Author's Note: Good day everyone, and welcome back to The Legend Reborn! I hope everyone is staying healthy despite this pandemic, hopefully you all enjoy what I've had to add to story. Additionally, I want to clarify what I mentioned in my previous author note. I am not disputing the fact that Vitiate became Valkorian. They are the same person. What I am stating is that for the purposes of this story, the SWTOR expansion Shadow of Revan never took place. As a result, the events of the subsequent expansions did not take place either. That is why the Sith Emperor appears as Vitiate, and not in his Valkorian form. Thank you again, enjoy. It's a long one!
Thabeska – Imperial Cruiser Retribution
Atin ejected the spent powercell and inserted his final one as the last stormtrooper dropped to the ground. They had encountered several squads since finding the others. Before leaving the detention area, Atin had hacked the alarm system, and began to sound alarms leading towards the command bridge. Additionally, he reset the holocams to cycle old footage.
Niner raised his hand and made a fist. Atin and Darman quickly fell in behind him. Ahsoka did her best to mimic the movements of the others, but her motions were not as tight and refined. Not to mention she had to feel awkward being in charge of moving Fi's hover-bed.
With Fi out of commission, he was a liability. The others would never admit it but having to move him like this was a hindrance. Atin checked his belt once more then lowered his rifle.
"I'm down to my last, Niner." He mentioned, "We need to exfil fast."
"Negative, two-two. Current objective is to recover equipment. We can't risk the Empire using it to find anything out," Niner replied. Atin nodded before having to do a double take at that statement. Niner hadn't referred to him by callsign in a long time. Atin called it Niner's operational mode. It was almost like a trance where Niner let all thoughts beyond the mission and its operating procedure get sidelined in favor of completing the objective.
It made sense too. Darman and Niner's equipment had all been confiscated. That kit held coordinates for Kyrimorut, and with it, a reason for the Empire to invade Mandalore.
"Understood, zero-nine," he answered.
Niner nodded before wracking his brain over the layout of the cruiser. If he was right, he should have been leading the team toward the armory since leaving the cell block. He ran through the path in his head one more time before he felt confident that the next door on his left was what they wanted. He pointed at it.
"Commence door breach maneuver."
Atin pulled a small demo charge from his belt and tossed it to Darman. The demolitions expert primed the charge and placed it on the door control panel before taking up a position on the door's right side. Atin crouched down on the door's opposite side and pulled out a small flash grenade. Niner took up a position next to him. Meanwhile, Ahsoka pulled Fi against the wall and tried to stay out of the way.
The demo charge popped, and the door slide open. Atin lobbed the grenade through the door before looking away. After a second, there was flash of light before the commandos fell into the room one at a time.
"Clear!" Atin shouted. The three of the commandos glanced around the room. On the table at the far end was their kit. Niner and Dar both began to gear up as quickly as possible. Once they clamped their tactical belts into place and secured their packs, they put their helmets on and primed their blasters. Niner tossed Atin his sidearm, while Darman handed the tech expert a couple extra powercells.
"Sixty seconds. Grab whatever you think we can use without slowing us down." Darman wasted no time as he grabbed as many thermal detonators and explosive tape as he could fit into his pack. Meanwhile Niner grabbed a handful of powercells for their blasters, and Atin grabbed a bunch of medkits. Ahsoka discarded the E-11 blaster she had been carrying and grabbed one of the electrostaffs mounted on the wall. She gave it a quick flourish.
"More my style," she commented. While Ahsoka was busy trying to figure out how she fit in during the current predicament, Niner tried to reach Zeego on the comms. He pinged the channel several times, but each time there was only static. He shook his head.
"They must be jamming our comms. Anything beyond line of sight is inoperable," he declared.
"So, disable the jammer then get out of here?" Atin asked. Meanwhile Darman shook his head.
"The crew on this ship knows too much," Darman said. "The ISB agent that visited me in my cell knew everything about how we are. We need to stop this ship from making it back to Coruscant."
"The core ship…" Niner muttered. Atin looked at him with confusion.
"What was that, vod?"
"I remember reading Delta's mission report after the Battle of Geonosis. They scuttled a CIS core ship. They lost comms once they got inside, but once they overloaded the reactor, the signal came back." He explained.
"Overload the reactor and the rest of the ship's systems will go with it…" Darman commented. "They'll be so focused trying to evacuate the ship, we can radio for evac and slip away. Clever thinking, Niner." Niner straightened his hand and made a forward motion with it.
"Take offensive formation, commandos. Tano, fall in behind me."
Dathomir – Star Temple Arena
As the shockwave subsided, Revan quickly got back on his feet. Somehow, he had always known that this day would come. Revan's decisions to value tactics over teachings during the Mandalorian War coupled with his discovery of the Trayus Academy may have started his descent down a dark path but Vitiate was in fact the one to ensure Revan's acceptance of the dark side.
As much as Revan hated the would-be god, he had learned a great deal from Vitiate. He helped Revan realize the necessity of the dark side, and that was how Revan rationalized his assumption of the mantle of Dark Lord. Revan knew that the resurgent Sith Empire was the true threat to the Republic. In a way, Revan became the dark lord out of necessity. By conquering the Republic, Revan had hoped to strengthen it, and in the process, prevent a greater evil. Only now that evil had returned, and it was time for Revan to put an end to it once and for all.
The Prodigal Knight took a deep breath, channeling both sides of the Force into the core of his being even further and raised his hands, Force pushing the next ton-sized boulder the former Sith Emperor sent his way, visibly trying to slam him back with it. Vitiate wasn't having any of it though, as he concentrated harder on strengthening his already impressive display Force energy through the lock. The two legendary men grunted, trying to overpower the other in a sort of invisible tug of war.
However, slowly but surely, the Dathomirians in the audience noticed that the challenger was losing ground in the push. What they didn't notice however, was that Revan was sacrificing a lot of momentum to Force crush a pair of boulders behind Vitiate; while trying his hardest to Force cloak his actions on the opposite side of the altar. Just as the heavy boulder seemed poised to smash Revan's skull, the time displaced man roared as hundreds of small rocks started hitting Vitiate like pellets. The world devourer gave him a look of outrage but his attempts to shield himself with the Force on instinct split his focus and weakened his hold on the Force-lock. Revan took advantage of that immediately by slamming the giant rock forward; powering through in seconds.
There was a bright flash of blue as lightning shattered the rock but by then the momentum had carried it too close for comfort and Revan could tell the emperor's Force shield didn't stop the pain he received from that tactic.
The former Sith Lord took a deep breath as a cloud of rock and dust erupted around his enemy. Then, solidifying his stance, Revan ignited his lightsaber once more and sprinted toward his foe. He could sense through the Force that Vitiate wasn't even moving inside the blast as Revan charged him, raising the emerald green blade above his bruised head as he did. As Revan brought the blade down in a vicious motion, Vitiate reached out his hand and stopped Revan dead in his tracks. Revan tried to exert himself, but with a strained grunt, Vitiate redoubled his efforts and held him firmly in place. The blade of his lightsaber was mere millimeters from Vitiate's nose. Revan shouted in protest, but he could feel the grip around his blade loosening. The blade extinguished as it clattered to the ground. No matter how hard Revan tried to control his muscles, his body failed to obey. Vitiate raised his offhand and slowly began to push down as Revan slowly dropped to his knees.
"Kneel," the emperor of old rasped as he commanded him.
Revan had no choice; he tried to fire bolts of Force lightning at Vitiate to wipe the smirk off his face but with so much pressure being forced on his own body he couldn't aim straight and he missed his foe's pale head by quite a large margin. As he was brought down to his knees, Revan was forced to stare up into the eyes of Vitiate. It was if he was staring directly into the empty void. He suddenly felt very cold as he was faced with the eternal emptiness, in his mind he could hear the cries of thousands.
Vitiate called Revan's lightsaber to his waiting hand and ignited the blade, raising it to end Revan's life and finally return to the world of the living.
"Serra!" Revan tried to call out, but to no avail. He closed his eyes and reached out with the Force.
