Light spilled through the few gaps in the blinds, creating a handful of pockets of light and warmth to the otherwise dark room. The interior was sparse with no decoration on its bare walls, only two small backless seats designed more for meditation and reflection than comfort. It was a simple space designed for peace and tranquillity, where its denizens could delve into the power of the Force through meditation without interruption.
That was how Master Yoda used to see it, now he saw it as a place of quiet and safety, a brief respite away from the controlled chaos of movement that the Jedi Temple had become. Here was where he could rest his weary eyes, and enjoy the silence.
It had been two weeks since the beginning of what was being termed the Droid Revolts, and much had changed since then.
Out of ten thousand Senators only two hundred thirty eight had survived. A hundred thousand aids, secretaries, technicians, regular staff and security officers had been reduced to three thousand two hundred and ten. Ten thousand Senate Guardsmen had been whittled down to a hundred and six. One in ten Senior Judiciary officers, Planetary Defence command staff and Judges had survived the massacre. Four hundred thousand civilians had died in the crossfire.
Two hundred and seventy three Jedi were dead, from the Temple bombing until the end of the battle. Yoda rubbed his weary face with a gnarled hand. The numbers were still rising on all fronts.
Naboo's casualties were in the tens of thousands of civilians, soldiers and naval personnel. Then there was the countless casualties taking place from the Colonies to the farthest reaches of the Outer-Rim. There were no independent figures, but heavy fighting was taking place on innumerable worlds with countless more already having fallen to the Droids. Millions were probably dead, maybe less maybe much more.
An armada of PDF warships was being assembled from across the Republic to try and provide at least some relief to the outer ring of affected Sectors, but with Hyperspace lanes becoming literal battlefields their assembly was slow, fragmented and piecemeal. Senior officers were arguing amongst themselves as who would have overall command. All the while the distress calls from the affected worlds continued unceasing.
It was agreed that war was inevitable, and necessary, to force this scourge back. Even the most adamant of pacifists would admit that in private. A response was needed, which meant that restoring the basic institutions of a central government was paramount.
That's where the base of the Jedi's troubles came in.
The Jedi were now, for the first time in nearly a millennium, in a position of power and influence as caretakers of the Republic. The Senate, Judiciary and Courts had all been disbanded as most of its elected members were either dead or too badly injured to perform their duties. Masters, Knights and Senior Padawans had been rushed in from across the galaxy to try and fill the void left by the madness.
In his first speech as Interim Supreme Chancellor Plo Koon advised that they were in for a great struggle. That the Jedi would uphold their mandate in restoring peace and stability to the Republic. He asked for calm and patience, and promised those worlds under siege that they would not be forgotten, and that the Republic would come for them and free them.
The media, surprisingly, did not proceed with their usual foray of scaremongering and cynicism which had become so common in the years preceding this incident. Instead soundbites and holoimages of Master Koon's speech were broadcast from all news stations. Images streamed through of the Jedi led defences of Coruscant and Naboo, praise had been heaped on the quick thinking of Masters and those Commanders who served under them.
The Politicians were not seen so favourably. Some such as Garm Bel Iblis and Bail Antilles were seen as the exception, brave men who stood up and fought for their survival. Many saw the death kneel of their political careers when the findings of the Jedi Order became public. Those on the Sith Lords list of allies and contacts, whether loyal, bribed or blackmailed were forced to resign, and then were subsequently arrested.
Nute Gunray and the Federations Board of Directors that were still alive had also been arrested and were awaiting trial. The Trade Federation as a business entity was no more. Their Trade franchises completely revoked and liquidated in the last session of the surviving members of the Senate. There were none left to protect them, and public sentiment was almost fanatically against them. There had been riots in the streets which were only quelled when the Jedi confirmed they would take over the reins of government, Masters and Knights sent amongst the mobs and managing to convince them to disperse.
In the weeks that followed the Jedi were the only institution left whom the people trusted.
