(I am uploading two chapters in one day due to the hurricane coming my way; I might not be able to upload tomorrow.)
"You're the one?" Exar said through gritted teeth.
"The one and only. Tell me Jedi, do you know where you are?"
Confused at the question, Exar answered, "Just... another Death Star."
"And you planned on destroying it the same way, I assume?"
"The one and only way."
The Master just snickered. Erk went up and handed him all their lightsabers in a bundle, and Kaiyah, Ailurah, and Becky stood behind him. "Ah. All the Jedi we have, here. This is exactly how I envisioned the fall of the Republic- Oh my! I believe I have the infamous Jedi Master Bridger."
"The one and only." Ezra copied.
"I wouldn't be so sure about that." The Master responded, leaving Ezra with an extremely muddled expression.
"Do your math. There are many more Jedi out there." Aang told him.
"Definitely. Yes, I know. All those weak links have served their purpose; I have all that I need right, here." The Master gestured to all of them. "The Jedi padawan trio who sought out the sith, Master Vustine, Viran Fexive, and..." He stopped. "Huh. It seems I don't have the Governor. Ah well when I'm done here, we'll hunt him down."
Calista flinched at that, and the Master sensed it. "Well what do we have here?" He approached Calista in the front and bent down. "I believe this is the Governor's wife? Lieutenant Governor, Calista Calfan. Your husband, how is he holding up? I hear there's quite a stir going on with him?"
Calista only struggled against her binds; her persistence made him grin. He straightened up, and drifted his gaze to Aang. He used the force to lift him into the air and to bring him forward. "Oh, you, you're the strong one. I sense a strong conviction within you. You'd do anything for your Republic, wouldn't you?"
"I'd take you down in a heartbeat."
The Master laughed. "Not even in the face of the dark side would you back down. You have potential."
"I'll live up to it, and then, your Empire will fall. And I don't think that will take long."
The Master laughed again, shortly. "You're a confident boy." The he dropped him to the ground. "You have good friends, yes?" He used the force to pull Exar and Jo to him, and dropped them next to Aang. "You are the three. The three that set off the chain of events that led you all here. I ask: what led you here?"
"What do want from us?" Exar asked.
"And why does your mask look like a bug?" Jo asked.
The Master stopped in his tracks, confused and shocked. 'Who is this kid?' "What do you say brought you here? What began it all? It's a simple question that requires a simple answer."
"We were supposed to hunt you down."
"Me? You were after my agent, Sion II. You have also successfully killed the son of Ren. You became so close to victory, but had it ripped from you. You know what? Why don't I give you a pointer?" The Master took a lightsaber from the bundle and held it in front of Exar. He used the force to hold Exar's arm outward, but Exar couldn't move it. Exar was able to take the lightsaber, and was able to move his thumb, but nothing else.
The Master used the force to pull Erk to him. He held Erk by the back of his neck, and Erk's face in front of the hilt Exar was holding. "Kill him." The Master ordered.
Exar and his friends' heart dropped. Erk's master had him backed in a corner. They both knew the Republic didn't know of Exar's friend's identity, therefore Exar knew most of his companions wished he'd strike the sith down; and Exar was sure that if Erk died, both sides would lose a valuable source of intel.
"Go on. Strike him down." The Master ordered again. "It's what you were assigned to do. Do it for your Republic."
Exar was trembling.
"Why can't you do it?"
"I'll show you why!" The Master told everyone. He ripped off Erk's hood and revealed his face. The teen Jedi could sense the shock in those who did not supect. That and the massive aura of fear consuming Ephraim.
The Master threw Ephraim on the ground next to Exar. "He, amongst your ranks, has served as a sith under my rule. How could a Republic, as seemingly strong as yours, be penetrated by the likes of your enemy?"
Calista dwelled on the revelation just shown to her. 'Bennar saw the fall of the Republic. It must have started with the sith on the inside. Ephraim. He's the one who attacked on Kamino.'
"The Republic must fall! It is, and always has been unstable!"
"What are you going to do about it?" Aang asked. "When one falls, another takes its place."
The Master was unphased. He bent down in front of Aang and glared. "A Republic crumbled from the inside, cannot rise again." He stood up and continued speaking. "Did you really think you could defeat us so easily? The reactor core, cannot, be disrupted. Not by explosives; It has been specialized to withstand more than a dozen fleets-worth of fusillades. You would have all died before you could've escaped. Now, you're at my mercy. And there is no mercy with the dark side."
"What do you want?" Exar asked, trembling.
"Galactic Calamity. There has been no peace for a millennium, so things,need to change."
Aang remembered something. "The extinction of the sith over a millennium ago brought hundreds-"
"Oh if only you knew." The Master interrupted. "What? Did you think the Separatist Alliance grew on a tree? No. No, foolish child. The events of the Galactic Civil War were precidented during the Mandalorian Wars. Much time was spent building up to that Civil War, to eventually build up to the war of the Empire and the Rebellion, then the First Order, now it's us. Constant war has ruined the galaxy, and to no avail did it establish peace with a stable government. The cycle needs to break. We will finish the work started, and end the Jedi. Even Luke Skywalker felt the same way."