As Serra and the others moved to investigate Gethzerion, she could sense Revan reaching out to her. She watched as the Emperor raised Revan's lightsaber. Serra didn't think, she simply acted. The experienced knight drew her own blades before throwing one of her sabers at Vitiate. As the Emperor struck to end Revan's life, Serra's blade intercepted it, deflecting the blade and breaking Vitiate's concentration for a brief moment, allowing Revan take advantage of the moment as he focused his anger and released a repulsing wave of Force Energy. Vitiate conjured a Force Barrier at the last possible moment to absorb the blast. Revan jumped back toward Serra as she called her lightsaber back to her hand.
Revan exhaled in relief. If Serra had been a second slower, Revan's journey would have ended in that moment. He smiled at her and held out his hand.
"Will you join me on this trial?" Serra nodded and handed him one of her blades. As Revan returned his attention to Vitiate – who was now wielding Revan's lightsaber – he paused as he witnessed a second coalescence of dark side energy descend from the crystal and take shape. The durasteel faceguard and red suit revealed the new foe to be Darth Malak.
As Serra ran off to join Revan, Dooku and Plagueis watched as their leader nearly became one with the Force.
"Are we certain he can win?" Dooku asked.
"He has too…for all our sakes. I am not certain even my Force-imbued resistance to death could endure the might of this world devourer." Plagueis declared, hints of concern visible in his tone.
Dooku opened his mouth to speak, but his next statement was cut short as he sensed a disturbance. His attention snapped to other side of the altar. The Nightsisters had joined the other Dathomirians in the stands but Gethzerion was still moving toward the incapacitated Mother Rell. Dooku wasn't sure what exactly had rendered Rell in this state, nor was he entirely concerned with it. All he was sure of was that Rell was possibly the only Dathomirian that presented a threat to Gethzerion.
As the sun cast down into the temple, Dooku caught a metallic glimmer of something in Gethzerion's hand. The only possible explanation was that the ancient witch was in possession of a lightsaber. When, or how she got it was another question. The most likely explanation was that she had found it in the wreckage of the Chu'unthor at some point before becoming Venamis' sparing partner on Darth Tenebrous' orders.
Dooku reacted before it was too late. He reached out with the Force and made a pulling motion, yanking Gethzerion towards him. The clan mother, rolled onto all fours and looked at Dooku, hissing at him.
"Know your place!" the witch howled at him.
"My place is here, fulfilling the prophecy my Master foresaw." Dooku declared, feeling a strong amount of conviction. "The temple is sacred ground. You are forbidden from spilling Dathomirian blood here." Gethzerion smirked at him maliciously before she stood.
"Dathomiri blood, yes. But outsider blood? Well, I suppose an exception can be granted for that." The ancient priestess pressed the activation plate on her century-hold saber, and the blue blade flickered to life.
"I retrieved this from the wreckage of that old ship decades ago," she explained. "Let us see what the Jedi's training has wrought."
Dooku held his hilt off to his side and ignited the blade, performing the duelist's salute before pointing the weapon at Gethzerion. Sira-Talis and Plagueis drew their lightsabers, and together the three of them attacked the witch.
For a moment, Revan simply stood there, staring into the Malak's eyes. As the Force-manifestation took a moment to marvel at his reborn physical form, he glanced down and saw the exile's severed hand still gripping his lightsaber. He reached down and pried the hilt from its grasp before igniting the blade and holding it diagonally in front him with his feet in a wide stance.
"It seems fate has brought us together once more, Revan." Malak commented.
"So it has, old friend…" Revan hesitated as he twirled his blade before taking the defensive stance of Soresu, holding his saber high with the tip of the blade aimed at his foe. He stretched out his offhand, keeping two fingers pointed forward.
Serra held her saber in front of her. She glanced at Revan before locking eyes with him.
"Malak is strong; he relies on overwhelming force to defeat his opponent. Use your agility to your advantage," Revan explained before locking his gaze on Vitiate. "The Emperor is mine." Serra nodded before breaking into a sprint. She rushed at Malak who attempted to make a wide, sweeping strike. Serra dropped to her knees and slid under the blade as she leaned back before standing, turning on her heel and swinging her saber at Malak. As the blade was batted aside, she quickly spun on her heel again. With a clockwise motion she whirled around Malak and went to strike at him again. Malak stepped back and brought his own blade to bare.
"My dear Bastila. It has been far too long, child." Malak uttered.
Serra gave him a confused look, before Malak broke the saber lock. He slashed horizontally across Serra, then made the same motion with a backhand. He raised his blade high and brought it straight down in a heavy chop. Serra was nearly knocked off her feet as the heavy blade came down upon her.
"I broke you once before, Bastila. I will do it again," Malak declared. He pushed down against the thinly built woman who was clearly struggling to hold him back.
As Malak steadily overpowered Serra, Revan had engaged in a fierce duel with the Emperor. As the pair attacked each other with unrelenting fury, Revan remained on the defensive. He kept his saber motions tight, focusing on deflecting Vitiate's attack in order to conserve his own energy. With luck, his defensive technique would allow him to find a flaw in his old enemy's technique.
Out of the corner of his eye, Revan could see Malak bearing down on Serra. He hesitated for a moment, and Vitiate batted his weapon aside, leaving him open to an attack. Revan gasped before concentrating a Force Push against Vitiate. As the ancient Sith raised his blade, he opened himself up to the Force to brace himself for impact. He quickly recovered and dashed back toward Revan.
Revan kept his hand held out, focusing immensely as he tried to replicate Vitiate's technique to hold him in place. The strain was tremendous as he could feel himself become exhausted after mere moments. Out of options – and determined to save Serra's life – he threw his saber at Malak as he redoubled his efforts to hold Vitiate.
"Plagueis!" he roared. "I need you!"
With his lightsaber held out to his side, Dooku reached out his offhand. Simultaneously he sent forward a blast of concussive force energy while arcs of force lightning danced through the air towards his foe. Gethzerion was unprepared for the attack as the lightning struck. She shrieked in pain as she was knocked back several meters, rolling to her feet and raising her lightsaber as Sira-talis was the first to reach her. Sira chopped down with her lightsaber, only to have her attack deflected by Gethzerion's blade. Swatting Sira's blade aside provided the matriarch an opening. Gethzerion backhanded the zabrak with the hilt of her weapon before moving to make a diagonal slash across the now dazed teenager's abdomen.
Gethzerion was fast but thankfully, for Sira's sake, Dooku was faster, even in his advanced age. He intercepted the witch's attack, entering into a saber lock as the two of them pushed against each other. Plagueis motioned at Sira to back up, noticing that she was far too close to Dooku. Where he to need to step back, he would only succeed in crashing into her, therefore opening both of them to her attack. After a moment, Sira understood what she was being told and quickly moved off to the right, positioning herself to attack Gethzerion's now exposed flank.
The inexperienced jedi moved to strike at the clan-mother once more. Gethzerion glanced at the child as she continued her attempt to overpower Dooku. She muttered a short incantation under her breath. Wisps of green energy formed around Gethzerion before shooting toward Sira. Were the girl more experienced, she would have prepared herself to erect a force barrier in order to help her fend off any mystical attacks.
As the dark magicks struck Sira, she found herself paralyzed, unable to move. Gethzerion pushed away from Dooku, then quickly repositioned her blade to her right, deflecting a slash from Plagueis. Faced with a pair of former sith lords, her only options were to either retreat, or to try and use them against each other. She stepped toward the two, striking at Dooku with a trio of strikes before quickly flourishing her lightsaber in Plagueis' direction to fend off an attack before sidestepping to the right. Dooku tried to compensate for her motion, but instead overextended himself, colliding with Plagueis, leaving the two of them open to an attack. Gethzerion's focus on Sira had finally ceased, freeing the young girl from her mystical bonds.
Sira witnessed as Gethzerion moved to strike at the two experienced duelists. She used the force to amplify her speed as she dashed forward between her allies and their foe. She struck Gethzerion's blade with her own, causing the dathomirian witch to backpedal several steps.