But they were barely able to get a chance to breath, and Yoda saw that many of his Jedi were functioning on a thread which was so close to unravelling. Most of the survivors of the battle had barely gotten a chance to sleep before they were thrown back into the thick of it. Some worked on the relief effort, on helping the emergency services clear rubble and tend to victims. Others were being placed in vacant government positions, and were desperately attempting to prepare for positions of power they never expected to receive. Others still were being sent to destabilising hotspots across the galaxy, places where the corruption was evident or those close to the fighting to try and keep things in order.
They were stretched dangerously thin, and it was beginning to show.
The door opened, and Yoda opened a tired eye to see a hooded figure enter, the streams of light casting little more than a dark shadow but the Grand Master knew who he was. He had been expecting him for some time.
"Knew you would come, I did."
"Did you?" The figure asked, a little mirth in his voice.
Yoda hummed, somehow feeling more reassured in his presence. "Sit, will you."
The figure seemed to hesitate for a brief span of seconds, then stepped into the room, door closing behind him. He took off his robes, folded them and neatly setting them on the floor beside the vacant meditation chair. He then sat cross-legged on the fabric, almost as if he belonged there as he began to relax.
Luke Skywalker centred himself in the Force, before opening his eyes to meet those of his old teacher. "Here I am."
"Yes, yes." Yoda agreed, relaxing. "Here you are, indeed."
"Nice to see that little has changed in thirty odd years." Luke quipped, the beginnings of a smile curving his lips. "You're still as annoyingly cryptic as ever."
A hum of laughter. "Cryptic am I, hmm."
"Though you do seem to know how to take care of yourself." Luke surveyed as he got more comfortable. "When I met you… well, let's just say that basic hygiene wasn't one of your strong suits. But I suppose living on a swamp planet would do things to someone's idea of cleanliness."
Yoda frowned, not used to being spoken too like this. Instead of feeling insulted though he was instead refreshed. No one had spoken to him like that for at least four hundred years, not since he was elevated to the rank of Grand Master. "Like you I think I will."
Luke raised a bushy brow. "You think."
"Time will tell, mm?" Yoda asked.
"I take it back," Luke said thoughtfully, folding his arms. "You were far more eccentric when I first met you."
"Two decades of isolation contribute to that, I think." Yoda surmised.
"Very likely." Skywalker allowed.
"Do the right thing, you think?" Yoda asked, quiet yet stern. "Sith defeated, but at such cost. War upon us, Republic in crisis, millions dead. Still feel you did the right thing, yes?"
Luke opened his eyes and thought for a moment. "I don't know, but we will see. The Sith are dead, and the Jedi live on. Billions of lives were lost in my time, planets destroyed or made lifeless, twenty years under the boot of a madman. My daughter and her friends did what they thought was right, and I cannot fault them for that."
"Agreed, yes." Yoda frowned. "Know the truth I do, seen it I have… yet more real this is."
"That it is." Luke agreed. "Because it is real. The future we remember is dead and gone. Everything from this moment onwards will be unknown to us. We are on a new path now."
"A new path." Yoda hummed thoughtfully.
"In our time there was no Darth Janus, no Droid Revolt. Instead the war started a decade later when the enemy was ready, a war which in three years ruined the planets it was fought on and which brought the death kneel to the Republic and the Jedi Order. It ushered in an era of tyranny and destruction the galaxy had never seen before." Luke leaned back, looking up at the ceiling with haunted eyes. "At least now you have a fighting chance, and I advise that you use it."
"What would you have me do?" Yoda asked.
"Get the government together, and reform a centralised military force to deal with this." Luke responded, eyes still closed as he spoke. "A decentralised force will not be able to take back the Systems taken by the droids. Only a united effort by the Republic will see this through, and only a volunteer force will be sufficient. No conscripts or droids or clones or anything else. You have the military might all around you, use it."
"Thought of this we have." Yoda replied. "Difficult it will be."
