciousness again, but this time the vision didn't end. The world froze and Talzin turned to me.
"Tell me, how did you fight them?"
"I-I don't know. What is this?"
"This is where you learn the truth. There was not one ritual performed on you, but two."
"It was an ancient ritual. Only the wisest and the strongest could perform it, and only one in trillions could be the recipient. The ritual was meant to amplify the Force potential in a being; primarily the Dark Side. Even a decent Force wielder could lay waste to entire planets with the power offered by it. Uncovering it was among my kind's greatest accomplishments within the last generation. However, I have seen visions of the futures that lie ahead, and I have seen what Varad plans to do. Somehow, he learned the ritual, made an army, and with you as his second in command, he conquered the galaxy. It would destroy the balance of the Force. But this path is a farce, for here you are. In another future, the ritual I perform on you doesn't go how it is meant to. You gain the power but not the darkness, and you lose the memories of how to use it, even past memories if by some chance you did what was necessary."
"And what was necessary?"
Around us, the world once again returned to the duel outside the Temple.
"You have to let go of your tethers. You have to plunge into the Force itself, without Light or Dark, ready to die for the cause you fight for. You give yourself entirely, and you receive true power in return."
The battle started anew, with Varad attacking me.
"RUN!" As their lightsabers met, the Ganner of the past gave himself to the Force with one goal: Save the others. There was no code that mattered now, only allowing them to escape. As we reached the point where Massikus subdued me, I saw Talzin's hands lightly glowly, her lips quietly whispering some sort of spell to weaken me. Massikus wasn't the one who had really taken me down.
"Because the ritual of power has been used on someone else. And Varad is going to use him to bring raise hell. He'll be able to find every Force-user in the galaxy with the potential, build the army, and civilizations will fall. We can't allow that, now can me?"
"No. Send me back."
"As you wish, but know this: Only with your life will the curse of the Binding ever truly be lifted from the Galaxy."
The wind howled around me, in a raging snowstorm. A world of white, of snow, seemingly empty. I trudged through the frost of the planet where I would die. Somewhere in the distance, out of the storm, another shadow walked towards me. A shadow I had not seen for a long, long time.
Throughout the rest of our conversation until I re-entered the material world, the hiss of her lightsaber, the one meant to kill me, rang through my ears.
"Tell me, Talzin, why are you really doing this?"
As I regained consciousness, the first thing I noticed was the burning. I could hear it, I could feel the flames, and I could smell it. I opened my eyes, and I saw the source. Though I couldn't see the crater, a massive mushroom cloud hung over the sky. However, I didn't have time to worry about it.
I needed to know if my friends were safe. I let my mind dive into the Force.
I could sense thousands of beings on the planet, including Ranulph and Hans. I could sense Siri, and Varad, and Maricus, and I could sense the one the ritual was being performed on as I sensed him.
I could feel their fury as they sensed my presence back. They knew what was coming.
"To preserve the balance. There can be no Dark without the Light."
"I don't need to have amplified Force powers to know you aren't telling me everything."
The path to the Sith Temple, and likely the rest of Umbara, took the explosion hard. In many places, the ground was broken and lava had surfaced. If this place wasn't so remote, it would've been nearly impossible to cover this up.
"Indeed you don't. But, even now, you are not ready to learn the full truth."
"Then we'll meet again?"
Getting closer by the second, I sensed an Acolyte ahead. Obscuring myself with the Force, I quickly dispatched her with my lightsabers and moved on. The less Sith I had to deal with, the better. Finally, the temple was in view. It's definitely taken damage.
Dozens of Sith were gathered around as Maricus gave them the orders that sent them to their deaths.
"Acolytes, our finest hour is upon us. Even in the face of Death itself, the Force will carry us to victory. However, there remains one man who would have this victory ruined, have our years of study for naught. Ganner Slarwalker must die tonight."
Amongst the crowd I spotted Siri slipping away. As I began moving, a massive ripple flew across the entire Galaxy, and I halted.
I knew his presence in an instant. In the Force, he reached at me, full of the malice he had borne in the past. "Massikus," I whispered in disbelief. It was too late. From behind the temple, a shuttle took off into the night. He was gone.
For a second I stopped, unsure what to do. "Ganner," Ranulph's voice rang out over the comlink, "What happened?"
The link went silent. I'm pretty sure he was cursing.
"We'll figure something out. Take down the Academy."
"Copy that. Ganner out."
I slowly approached the Assassins from the front, dropping my camouflage and opening myself up to the Force again. Siri was scared, the others less so. They must not have known what I really was. They were in for a rude awakening.