Sira lunged forward. She had never been in a real lightsaber duel. The padawan had sparred with her master, other padawans, and even Master Yoda countless times in her training. On some occasions she had even triumphed, and while she possessed some skill, she was far from an expert duelist. Now, she faced her first true opponent. Someone who would end her life without a second thought at her first fatal mistake. As she tried to parry and slash at Gethzerion, Sira realized how horrendously outmatched she was. Sira continued to fight, her fear and anxiety began to eat at her, warning her that all she was doing was delaying the inevitable. It warned that she would make a mistake, and her foe would exploit it. Her fears proved to be true.
Sira slashed low at Gethzerion, only to have her blade intercepted. The matron guided the blade lock above the two of them until it reached the perfect angle. Gethzerion quickly brought the blade down when Sira exposed herself. The witch's blade cut clean through Sira's right forearm. The rush of heat and boiling pain filled Sira's senses as she couldn't help but let out a cry of pain. As Sira's body entered shock, Gethzerion moved to strike once again and end her.
Moments before the killing blow found its mark, Plagueis intercepted it with a broad upward slash. Normally such a strike would be considered a careless motion, but by coming in from the left and deflecting the attack at Gethzerion's offside, it proved to be worthy risk to save the young girl's life.
Gethzerion took a few steps back before pulling out the small vial of Plagueis' blood. Plagueis glared at the small glass tube and a made a crushing motion with his right hand. The vial shattered in Gethzerion's hand, its contents splashing to the floor. Plagueis smirked as his foe snarled at him.
Across the arena, Plagueis could hear Revan call out to him. Dooku stepping forward to meet him, Plagueis locked eyes with his comrade, meanwhile they both kept their blades up in a defensive position. The Count of Serenno understood what Plagueis was asking him and simply nodded at him in acknowledgement. Plagueis, sighing as he backed away, glanced down at Sira as she lay incapacitated on the ground. He outstretched his freehand and it was as though an invisible hand reached out and pulled her saber into his waiting grip before he rushed off to assist Revan.
Dooku shifted his right foot forward. He held his blade out and moved his left arm behind his back. He waited for Gethzerion to strike. Taking a deep breath, he allowed the duelist in himself to take over.
Gethzerion swung her blade with three rapid strikes against Dooku's left side. The elderly combatant held his blade parallel to himself for the first two strikes. As the third attack struck his blade, Dooku pushed his saber against it, knocking his foe's weapon back with a spin of his own blade. He stepped forward, raising his blade before swinging it to the right. He brought the blade down in sudden, circular motion as he struck low at the Nightsister. Gethzerion brought her hilt in close to her chest to block the attack. Following his opponent's deflection, Dooku traced back along his previous path with his blade until his weapon was centered above his opponent and brought it down against her foe. Gethzerion lifted her saber to block her foe. Dooku pushed down on her as he used the Force to try and increase his strength. Gethzerion was forced to step back as Dooku began to loom over her. She took a deep breath and began to push back. Dooku jolted back, once again holding his lightsaber parallel to himself as Gethzerion's sudden motion left her unbalanced.
Dooku stepped forward, batted his blade against Gethzerion's weapon, before sidestepping to his left, bringing blade across his body and holding it low before striking with a diagonal upward slash. He twirled his weapon in his hand once more and struck Gethzerion's lightsaber once again. Dooku held his blade against hers. As he listened to the crackle of energy, he saw his opening. He flicked his wrist to his right. Were it not for his curved his hilt, his blade would have come in at a straighter angle, missing its target by a slim margin.
As the tip of Dooku's blade trailed across Gethzerion's arm, she grunted in pain as she recoiled at Dooku's attack. The master duelist channeled the Force into his offhand before engulfing Gethzerion in Force Lightning. The strike dazed her and Dooku lunged forward. He slashed his blade through Gethzerion's hand, following it almost immediately with a backslash that carved across Gethzerion's torso. Her shrieks of pain ended abruptly with a gasp, and the matriarch slumped to the ground.
Thabeska – Imperial Cruiser Retribution
Agent Milton stood aboard the bridge of the cruiser as he stared at the various displays in front of him. A bead of sweat was forming on his forehead as he was forced to accept the fact that he had lost track of the prisoners. For years he had served the Republic in the Strategic Information Service. When it had been reformed into the Imperial Security Bureau, Milton was thrilled to be transitioned into the program. If he somehow managed to lose not just one or two very high-value prisoners, but five of them; five individuals who could represent a major threat to an Empire still in its infancy.
"Sir, we're receiving a priority transmission from Coruscant." Milton didn't say anything, "Sir?" one of the bridge officers asked again.
"Inform Colonel Yularen that we are currently in the midst of performing pre-hyperspace jump diagnostics and we will contact him once we are en route." He bluffed.
"Sir…" his officer hesitated, "the transmission is not from ISB. It's… it's the Inquisitorius." Some of the color drained from Milton's face as he began to feel his anxiety building in his throat.
"Put it through." The holodisplay in front of him disappeared before the pale blue transparent bust of the Grand Inquisitor entered into focus.
"Agent Milton, am I to understand there have been complications in the Thabeska operation?" the fallen jedi asked.
"There have been minor setbacks, but I assure you, Grand Inquisitor. The situation is being taken care of. The assistance of Delta Squad ensured the subjects' capture," Milton responded.
"Has it, now?" the Utapaun questioned. "Excellent, as Special Operations Command has requested Delta Squad to report to their next assignment. Since we no longer have need of them in this operation, I shall order one of your transport shuttles to ferry them to their rendezvous."
"Of course, Grand Inquisitor," Milton replied with gritted teeth, puffing out his chest.
"Excellent! I look forward to your arrival." The Inquisitor stated with a smile that stretched from ear to ear. Milton didn't say a word, instead he stood there staring into the hologram before the image faded away. He took a deep breath.
"What are you waiting for!? Find me those traitors!" He barked at the top of his lungs.
Niner, Atin and Darman rushed around the corner together, rifles raised as they took the patrolling troopers by surprise. The three commandos each pulled their triggers three times, the laser discharges carried with them a faint reddish glow before finding their marks as three stormtroopers dropped dead. Darman sidestepped to his left before extending his knuckle plated vibroblade with the intention of striking the remaining trooper. Before he could close the distance, Darman's target was suddenly yanked past the commandos by some invisible force. Ahsoka quickly struck the trooper with the electrostaff with a three-strike movement, hitting her opponent on both sides before raising her staff and using a sweeping strike, colliding the end of the staff with his helmet. The trooper let out a pained shout as the glass in his helmet shattered on impact before he slumped to the floor unconscious.
The commandos all paused and glanced at her for a moment.
"What? I can't let the three of you have all the fun," she commented. Atin chuckled beneath his helmet before using the internal comlink.
"I like this one." the tech expert stated. Niner didn't respond, instead he simply motioned for them to follow him further down the corridor. As they crept their way down the corridor, Atin couldn't help but focus on the retrofits that had been made to the ship since the last time he had been aboard one of its class. Everything seemed sleeker and more polished. His train of thought was cut off when they rounded another corner. In front of a large blast door stood a black armored trooper. His helmet seemed to be based on the design of the Clone Airborne troopers. The Imperial Insignia was branded on his left shoulder, and his black armor was adorned with a red accented shoulder pauldron and waist-cape. The trooper focused on Ahsoka and activated his electrostaff.
"The Jedi." He stated, "At last." Ahsoka immediately reached out with the Force and tried to pull the trooper toward him but he immediately slammed his staff on the floor. The friction created some resistance as Ahsoka struggled at first before reaching out with even greater effort. The trooper was finally pulled toward her managing to roll forward while midair and caught Ahsoka off guard by jabbing her with his staff.
The togruta let out a shriek before pushing the trooper forward a few meters. She primed the activation plate on her own staff and immediately began to strike at the Purge trooper's defense. As the staffs collided, it created a surge of electricity between the two.
"Take care of the reactor!" she shouted, "I can handle this." Niner nodded, before motioning at Darman to grab Fi's hover capsule. Atin immediately went to work on slicing the blast door. He pulled the panel away from the control console and yanked a cluster of wires. Sparks and electrical jolts erupted from the panel before he began splicing the different the lines together.
"Was it red to green or red to red, then green?" He muttered to himself.