"What is worse, Master?" Skywalker asked, head shaking. "Travelling down the path of difficulty or that of least resistance? Droids and Clones are susceptible to the same virus that was used to start this whole crisis, but gather a force of volunteers and you will have an army which will fight for you till the end. I do not wish to change your opinion, only advise you that in my experience volunteers trump droids and slave soldiers every time."
Yoda did not answer, all that followed was silence.
His eyes flashed open, and a white ceiling welcomed him. He was within the walls of the Temples halls of healing.
He sat up in his bed, feeling the pull of tubes and wiring against his skin. Mace Windu reached up to grab the tubes and pull them free, but there was nothing to grip. It took him a moment of confused befuddlement to realise that he had no hands, all that remained were wrists covered in heavy white bandages.
"Your precious Republic will fall. It has been on that downward spiral for the last fifty odd years, and there is very little which will stop its decline."
It all came flooding back to him, a near overwhelming tidal wave of memories flashed before his eyes. Arresting Palpatine. The Chancellors transport in flames. The light leaving Ki-Adi-Mundi's eyes. The flashes of crimson as droids flooded through the hanger, into corridors and foyers and offices.
"Perhaps it was not the Republic you were looking to in the first place. Perhaps it was unity you wished for, hmm?"
The screams and the cries and the crushing pressure he felt through the Force. Of dozens of lives being snuffed out with each step he took, each time he breathed, each second that ticked by so agonizingly slowly.
"Well congratulations Master Jedi for by stopping me and my goals you have all but made sure that unity in this galaxy is all but a distant memory."
Gold sickly eyes, a grandfatherly visage morphed into something cruel and twisted. He fought him, violet and maroon blades flashing and fizzling and clashing in hails of sparks. He saw a mocking smile, sickening sweet words which mocked him and all he stood for, then searing pain.
"The Republic will crumble. Nothing will replace it, and it is all your fault!"
For a moment, just a moment, he lost control. A pulse of energy exploded outward with him in the epicentre. Chairs and tables were thrown against the walls with a resounding crack, followed by a resounding crash and a howl as the windows smashed sending shards of glass into the outside.
Mace Windu allowed the anger and rage to bubble and boil for a few more brief moments before calling upon his Jedi training, perfected through decades of training and experience. He reeled it all back into place and locked it behind a door so tightly that not even light could seep through.
To the ghost of his enemy he had one thing to say, firm and backed up by a powerful will. "You. Are. Wrong."
When a few worried Healers entered his room he was once again calm and in control.
Calm and in control.
"I can't believe you're going without me."
Poe sighed, shouldering his duffle bag back onto the crook of his shoulder as he gave a bemused look at his friend. "I have the distinct impression we've already been over this. Finn, have we already been over this?"
Managing to keep stride with them while performing checks on his newly repaired wrist mounted blasters, Finn was still able to keep track of the conversation. "Yes we have."
"How many times have we been over this?"
"I stopped counting at twenty." The former Stormtrooper replied as he continued to fiddle with the controls. A few weeks of quiet with nothing to do meant that he was able to repair his armour back to, if not exactly as it was before they skipped back through time, then pretty close.
"Did you hear that Rey. He stopped counting at twenty." Poe chided with no real venom in his tone. "You are not coming along."
Rey was just able to stifle a groan. "But Obi-Wan is going!"
"Obi-Wan doesn't have another three to six months of physical therapy." Poe countered easily.
"Also he doesn't have a metal arm." Finn added in, ignoring the corresponding glare.
"That too." Poe acknowledged.
"I promise I won't follow you out into battle… I'll stay on the ship." Skywalker pleaded.
A snort of disbelief from Finn. "Yeah, that will happen."
Rey's perfectly rational and Jedi like response was to kick him in the shin. Which with the armour hurt her a lot more than him. "Ah!"
"You deserved that." Poe admonished as the Jedi hopped on one foot, ignoring the hushed giggling from two young apprentices passing by in the opposite direction.
Rey scowled, waiting until the corridor was reasonably quiet before asking in a hushed tone. "So where exactly are you going?"
"The Bogden System." Poe replied. "Transporting a couple of Jedi to a moon called Kohlma, also known as the Moon of the Dead."