They drew their weapons. I did the same. Both sides stopped for a brief moment, and I picked an Acolyte at random and charged them. The surprise, combined with my swiftness, was a lethal advantage. Briefly stunned by my attack, the other Acolytes froze and I took this time to knock off a couple more. They finally recovered, and two more jumped at me, one from in front and one from behind. Completely disregarding the one behind me, I lunged at the first, catching him in mid-jump. Really, it amazed me that these people were ever threats to me. Siri was still among them, though I was too caught in the fight to tell which one she is.
Obviously aware of the threat I posed to them at this point, the remaining Sith formed a circle around me, connecting themselves with purple lightning. I didn't know what the point of this was, and I was not sticking around to find out. I pulled the blade of my latest victim into my hand with the force and threw my lightsabers, one left and one right. As they hit and killed two more Sith (about 2 dozen left) I pounded the ground with the Force. The blast knocked all the Sith in the area off their feet, and their chain was broken. I pulled my lightsaber from the corpses and slowly looked around the fallen Sith as they regained their composure. "Who's next?" I asked. One Sith actually began to run away away, but I Force grabbed him and brought him back, slowly turning him back towards me. The Sith were all stunned with fear, I could feel it. It only made me stronger.
For a moment, there was absolute silence. They knew they'd lost. The question was, what now?
One by one, they dropped their sabers. Even Siri. I could sense her fear. I was not the man she was supposed to kill, the man she deceived. I was someone else. Something else. She knew what was coming. Tapping into the Force again, I feel each of their lightsabers. Gripping them but not yet moving them, I dropped the Sith and walked towards the Temple's entrance. As they watch in bewilderment, I activated all the sabers and sent them all hurtling toward their targets. As long as a single one of them lived, no one was safe. Siri and the other Sith became one with the Force.
I was in.
Immersing myself in the Force again, I felt everyone in the Sith Academy, most of them unimportant. It felt rather empty, probably because of the Eclipse and the fact that I just killed most of them. However, I could feel Maricus and Varad. They were way in the back of the temple. As I began walking towards them, I looked around. Lava was flowing everywhere, overflowing the trenches that had been laid for it. Just goes to show why you don't mess around with lava. Almost as if she wanted to further prove this point, another assassin leapt out of the shadows behind me. I didn't even both turning as I redirected her into the molten rock. Really, I was steeling myself for the fight ahead. Walking ahead more, I extended my senses out and listened to Maricus and Varad.
"Talzin said he had amnesia, that he didn't know who she was and he ran off to try and remember. A side effect of taking so long to bring him back."
"Varad, we don't have time for this. I can't feel Siri."
"That's Master to you."
"Against Ganner, we're practically on the same level."
Turns out ancient Sith rituals to make you into a murderous superweapon are good for your self-esteem.
"....Do you think Xux can take him?" "He has to."
"Then maybe our deaths have a purpose."
Finally, I found the room. It was partially destroyed by lava pouring in at the corners of the room. The rest was very dimly lit, to the point where I almost couldn't make out my targets. The details of the room didn't matter, though. My attention was on the two people responsible for the hell I'd gone through and back to make it this far. Varad Zagg stood before me, seemingly having not aged in almost two years. His face projected a sinister confidence, but I could sense his fear. Beside him was Arek Saris- Darth Maricus. He was tired, beaten. Still, like Varad, he was projecting nothing but power and readiness. Funny; that's what I should've been doing. Their lightsabers were already activated, their crimson glows illuminating the two Sith. A few training Magnaguards and higher Sith Acolytes stood behind them, ready to jump in and help them. I activated my sabers, turning the colors of the room into a battle between their own light and mine, as deep as autumn itself. Pretty metaphorical. For a second, like old times, we both examined the other. "Hello again. It's been a long time since we've last met, Varad."
"Ha! What would you remember?"
"I remember how Talzin knew that what you were planning would destroy everything. I remember her plan to stop you, and it seems to be working."
This caught him far off guard, and I lunged at him. He quickly dodged out of the way, and I too dodged just to the right of Maricus' blade. They were impressively in sync. So began the duel.
Varad threw his saber, and I kicked it at Maricus. While he was unarmed, I rushed Varad, but Maricus quickly Force pushed me off to the side. Though I was easily stronger than either of them, these two were very well coordinated and it was clear the easy part wouldn't come until one of them was dead. Or, maybe, until Battle Meditation was broken? I took a second to look at our spectators. Indeed, they were more than just watchers- they were helping Varad and Maricus. Maricus threw Varad his saber, and I pushed it out of the air again, directing it through the chain of Sith. Varad being disarmed and weakened was a massive advantage and I needed to capitalize on it. I jumped at him again, saber raised above my head but pointed downward to stab him. I sensed Maricus jump to intercept, and suddenly, I shoved my lightsaber back. Just like I expected, between the hilt and the ends of my saber, stood a stunned Maricus.
