Chapter 3: History's Mission
While the children were returning to their quarters, Jak, and Keira walked slowly through the corridors of the great hall in Mon Mothma's immense residence, where they stayed the night before they embarked on their voyage in the morning. As Daxter fell asleep perched on Jak's shoulder pad, husband and wife had a deep conversation about family before they met the others in the war room.
"Jak," Keira asked, "do you think we're doing a good job with the kids?"
Jak smiled back, "Of course we have! Why would you think otherwise?"
Keira shrugged, "It's just that they're not like us. I'm worried about them."
"Sweetheart," Jak replied, "they're growing up in a different time. They're living a different life than what we had."
"It's just that we've been away from them more than we would've liked," Keira sighed, "I love that they're branching out, but I also feel that we could teach them so much more."
"They have amazing opportunities," Jak assured her, "better ones than we had when we were their age."
"Lucky to have too," Keira added on, "especially Sam. I'm the most worried for him. Ever since that incident happened at school I'm afraid of the path he's on."
"Anxiety is natural," Jak replied, "However thanks to us, he won't be expelled. We will let due process play the investigation out and his name will be cleared in no time. Besides, you and I both know what it's like to be accused and imprisoned for something we didn't do."
"True," Keira agreed, "and I know his heart is always in the right place, but he's always reckless and over-defensive!"
"Hey," Jak playfully scolded, "you said the same thing about me a bunch of times!"
Keira chuckled, "Yeah, he is a lot like you after all. I think part of his problems stem from that girl he's with all the time."
"I don't sense anything wrong with her," Jak shrugged, "she always seems nice and pleasant when she visits us."
"There's something off about her," Keira postulated, "I can't explain it but she's controlling him. He allows her to creep into his mind and alter his vision on what's right and wrong."
"Ariel just loves him and is over-protective of him." Jak scoffed, "You worry too much!"
"C'mon," Keira retorted, "wouldn't you feel the same way if Rhea got a boyfriend?"
"Are you kidding?" Jak chortled, "I wish she did! That girl needs social interaction in the worst way."
"I think it's good she keeps to herself," Keira responded, "I just hope she may get too isolated."
"Part of her problem is," Jak explained, "no one gets along with her well because she refuses to let people in. That's why she's so jealous about how popular Sam is."
As they approached the double doors infront of them, they stoped to face each other. "Jak," Keira quivered, "you don't think…"
"No." Jak quickly stopped her, "Keira, don't think like that. Our kids are just going through a transitional period. They're finding themselves. They are NOT on a path towards The Dark Side. I promise."
The two hugged, and then Keira replied, "At least we don't have to worry about Damas Jr. yet. We just have to keep him away from weapons!"
"He is a weird, goofy kid." Jak laughed.
"That we can both agree on!" Keira followed. She held hands with her husband and asked, "Are you sure this is a good idea to bring them on this adventure."
"Hey," Jak shrugged, "it's their first adventure! We were their age when we went on our first, and we don't even know what the mission is yet! Let's find out…"
As they entered through the doors, Daxter yawned and woke up. They expected Senator Mon Mothma and Senator Bail Organa via hologram, but they were shocked to see Torn and Ashelin seated at the holo-table as well. Both of them maintained their physical youth, but grew out slightly longer hair as Jak and Keira did. Torn wore a blue Rebellion uniform, while Ashelin dressed more conservatively in a sleek, red velvet dress.
"Ashelin?" Jak asked.
"Torn!?" Daxter followed.
"What are you guys doing here?" Keira asked.
"The Senator called us here last minute, told us to look after the kids while you guys do the dirty work." Torn replied.
"We're here for extra protection," Ashelin followed, "We're here to optimize safety while swearing this mission to secrecy from the public."
"Have you brought Jinx along?" Keira asked.
"Oh yes," Ashelin replied, "he's resting in our quarters now."
"That'll be great for the kids!" Jak said to his wife, then turned back to Torn, "how dire is this mission?"
"It's pretty heavy, Jak." Torn warned him, "This is nothing like we've ever dealt with before."
"Right," Mon Mothma interrupted, "Let's begin the briefing shall we?"
Meanwhile, the children rushed through the city and back to the Mon Mothma residence where they were told to meet up, and found a way to sneak themselves upstairs. As they snuck through the corridors, Sam stopped them as he looked down, prompting the others to do the same. They saw their parents, as well as the Senators and Torn and Ashelin, convene down below.
"What the heck are Uncle Torn and Aunt Ashelin doing here?" Sam asked.
