The Enterprise dropped out of warp at Coruscant once again. This time, they did not bother to take a shuttle but beamed directly to the Jedi Temple. Qui-Gon had already called for an emergency meeting with the Jedi Council, and Bones would be taking his serum to the people who were dying with brainrot plague, along with Spock.

Jim would remain in the Jedi Temple and wait to see what the Council decided. He paced back and forth in the room outside the Council chamber. He wondered if this was the "waiting" room. He thought waiting was one of the worst things in life. He walked through another doorway from that room into a room he had not seen before. It seemed to be a much older room, and smelled just a little musty. It was gloomily lit by the light that came in from the outside, and Jim could see that there were actual books in this room. He walked over to a large book that lay on a bookstand. It had a symbol on the front, and he started to open it…

"Don't touch that!" someone said.

Jim was so startled, he almost drew his blaster as he whirled around. Someone stood in the shadows of the room, although it was shadowy practically everywhere. "I didn't know it was off-limits," he said.

"There are many things you do not know, young captain," the individual said as he stepped forward.

Jim realized this was the one they called Count Dooku! He backed up a step. "Come now, Captain, you know you cannot escape me," Dooku said. "You will come with me and tell me everything I want to know about your technology."

Jim felt like he could hear that inside his own mind as though it were his own thought. He realized what was happening. "No! I won't!" he declared. He grabbed his phaser, but it was jerked from his hand by some invisible Force and went right into the hand of his adversary.

Jim backed up some more, and he thought his best option in this situation was to run so he turned and started running, but a large, invisible hand jerked his feet from under him, and he almost landed on his face except he managed to get his hands up. He tried to scramble away but he was jerked over onto his back. He had never faced an opponent who could beat him without even touching him.

"It is pointless to resist," Dooku said. "I've been waiting for the opportunity to capture you, and you have made the perfect situation yourself."

Jim backed away from him as he was on the floor, but then Dooku held his hand up as though he were squeezing something, and Jim felt himself being choked and he was up against the wall.

Obi-Wan scowled as he stood beside Qui-Gon in the Jedi Council chamber. "Master!" he exclaimed. "Your pardon!"

Obi-Wan turned and ran from the chamber, but Qui-Gon had felt the same thing and he followed. The other Jedi also picked up on the fear and danger that was suddenly felt inside the Temple.

Dooku was close to Jim now who was against the wall and was starting to see gray spots before his eyes. "Now, you will face my master, and you will tell him everything," Dooku said.

Jim glared at Dooku. He managed to take in a ragged-sounding breath. "Not in my lifetime," he growled and suddenly, there was a blaster in his hand that Dooku was unaware of.

Before Dooku could react, Jim fired right into his belly. The surprise and shock on Dooku's face was all Jim needed to see to know he had stopped this menace. Suddenly, the Force grip was loosened from his neck and he fell to the floor. He was finding it hard to get his breath back, but then he heard others come running in.

Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon were there and they drew their lightsabers. As they saw that Dooku was already down, Obi-Wan got over to Jim who was still struggling to get his breath back. Obi-Wan made a motion with his hand, and Jim suddenly sucked in a loud breath.

Qui-Gon got over to Dooku. "You're the apprentice," Qui-Gon said. "Who is your master?"

"It doesn't matter now," Dooku replied. "You can't stop him."

"Who is he?"

"The government is corrupt. The traders…they…"

"Tell me who he is. Is it Palpatine? You were good once. Do something good for this galaxy once again."

Dooku just looked at Qui-Gon as he died. Qui-Gon knew it was too late, but he also knew now that there were no longer two of them, they could not cloud everything with the dark side so thoroughly.

Just then, Mace Windu and some of the other Jedi walked into the room. Qui-Gon stood. "He was the apprentice," he said.

Jim was sitting beside the wall now. "He intended to take me to his 'master'," he said. "They wanted the technology from the Enterprise."

"He almost killed him," Obi-Wan declared. "He had crushed his trachea."

"Proof we need of who the master is," Yoda said.

"He wouldn't tell me," Qui-Gon replied. "Not even the bounty hunter knows. Are we going to let the creation of that clone army continue?"

"Up to the Senate that is."

Jim thought his part in this was just about over, and he hoped it was. He did not want to tangle with anymore Force users. He had never been choked by some invisible Force, and he did not want to experience that again.