I deactivated the weapon, and turned towards him. With Maricus out of the way, I quickly unleashed a mental barrage on Varad, stunning him briefly enough for me to watch Maricus' demise. His yellow eyes were wide, and he looked down in shock just before collapsing. I activated the saber in my right hand, ready to end his misery, when he gasped, "Wait. Please..." I knelt down and he leaned in close and whispered weakly.
"Massikus was already gone."
Then Darth Maricus finally died in my arms.
I turned to Varad, who was gripping his head, and grabbed him by the throat. I throw him across the room into a wall, sprinting across with my lightsaber poised for the kill when he raised his hand and weakly slowed me. He coughed. "I could have saved the galaxy. No more wars, no more politicians, no more corruption."
"You're wrong. It was pure corruption."
He laughed. "From my point of view, the Jedi are pure corruption."
"Then it's a good thing I'm not a Jedi." I gave him a quick death, and his body and head toppled to the floor separately. As the adrenaline wore off, I stood there, catching my breath. The Sith Academy was destroyed. All that remained was Talzin and Massikus, and it would be over. Again I was reminded of my vision of the icy planet where it all would end. Where could it be?
I supposed I could die later. It was time to finish off Massikus. as I left the temple, I looked into the sky. At long last I had my revenge, but I felt a great darkness, and I knew that it was not over.
To Kill a Sith Lord
When we'd gathered together, the Brotherhood was nowhere to be seen. It was probably for the best, because I doubted they would've been satisfied with how many casualties they'd had. Next we needed to know where Massikus was heading because he was off my radar and, for once, the shuttle didn't have a tracking beacon on it. Since I had been detached from Massikus I had lost almost all of his memories, and only one place I knew of could have information on him- the Jedi Archives.
So, we set out for Coruscant.
It was so strange to see how the planet had changed since I left. The Temples and spaceports were heavily guarded, and it felt like someone was always watching me. I was able to just waltz in, however, because as far as anyone knew I was a Jedi anyways. Still, I tried to hide in the Force. I felt that if I didn't, everyone would immediately know something wasn't right about me. All these Jedi, they didn't look like the peacekeepers we were. They looked like the peacekeepers a corrupt government sent to force a little quiet when the people got too noisy. This was a temple of warriors. Practically unseen, I paced along the quiet halls into the Archives. In the sunset, it was really a serene place. Though I wasn't going to look, I could swear I felt Jocasta's eyes on me like she knew what I was doing.
According to the databanks, Massikus was a Sith Sorcerer from Dathomir from roughly 3700 years ago. That was literally all it said. I supposed it was a start. He was connected to Talzin, a Nightsister, so it was definitely possible he went back to Dathomir. As I started to leave, I sensed a massive danger in the Force. No one else in the Archives reacted- it must have been too far out and I was the first to notice. Something was coming.
Walking as calmly through the darkening halls as I could, I looked out towards the city to see what could be the cause. Led by a single hooded figure, a legion of clones marched toward the Temple.
"Ranulph," I whispered, "You seeing this?" Nothing on the other end. Someone was jamming the signal. Conflicted, I quickly debated the best course of action. I'd been locked out of the loop for too long, wasn't sure what higher powers were at play here, and didn't want to attract attention to myself. Quietly throwing the shadow of the Force over myself, I snuck out ahead of the legions.
I was already halfway back when the explosions started. I turned around and the Temple was burning. Without hesitation, I activated my lightsabers and turned back. Within seconds, I had to quickly leap out of the way of a missile fired from a LAAT now strafing me from above. It fired a second missile, which I caught with the Force and returned to its sender. A second took its place, but I instead ignored it and began sprinting towards the Temple again. Within a minute I had quite an armada on my tail. Suddenly, a voice rang out over the comlink.
"Listen to me, pal, you've got one chance of getting out of this alive. You might be good, but you can't take on the entire Republic in its capital."
I didn't recognize the voice. It sounded Outer Rim-ish, and authoritative. I was coming closer and closer with each step to the Temple.
"Ganner! Listen!" He yelled.
"Blast it..." He muttered.
Another LAAT flew in front of me. Instead of destroying it, I jumped onto it and used it as a platform for another jump. In the air, I saw a red speeder rapidly approaching me, faster than I could avoid it. I landed in the passenger seat, and the driver quickly turned and shot me while I was stunned from the impact.
When I finally regained my senses, I found myself lying in a bed. The room was dimly lit, and a tan man with black hair and stood on the other side looking out a window. He looked like...Arron? In the Force he seemed... familiar. "Long time, no see." He muttered. "I haven't seen Siri or Blaze since you landed here. What happened to them?"
Barely, I mustered the energy to speak. "Siri was working for Mari-.. for Saris."
He let out a sigh. "And why are you here?"
"Massikus isn't dead. Why are you here?"
"Dylan Antiunknown put a bounty on my brother's head. I followed him here."
"Where is he?"