"Oh if only you knew." Aang mirrored. He could sense the Master's curiosity. "I'm not a child."
The Master took hold of that, then probed Aang's mind. Aang struggled against the Master, but he was no match. The Master roamed free.
"Well well. I sense a disturbance in your mind. A tampering. You've managed to stay young for decades... But you're afraid of what's to come."
"Stop." Aang growled.
"You don't want to let your friends down, but by acting upon your fears you have only sealed your fate. You're afraid you won't be there when you're needed most."
"Stay out of my head."
"Above all you're afraid of failure."
Aang stared hard into his eyes.
"You got the Republic here in my grip. In the hands of its destruction. I don't think you could've failed them more." The Master said.
Ezra recalled similar words from one of his early days. 'Lothal's Jedi Temple.'
"What's your point?" Aang asked.
"It's impossible for a good Jedi to live in fear, or any other element of the other side."
Aang laughed, "Are you accusing me of being a sith?" He asked.
The Master didn't give a direct answer; he simply turned around and stared out the window. "The dark side, is the true way of life; Its capabilities are limitless. The Jedi: they're blind to the power they possess. They only use a fraction of the capacity they wield. Us sith, we're not afraid to take the next step to unearth the full potential of the force. We," The Master turned and looked Aang's way, "Can postpone death."
Aang saw the direction he was headed.
"The dark side of the force is the only way, to the one thing all men long for."
"Pfft. Death and destruction?" Aang snickered.
"Immortality." The Master replied, silencing everyone immediately. "Many did not think it was possible, but I have found the way."
"The dark side is a one-way trip." Exar said.
"Once you go down the dark path, there is no going back." The Master finished for Exar. "You will know peace, and you will,know the true beauty of the force."
"Or the sheer terror of its consequences." Exar responded.
"Consequences? Jedi child, it is not I who is to face its consequences." He paused for a moment. "Enter hyperspace at the given coordinates." He commanded the officers. Everyone soon heard the activating of the engines, and the stars speeding by.
"The Jedi suffer, from a lack of knowledge. Knowledge that would instruct them further, even in their ways. The Jedi suffer from ignorance. They reject outside knowledge, and concede strictly, to their now-primitive rituals. We of the dark side, are not afraid to move on. The old days pass, and people move on. The Jedi die, for they are afraid. They live consistently in fear, and because of it, they're defeated constantly. The sith aren't afraid; we grow more powerfulin the dark side. It is because of the power of the dark side, that the sith survive."
"And Jedi rise to meet it. The dark side always demises."
"Ah, but, young Jedi, everything comes to an end. A wheel cannot perpetually roll; it too must stop."
"But it always gets picked back up." Aang argued.
"Not always the same way, though. It will get picked up, but will it be rolled backwards from its original course? Or say it goes the same, but it won't face the same way; another face of destiny. There are multiple destinies; no one can know for sure where the force will take them. Yes, the Jedi have been known to win in the past, but the cycle is breaking."
"All this talk of the power of the dark side, yet no matter how many generations pass, the Jedi always,overpower the sith. In the end, we will defeat you." Aang said, still unphased.
The Master nodded to Imperial officers, who dropped the Death Star out of hyperspace. And there they saw Kashyyyk. The Jedi trio and Erk became worried.
"That's Kashyyyk. Masters Rye and Erickson are still there." Jo whispered to Viran.
"Wait, what's going on?" Exar asked.
"It has been said: the full power of the Death Stars can't compare to the full power of the dark side. Since none of you were around to see it, let me show you the full power of the weapon."
"Wait, w-" Exar couldn't speak.
"FIRE!" The Master shouted.
Everyone could hear the hum and the whirring of the lasers. The Jedi trio were struggling hard against their cuffs, begging and screaming for the shot to be called off, but the Master ignored and looked on in pride as the green energy beam shot out and destroyed Kashyyyk. He then heard their screams of desperation and agony. Erk only looked down in sorrow.
But Erk then sensed something else going on. He looked up and saw the crystal ball, and it was glowing brightly. He looked out the window, and he saw two comets approaching them; as they got closer, the ball only glowed brighter. 'Oh no.' Erk thought.
"And now, I will put you out of your misery." The Master said as he drew a red lightsaber and jumped towards the Jedi to strike them dead, but he was knocked back as the comets broke through the window. People were about to be dragged As they passed through, a hand reached out, then all the glass reversed back into place.
Two figures were seen in the midst of the smoke. Everyone looked on through squinted eyes to see their new visitors.
TO BE CONTINUED...
In 'Youth Wars Part IV: The Cave of Secrets'