Anakin watched as the clone troopers continued to prepare for what was sure to be a devastating attack. The tremor in the force he had felt when he had woken up had gotten worse. Ventress was coming back and he was sure she would bring an even bigger force with her than the one they had defeated to win the planet. He ran a hand through his hair and thought of Padme and he wondered what his wife was doing at this moment in time and wished he was with her instead of being here.
"You okay Master?" Ahsoka's concerned voice broke through his thoughts and he turned to face his Padawan. "Just wondering what kind of fight we have ahead of us Snips," Anakin answered, doing his best to look upbeat. "If the council can't get any real help to us in time, we may be done for," he stated.
"I'm sure it'll come in time Master. We've survived this long against worse odds," Ahsoka shot back with a little defiance in her voice. "Those tin cans are scrap," she said with confidence.
Anakin admired her strength of will and defiant nature, it was one of the reasons he had agreed to be her Master. She was very much like him in many ways. For the three years they had been together now and it had only increased their similarities. Of course they had both gotten into trouble due to their rebellious natures, but they always came through to win the day, well most of the time.
"You're right Ahsoka, we'll hold and help will arrive and we will push those tin cans all the way off the planet for good," Anakin told her finally with a cocky smirk. "Now let's see about sending some scouts out to where Ventress's base was. My guess is she will land back there before coming for us," he added as he turned and headed off to find Rex.
"Good idea Skyguy," Ahsoka agreed.
(Venator Class Star Destroyer-Black Star)
Revan stood on the bridge of the Star Destroyer as they traveled through hyperspace towards Praesitlyn, Bastila was in her quarters sleeping while Tarin and Canderous were somewhere below. Only four of them, plus HK-47, had been allowed to come on this mission. He knew the council was testing them, but this mission was important. If they failed most likely the chosen one and his forces would be annihilated. His mind drifted to the council meeting and he recalled what had happened there.
(Jedi Temple, Council Chamber)
Revan entered the council chamber alongside his friends again and was wondering what the council wanted. He had sensed a slight tremor from the force, but it had not felt like a warning. No something else was going on here, something important.
"Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan Ahsoka Tano and their forces are in need of help. They captured the planet of Praesitlyn from the droid army, but we suspect a bigger force is already closing in on them as we speak," Agen Kolar informed them. "We need to send them reinforcements and we would like you to lead this mission Revan," he added.
To say he was surprised was an understatement, he had expected to be kept here for quite a while arguing over the nature of his reasons for being here. He especially had expected them to take up Windu's wariness of him and his past, no matter what the force ghosts of Nomi and Ulic had told them.
"While some of us are unsure about granting you command of our clone troopers and investing you with the title of High General of the army we know you to be an experienced leader in time of war," Kit Fitso added. "We also know you can take a smaller force and mold it into a far more deadly force than it would be normally. We want you to take what reinforcements we have managed to scrape together and go to Praesitlyn and help secure the planet," he explained.
"Only four of you may go," Mace cut in before they could reply. "I have managed to convince the council it is wise not to send all of you, until you prove you are on our side no matter what you have said or shown us and no matter what the force ghosts said," he added. "So choose who will go with you," he told Revan, his eyes locked on the other man's.
Revan wasn't surprised by the fact it had been Mace who had argued to at least split them up. In the end it was a wise move and he would have done the same had he been in Windu's place. He noted Bastila was annoyed with the man's continued suspicion of them, glancing at the others he noted a few of them, especially Canderous and Carth were feeling the same.
"Very well, I accept the mission," he finally replied. "I will take Canderous, Bastila and Tarin with me and I will also take my droid HK-47," he added. "All three are hereby promoted to the rank of general. They have far more experience in war than many of your Jedi and they know how best to use the forces under their command, plus Bastila can use the rare force power of battle meditation," he explained, when he noted the unsure looks the council exchanged at his first order as High General. "While we are away I would suggest you begin to try and prepare and make plans to stop what we have told you is to come," he suggested.