"Beats me." Damas Jr. shrugged.
"OB," Sam prompted his Ottsel-Droid, "try to get a clear sound from down there. These windows are sound proof."
"Yes, sir!" The Droid obeyed and scurried over to the nearest terminal, plugging himself in.
"I don't think this is any of our business." Rhea advised.
"Don't you want to know why we are here?" Sam asked, leaving no response from his sister.
"Audio transmitting…" The Droid updated as his 'ear canal' tuned in the ambient sound from below, transmitting a clear conversation from the elders.
"We seek a dangerous relic," Senator Organa opened up, "One of great significance, so much that even The Sith feared it once they created it." The hologram in front of them showed an elaborate casket, and everyone's jaws dropped to the floor as they gasped in shock. The Senator finished, "We seek, 'The Ark of Valkorion!'"
"Holy shit," Sam exclaimed, "We're looking for that!? I JUST learned about that in History!"
"What's so special about it?" Rhea asked, "What even is it?"
"Let's listen in, I'll explain more later." Sam replied, but he couldn't listen, as another flash back occupied his brain…
Hours prior to the assassination incident, Samos sat front and center in a history class at The Alderaan Royal Academy. History was one of Sam's strongest subjects, always fascinated with the history of The Galaxy when most students fell asleep out of boredom. His class, much like the rest of the academy, was made up of students around his age that were also diverse in species across the Galaxy. Despite coming from different worlds, speaking different tongues, appearing in different skin colors, faces, and even limbs, they all congregated every day to seek knowledge with the aim of becoming the next leaders of The Galaxy. On this particular lecture, Sam's class of thirty students were sitting in a mysterious, and very dark lesson in time…
"This wouldn't be the last time Jedi and Sith would work together," Sam's instructor, a Mon Calamari scholar bearing the title of Dr. Plath, lectured his students, "Oh no. When they thought they originally had destroyed the Sith Emperor, he rose again, and formed his own Empire. What was that called?"
Sam raised his hand, but an Ithorian boy yelled "The Eternal Empire!"
"Good!" Dr. Plath commended, "and where in The Galaxy was this 'Eternal Empire' from?"
Sam raised his hand once more, and a Rodain girl shouted "Zakuul! A planet hidden in wild space!"
"Outstanding!" The Professor congratulated once more, "Now, who was this 'Emperor' that rose to power and ruled Zakuul?"
"VALKORION!" Sam screamed with anger, standing up from his chair, dark eco coursing through his body once more. After he heard his classmates chuckle, and noticed that his professor stared him down. Out of embarrassment, he sat down and continued, "Sorry professor, but yes, Valkorion, or the former Sith Emperor, took control of The Eternal Empire on Zakuul. We also discovered that Valkorion not only shared the name of Vitiate, but also the name of Tenebrae, which was given to him when he was born on Nathema to Lord Dramath-"
"Perfect Samos," Dr. Plath interrupted, "you read ahead. Just like I asked. Very wise of you indeed." Then he approached him and looked close at him and asked, "but how far ahead did you read?"
"To the end of the chapter, sir." Sam claimed.
"Did you?" he asked. When Sam nodded, he asked once more, "Tell me then, what was the relic that held all of Valkorion's power?"
"The Eternal Throne." Sam declared, "It was the symbol of the rightful ruler of Zakuul. The Outlander that first overthrew him sat on it, and Valkorion took over that person's mind, serving as some kind of conscience to all of his/her decisions. When his son Arcaan took over, that granted him access to the Knights of Zakuul, while his daughter Vaylin used it to control the Gemini Droids. Everywhere they went, Ziost, Voss, Nathema, Odessen, you name it, they conquered in decimating fashion."
"But was it the only thing?" Dr. Plath pried.
"Umm…"Sam postulated, while his classmates chuckled once more, "I think so. That's what the Jedi and Sith were after, right?"
"You omitted a crucial detail…" Dr. Plath replied, and turned to his projector, revealing a picture of what appeared to be a silver casket with a gold frame, etched with elaborate designs and hieroglyphics. He turned to the rest of the students, "You see this? This is the relic that gave The Eternal Throne its power. This is Valkorion's Ark. Historians recorded that this was where they rested his 'body' after Arcaan killed him. The Emperor's essence and power is hidden inside this ark. Whoever discovers it, and recites the ancient Sith ritual that opens it and awakens its power, will have complete control over everything the Eternal Army has to offer, and could bring total chaos to the entire Galaxy. In order to awaken what sleeps inside the ark, you must utilize his holocron with the ritual."