Darman scoffed, "And he's the tech expert." Atin didn't respond, instead he reconnected the last of wires and smacked the access panel. The door opened with a slow hiss before jamming halfway along it's rails.
Niner shouted for everyone to get inside. Atin immediately dove under the door. As Ahsoka continued to engage the Purge trooper, Darman lowered the repulsor strength on Fi's pod, and pushed him under before following it.
Niner shouted to Ahsoka, then nodded in the direction of the door. She pushed forward against the Jedi hunter before backpedaling with a quick flip. As she cleared the line of sight, Niner fired several blaster bolts at the trooper, his armor absorbed a majority of them, but it did manage to stagger him. Suddenly an idea struck Niner and he mounted his tow cable on his blaster.
He fired the grapple at the Purge trooper and the cable quickly wrapped around the trooper. He followed the others' lead and dove under the door before reeling in the cable. He shouted at Atin to seal the blast door and after a few moments, the Purge Trooper's grunts and protests were cut short as the door crushed him.
"Well, that's one way to kill them I guess," Darman commented.
Niner inserted a fresh powercell, "Get to work wiring those explosives."
Darman nodded and pulled his pack off. He then stretched his last bit of thermal tape along the reactor's control console and pressed several charges into it, before linking them to the detonator.
"Grab the rest of those charges and set them up along the main reactor tower." He ordered Atin.
The tech expert grabbed as many detonators as he could and began placing them along the base of the reactor tower, doing his best to space them as evenly as possible. On Kamino he had received the basic demolitions training that all commandos had undergone. However, he was in no way as much of an expert in explosives as Darman. As he placed each charge, he pressed a pair of buttons on each detonator, priming the charges before pressing the third button to sync it with the other charges.
Dathomir – Star Temple
Plagueis watched as Revan struggled to hold the Emperor in place. He quickly lobbed Sira's lightsaber to the timeless hero. Revan had to break his concentration to catch it, but his reflex was quick enough for him hold the weapon horizontally in front of him, blocking Vitiate's strike once more.
Meanwhile, Revan's saber throw had its desired effect. As the blade whirled through the air, Malak was forced to cease his attack on Serra to deflect the blade. As he was temporarily exposed, Serra leaped into the air. Connecting her heel with Malak's chest, she kicked off of him in order to create more distance. As she hit the ground, she reached out and called her second saber to her hand. Igniting the blade, Serra crossed her sabers, and charged at Malak once more. Only now, she did so with her full skillset.
As Revan and Vitiate engaged in another saber-lock, Plagueis unleased a blast of force energy against the pale-skinned world-eater. Vitiate was sent careening across the arena, being completely unprepared for Plagueis. Revan looked at his ally.
"You will also join me?" Revan asked. Plagueis nodded in response, and in doing so, summoned another entity to fight. The crystal's energy took form once again, synthesizing into a black, wispy cloak engulfing a tall humanoid as a black hooded cowl adorned his head, covered by his white bone mask. His face was cloaked in black, as he spoke in an ancient Sith language that even Plagueis could not understand. Spawned of the Mandalorian Wars at the Battle of Malachor V as a result of Revan's actions, another devourer of worlds now threatened the galaxy. It raised its hand, conjuring a shear of pure dark side energy in its hand.
"Darth Nihilus…" Plagueis said slowly. "As I live and breathe."
Nihilus simply stared at him, as Plagueis reached out in an attempt to gauge his power, all he felt was hunger. The Force entity immediately lashed out, channeling a wisp of dark side energy at Plagueis who held up a hand to intercept it. The dark energy engulfed Plagueis' hand, and he groaned. Capillaries of dark side energy crawled up along his arm embedding into his skin as Plagueis could feel his strength leaving his body.
He gathered his thoughts and focused his powers on his own cells through the pain. Through his power of midichlorian manipulation he banished the dark energy from his body. As the attack dissipated, he slowly felt himself rejuvenating, though it was a slower process than normal. Meanwhile, it felt as though Nihilus had grown stronger. Having studied the Lord of Hunger's history during his own research, Plagueis fully understood what had just happened to him, but he never expected to experience it firsthand.
Plagueis raised his lightsaber and attacked Nihilus. The Sith lord's shear of pure force energy acted as a viable weapon against the lightsaber and the two of them swatted their blades against each other. Both combatants focused on wide, fast sweeping motions, often involving most of their upper body in their swings as they connected blades over and over again.
The Dathomirians in the large crowd watched in awe. Before them, legends battled in three separate duels as the fate of the galaxy hung in the balance. Nihilus and Plagueis exchanged blows, intermingled with blasts of lightning and force energy while Serra and Malak performed a lethal dance in an acrobatic match against each other. Malak's heavy, strong attacks being constantly deflected or batted away by Serra's agile, motion-based form as she used Malak's weight against him. Meanwhile, Revan and Vitiate engaged in a fierce bout, blending force attacks into their lightsaber strikes. Vitiate performed a series of saber hits before performing a pirouette, charging a blast of force energy as he did and launching it toward Revan. His foe conjured a force barrier, absorbing most of the blast. Revan charged his lightsaber with Force lightning and performed a flurry of horizontal strikes, before intentionally holding his blade against Vitiate's. Revan jolted himself forward as the lightning infused blade withdrew its charge, shocking Vitiate as the lightning coursed through his temporary form.
Serra jumped back before Malak could stab her in the chest and gritted her teeth as she pushed him with the Force, hard. Malak nailed himself to the floor with his lightsaber, taking the brunt of the invisible blow but refusing to get flung around like a rag doll. It was a bit hard to tell with his cybernetic mask, but the Clone Wars veteran was pretty sure the Sith Lord was snarling at her in the process.
"You are going to have to try a lot better than that if you want to defeat me, Bastila," He vowed. "I am not wasting the second chance this ritual has granted me."
"Why do you keep calling me that?" She demanded as she raised her lightsabers in the defensive Soresu stance. "That's not my name."
Malak blinked at that statement and tilted his head, seemingly staring at his opponent with more than just his eyes. Then he turned around to look at Revan facing Sith Emperor that dominated them both so long ago and he couldn't stop himself from laughing.
"Seriously, Revan?" He mocked in an amused tone. "I know it has been thousands of years, but did you really have to get a rebound girl that looks so uncannily similar to Bastila? Really, what would the spirit of your wife say?"
Serra's eyes widened at the declaration as her head shook in surprise.
"That's why he stares at me with longing, curiosity and shock every now and then?" She asked herself, stunned, as everything started to sink in. "I look almost exactly like the woman Revan loved enough to marry, despite being a Jedi?"
Her thoughts were reeling so hard that she barely had time to react to Malak trying to take her by surprise with a barrage of Force lightning. The skilled Knight managed to raise her lightsaber in time to block the strike, but her footing was off, and she stumbled a bit. Malak then leered at her and Force jumped his way towards her without breaking the lock until the last moment, determined to slash her with his blade from above.
Serra collapsed under his assault and her back hit the floor as Malak got closer. Tense and in a hurry, she pulled back her lightsaber before Malak could cut her down, her face sweating as she struggled to keep him at bay from such a poor dueling angle. Groaning, her grip tightened further when she sensed the thrill of the hunt emanating from Malak in waves.
"I don't know if you are a very distant descendant of Bastila or if thirty-nine plus centuries was the time that needed to pass before her face was reformed in galactic society but in the end it doesn't matter," The Dark Lord proclaimed. "I WILL claw my way back to the physical realm and getting my revenge on Revan with such a…nostalgic…body will be more poetic than I could have hoped," He said, undoubtedly giving her a metallic smirk by now as his fist started crackling with lightning. "Prepare to die, whoever you are."
Serra glared daggers at her opponent as her free hand clenched. Her gut was now a whirlpool of intense emotions between her desperate desire to survive, her anger at the Sith Lords insulting words, the shocking revelations he was bombarding her with..and finally, she felt upset Revan kept something this huge from her.
"I will not…let you…butcher me!" She screamed as the Force within her erupted outwards, taking Malak completely off-guard when she slammed him back with a potent Force repulse while pushing herself to her feet in the process.