"Agreed it is," Yoda responded with a slow nod of his head. "May the force be with you," he added.
"I don't like the sound of this Revan, splitting us up?" Carth said, as the group formed a circle just outside the council chambers.
"I agree. We should stick together," Mission said in agreement with Carth and with a frown on her face. She didn't want to go into another war, but she did not want to be left behind either. Zaalbar let out a roar of agreement from beside her.
"Still it isn't like we have much choice," Jolee reminded them. "They want to keep some of us here until Revan and Tarin have proven they are no threat and it is those two the council is worried about," he stated.
"Yes thanks to that narrow minded idiot Alak and his lies," Revan growled. He had filled in the others on what he had found out from the archives and none of them were happy to hear they had been painted as evil followers of the Dark Lord Revan.
"Stupid old man letting his fears cloud his judgment," Bastila muttered. "Taking his revenge on us by exiling our daughter, I spit on his grave," she continued to vent.
"Easy Bastila," Visas said, placing what she hoped was a calming hand on her shoulder. "Don't let your anger at Alak overwhelm you. We need you focused on what is ahead. Alak, I'm sure has paid the price of his actions when he was judged by the force," she told her.
"Agreed, now we must prepare for battle," Tarin spoke up. "They want us to rescue the chosen one and his friends and in this we can't fail if we shall have any hope of preventing the future we have foreseen coming to pass," he told them, glancing at each of them.
"Tarin is correct, we must prepare, those of you who remain here must ensure the council starts preparing for the fight ahead and makes plans to smoke out the Sith Lord behind all this," Revan spoke up.
Kit Fitso exited the chambers and joined them. "I will show you the way to your ships and troops who are already ready and waiting to depart," he told them. "The weapons you brought with you are already waiting in your chambers, so we will head there first," he informed them.
"Good, we will need them," Canderous responded with a grim smile. "Those weapons have seen a lot of action and kept us alive through many battles," he told the Nautolan Jedi.
"I take it we will not need our ship?" Tarin inquired as they headed through the docking platforms after they had picked up their weapons.
"No, three star destroyers have been readied for your trip with all the troops we could muster," Kit Fitso answered "Sadly your force is less than a complete battle company, at the most we scraped together two thousand clones," he explained. "Probably less than that," he added with a sad shake of his head. "We have taken many casualties in Clones and Jedi and we are stretched thin," he went on.
"We understand, we will make do with the troops we have," Revan assured him. "It won't be the first time we have gone against superior odds," he told Fitso. "Bastila's battle meditation will give us an edge and let us hope your chosen one and his friends can hold out until we reach them," he stated.
"I am sure they can hold. Master Kenobi and Skywalker have a habit of beating the odds," Kit Fitso responded with a brief smile. "Skywalker's Padawan seems to be picking up the same ability. Together they make a great team and their clones are very loyal to them," he added. "Which makes what you told us all the more hard to believe, that they would turn on us at a prearranged order in their minds we never knew about," he mused with a shake of his head. "We have to find a way to ensure that order never will be given, but until we know who the Sith Lord is we can't do that," he stated with a little frustration in his voice.
"We'll find him. The key to him is Skywalker," Revan told him. "I'm certain he knows who the Sith Lord is, even if he is unaware that is who the person truly is," he explained at Fitso's surprised look. "With what we tell him I hope he will be able to pin point the person who is the Sith Lord," he stated with some belief.
"I hope so," Kit Fitso responded as they came to a stop in front of a huge star cruiser which they had called a star destroyer. "This is your ship the Black Star," he informed them. "This is clone commander Trax, he will be your ground commander and the captain of the ship, Captain Hunt," he introduced them to the two men standing at the ramp way. "Gentlemen this is High General Revan, he will be in charge of the mission," he finished.
"Welcome aboard General, we are ready to depart immediately," Captain Hunt said snapping to attention.