"Doc?" Jinx suddenly spoke at the back of the classroom, "This ark, and this holocron, where do you suspect they are now? I've searched in the archives for these planets Sam mentioned, and they're here in the texts, but according to the star charts, these worlds don't exist. I'm curious, is this all a myth, a hoax, or is this yet another secret The Jedi Order and The Republic are trying to hide from us?"
Everyone turned to Jinx, with stunned faces floored and beaming eyes glaring at him, including Sam and Dr. Plath, who inquired, "What are you saying, Mr. Praxis?"
"I'm saying," Jinx extrapolated, "That if this 'ark' does exist, and this 'holocron' holds the key to unlocking such power to dominate over The Galaxy, then that must mean The Jedi have held on to it for many years. That's why they dominated over the entire Universe for so long, before a traitor exposed them from the inside out. In an effort to prevent him from selling this information to The Sith, they destroyed everything they could because they knew that they would be after it. That's why on the records we have, it doesn't exist."
Dr. Plath continued to walk towards Jinx's desk and said, "That's a bold claim you make, Jinx. Aren't you training to become a Jedi like your parents were before you?" Jinx nodded, because he was, and he was much more advanced in lightsaber combat and Force abilities than Sam was, rendering his own friend jealous. Dr Plath continued, "So why would you make a bold claim against an order of heroes you aspire to be?"
Jinx smirked, "Because the Jedi were too soft. They sensed that evil was afoot within their system. Had they used this power to their advantage, their 'Chancellor' would have never laid the groundwork for The Empire that exists today, and they would've never been slain by their own traitor. They destroyed the evidence out of fear of The Sith controlling it so much, they destroyed themselves."
"Where did you come up with this theory?" Dr. Plath retorted, "Who told you of this rabble?"
Dodging the question, Jinx replied "If it were me running the Jedi Order, I would have found a way to use that power to our advantage, to save the Republic-"
"Do you have any idea what kind of dark theory you're playing with Mr. Praxis!?" Dr. Plath spat back, "Are you suggesting that this kind of power should be passed from one person to the next carelessly? Without consequences!?"
"I'm suggesting," Jinx clarified, "in times of a crisis, complete power should be used at all costs. The Jedi had the power to stop this before all of this happened. Order 66 didn't kill them, fear did."
"You weren't there," Sam clarified, "and neither were our parents."
"The insurrection of The Empire created a resounding impact for The Galaxy," Dr. Plath began, "one you have not experienced. Tell me, Mr. Mikwa, why are we here to learn history?"
Sam replied, "To make sure it doesn't repeat itself?"
"By making the same mistakes the ones before us have." Dr. Plath replied, then continued to the rest of the class, including Jinx, "Now, we can sit here and debate the gravity of this relic all day long, but the big takeaway I have from this lecture is this; The Ark of Valkorion is unpredictable. It can create a whole new universe, or destroy the one we have. It is not to be trifled with if discovered. Frankly, I hope it doesn't exist. But if it does, and if one of you ever crosses paths with the casket of The Eternal Emperor, and the power it possesses within, do not let it corrupt you. Power is a feeling unlike any other, but too much of it will steer you in a direction far from who you all really are. The only greater power you all have, more than any artifact or ancient being, is the power you possess in your heart."
"Oh great!" Daxter exasperated, "More dark stuff for us to deal with!"
"So you're telling us," Jak followed, "that The Ark of Valkorion, if it does exist, can be used to either create or destroy full universes."
"Yes," Mon Mothma confirmed, "it does exist, and it does have that power."
"So what do you need it for?" Keira asked.
"We need it to awaken an army that will serve The Rebellion," Senator Organa answered, "Our numbers our dwindling and The Empire is raging with dark power. If we can somehow awaken this ark, and use its full potential to restore the Eternal Fleet, serving under the Rebel Alliance, it can turn the tide of this war."
"This is a Sith Artifact!" Jak argued, "You can't just expect to use it against an entity that is run by two Sith Lords. It's much too dangerous!"
"How do you know it even exists?" Keira asked.
The Senator proceeded to hold out a small, golden sphere, with small encryptions and three major pockmarks on it. She answered, "This map, will lead you to the Holocron that unlocks the Ark. Our spies have located the first clue lost somewhere on Lothal. That is the only known destination the Conquest is charting so far. These three pockmarks each have missing gold crystals, one for each child Valkorion sired. They are rumored to be hidden in systems only found in Wild Space. Once you fill the map with the crystals, you find the Holocron, which should lead you to Zakuul."