"Ganner, I'm a criminal. I went by an alias. My name is Cade Slarwalker."
He was my brother. And I had a bounty on my head.
"Cade.... What happened?"
He turned to face me, but his blue eyes couldn't meet mine, burdened with the memories of his past.
"I never knew my parents. Our parents. Long as I can remember, I worked for the Brotherhood on Nar Shadda. Then, the Republic caught me, and I ended up in Antimatter Squadron. When I was on Felucia, I began to remember things from before... a life I'd never known I lived. I had to follow it. A few details later, Dylan Antiunknown wants me to be his new personal bodyguard and I need to prove myself. Now, we're here."
I didn't think he was about to kill me, and I wasn't going to hurt him. I began to see the opportunity for us both to gain something from this.
"Cade," I said, "I think I have an idea."
"You have to be kidding me," Dylan said, in awe. He was looking at what seemed to be Ganner's lifeless body lying on the table between us. What he didn't know, however, was that Ganner was actually merely in a very deep meditative state, almost hybernative. "How did you do it?"
"He was on a balcony watching the Temple. He never saw me coming."
"Impressive.... Most impressive. Looks like you're hired." He unclipped the two lightsabers from Ganner's belt, taking one and handing me the other. "Consider this your payment for the kill. I have a feeling these things going to skyrocket in value."
The lightsaber was surprisingly light, and I pocketed it. Sorry, Ganner. Looks like you'll have to get a new one. Like he had instructed me, I swiftly took out the focusing crystal and put the saber back together, then left the orange crystal in Ganner's hand. Dylan saw nothing.
I activated the jammer concealed in my pocket. There was no way Dylan didn't have this apartment bugged, and no one could see Ganner leave. Ganner had known fully well ahead of time escaping was up to him alone, and even seemed to want it that way so the others would think him dead. Dylan put his arm around me as he led me out the door into his crime syndicate, laughing. "You're gonna do just fine."
He had no idea.
Hans and I stared at the now static feed of Dylan's apartment. For a while, we sat there, as though praying somehow it would come back online and Ganner would be alive. We sat there silently praying that somehow that wasn't Arron, or Dylan, and we had just been tricked. But it did no good.
Ganner Slarwalker was dead, Arron Radion had done it, and Dylan Antiunknown had paid him for it.
Hans spoke. The words were little more than formalities, for it had already been settled for both of us.
"We're going to kill him."
The story of Cade Slarwalker is not over...
Prophets and Phantoms
Like Felucia, I could sense the general energy of the planet from orbit. Lots of life, but there was something far more sinister here. Rather, there was someone far more sinister. Indeed, I could feel the Nightsisters collectively prepare themselves as my stole freighter landed. I shrouded myself in the Force, leaving nothing visible but just my raw energy. Knowing they could sense my power and would make no moves to provoke me until they knew what I was dealing with, I began to work as my ship touched down. As I constructed my lightsaber, I examined the crystal floating in front of me. It was the orange one Galen had given me. As much as I liked it, orange wasn't my color anymore. I grabbed it and filled it with the power of the Force. Slowly, it turned silver. Fitting, given the new white robes and armor I wore. Finally, I stepped out onto the surface.
Clinging like shadows to the edges of the fog, Nightsisters watched my every movement. Leave, they whispered. You don't belong here, outsider. However, they made no move to stop me. Focusing on Talzin, I walked through the forest, stalked by the inhabitants. The darkness only thickened, rivaling that of the Sith Academy. Slowly but surely, I approached the fortress of the Nightsisters. As I came towards the entrance, they finally decided to do something. Lightsabers activated and bows flashed to life, arrows trained at my heart. "Leave here, now." I couldn't find a face to the voice. It was time to show them what I really was. As one unit, they fired their arrows, which all stopped inches away from me. I let the cloak down as the arrows harmlessly disintegrated. Now, the Nightsisters backed away in either fear, awe, or a combination of both. Now, the shadows made way for me.
He bears the mark. The mark of the Binding. With each step, they seemed to only grow more interested in me. The man in gray! The one the Mother spoke of! Right on cue, as if emerging from part of the fog itself, Talzin appeared.
"At last," she whispered almost joyfully, "Come." She beckoned, and I followed.
For what felt like forever we simply walked amongst the shadows in silence. I wasn't sure if she was examining me or trying to unnerve me, and I got the feeling that was the point. Finally, we reached a small room, lit only by torches. The wall behind us suddenly closed. "Ganner Slarwalker. Let us meditate." She put her hands on my shoulders and closed her eyes, which I repeated.
"You come here seeking the Sith who escaped the Temple."
"I come here seeking Darth Massikus."
"Then the one you seek is not the one you seek."
"Talzin, I felt him out there."
"Varad looked for him in the Force, but Massikus was not there. He was already back, Ganner."