Bones and Spock were back down in the lower levels of Coruscant administering the serum to the sick ones. "You know, this is what makes all those years of studying worthwhile," Bones said. "You work yourself silly and stay awake all night and drink coffee till you're so jittery you never fall asleep in life."

"Doctor, if you please, I would rather not hear this right now," Spock said.

"Why not? At least it helps to break up the seriousness a little."

"I do not believe our patients feel like hearing of your medical school experiences."

"You never know. They might like someone to sit or stand and talk to them a while."

"I must say, this would be much easier if we did not have to wear gloves."

"Yeah, but the alternative isn't pleasant."

By the time they were done with that, Jim was back on the Enterprise so they went back as well. Bones examined Jim's throat and doctored him for that. Jim was a little hoarse, but he was just glad it was not worse.

"You are lucky to be alive, Captain," Spock said.

"I know," Jim replied. "Do you guys think we should go on back to our own galaxy or stay here and try to help them find that Sith lord? We know who it is…it has to be him. So what will he do now?"

"I don't know," Bones said. "But we've given the serum to the people down there. I instructed Kavis and the others on how to give them the medication. That's all I can do."

"Captain, I am not certain that we can help anymore," Spock said. "It is up to the people of this galaxy to guard themselves against such tyranny."

"I know, Spock," Jim replied. "But this is a Sith lord. They can project things into your mind. He tried to make me think it was my idea to cooperate with him and give them the information they wanted."

"A mind trick."


"And you resisted it?"

"Well, I realized what he was doing."

"Jedi mind tricks only work on the weak minded, Captain."

Bones folded his arms. "Are you telling him that he's strong minded?" he asked. "I never thought I'd see the day."

"Doctor, a Starfleet officer does not give in easily."

"So, you think that I could resist it because of my training with Starfleet?" Jim asked. "It has nothing to do with myself as a person?"

"I am not certain. However, with such a recalcitrant personality as you have, I cannot see someone influencing you to do anything which you do not want to do."

Bones looked at Jim. "He means you're hard-headed, and that you go your own way no matter what anyone else is doing or saying."

"Never mind that," Jim said. "Should we stay or go?"

"I suppose that is ultimately up to you, Captain," Spock replied. "However, as I said, it is the duty of the people of this galaxy to chart their own way rather than allowing someone to take it over."

"You're right about that, and I guess they'll be watching Palpatine closer now. But what about Anakin?"

"That is another matter. He could very well be the one they called Darth Vader. However, as we have changed many things in this galaxy, it would be very interesting to see how differently their lives will unfold."

"You're right about that. You think Luke Skywalker is Anakin's son? If he was…did he know his father was a Sith lord? Did Obi-Wan know?"

"I do believe that Obi-Wan would know since he is here now."

"He saved my life. I'm just glad he got in there when he did."

Jim went to his quarters to think. He knew they could not just stay there to guard this galaxy from the terror they had experienced but he certainly would like to see if it was different. He supposed he might never know whether their efforts made any great difference or not.

Later that day, Jim and Spock beamed down to the Jedi Temple where they met with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. "I speak for all the Jedi when I say that we thank you for all your efforts," Qui-Gon said. "We have all learned something…and we will keep an eye on Palpatine as well as our young Skywalker."

"I hope you do," Jim replied. "I wish we could know how things turn out, but we have to get back to our galaxy."

"I understand. They must be missing you by now. A person who makes so much difference wherever he goes has to be missed." Qui-Gon offered his hand. "I am glad to have met you, Jim Kirk."

Jim shook his hand. "I'm glad to have met you too," he replied. He looked at Obi-Wan. "And I'm glad you were around to save my life too."

"No problem," Obi-Wan replied. "If you're ever in this galaxy again, perhaps we'll meet in another time."


Jim and Spock stood back, and Jim took out his communicator. Spock did his usual Vulcan greeting. "Live long and prosper," he said.

"Two to beam up, Scotty," Jim said.

They arrived on the transporter pad, and went to the Bridge. "Let's go home, Mister Sulu," Jim said. "Scotty, you ready?"

"Yes sir," Scotty replied. "By the time we get there, we'll be ready to go right on through."


They were all glad to see their own galaxy as they came through the rift four days later. Jim hoped they had no more surprises like that. He would just as soon stay in his own galaxy…