"And then what happens?" Torn asked.
Senator Organa continued, "There's an ancient Sith Ritual that the holder of the Holocron must recite to unlock the Ark. Beyond that…" he trailed off, took a deep breath, and finished, "rumor has it that the individual that awakens the ark will seize ultimate control of The Eternal Army, and will use it to however they wish. That is where we must place them under the allegiance of The Rebellion."
"So," Jak summarized, "you're asking us to take this space barge all the way across The Galaxy filled with innocent people who are going on this quest with us against their will, to look for a map with three crystals that can lead us to a mythical Sith Artifact that may put the Galaxy at risk for extinction?"
Senator Organa bowed his head, "These are great risks we've calculated, but for now this is our only hope against The Empire."
Jak shook his head, "I can't do it."
"What!?" Ashelin shouted across the room, "This is the kind of mission you'd go for, Jak! Just like the old days!"
"Jak," Torn added on, "We haven't been on a mission like this since-"
"Since we were driven out here," Jak interrupted, "and things have changed since then. We're not who we used to be back home. We have families now. We're Jedi. Keepers of the peace for the entire Galaxy and the number one target for The Empire. I don't mind risking my own life for something this big, but my kids? Your kid? They have a lot to live for."
"No don't!" Sam whispered, "don't cancel this adventure. We can handle this!"
"Jak," Torn argued, "Our kids now were the same age you and Keira were when you went on your first adventure, and Ashelin and I were in the guard since birth. They can handle this!"
"I don't know about this, Jak." Daxter chimed in, "I got some nasty juju vibes surrounding this mission. Something dark and nasty is afoot!"
"But if we sit here and do nothing," Mon Mothma retorted, "we all may not have a future for The Galaxy. The stakes are much higher now."
"We could try handing off this 'army' to The Precursors?" Keira added, "They're allies of The Rebellion after all!"
"And their numbers are fleeting too." Jak replied.
"And I'm the only one of them left it seems!" Daxter added.
"All the more reason to give this a shot!" Keira exclaimed.
"You can't be serious…" Jak grumbled.
"Mother knows best." Ashelin said.
"Jak," Keira persuaded, "Think about everything that is happening right now. The Empire is at large and are growing stronger every day. We've learned the secrets about the Dark Side of The Force and used it against them before. If there's anyone that knows how to use the Dark Side against them, it's you! I know there's a bigger risk for this mission now because of the kids and all, but the state of the Galaxy is fractured. Plus, our kids are ready to go on their first adventure with us. Let's give this a shot!"
Jak sat and pondered for a few moments, looking pensive as he went into deep thought. What if he lost control of himself and everything he was taught as a Jedi when he would have the ark in his sights? What if it fell to the wrong hands? What if Darth Vader seized it? What if his children succumbed to its power? It worried him, and for the first time in a long time, he felt fear from this mission. For some reason he sensed that it would not end well. However, he was loyal to The Rebellion, and the cause that he initiated still held near and dear to him. Keira made a great point about the Precursors, and he thought it just might be possible to pull it off as long as he maintained the right intentions for the mission.
Jak declared, "Fine. I'll lead this team to search and bring forth The Ark of Valkorion to the Rebel Alliance, and I will disperse it's power to The Precursors, who are still in need of rehabilitation stemmed from the destruction The Dark Makers and The Empire caused fifteen years ago. However, if in my judgement I sense that this relic's power is too dark for our control, and any part of this quest goes awry, I have full authorization to destroy it on site, preventing any corruption for the greater good of The Galaxy."
Mon Mothma nodded, "Done." And she tossed Jak the map.
"It's settled, then," Senator Organa concluded, "The mission is still a go, with Jak's full control in terms of The Ark."
"I got a bad feeling about this," Daxter quivered.
"Yes!" Samos whispered, "Our first adventure, guys!"
"This is gonna be so awesome!" Damas Jr. joined in,
"Don't get your hopes up," Rhea relpied, "we won't even play a role. Besides, shouldn't we get back to our room before they realize we've been out to long?"
"And that we know everything…" Sam agreed, "yup. Time to go!"
Before the briefing Adjourned, Mon Mothma addressed the group, "While Jak did accept this mission, I must inform you that his concerns are valid. This is the greatest risk we have ever taken, and I have placed my full faith and trust in you all. The Galaxy rests in your hands. It can be saved by you, or lost with you. It is imperative that you must do everything you can to succeed in this mission, as failure speaks doom for us all. Go, and may The Force be with you all."