Another memory flashed before me.
The floor was made of a purplish-gray stone, which also composed most of the walls. Along the walls were also intricately carved creases of red, running throughout. It was my Jedi Trials. I watched as my younger self hesitantly approached the Umbaran Sith.
"There is no passion...there is solely obsession."
I- that is, past me- continued walking.
"There is no knowledge. There is solely conviction."
I marched forward. All things considered, I had handled this trail pretty well.
"There is no purpose. There is solely will."
"There is nothing."
He turned to reveal himself. With a menacing glare in his eyes he activated a ruby blade, and I lit mine, its green shimmering as we faced each other.
"Darth Ruin," Talzin said. "The creator of the Sith Academy."
After waiting a moment, she replied. "You must defeat Ruin first. Only then will the answer appear."
I sighed. "And Ruin?"
Together, we reached out in the Force, looking for him. Reaching to the outer regions of the Galaxy, we found him on Korriban.
I opened my eyes. Talzin did the same.
"You have your target, Ganner."
"Indeed. Before I go, I need one more thing."
"What would that be?"
"Teach me the Binding."
Ashes to Ashes
The ship touched down on the uneven surface. This wasn't a landing pad, really, more of a clearing that just happened to be the closest I could get to Ruin. I stepped out onto the surface of the planet, taking in all the statues and crypts adorning the valley. In the middle, a figure in torn, bloody Death Watch armor sat meditating. His helmet was on the ground next to him, leaving his bald, tattooed head visible. The very air around him seemed to be shimmering with his pure Dark Side energy. It was like I was near the singularity of a black hole in the Force. He didn't move as I approached slowly, holding my saber.
I wasn't even close to orbit before I could sense him. Ruin was making no effort to hide himself. His presence in the Force was wild and uncontrolled, nothing like in the Trials- perhaps an effect of the Binding? I would have to go down and see. I flew towards the orange planet reeking of evil. For a moment, I couldn't help but wonder how Hans, Ranulph, and Cade were doing. Maybe I could find them when this was all over.
"Two thousand years," he uttered, "And this is what it came to. Two thousand years, and we are nothing but bones and dust." He began to rise, anger entering his voice. "Two thousand years and all that is left of what I started was a filthy Academy, that YOU DESTROYED!" As the earth began to shake, he activated a deep red lightsaber, and I reciprocated. He turned to see me, and in his scarred face I saw eyes of pure red. "YOU DESTROYED EVERYTHING!"
He lashed out with a barrage of lightning, which I barely blocked with my lightsaber. He pushed harder and harder, making it more difficult for me to contain until finally my saber flew into the distance, leaving me defenseless for a moment. Immediately, the lightning connected with my body and a million nerves screamed out in pain along with the rest of me as I fell to the ground spastically. He kept pouring it out harder and harder, and for the first time since Mandalore I felt death's hand slowly enclose on me. Then, without warning, the onslaught stopped and I regained my senses as best I could.
I pulled my lightsaber towards me and stumbled towards him, using the Force to guide my movements. At the last moment, he deflected my blade and pushed me into a cliffside, which I impacted hard with my back, knocking out what little breath I had. My vision returned as I tried to build my composure again and I immediately saw Ruin, with lightning coursing all around him, make a spinning lunge towards me. I barely sidestepped it, and his blade sank into the rocks next to me. This close to him, I could feel what was happening- he was destabilizing from overusage of the Force in a host body, like Massikus had been when I first met him. This was impressive, considering Xux had undergone the ritual that was supposed to prevent that from happening.
Ruin pulled his saber out and quickly launched a wild series of attacks I was barely able to parry and dodge in time. Seemingly not caring about the laws of physics, he actually flew straight towards me with the Force, grabbing for my neck. Instead, I jumped over him, grabbed his, and threw him back to where he came from. As he hit the ground, I leapt towards him in a large slash he stopped by grabbing me with the Force halfway. I watched, suspended in the air, as he rose up. As his extended left hand slowly closed, my throat tightened more and more. Now, he pulled me closer as he drew his saber again.
"There is no passion. There is solely obsession.
There is no knowledge. There is solely conviction.
There is no purpose. There is solely will."
He pulled me in closer, trying to plunge his lightsaber into my chest. My left hand, exerting all the power I could in the other direction, was the only thing that stopped him.
"There is nothing..." His voice suddenly stopped. I fell to the ground as he let go, and he too fell. Pouring out of his eyes was a bright light unlike any other I had seen before. The singularity was collapsing. Rapidly, more dots of light shot out randomly from his body. "No..." He whispered. I grabbed his red saber off the ground, and raised it. "Please," he begged, "Make it stop." I swung at his neck, and as the blade connected it was quickly sucked, as was Ruin, into an actual Force singularity. As I looked into the singularity, I saw my fate once more.