"Must get so many tourists." Finn chimed in with more than a little sarcasm.
"We're transporting two Jedi Masters and an apprentice." Poe intervened firmly, attempting to swat Finn across the back of the head with his free hand but missing by a few millimetres. "Probably the usual trip with us. Ambushes, dogfights, bounty hunters, pirates, loads of explosions, the odd hostage situation. Just a normal day at the office. Force me, I've missed these."
"Those three Jedi being Qui-Gon, Dooku and Obi-Wan I take it." Rey frowned, brow furrowing. "You sure it's safe to be transporting a possible future Sith Lord wherever he wants to go?"
Finn shrugged. "Luke says he doesn't feel like he'll be falling to the Dark Side anytime soon. Wild guess maybe all the chaos on Naboo changed his direction."
"Really?" Rey asked, blinking.
"Yeah, from what your father said he guessed the death of his former apprentice was the last straw in him leaving the Jedi Order and going down the dark path, and then there's the equally wild guess that Sidious was probably the one who recruited him." Poe replied. "Since we got here we have one former apprentice who is still very much alive, and a Sith Lord who is now very much dead. I've met him a few times. He seems to have rekindled a passion for training the younger apprentices. He's actually pretty likable."
"Could probably teach you a thing or two."
They exited the corridor and entered the hanger bay, now mostly empty with all of the Jedi teams being dispatched across Republic held space. Only a handful of ships remained on the decking. The three continued walking towards the unmistakable silhouettes of the Millennium Falcon and a single X-Wing, where they could just make out a small group of figures.
Chewbacca was the first one they recognised, conversing with two figures by the landing ramp. One was her father, and the other was an elderly man with greying beard and hair which she guessed was Dooku. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan were a few meters away, speaking in hushed tones.
"We're here." Poe said, gaining their attention. "Sorry for the wait."
"Not at all." Qui-Gon replied before turning in her direction with an amused smile. "Ah, Rey. Escaped from the Healers again I see."
"Yes," Luke interjected, eyeing her stonily. "And she is going back."
A sigh. "Yes, Master."
"So what's the mission?" Finn asked.
"Transport and reconnaissance with possible combat, followed by a potential hostage situation and rescue op." Obi-Wan replied.
"Yes." Finn whispered as he smirked.
Poe sighed before turning to the bemused Jedi. "Those missions are all our favourites rolled into one neat little package, right Chewie?"
A roar of approval from the towering Wookiee.
"I'm guessing this is why you are here?" Poe asked, turning to Luke. "An X-Wing in this situation would be a serious asset."
"Agreed." Luke nodded. "Which is why I will be tagging along."
"This would not be considered a sanctioned operation." Dooku added. "If we get caught we are on our own. The Jedi and the Republic will not be able to help us."
Poe and Finn shared a grin, something that didn't go unnoticed by Obi-Wan. "They are smiling, why?"
Luke shook his head, hiding his own small smile as he turned to his first teacher, who was now younger than him. Yet another crazy paradox that he will need to sort out. "This kind of thing feels right at home to them."
Kenobi blinked, then reached up to massage his forehead with both hands, pushing back strands of hair. "Of course it does, Force me."
"I want to go." Rey whined before she could catch herself, ears going pink under the surprised glances of the Jedi around her.
"No!" Poe, Finn and Luke replied in unison.
"Give me something!"
"We'll send you a postcard." Poe smirked.
"Hate you, hate you all."
Obi-Wan frowned, turning to his Master who could do little more than offer a shrug of sympathy. "Just go along with it."
And that's a wrap for the first overarching story of the Chaotic Three.
I will be taking a break for a few months to recharge and plan before doing anything else. A possible sequel is in the works, alongside a few short stories in-between to close the gap. I should start up again in a few months, Christmas at the latest with some luck. I want to get at least ten chapters ahead like I did originally, so if it takes longer I apologise in advance.
I hope that you liked what you read, don't forget to leave a review!