The Dark Lord groaned as his ears buzzed from the concussive blast before he realized he dropped the lightsaber he had claimed. Before he could summon it back to him, however, Serra beat him to the punch, and she ignited it and readied her preferred Jar'kai stance.
"My name is Serra Keto, not Bastila. And you picked the wrong Jedi Knight to fight with dun möch tactics."
Malak's eyes widen, suddenly realizing he was fighting strong Force user from the Teta-Keto royal family. He shook his head as he contemplated Revan' ability to collect useful strays and growled.
"It matters not," He declared as he concentrated storm of Force energy on his hands to prepare an intense counterattack with Force lightning. "I am NOT going back to being a disembodied spirit."
Thabeska Upper Atmosphere - Imperial Cruiser Retribution
Niner and the others huddled together once more. The blast door was the only way into the reactor chamber, and since they had effectively sealed it, they had also effectively locked themselves inside the room.
"Darman, are the charges placed?" the former sergeant asked.
Darman nodded, "The main reactor is wired tight, Sarge. Just give the word."
"Can we wait until we're out of the reactor before blowing it up?" Ahsoka chimed in, a hint of sarcasm in her rhetorical question.
"While we're on that subject, how are we getting out of here? We welded the only door shut." Atin pointed out. Niner smirked at him from behind his helmet before pointing his left hand toward a large access panel on the far end of the reactor chamber.
"The maintenance accessways should still be large enough for all of us to fit through. Even if there's a point that's too tight, we should be able to slip out into the main halls," Niner speculated. At this point he was making the plan up as he went along. Whether the others could tell or not was another question. Either way, it didn't matter much. They would all follow Niner into the storm without hesitation or reservation. Some may say it was out of prideful devotion, others would argue it was foolhardiness.
These commandos would say it was because of absolute trust in each other.
The three able-bodied troopers performed one more short equipment check. Ahsoka meanwhile tried to center herself
"Right," Niner began, "here's the plan. Tano – get that maintenance tunnel open. Dar – when I give the order, blow the reactor. Atin – you're in charge of Fi; anything happens to him then I'm holding you responsible. Clear? Good. Now move out." The sergeant barked. The only response he received was an assortment of nods. Ahsoka immediately rushed to the far side of the reactor chamber and concentrated on her task at hand.
Focusing on her emotions and her base instincts to survive, she reached out with the Force and it was as if an invisible hand began prying the access panel from its place in the wall. The creaking and strain of the metal under stress echoed throughout the reactor chamber as the panel groaned in protest to Ahsoka's action before finally wrenching free of its bolts.
The commandos each filed into the maintenance corridor, Darman took the lead, while Atin pulled Fi in behind him. Niner nodded at Ahsoka to go, then followed in after her. The maintenance hall wreaked of oil and burnt solder. Many of the retrofits appeared to be haphazardly carried out. Darman meanwhile, was focusing on each pace taken as they created distance between themselves and the reactor chamber.
"All clear, Niner." Darman stated. Niner gave him a brisk nod and Darman pulled out the small detonator before pressing down. There was a barely audible *click* and the ship shook so violent it felt as though it was going to break apart in less than a moment. The boom of the explosion reverberated throughout the cruiser. The tunnel went black for a brief moment before the dim red glow of the emergency lighting would kick in.
Once again, Niner pinged the long range comlink. At first there was only static. The seconds ticked by, and the white noise slowly dissipated. Zeego's voice filling the void as Niner could listen to their neimoidian ally muttering to himself into the comlink.
"Shab, Zeego, you speak to your mother like that?" Niner mocked.
"There you are! Finally, I've been trying to reach one of you hours," the pilot responded, a slight flutter in his voice.
"We ran into some old friends, ended up taking a detour."
"Well I hope it was worth it, send me your coordinates and I'll pick you up." Requested Zeego.
"Not that easy, I'm afraid. We're aboard the imperial cruiser."
"You're what? Don't tell me you've all turned pirates and are taking the ship hostage?"
Niner chuckled at that, "No, nothing that fancy. Just making sure to leave our hosts a thank you present. I'm activating my tracking signal, we're making for the escape pods now, just be ready."
"Whatever you have planned, I hope it's nothing too fancy." The comlink cut off. Niner checked the charge count on his rifle before gesturing at Darman to continue moving.
"Move out. We're running a thirty-four pick up."
Atin paused and looked back at him, "Seriously?"
"Niner, we've only every tried that once and it almost ended with us getting left in space while the Nulls made a blind hyperspace jump." Darman interjected
"Well would you rather do that, or storm the main hangar?" Niner demanded.
"Okay I take it back. Thirty-four pick up is a great idea," conceded his brother.
"Anyone care to explain what a thirty-four pickup is?" Ahsoka followed up.
"We bail out in an escape pod, and latch onto the ship as it makes its jump to hyperspace," Niner explained. Ahsoka shrugged, almost as if it was something she was used to.
"Not the craziest plan I've heard." Ahsoka could tell the commandos were somewhat taken aback by her acceptance of the plan, "My master once used AT-TE's to board an enemy cruiser in space."
Darman muttered something that she couldn't quite make out, meanwhile Atin lets out a chuckle and Niner stays silent for a moment before saying its time for them to get moving.
As the group made their way through the cramped maintenance accessways, they were occasionally interrupted by a tremor quaking through the ship as smaller explosions slowly made their way through the cruiser. Over the intercom, everyone could hear the ship's alarm bellowing, accompanied by the call from the bridge to abandon ship. The path to the escape pods was a long one, and they maneuvered along the length of ship as best they could. The tremors continued to rock through the ship, the tunnel slowly began filling with smoke, and Ahsoka could feel the unfiltered air becoming harder and harder to breath. Darman soon reached down and pulled open an access panel, allowing them to drop down to the main level.
Darman began pressing commands on the keypad and the blast door opened. On the other side, two stormtroopers quickly turned around and were met with the commando. Darman drew his blaster pistol quickly and fired at both of them from the hip. The troopers dropped and behind him, Darman could watch Atin struggling to pull Fi down through the access port.
"Fierfek, he's not gonna fit through."
"Take him off the stretcher. Lower him down to me," Darman called out. Atin disengaged the repulsor before heaving Fi out of it. Ahsoka, feeling herself getting a bit lightheaded from the smoke-filled tunnel simply reached out with the Force to lower Fi down through the port. She shouted at Atin to hurry up, and quickly followed him. As she landed, her staff clatters to the floor while Ahsoka dropped to her knees and began coughing. Niner dropped down and gave her a pat on the back.
"I'm fine, I'm fine." Ahsoka assured him, taking a deep breath. It was a little strange, she was used to Rex and Anakin's banter during missions, these commandos however seemed to take their assignments very seriously. Niner motioned at Atin,
"Door controls, hurry." Atin nodded and began working on the door controls to get the pod open. The overhead hatch quickly popped open on the pod, and Niner ordered Darman to pull Fi into the pod, Ahsoka meanwhile does her best to help him.
The far doors opened with a hydraulic whoosh, and a squad of stormtroopers filed in lead by Agent Milton. Niner quickly opened Fire on the troopers, who returned. Atin stepped away from the panel, and narrowly avoided a blaster bolt as the pod control panel was fried by a laser bolt. Darman shouted out for them to get in the pod. Atin stepped back inside, fire bolts at the imperials, and managed to drop one of the stormtroopers. Niner backpedaled into the pod, and keyed the panel for the door to seal, but nothing happened. He swore under his breath before stepping back out into the hallway.
"Niner, what are you doing!?" Atin called out.
"Making sure you make it out of here," He called back. Niner fired another few bolts at the troopers, and tossed his rifle to the ground, he reached up and began trying to manually close the pod. Imperial blaster bolts meanwhile peppered the backside of his armor. Niner could feel the integrity of the thick plating weakening as the heat from the shots began to burn through, heating his skin. He finally began closing the panel shut as a bolt pierced through a weak point in his armor, and Niner felt more pain than he had ever experienced in his life as he shouted. Adrenaline rushed through his body.
"Dammit, I'm not losing you again Niner!" Atin called back as he tried to fire blaster bolts past him.
