Master Alya Levine trailed the Imperial squad, moving as far behind them as she could to avoid detection. Her senses were augmented by the Force so that she could be aware of her opponents at all times. The four soldiers and their commander – a tall figure in a red armour piece – moved along the streets of the desolate town. Two soldiers closely accompanied their leader and the other two moved more freely – checking the side alleys and buildings along their way. The Twi’lek Jedi sensed something strange about the head of the squad. She could not sense him as well as the rest of his team mates – his aura was obscured. “No doubt he has had at least a small level of training in the Force” she thought to herself.
Even for a single moment he did not lower his mental guard – the Jedi started to fear that he might be even able to sense her at the same time she had tried to sense him. She felt a feeling of discomfort, a presence inside her head, now probing her mind and aura. She started shivering; her breath became more rapid as she tried to push the feeling out of her mind. “Conquer the fear,” she thought. “There is no emotion; there is peace,” she repeated the Jedi mantra inside her head. “There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.” Her breathing slowed down and she stood her ground, trying to gather her balance again. “There is no passion, there is serenity,” she continued. For a moment she let her paranoia get the best of her. She swept her forehead and tightened her lekku belts. She noticed the Imperials were out of her sight. She reached through the force, trying to sense the enemy, but the haunting feeling came back again. “There is no chaos, there is harmony.” An immense feeling of danger came over her. She grabbed the handle of her lightsaber, and moved back with rapid paces. “There is no Death…” She did not get to finish the sentence in her mind as the Force suddenly surged through her. With augmented strength she instinctively jumped unnaturally high. A blast from a grenade hurled at her had caught her in mid air and launched her backwards. Using the Force she cushioned the fall with a force field that engulfed her, but was nevertheless thrown prone to the ground.
Two imperial soldiers rushed towards her, firing a hail of blaster bolts at the grounded Jedi. She tried to ignite her lightsaber to deflect them, but realized that it had landed several meters away from her. She rolled on the ground to avoid the shots and as soon as she got the opportunity she back-flipped and landed on her feet. Using the Force she augmented her speed; sprinted and launched a leap attack, meanwhile reaching through the Force to call her lightsaber back into her grasp. She ignited the blade and landed between the two soldiers, caught off-guard by the Jedi’s unanticipated attack. The soldiers however reacted with much more composure than the ones they had encountered before – they immediately jumped away from her, just fast enough to avoid her wild slash. They quickly discarded their blasters and drew their vibroblades, while at the same time activating their personal energy shields. A bright purple force field surrounded the soldiers, and when the Jedi tried to land another slash across one of them her lightsaber instantly bounced off, repelled by the force fields magnetic charge. The two soldiers again launched an offence against the Jedi – one of them sought to thrust his blade straight into her abdomen, while the other carefully moved to flank her. She parried the thrust with such intensity that the blade flew out of the Imperial’s grip. She waved her hand straight at the disarmed soldier and pushed him back just in time to turn and parry an overhead slash from his companion. The two blades collided and their owners pressed them even harder, trying to break the enemy’s hold of their weapon. She suddenly disengaged from the struggle and with a gracious move, almost like if she were dancing, spun around her axis and behind her opponent, grabbed him tightly around his neck and pressed her lightsaber against his chest. As the two grappled, another stream of bolts headed towards the engaged warriors – the other soldier was lying on the ground and firing a blaster rifle one of them had previously discarded. Several blaster shots were reflected by the personal shield belonging to the helpless Imperial caught in the Jedi’s clutches, but as soon as the shield’s power was depleted the remaining shots found their way into the body of the soldier. She threw his lifeless body to the ground and deflected the rest of the shots with her lightsaber. A flood of anger raged through her – how could anyone shoot at their helpless team-mate? How could they sacrifice a life just to defeat a single opponent? Her rage took over her, and she deflected the rest of the shots back at their source. Some of them were deflected by his personal shield, however once the purple field had dissipated the remainder rained across the Imperial’s armour. He discarded his rifle and raised his hands to surrender, but the rage had broken the Jedi Master’s emotional serenity – with her hand she reached at the soldier, who immediately started choking, grabbing his neck with one hand and hitting himself on the chest with the other. He fell to his knees and discarded his helmet, revealing a young adolescent, no older than 19 years – his face pale, bent with pain and his eyes wide as though they were going to explode. She released her grip, fell to her knees and grabbed her head as hard as she could. The boy collapsed on the floor almost instantly. She covered her face with her hands, ashamed that the Dark Side had almost entirely consumed her. She went over to feel the young man’s pulse. “Still alive,” she thought. She carried him away from the street into one of the side alleys, and laid him against a garbage disposal.