The wind howled around me, in a raging snowstorm. A world of white, of snow, seemingly empty. I trudged through the frost of the planet where I would die. Somewhere in the distance, out of the storm, another shadow walked towards me. A shadow I had not seen for a long, long time. Darth Massikus activated two red lightsabers. Standing my ground, I drew mine. The final battle was at hand.
Suddenly coming back to my senses, I grabbed my lightsaber and ran amongst the destruction to my ship and quickly took off as the area was torn apart from the collapse. As I left the planet and Ruin behind, I realized that perhaps for the first time since that eventful day on Umbara, I was actually in control of my destiny. Yes, I had to go to that planet at some point, but nothing dictated when. I knew I couldn't keep fate hanging for too long, but before I died I wanted to make some side stops.
The Final Year
3 months later
I looked through the cockpit at the ruins of the Temple in front of me. With all that had happened, it seemed like the best place. After a moment of contemplation, I stepped out into the grass towards it. As I entered, the whole group turned to face me. Hans, Ranulph, Cade, Galen, and Vara all seemed surprised, even though they had to have known it was me that had called them all here. The conversations faded to silence as I walked towards them, every step echoing in the otherwise soundless air.
"Welcome back, son," Galen said a little quietly, almost in a whisper. He and Vara were already holding Cade and I had a feeling I had missed something good. Hans was smiling, which had been a commodity when I last saw him, and Ranulph was on the verge of tears. "We thought you were dead..." he murmured.
"Not yet." In quick succession, they all briefly took it for a joke before acknowledging the seriousness in my voice.
"Ganner," my mother asked, "What happened?"
I told them the story as we returned to the Slarwalker residence.
"So.... you're going?" Ranulph asked.
"Before I go, I have something for each of you." I took off holorecorders from my belt and gave each of them one.
"Without you, I, along with the entire Galaxy as we know it, would be dead already. However, when I'm gone, they're still going to need saving. When the time comes, each one of these will be essential."
They each glanced at each other in turn, coming to terms with the responsibilities they now had. Last but not least, I opened my arms and we all embraced each other.
"Goodbye." I could barely push the words out of my lips.
After giving a few more personal talks, I finally approached my ship, alone. The ramp lowered, and there Galen stood, in Jedi gear.
"Are you sure this is going to work?" He inquired.
I walked onboard, putting my hand on his shoulder as I spoke.
"Dad, I have no idea anymore, but we have to try. Now let's get out of here; you have a lot to learn."
The Man in White
9 months later
As I trained him, Galen and I made a base deep in a cave in valley on Carlac. Not far out from the valley was a small settlement of Ming Po villagers. With Galen's help, I became their protector from the constant Death Watch raids. Over time, they came to adopt me as their guardian, roh putih, the "white spirit." For nearly a year I went about this way, and perhaps for the first time in my life I found a sense of peace in what I was doing. The village, under my protection, was finally able to grow and even thrive. For nine months, the world turned as I kept my village safe and trained my father while I waited for my death to come. Then, winter arrived. The days flew by relatively normally. The Death Watch rarely attacked anymore, especially due to the near-constant storms that now occurred on the planet. Galen was ready, and so was I.
I stood at the exit of the cave, looking out onto the horizon. Galen stood behind me. "A blizzard's coming," he said nervously. Indeed, in the distance, the clouds were growing noticeably grayer by the second. Somewhere in the most remote corners of my being, I felt darkness within the storm. In fact, it felt like the storm was calling to me. I began to walk towards it. "Ganner," my father interrupted, "Look- the village!" Judging from the number of ships, it was as though the entirety of Death Watch had decided today was a good day to hurt my people. Even from this distance, I could see smoke. "Back me up," I ordered, and immediately ran towards it.The Death Watch showed no mercy to the men, women, and children, carelessly burning down homes and bodies in a gruesome display of aggression I simply couldn't understand the reason behind. Some of them were so caught up in their bloodlust they didn't notice me until my blade had cleaved them in half. The villagers who were lucky ran to shelter. "Roh putih will save us," one boy whispered to his baby sister.
Now, I had the attention of most of the horde, while Galen took care of the rest. A small army attacked me and I fought back violently, putting the Force to good work as I reflected countless shots in between saber throws and lightning strikes. Within two minutes, they all lied on the ground, dead. As I stood there, panting, the sky turned a dark gray. Galen and I exchanged glances. He knew what was about to occur, and he knew his part in the plan. "Whatever happens, son, know that I'm proud of you."
"I know.... Thank you."
Without another word we walked in opposite directions- him towards the cave and I towards the hill of my visions, where Darth Massikus stood somewhere in the raging winds.