Ahsoka finally broke through the daze that the smoke had left her in and acted as quick as she could. She reached out with the Force, and it was as if an invisible man tackled Niner and threw him back into the escape pod. That same gust of power slammed the panel shut behind him, and the escape pod launched into the vacuum in space. Atin, pulling Niner toward him can feel his brother's labored breathing before checking the wound in his back.
"How is he, Atin'la?" Darman demanded, he voice shaky and the words breaking as he spoke.
"He-he… he should be fine." Atin took a deep breath. "Only one shot pierced him, he's had worse." Darman nodded let out a sigh of relief before they were all met with a loud thud. Looking out the viewport, they watched as the stars streaked bye after a moment, and they were thrust into hyperspace as the Ebon Hawk latched itself to the pod.
Niner, through labored breath, muttered to his brothers, "Told you… it would w-work."
Dathomir – Star Temple
Plagueis flinched as Nihilus tried to drain him again but the Munn managed to urge his own midichlorians to compensate by rapidly accelerating his body's internal cellular reproduction. Still, the former Sith Master started to feign exhaustion as he collapsed to one knee, luring the Lord of Hunger into a false sense of security as he approached. Once he was closed enough, the Munn gritted his teeth and fired the most intense barrage of Force lightning he had produced in years, hitting the ancient Dark Lord at point blank range and sending him flying to the outer edge of the arena.
At that moment, Plagueis felt a chill down his spine and turned his head to watch Vitiate give him a calculating look that read him with more than just eyes. The Munn couldn't stop himself from swallowing, wondering for a moment if this was how his Sith rival, Venamis, had felt whenever he had stared at him with cold, scientific eyes that would make a Kaminoan cloner shiver.
The moment faded when Revan forced the former emperor to focus on the Prodigal Knight again but the elderly Sith shook his head, legitimately fearful for the first time since Sidious almost killed him.
"None of this is working," He mentally realized. "I can't keep up that trick for long because Nihilus can drain me faster than I can manipulate my midichlorians to resist, Revan may have a chance to defeat Vitiate in this rematch but that doesn't change the fact his opponent is a world devourer as well and for all her training, Malak has a lot more experience fighting lightsaber duels to the death than Keto. And if we are forced to call upon Dooku for aid, we may get another powerful enemy that could finish turning the tide in their favor."
Plagueis' mind raced, trying to come up with a solution as the Lord of Hunger started to rise from the ground. Then his eyes widened as his gaze shifted from one planet killer to another and a crazy plan started to form in his century-spanning head. He sighed roughly and realized he didn't have any better ideas.
"Revan," He called through telepathic focus/ "I have a plan, but it will take a couple of minutes to implement it. I need you and Serra to keep them busy in the meantime. Do not call Dooku if you can help it."
Revan took a deep breath and nodded in his direction. Then he opened himself to both sides of the Force once more and gripped as many boulders in the vicinity as he could sense, which turned out to be a lot. He spun them around the arena, forcing everyone else to tense and pause in their duels so they could observe the numerous tons of granite gathering around their heads at rapid speeds. Soon, Serra got the gist of it and Force dashed out of the way, just in time for her ally to smashed them all above his opponents while he shattered them further with a powerful blast of Force lightning.
The echoes made flesh tried to scatter but countless pellets inevitably hit them all, leaving large bruises on the bodies of Vitiate and Malak despite their force shields, while Nihilus robes were shot full of holes.
As they moved to solidify their stance, the face of a cyborg glared at his old friend turned worst enemy.
"Stepping in to rescue the stray that makes you nostalgic, Revan?" Malak growled. "No matter, you won't prevent my return."
The former Sith Lord could feel Serra's inquisitive gaze on him but for the moment, he had to concentrate on his old enemies.
"And then what, Malak?" He demanded. "You won't be the only one to come back with a vengeance if my side loses and we both know you stand no chance against the Sith Emperor that overpowered us both, especially with a walking Wound in the Force eating everything in sight as well."
He shook his half-metallic face. "I will have an opportunity," He insisted. "That's better than the alternative."
Revan paused at that, wondering not for the first time if Dark siders who have committed heinous crimes end up becoming one with a…less pleasant level of the Force. But he had no time to contemplate that further when another blast of lightning from Vitiate headed in his direction.
He prepared to block it but then Serra got intercepted with her lightsabers in an X position, grunting as she tried to ward off the intense attack. Revan's eyes widened in alarm, but before he could try to assist her, he saw that the lost heir had deliberately removed one lightsaber from the line of fire so that she could move it a few inches further before blocking the lightning again. Through that method, she moved her other blade with the same direction, enabling her to physically move through the major attack from a being much more powerful than herself a lot easier than she would have otherwise. And with a groan, she repeated the moves, switching between sabers to move ever closer to so-called Immortal Emperor.
Revan's concern didn't stop there but he started feeling more than a little proud of Serra for doing her best to hold her own against his deadliest foe. More to the point, he could tell even Vitiate was feeling mildly curious, so the Prodigal Knight suspected no one had ever tried such a technique to counteract his extreme barrages of Force-lightning before.
So, taking a deep breath and hoping Plagueis would hurry, he ran towards Malak, with Nihilus fast approaching. His old friend fired his own concentrated storm of Force energy but Revan refused to budge by detonating a concussive blast with a Force repulse, redirecting the lightning elsewhere and injuring Malak as he was slammed with a boulder that remained standing atop the arena. He started gasping in pain but Nihilus stood up from one knee soon enough and uttered words Revan couldn't understand before seeking to consume the Force within him.
The man that had been described as the Heart of the Force clenched his fists, pain erupting within him as the monstrous entity he unwittingly created so long ago tried his hardest to devour his essence. Starting to feel desperation catching up to him, Revan blasted him with a dual Force attack that combined his push with lightning. Nihilus took the full brunt of the strike and the former Sith Lord could feel the pression loosening but, the living Wound in the Force shook his mask and tried to regain his grip on such a delicious meal.
Revan coughed, starting to feel exhausted and in his peripheral vision, he noticed that Vitiate decided to stop humoring the dual wielding knight before him and pushed her away with a wave of his hand. Serra cried out as she hit the floor, rolling through the arena and getting additional injuries.
The former Dark Lord could feel his anger boiling, refusing to entertain the possibility that these monsters would return from the grave on his watch. He was preparing an expansive wave of Force-lightning to push through Nihilus oppressive Force drain when, abruptly, he could feel the lock of the Lord of Hunger snapping around him.
Confused, Revan solidified his footing and felt Vitiate's anger double. Then he noticed that the mask of the walking wound in the Force had turned in the direction of the Immortal Emperor and it hit him.
"What in the galaxy did you do!?" Revan asked the approaching Munn, impressed.
The elderly Sith Master smirked. "I have researched the Lord of Hunger many times before in the Sith Archives and while some statements contradicted each other, it was abundantly clear he preferred to consume the most enormous source of Force energy whenever possible. So, I simply decided to use my abilities to manipulate midichlorians in conjunction with my more limited forms of Force draining on the trees and insects in the area to give the already mighty Vitiate a power boost. And now it seems the Lord of Hunger decided to follow his instincts and eat his fellow world devourer, ritual requirements be damned."
Revan chuckled at that. "Talk about turning the power the Sith Emperor coveted into his worst enemy. Very well then. Let's finish this!"
The founder of the Reconstituted Sith Empire – once known as Tenebrae – gritted his teeth. He had been so close to regaining his foothold upon the physical realm just a few moments ago before this interruption. True, Revan was capable of harnessing immense power. He wouldn't have been able to come as far as he did and resist him for three centuries if that wasn't the case. However, Vitiate had already defeated him twice and he believed mere mortals had a saying about three times being the charm or something. But then, the first publicly known world devourer had succumbed to his base instincts like a ravenous beast instead of consuming that peculiar Muun with haste. Such a waste.
But, despite the fact he could actually feel his power ebbing away, he stood firm as Darth Nihilus rapidly pushed through his concentrated lightning lock.
"Enough!" He roared as he poured as much of his enormous Force energy as he could muster into a single, devastating attack. "You think yourself a hungry god just because you have devoured planets before?"