“Well, well…” a distorted, amplified voice filled the air. “Not bad. For a Jedi.” The red armoured figure appeared on one of the rooftops. Two grey armoured Imperials were by his sides, guns at the ready. “What is a Jedi doing here, so far away from Coruscant? Don’t you have some teaching and preaching to do?”
“My matters are my own, Imperial,” the Twi’lek responded.
“My, my…Such attitude, from a Jedi. And a slave no less.” His tone became far more serious. “But you see, now that you are on Imperial territory, it concerns me as well. Why are you here? And where is the rest of your squad? Surely the Republic had not become that arrogant as to send a Jedi against an entire Imperial world alone?”
“I travel alone.” the Jedi replied, trying to maintain a tranquil tone. However her face gave away her anger. She’d instinctively grabbed the handle of her lightsaber, her palms sweated by its heat.
“Then I promise you an unmarked grave, Jedi!” The imperial shouted and jumped off the three story building, flying straight towards the Jedi. Master Alya reacted instinctively, and swung her hand towards the falling commander – who in turn was launched in another direction, flying into a building, collapsing a worn-out wall on his way. At the same time the Imperials started shooting at the Jedi Master. She did not have enough time to ignite her blade and was left completely exposed. Several of the shots were blocked by her chestplate, however two shots hit her left arm and one shot hit her thigh. She screamed in pain as the bolts scorched her flesh, leaving a burning mark on her robes and her skin. She pulled one of the soldiers from the top of the building with a wave of her right hand, and with the lightsaber in her left hand tried to deflect the bolts of the other one. The pain in her hand made it impossible to do so – and so a few other shots found a way through the swirling blade – luckily absorbed by the Jedi’s light armour. She rushed towards the building to hide in the blind spot. She screamed in pain that the wound in her leg caused her. She checked the wound and saw that it had barely scratched her, and it was not as deep as she felt it might have been. She waited patiently for a minute, and when she spotted the soldier leaning over the edge of the rooftop she focused on his gun – with a wave of her hand the gun flew out of the man’s arms and fell to the ground, causing a small explosion. The soldier, now barehanded, retreated.
Alya leaned against the wall to gain a few moments of composure. She reached through the Force to soothe her wounds and stop them from bleeding. She closed her eyes and tried to focus her thoughts, but the adrenaline from the combat kept distracting her. She could not still the avalanche of emotions rushing through her. Seeing how she cannot enter the Jedi healing trance, she took a small syringe from her utility belt – a mixture of sedatives and reagents to help the blood clog the wounds faster. In an instant she felt relief – the wounds still pained her, but much less now. She snapped out of this peace when she sensed danger – someone was been near. And in that instant she saw the commander, his armour tattered and his helmet removed. He walked towards the Jedi – his eyes reflecting his hate. He had equipped a dual-bladed vibrosword, its jagged inner edges gave it an intimidating, savage look. The man himself seemed barbaric enough – his long brown beard with a few flecks of grey covered most of his scarred face. His wild dreadlocks were decorated with animal teeth and bones and he had numerous piercings on his ears, eyebrows and nose.
“Jedi!” he shouted, his voice equally terrifying without being modified by his helmet. “Enough games! Prepare to die!”
He instantly charged towards her, holding his blade like a spear – aimed at the Jedi’s heart. She parried it, but Dash’er quickly grabbed hold of his sword’s handle with his left hand and swung the other side of the blade at the Jedi. She managed to parry that blow as well, though it almost cut off one of her lekku. He swung both sides of the blade at her with amazing speed and coordination – she deflected some attacks with her blade and dodged the others. As she ducked to evade a slash aimed at her throat Dash’er kicked her in the face with his iron-enforced boot. The blow knocked the Jedi on the ground, her sight blurring for a moment. He tried to thrust the blade into his grounded opponent, but she rolled away and kicked his knees as hard as she could – knocking the man to the ground beside her. She used his confusion to mount on top of him, shoving her elbow in his chest. However, the man was much stronger than the Jedi; he used his feet to launch her overhead. He grabbed the Jedi and rolled her on her back, smashing her head against the duracrete. He stood up, grabbed her lekku and threw her five meters into a building wall. The ferocious man charged towards her again, this time swinging his blade overhead. The Jedi extended her trembling arm and beckoned her lightsaber just in time to defend from Dash’er’s almost lethal blow. She gathered the remainder of her strength to launch an offensive against the Imperial – grabbing the blade with both hands she delivered a few reckless blows, all of which were easily dodged by her opponent. She waved her arm, trying to Force Push her opponent, but at the same moment he extended his arm as well, deflecting the bolt of Force aimed towards him. “You are not the only one who can use the Force, slave!” He plunged his hand directly at the Jedi, making her fly back and smash into the building again. She could barely see her opponent, her whole body failing her. She tried to reach through the Force to heal herself, to augment her speed, to call for help – but all in vain. She was too exhausted to gather her focus. The light in her eyes fading, she could only see her opponent coming closer, his blade ready to taste her blood. She was terrified, but there was nothing she could do. She closed her eyes and prepared for what was to come soon enough.