"Excellent Captain, we will board in a minute," Revan responded. "Commander Trax we will meet to discuss strategy on route," he added.
"Yes General," Trax responded before he turned and boarded the ship with Hunt behind him, unsure what to make of his new General.
Revan and his friends said their goodbyes to those staying behind before they turned and entered the ship. This was their first true step towards completing their mission. They could not afford to fail. Mission and the others watched as the ship began to lift off and heeded into the sky.
(Venator Class Star Destroyer-Black Star)
Revan shook his head and cleared his mind of those memories before he turned and headed for the command centre. He entered to find Canderous and Trax talking strategy over the 3D map of Praesitlyn. Both went quite as he joined them and began to go over the reports the council had given them. They detailed how Kenobi and Skywalker's forces stood at the present time as well as the planet's layout.
Time was against them as their forces had been depleted almost to the breaking point. If they got hit by a big enough force, then Skywalker and Kenobi could be beaten and maybe killed.
"Lt, tell the captain to push the ships as hard as they can go," he ordered as he turned to a nearby officer. "We have to reach Praesitlyn as quickly as possible if we are to have any chance of rescuing our people there and off securing the planet," he explained.
"Yes General," the Lt responded and quickly headed back to the bridge to deliver the new order.
"We're going to have to be able to deploy our forces quickly as soon as we come out of hyperspace," Revan told them as he continued to look over the data.
"What about the enemy fleet that will be in orbit, General?" Trax inquired.
"I'm hoping some of the ships Skywalker and Kenobi had with them are still active and can join us in our attack, but we will be launching our ground forces at the same time," Revan answered. "I know it is risky, but we can't afford to wait to secure the planet's atmosphere," he stated. "Of course getting our tanks and cannons down will be even harder, but I'm sure it can be done. Trax summon the troops to the hangar in an hour, I will address them there," he ordered.
"Yes General," Trax nodded before he turned and exited the room, still wondering what to make of the man who now commanded his men.
He clearly was willing to take some risks and didn't seem to have the same kind of patience he had seen from other Jedi. He wanted to get into the thick of the fighting. He could respect that, but he was unsure of the plan to launch their ground troops while a full scale space battle was going on. They would take heavy casualties if their fighters failed to keep the enemy off their backs, still he seemed concerned about the troops already on Praesitlyn and wanted to be there to help push back the oncoming attack. Maybe this Revan was just what they needed. Moving on he hoped they were in time to help Rex, Cody and their other clone brothers.
(Grievous's Command Ship)
Ventress stood at the back of the command deck as Grievous watched the republic fleet retreating from the planet. They had destroyed one of the star destroyers and nearly crippled another before they had pulled out. She smiled a dark smile, imagining all the dead clones. They were like bugs milling around to her. Had their previous missions to take out the planet of Kamino where the clones were created successful, this war would already be over, but somehow the republic kept coming out on top and pushing them back much to her displeasure.
"Hahahah," Grievous's insane laugh broke her out of her thoughts and she focused on the cyborg General. "Look at those scum run. They are no match for my forces," he postured.
"We had more ships," she couldn't help but point out. "They had no chance of stopping us," she stated which make Grievous spin to face her with a glare.
"Silence assassin, remember we are only here to clear up your mess in losing to Jedi scum and their clone forces down below," Grievous countered in anger. "Had you done your job, this planet would already be ours and we would deploy somewhere more important," he growled.
Ventress glared at the reminder of her loss to Kenobi and Skywalker. It irked her greatly. She remained silent hoping for another chance to gut Skywalker and his little Padawan. She'd leave Kenobi to Grievous unless of course she saw a chance to kill him as well.
"Launch our ground forces immediately," Grievous ordered as he finally took his eyes off Ventress. "All ships are to maintain a blockade around the planet and keep any republic ships away," he continued. "Well assassin, let us go and clean up your mess," he said as he spun around and passed Ventress as he headed for the hangar, which made Ventress glare at his back and her hand touched the handle of one of her lightsabers before she regained control.