Nihilus didn't replied in his utterly alien voice, his form twitching under Vitiate's relentless onslaught.
"Perish the thought," The former Emperor said in disgust as he redoubled his efforts. "You are nothing but a lone Sith, bloated with power by an accident of fate. You are nothing compared to me. NOTHING!"
And with that, the huge shell of Force lightning that had been building up erupted and a gigantic explosion of Force energy shook the stone dais.
For a long moment the Dathomirians in the audience wondered if the fighting was over while the dust clouded their visions but soon enough they saw the challenger in front of his allies, with his arms raised in a protective measure while the cyborg Sith Lord laid physically stunned on the floor, barely conscious but still in the fight.
And there, near the border of the platform, they observed a certain world devourer's mask, broken in half - its wielder nowhere in sight.
Sira gasped at the massive blast and moved her arm to cover her hand reflexively. Then the young Zabrak realized she couldn't anymore and fought the urge to tear up.
Ever since they saved Rell from the Nightsister Matriarch, she has been tended to by a couple of Dathomirian women from the Singing Mountain Clan that specialized in their version of Force healing, but she was still shocked and saddened over losing her arm and in one of her first serious duels at that. Dooku sighed when she thought aloud and said at least this should be a lesson for her to train much harder in the years to come.
Sira winced at that but didn't disagree as she glanced at the former head of the Confederate Senate. Ever since their duel with Gethzerion, he had stood nearby as they watched the ritual combat unfold, in case he needed to guard her from the remaining Nightsisters but she had her doubts, as they had been looking quite subdued since their leader was killed and would be vastly outnumbered if they tried anything with the healers treating her. Still, it was strangely comforting to have him around.
The young padawan lost her trail of thought, however, when the dust stopped obscuring her vision and she processed everything she was watching.
"They are still okay," She said in relief. "Revan probably erected a major barrier with the Force to protect his team."
Dooku nodded slowly. "And the Lord of Hunger is out. I suppose that is one less world devourer to worry about."
The Zabrak felt a chill down her spine.
"And we are left to deal with the one that came out on top," She realized with dread. "Just how powerful is Revan's old foe?"
"Extremely," Dooku sentenced. "Although, I am not entirely sure he completely took out Nihilus through his powers. The next to mindless Sith had ignored one of the rules of the Trial of the Grasses when he choose to go after his own side instead of the ones that could pave way for his return. Maybe Vitiate's attack just finished banishing him off from whence he came."
"Well, he does look more tired from all that effort…" Sira replied slowly. "Let's hope it's enough."
Coruscant – Temple Ruins
Barriss slipped out of the maintenance pipelines. When she could finally see the Temple ruins, she let out an audible gasp of shock. The structure was mostly intact, but the courtyard was littered with debris and carbon scoring. The towers all remained standing. Soot covered much of them while she could see most all of the surface damage done to the outer walls.
It had been nearly a year since she had seen the temple last. While she still held to her virtue that the Order had fallen from grace, seeing her once lifelong home in ruins still wracked her heart with grief. The Jedi had lived in the Temple for over a thousand generations, now as she approached, where she had once felt a nexus of power, Barriss now felt only emptiness, pain and suffering; an echo of the ghosts of dead jedi.
Her footsteps were nearly silent as she primed the blaster pistol. She drew her focus back into the moment as a squad of imperial troops jogged toward the temple with their blasters raised. Rounding the corner behind them, she could see their quarry.
Madam Jocasta laid in a crumpled mess on the cement. Vader loomed over the group standing in a temple crater above. He deactivated his blade and turned away, trusting his imperial troops to secure Jocasta. Barriss raised her blaster pistol and fired wildly at each of the troopers, trusting in the Force to assist her aim. Three of the soldiers dropped to the ground, the fourth scrambled to his right as the blaster bold grazed his soldier. Barriss reached out and threw him against the temple wall through the Force. Immediately, a chill went down her spine and she cursed at herself. She ran over to the librarian and rolled her over. The historian groaned before slowly sitting up and looking up into Barriss' fibermesh mask.
"You need to come with me," Barriss declared. "He is hunting us." The voice scrambler in the mask concealed her identity, but the young Mirialan knew that if she telegraphed her presence in the Force more than she already had that Jocasta would undoubtedly hone in on who she was.
"Who are you?" Jocasta questioned.
"Someone who wants to make sure that never falls into Vader's hands," she nodded at the holocron clutched in Jocasta's hands. She helped Jocasta stand, "but we need to hurry. He's coming. I have a small ship waiting in the industrial yards if we can get to it." Jocasta stood defiant at first, but she knew that she stood no chance of defeating Vader. Escape was her only chance, and if all else failed, she would destroy the holocron rather than let it fall into Palpatine's clutches.
Barriss guided Jocasta through the stairs, heading to the nearby platform. It was visibly empty of vehicles, true, but her cloaked vessel wouldn't show up on their scopes anyway. Hurrying quickly, the two of them reached the platform and not wasting any time, the Mirialan pressed the button to send the wireless signal to lower the ramp.
They were barely half a dozen steps away when they heard an unmistakable mechanical breath coupled with her senses screaming danger. Barriss almost didn't have enough time to jump before a red blade flew towards them cut off Madam Jocasta's legs at the knee.
The elderly woman screamed in agony and subsequently passed out from the shock. The Mirialan turned back and swallowed. The dark lord looked incredibly intimidating in that dark armor.
"Offee," the Dark Lord said, his voice cold and lethal. "You thought you could hide from me with that mask?"
Barriss grimaced at that and readied her right hand for her contingency plan.
"The Republic may have executed you painlessly at one point," The tall cyborg noted as he pulled his lightsaber back. "But the Republic is dead now and so is mercy."
And with that the fallen hero marched on a warpath.
When Vader was so dangerously close Barriss was sure she wouldn't miss, the focused Mirialan sent a wave of green Force-lightning at his cybernetic legs, catching him completely off-guard.
The Dark Lord said nothing, but he was clearly in pain as the blast of electricity jumped along his metallic suit, seriously injuring him and damaging his life support. But Barriss didn't want to push her luck and give him enough time to tap into his rage against her for an energy boost so, the Mirialan finished it off with the strongest Force push she could do in such short notice and turned around in a flash, taking off towards the cloaked ship's ramp. After verifying with her senses that Jocasta was at death's door, she grimaced and pulled the Holocron she tried so hard to guard from her soon to be cold dead hands. Then she entered the ship quickly and turned on the engines.
Barriss barely had enough time lift her ship a few meters before she couldn't force it to advance anymore. The former Jedi paled when she sensed what was happening.
"No, no, no!" She panicked, as she felt the mighty Dark Lord use the Force to grip her entire ship tight, refusing to let it budge an inch.
Desperately, she checked the defense systems of the ship but the turrets wouldn't be able to aim backward, her eyes widened in fear. She started to feel the walls buckle under the invisible pressure and the Mirialan placed a hand over her mouth, unable to come up with a solution despite making it this far.
Which is why she was incredibly surprised when she felt the Force explode.
Barriss let out a heavy gasp, never in her life feeling a disturbance in the Force so powerful. It felt like the Force was reeling from the effects of a nuke…no, a cataclysmic supernova. Then her eyes widened in disbelief when she realized Vader's grip on the ship loosened considerably, which meant he was even more blindsided by the cosmic disturbance than she was. Shaking her head but refusing to waste any more time lest her window of opportunity closed, she punched the accelerator and took off from the temple ruins faster than the Dark Lord could react.
As her invisible ship approached the chaotic space battle, Barriss set up the light speed coordinates almost automatically as her thoughts keep reeling.
"Revan," She said in wonder, "what in the universe are you doing on Dathomir?"
Dathomir – Star Temple
Revan panted at the effort from shielding his side with the Force from such an explosive wave. But he noticed to his satisfaction that even his ancient enemy looked winded at the immense effort it took him to defeat Nihilus. Still, he lifted his pale blue face and saw his ruthless determination mixed with naked contempt as he lifted himself from one knee.