Mag Gath paced towards the eastern part of the town – where his Jedi commander had gone to follow a team of Imperial scouts. He was relived to have traded his heavy, powered armour for an Imperial one – significantly lighter. “I wonder why they don’t make them like this in the Republic” he said to himself. “Huh…Must have never thought of that. When was an armour-maker ever in the field to know the difference anyways.” Gath enjoyed talking to himself, whether alone or in public – he felt like he was the only person who truly understood him. He’d removed the Imperial helmet due to the large crack in its visor, which made it almost impossible for him to see anything. “Huh…Wonder how I didn’t miss the last bunch of them with that thing on. Oh, c’mon Jedi. Where the heck are you?” No sight of her anywhere. “Well, she’s a Jedi. She can take care of herself.” He observed the damaged houses along the street – some were bombarded, others demolished and some just plain empty. Like something had sucked the life out of this entire city. It was quiet. Awfully quiet. Quiet enough to hear the sounds of blaster bolts and a lightsaber igniting further away. “This is not good, Gath,” he said as he started sprinting towards the sounds of battle. Even though his heart started pounding so hard that he could actually hear it, the sounds of battle echoed in his ears as well. He heard the lightsaber swinging, the blaster rifle fire – which after a few moments seized – and the lightsaber again, making a loud, echoing sound as if it were swung. He arrived in time to see Master Levine lying against a building and a tall, hulking figure in a red Imperial armour. The man held a huge, two-sided blade – which was just about to make its way inside the defenceless Jedi Master’s torso. Gath sprinted towards the attacker even faster, and when he was just several meters away from him jumped towards the Imperial with all his strength. He swept him off his feet and the two landed on the ground, Gath with a slight advantage of surprise. Before the Imperial commander was even able to react, he was lying on the dusty ground, pinned down by a massive Zabrak. The two giants rolled on the floor for dominance, each one using his every limb to try and throw off the enemy. Gath hurled his enormous fists at Dash’er, but the Imperial somehow blocked both of the soldier’s attacks. His hands thrown off balance, he thrust his head into his enemy, the Zabrak’s horns leaving a deep wound on Dash’er’s forehead.
“Son of a…” the Imperial cursed aloud. “You’ll pay for this!” He reached for a small pouch on his utility belt and drew a dagger, slightly curved and toothed, resembling the man’s primary weapon. He slashed it at the Zabrak, and each time it was deflected by the Imperial armour he wore at the time. “What the…I must remember to get one of these!” Gath said aloud, and tried to disarm his opponent. The Zabrak was suddenly lifted from the ground by an unseen force. Seconds later he realised that there had been another Imperial nearby, who now held him tightly in his grasp. Dash’er stood up and wiped the blood from his forehead. He started first punching the Republic soldier, and then shoved his dagger into the enemy’s side, where no plating covered him. Gath screamed in agony as the blade went deeper and deeper into his flesh.
“I don’t understand how we never conquered your pathetic Republic. You are pathetic. All of you!” Dash’er thrust the blade deeper into Gath, his face filled with sadistic joy. “Your Republic is a glass giant. Your Senate is corrupt, your leaders are a bunch of cowards without resolve, hiding behind the Jedi’s skirts. Sooner or later all of you will bow down to the Emperor.” He spat in Gath’s face. “This I promise you!”
Dash’er’s rhetoric was abruptly interrupted by the sound of a lightsaber igniting – Alya gathered the last of her composure to use the Force and tend to her wounds while the Imperial commander was engaged in his monologue. Every bone in her body still hurt, her eyes were bloodied and her muscles barely held her on her feet – but she would not surrender her life without a final fight. She charged the trooper holding Gath, Force pulled him towards herself and impaled him on the run. The soldier’s lifeless body slid to the ground. Gath fell to the ground, bending in pain. Dash’er and Master Levine stood face to face again.
“You don’t give up easily, do you?” Dash’er insisted.