GannerThe visions had never encompassed just how it would feel to be here. As the wind let out its long, deep howl, pieces of ice and snow seemed to nip at every piece of skin it could find. As I trudged onwards, I finally felt the looming darkness, and the storm thickened. He was probably manipulating it. Finally, I was on the hill. In the distance, his silhouette became visible. His new body was physically nowhere nearly as impressive as his last, looking to actually be slightly shorter than mine from this distance. Wordlessly, he drew two blood-red lightsabers and activated them. Standing firm, I activated mine, holding it in my right hand. The time had come.
"Slarwalker," a deep female voice called through some sort of helmet. It wasn't the kind of form I would've expected Massikus to take.
Massikus stepped closer. He--she--whatever stepped closer, finally becoming visible. Massikus was wearing bloody Death Watch armor, with holes in the top to accomodate for horns probably not meant to be in the helmet. Massikus sure liked Zabraks.
"Massikus," I replied.
"You're a hard man to track."
"I'm harder to kill."
"Not anymore." Massikus and I began walking towards each other.
Finally inches away from each other, Massikus took a quick stab at me, which I sidestepped. I retaliated with a slash of my own, which he narrowly parried, sending warm sparks flying across our bodies in contrast to the ice of the world. We were both holding back immensely- this clash was small talk compared to what we could do.
Massikus quickly charged a ball of lightning in his (for the sake of my sanity) hand and shot it towards me. I absorbed it with my lightsaber and retaliated with a hard Force push. As he went flying, I started to run back towards the cave. The sooner I brought the plan into motion, the better.
"Leaving so soon?" Massikus taunted, following me. He took a high leaping slash at me, which I had to turn around and block. The impact of our blades colliding made me slide a few meters back. I reached deep with the Force into the winds around us. The blizzard turned even colder; if not for mine and Massikus' powers we would've easily frozen to death. Within a few seconds, Massikus' saber fizzed out- even lightsabers weren't built for this kind of temparature. Mine, however, remained active. This was one of the safeguards I had made over the year. I turned and ran again.
Massikus continued to pursue me, launching more balls of lightning at me. The snow behind me exploded, but I didn't stop. Finally, Massikus grabbed me with the Force, lifting me into the air.
"Seriously? Have you not even the courage to die an honorable death?"
He let out a massive push, throwing me farther yet. As I skidded in the snow, I could see the hidden entrance to the cave in the distance. In the Force, I couldn't sense Galen, which was good. The time I spent teaching him the secrets of the Shadow Assassins was finally going to pay off.
I withdrew my focus from the temparature of the wind, and Massikus' lightsaber sputtered back to life. I turned to face him, and he walked towards me again.
"Any last words, Slarwalker?"
Despite myself, I grinned a little.
"Activate Protocol 7."
All across the valley, every few feet, a small, spherical droid popped out of the snow. Little red lasers pointed from each one towards Massikus. They were explosive hunter-killer drones, made with parts I had salvaged from the Death Watch raids and programming I had learned from Ranulph. The entire valley was now a living minefield with one target.
Massikus let out a sharp expletive. As the drones flew towards him, he jumped into the air, unleashing torrents of lightning onto them that caused them to explode. I took advantage of the distraction to run away again, to the enterance to the cave. Using the Force, I pulled off the thin layer of opaque ice that hid the door as the explosions rapidly grew louder. I didn't even need the Force to warn me what was coming. I turned to see Massikus flying towards me, with significant damage to his armor. I could now see Massikus was a yellow-skinned female Zabrak with familiar features.
As soon as the word "Yula" left my mouth, Massikus, propelled by the explosions gripped me by my throat and flew with me through the door into the cave. I slammed against the durasteel walls, dropping my lighsaber as I looked into the eyes of Yula Ardinn, the Jedi who I thought had escaped. Suddenly, it all made sense.
A tall, black-robed and hooded figure with a red lightsaber stood facing us. Helooked up, darkness still covering all but one bright yellow eye.
"More than one...." His deep voice muttered. It was Massikus at the Temple, and when he said "more than one" he wasn't referring to Jedi. He was referring to suitable hosts- and Yula was the other one.
"Miss me?" Yula's voice asked.
Out of the corner of my eye, I became aware of a silver streak of movement- the lightsaber flying into Galen's hand.
"It's really amazing," Massikus went on. "Two and a half years I've had this one, and she has yet to stop screaming for me to let her go. Maybe this will shut her up."
Massikus put his blade to my neck, its warmth searing my hairs.
"Through victory, my chains are-"
With a snap-hiss, a beam of white emerged from his chest. His eyes wided, and his grip on my throat loosened. I pushed Massikus off me as Galen turned the weapon off. As he fell unconscious, Galen and I quickly picked Yula's body up and carried it to a nearby bed.
"Ready?" He asked.
"Yes." I lied.
I put my hands on Yula's head, and reached out towards her in the Force.