"Revan," He said, spitting his name like a foul curse. "If you think you actually have a chance to defeat me this time, then you are still nothing but a blind insect, contemplating the void of space."
"Is that so?" The Prodigal Knight replied as he placed his lightsaber on his belt and focused on centering himself through the entirety of the Force.
Vitiate snarled and, with a sweeping gesture, flung Serra and Plagueis out of the platform like rag dolls, their groans resonating to the Dathomirians closed by.
"You could conjure legions of Jedi and Sith," The world devourer said with seething rage, "and an arsenal of Wounds in the Force but you would still fall short. My ascendancy is inevitable! Nothing shall stop me," He declared, his form sparkling with lightning all around it.
Revan stared down at the greatest evil he had ever faced and took a deep breath, psyching himself for the moment he has been waiting for all those centuries during his captivity inside the Maelstrom Prison.
But then, as he opened himself to both sides of the Force again, he could have sworn that, this time, he heard an echo of Kreia's voice once more.
"Be one with the currents…"
His eyes widened, the former Sith Lord remembering how he properly begun the trial under his old master's guidance he still felt both currents of Force energy. Even though he saw Gethzerion fall from the corner of his eye. The process already started by then and it was flowing through the central stone. Maybe…
Revan hesitated, then sighed as he knelt on the center of the stone dais; not only opening himself to both sides of the Force, but to the twin currents of light and dark energy emanating from this Force-strong planet and beyond, remembering that Vitiate called it a world between worlds. Then, as he felt them war within himself at this nexus of the Cosmic Force, the time displaced man, ancient in more ways than one, suddenly felt a heavy weight in his lonely heart.
"Be with me," He whispered as he choked up.
Then, like an answer to prayers, Revan's eyes widened because he actually felt the presence of his old friend's echoing through the Force. And as he focused, he sensed them calling to him on his hour of need across time and space.
"I told you I would follow you anywhere," Canderous Ordo declared from the beyond. "Never forget it."
"Stand your ground, soldier!" Carth Onasi demanded with mirth in his tone. "Admiral's orders."
"Big Z and I will stick by you." Mission Vao stated in a cheery tone. "Right?"
"Wrrhw huurh!" Zaalbar grunted in agreement across the realms.
"Revan, let me pay my debt to you," Juhani requested. "Channel my strength and rise through the Force."
"Love itself will save you, Revan… not condemn you," Jolee Bindo said softly. "Rise alongside it."
"You were like the heart of the Force," Kreia uttered in a neutral tone. "Here is your chance to show me good can come out of something like that."
"Revan, we stand with you," His exiled friend promised. "Always."
"I love you, Revan, with all my heart," Bastila said simply, making him tear up. "But I have waited a long time for you, and I can wait a little longer. Do what you need to do and enjoy your second chance."
And with that, the Master of Balance rose to his feet, an aura of grey energy surrounding his body.
Gasps resonated across the crowd, but he paid them no mind. He only had eyes for his ancient foe, who tensed visibly at the new sight of him.
"Former Sith Emperor," Revan called out, "you have threatened this galaxy for the last time."
Vitiate unleashed a powerful storm of lighting in his direction but his enemy swatted it aside with a single gesture, much to his shock. Then, Revan gripped him tightly through the Force and pulled him towards him, no matter how hard the pale blue Sith tried to resist. When he was just one foot from him, he blasted him with a Force scream in an attempt to paralyze him, but Revan resisted and, to his ever-growing disbelief, pushed him to his knees.
"I am the Immortal Emperor!" He yelled. "You cannot defeat me."
Revan stared down at the Sith Lord that had caused so much pain and death across the millenia and his hardened resolve, sent a shiver to Vitiate's spine for the first time in ages.
"Sooner or later, death was always going to catch up with you," He replied with conviction.
The Sith Emperor was silent for a moment, as if contemplating the gravity of the situation and still not believing it.
"Before I graced you with my presence you were nothing but an impure Jedi, hounding me without knowing what you were up against," The Dark Lord proclaimed. "I put you on the path that has led you to this moment. Without me…you are nothing."
Revan's aura of grey burned brighter at that statement, making the restrained ancient recoil.
"Wrong again, Vitiate," He declared. "It is you who needed me for centuries. Now you are alone in every way and nothing can save you from the fate you deserve."
And at long last, Revan finally recognized fear in his enemy's eyes.
"Remember me…when your New Jedi Order burns to ash!" He screamed.
With immense effort, Vitiate moved to charge another lightning barrage which the Master of Balance blocked with one hand. Reaching out, Revan pulled Vitiate into the waiting grip of his other hand as he channeled a torrent of lightning directly into the emperor's skull. Gasps rattled Vitiate's lungs as his body overloaded with lightning and his arms spasmed and fell lifelessly to his sides before a final explosion rocked the dais.
When the dust settled the Immortal Emperor was gone. Forever.
As Revan composed himself, he looked around the arena in time for Malak to rise to his feet once more. His former apprentice and closest friend stared him in the eyes.
"And so it ends as it began… with a master, and an apprentice." Malak declared as he ignited his saber. Revan drew his own in turn, taking his customary stance of Form III – Soresu. Revan watched Malak shift his feet, smirking under his breath. Revan proceeded to switch to the stance of Form IV – Ataru. The two combatants stood there for what felt like an eternity, slowly circling in the ring.
They were friends. They were war heroes. They were master and student. But most of all, they were brothers. Their decision to interfere in the Mandalorian Wars was a catalyst that altered the course of history. It culminated in this moment.
Finally, Malak kicked off his left foot and charged at Revan. Malak raised his saber high and brought it down on Revan's blade. Revan parried the strike, then batted his blade against Malak's. One strike, two strike, three. He saw his opening and slashed his saber across Malak's torso.
Malak gasped, and simply stood there. Both men extinguished their sabers, and Malak collapsed into Revan's arms.
"It seems the destiny truly is yours… Revan. Not mine…"
"I'm so sorry, Malak. For everything."
"I alone… must accept responsibility for my fate." Malak mustered echoing Revan's words to him millennia ago. In that moment, Malak disappeared in his arms. The ritual was complete. Revan looked down to the center of the stone dais, as the Force nexus dissipated, feeling as though a massive weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
"Thank you, old friends," he whispered. "May the Force be with you all."
Coruscant – Temple Ruins
Lord Vader was at his most angered since his dark rebirth. He had one of the most treacherous Jedi of them all on his sights and she still managed to elude him, with the Holocron in tow, no less.
Yet, he felt something else in almost equal measures: cautious curiosity. That disturbance in the Force was enormous indeed. He hadn't felt something on that scale since…the Jedi was on Mortis.
His thoughts were interrupted by his personal holo-communicator beeping and he had no doubt who it was that wanted to speak with him right now. Vader's mechanical breath got heavier in the brief pause before he pressed the button and the hologram of Darth Sidious filled the screen.
Master and Apprentice were silent for a long moment as they stared at each other. Then, the Emperor's yellow gaze shone through the holo.
"There has been a great disturbance."
Vader nodded. "And unfortunately, it was such a blindsiding disturbance that my prey has escaped."
Under normal circumstances, Sidious would have growled at the mention of failure. But for once, his mind was on other matters.
"Return to my quarters at once, Lord Vader." He commanded. "The magnitude of this disturbance should not be underestimated. We shall see if there is still time to extract answers from the Force."
Vader buried his frustration under the sound of his mechanical breath but bowed in response. "As you wish my Master."
On the other side the hologram, Sidious closed the channel and clasped his hands behind his back as he stared beyond the windows of his Imperial Palace.
"Something is rising," The Emperor whispered. "Something…powerful."
AN: Well, that was an eventful chapter. Took awhile to write, but, it was a long one. Hope you all enjoyed the penultimate chapter of Act 2. Going forward, we will be entering into a short Interlude, and then we begin Act 3! Now, normally I don't respond to reviews through the author note, but this is different as the user posted through a guest account. Guest Viewer Isa, I read what you had to say about the story so far, and I just wanted to ask that you please make an account for the site, that way I can PM you. I'd be happy to hear any such contributions you have in mind. This offer is of course open to all readers as well. Until next time!