“There is no death…there is the Force!” Alya gave him a cold, unwavering look. The two charged each other at the same time. Dash’er growled something in a language Alya did not understand. She kept her resolve, fixing her eyes on the raving opponent. Dash’er’s blade and Alya’s lightsaber collided with a tremendous blow. Master Levine Force pushed her opponent just enough to gain a gap in his guard, which she exploited and cut the commander’s shoulder. The armour took most of the blow, but the energy blade still reached his flesh. He screamed in anger, and ducked, trying to strike at the Jedi’s legs. She saw through his intention and swiftly jumped over him, landing on the his back; knocking him to the ground. She jumped off and tried to thrust her lightsaber into his back, but he quickly rolled to the side, evading the fatal blow.
Dash’er rose quickly but Master Levine was ready for him – she augmented her speed, launching a lightsaber offensive Dash’er could barely match. He parried several of her blows, but not swiftly enough to evade the blade running across his armour several times, eventually reaching his skin. He growled again, tried to switch to offence himself, but was not nearly a match for the Force fuelled Jedi Master. She danced around him, relying on her speed to match his brutish strength – a tactic that proved fruitful. Dash’er could barely keep up with the Jedi, who attacked him from the back, from the sides, ducked, jumped, back-flipped. She tried to stay behind him at all times, so that he could not stop her deadly dance; and indeed, the Imperial commander was defenceless against the much faster opponent. She slashed across his armour and his legs, leaving many burning lines along the red armour.
In a moment of recklessness Dash’er caught the Jedi by her hand, finally putting a stop to her whirlwind combat. He knocked the lightsaber out of her hand; it rolled away and shut down due to its fail-safe trigger. He grabbed her thin neck and with intense hate in his eyes started crushing it with all his strength. Once again he had the upper hand on the Jedi. She tried to kick him, but he dodged her futile attempts of breaking his hold. Stopping her attack made her lose her control over the Force, and the pain the commander had previously inflicted her came back, amplified by the exhaustion she felt after her Force powered attack. Just when she was about to give in to the Force for sure, the blue energy blade emerged from Dash’er’s chest. Gath was thrusting the blade further and further into Dash’er’s back. Barely standing and bleeding, Gath used the last ounce of strength to flank the unaware opponent. He swirled the blade, making sure that Dash’er would not recover from this attack as well, and when the commander finally slithered to the ground he drew the blade out and switched it off.
“Are you all right?” he asked the Jedi. “Can you walk?”
“I’ll be fine. How about yourself? You seem pretty beaten up as well,” she replied.
“I’ve been worse,” he smiled, first time since they departed together.
“And the others?” Alya asked.
“They’ve got the ship. I’ve contacted them, they should be here as we speak.”
Ten standard minutes had passed before they finally saw the hijacked Imperial ship, flying low on the horizon. Master Levine had tended her wounds using the Force, while Gath was a bit more brutal – he used the warm barrel of his blaster pistol to melt the wound in his side, to prevent it from bleeding any further. They’d both patched themselves with the little bandage they had. Master Levine was checking the remaining Imperial troopers when the ship had arrived. All of them were dead, except for Dash’er. Although his would was fatal, he’d not yet passed away. As Alya approached him to try and heal his wound his eyes snapped open.
“Kill me, Jedi. Give me an honourable death!” he begged, his voice silent. She wanted to. She’d been thinking about it the whole time; he could endanger her and her allies. He could contact his superiors, let them know that there is a Jedi and a Republic squadron on the planet. He deserved to die. “No!” she said aloud, the thought escaping her mind. That was not the Jedi way. He is defenceless. Jedi do not kill. Jedi are peacekeepers, not murderers.
“I will do no such thing. Come with us, I promise you a fair treatment.”
“In captivity? I would rather rot here for eternity!” he replied heatedly with the last ounce of strength he had left in him.
“Then I will leave you to it,” Alya said and turned her back on him.
“It will be your undoing,” she caught his murderous glance again. “Curse you, Jedi. And curse your Republic,” he said before fainting again.
Ranger landed the ship so that Alya and Gath could climb aboard. Rhya was in the passenger chamber, tending to the unconscious Duros engineer’s wound.
“What happened?” Master Levine asked, her eyes filled with concern.
“He’d been shot. He’s bleeding internally, and I don’t know if I can save him. Not without the proper equipment.” Rhya was on the verge of bursting into tears.
“What now?” Gath interrupted.
“Well, we still have a mission to finish. We’ve all been heavily wounded, and we have no way off this planet. We’ll have to find a place to lay low for a while, before continuing or contacting the Republic for assistance,” Alya replied. “Whatever happens, May the Force be with us.”