I sat there watching hopelessly as Ganner did whatever he was doing in her head. With his eyes closed in the dim blue lights that filled the cave, he almost looked like he was sleeping. For a moment, all was still.
"Dad," Ganner whispered, his eyes still closed. I walked towards him hesitantly, unsure if I had actually heard him or if it had merely been a figment of my imagination.
"Journals..." his voice trailed off. "Protect the journals."
"What journals?" I asked.
Ganner's eyes opened.
"NOOOO!" Massikus' voice rang out in my head. Slowly, he came to the realization that he was not dead- he was within me again.
I opened my eyes, taking in world once more. On the dimly blue-lit bed, Yula lied, unconscious. I could sense Galen rather close behind me.
"Did it work?" He asked.
Massikus, taking control, quickly spun around to attack him. I resisted, and my body stopped halfway, leaving me shaking as two minds pushed in opposite directions.
"He's--he's stronger than-" He pulled my lightsaber towards my hand, though it missed its mark. Barely in control, I took a step back and almost fell. "He's stronger than I thought."
"Why, thank you." In the Force, Massikus pushed everything he had against me. I responded in kind, exerting the most power I ever had.
"Save yourself," I warned Galen. To my side, Yula stirred.
"But, Ganner-" His voice was cut off by another barely-witheld lunge that left me sprawled on the floor, twitching.
"GO!" I yelled. "Take her too!"
As Galen picked her up, Yula whispered a soft, "Ganner?" As I struggled to stand up, I looked into her purple eyes. In that moment, I found solace in the knowledge that as long as she had survived, my death had not been in vain. I had saved her. Galen stopped by the door for a moment. "I love you, son."
"Do you really think you've saved her? Of course you do...."
I took over full control just for long enough to Force push him outside. He got up and ran, leaving me to my own pathetic struggle with my own body. My eyes were locked on my lightsaber, lying across the room.
"My death will only serve as a beacon for the rest to come out of the shadows."
In my mind I saw a dark legion- hundreds of Sith. It had to be a bluff; I had to ignore it. I crawled slowly towards the weapon, as Massikus did everything in his power to stop me. With every inch I gained, his grip on my loosened just a little more, and I picked up momentum, crawling on my arms across the room. My hand found the hilt. In the Force, Massikus surged like he never had before. The sheer darkness shook the core of my being as he charged up power , causing objects in the room to shake and fall, and the lights to flicker.
"YOU CANNOT KILL ME! I AM DARTH MASSIKUS, MASTER OF THE SITH! I HAVE SLAIN A THOUSAND GENERATIONS AND I WILL SLAY TEN THOUSAND MORE!"
Standing up by holding myself against the wall with my empty hand, I looked at the lightsaber and pressed it against my heart. I now realized my armor was the same I had seen Galen wearing in my dreams when he had taken Massikus out of my body. I contemplated what it meant for a second before deciding it was ultimately irrelevant.
"HE WILL COME, SLARWALKER, AND WHEN HE DOES, THE DEATH HE WILL BRING WILL BE INFINITE."
"Massikus, shut up already." I pressed the button.
"Ganner?" A voice called out to me in the cold blackness. It felt like swimming endlessly, with no water and no need to breathe. I was stranded in nothingness.
"Ganner?" It called again. I tried to reach for it in the Force, but there was nothing to feel. Nothing until...
"Ganner, it's me."
I realized the answer to my question. I was dead. This was what came after. But maybe, if Jason was here too, it wasn't so bad. Suddenly. as if a million miles away, a tiny dot of light appeared, a speck of white against an ocean of black. With the speck of light came whispers, voices from beyond I couldn't discern. "Come deeper," Jason instructed. "You are in purgatory, not yet on the other side. Join the Force."
The light grew from a speck to a dot.
"Ganner, come. I've missed you so much."
The dot grew more rapidly, taking up a quarter of my vision. Jason's voice was faint now.
"I've missed you too, Master, but the Force, it's calling me."
The white light grew even further, encompassing all of my newfound reality in its light.
"I'm sorry, Jason," I whispered. "But I'm not done yet."
I took a breath in, and opened my eyes.
(will add more when I have time)
- Dylan Best- Character base, screenshots, and story inspiration
- Hans Novastar- Character base, screenshots, and story inspiration
- Siri Tokolighter- Character base and story inspiration
- Reedman211- helped with screenshots
- Admiral Atom- Character base
- JayJayJohnson- Character base
- Oriuss Stealthgleam- Character base
- Rylie Tano- Character base (in the original story)
- Boba Bactapack- Character base (in the original story)
- Adam Heart- Character base and story inspiration (in the original story)
- Xalandra Nova- Was part of the inspiration behind my first first-person section and how I learned to write boldly (in the original story)
- CWAC Admins- For making and maintaining the wiki
- Wookiepedia- a lot of research
- SOE- for making CWA and this page possible