Anakin looked up from the map he was looking at as Rex ran up to him with Cody right behind. He got a bad feeling Ventress had indeed returned and as they suspected with a much larger force than she had before. He glanced to his side where Obi-Wan was meditating. His Master quickly opened his eyes and stood up to listen to their report.
"Our scouts report that a large droid army is beginning to land, General," Cody reported to Obi-Wan. "They also report that they have quite a few heavy cannons and tanks with them. Far more than we can hope to match," he added.
"So far they've seen no sign of who is leading this force, but it's fair to say its Ventress," Rex picked up from where Cody had left off. "But we both agree it that it is possible she has another Separatist commander with her," he suggested after a brief look at Cody.
"Agreed Captain," Obi-Wan responded after a brief silence. "It is doubtful that Dooku would give Ventress command of such a large force after suffering such a defeat as we just gave her," he mused, rubbing his chin in thought.
"What are you thinking Master?" Anakin inquired. "Let me ask you Anakin, who would Dooku turn to, to defeat us after Ventress was beaten?" Obi-Wan shot back with a question.
"Grievous," Anakin answered. "It has to be Grievous. Rex, tell our scouts to pull out and get back here," he ordered.
"Right away General," Rex nodded and quickly radioed in the order to the scouts.
"Cody, have our tanks and heavy cannons move back and prepare to fire an all out barrage as soon as the enemy is in sight," Obi-Wan ordered. "And tell the men to get ready for an assault," he added.
"Yes sir," Cody said with a nod and quickly took off to carry out his orders.
"What's wrong Masters?" Ahsoka's voice made them all turn to face Anakin's Padawan. "They're here Ahsoka and we think Grievous is leading them," Anakin answered her. "This fight won't be easy," he stated with a shake of his head.
"Let's hope our reinforcements can reach us in time," Obi-Wan said. "Take your positions and may the force be with you all," he ordered before they split up.
(Venator Class Star Destroyer Black Star)
Revan stood in the hangar and was watching as the clones filed in one after another. He wondered if the order to kill all Jedi they had been programmed with could be stopped. They were the most dangerous element of this whole thing. Whoever controlled them had the upper hand. He glanced to his left where Tarin, Bastila and Canderous stood. Finally the Hangar was full, taking a deep breath he stepped forward.
"My name is High General Revan, beside me are the Generals Bastila, Tarin and Canderous, we will be leading you into the battle ahead," Revan began by introducing his group to the men, knowing his message was relayed to the other two ships as well. "We are on our way to Praesitlyn to rescue your clone brothers and their Jedi commanders. We are going to secure the planet and destroy the droid army they are facing," he continued. "We will do so as a combined force. We will do so together, as not one of us will stay behind the line and watch," he told them. "Your lives are not to be wasted just because some people believe you to be just as expendable as droids. We don't believe that. You have just as much a right to live as they do, you matter," he stated.
A large cheer went up from the clones for a few minutes before they went quiet again. They always liked it when their commanders actually seemed to care for them.
"General Bastila will begin the battle at the back of the line so that she can utilize her battle meditation, which will boost our morale, stamina and battle prowess. This will aid us against a superior force. General Canderous will take a force to hit the flank of the enemy, while Tarin and myself will lead the rest of the force straight into the enemy. Our goal is to reach our comrades and push the enemy back," Revan told them. "We will be executing a risky deployment as soon as we exit hyperspace over the planet. A space battle will ignite at this time and we will launch all ground forces during this battle, defended by our fighters. However we have to reach our trapped friends as fast as we can," he explained. "Are there any questions?" he inquired.
No one of the clones spoke and just watched the General who nodded his head at them. "Very well then you are dismissed and finish your preparations," Revan ordered before he turned away as the clones broke up.
"Nice speech," Bastila said with a smile. "I knew you had a way of building up your troops, but I've never seen it first hand," she added.
"What do you think our chances are?" Tarin inquired, as HK-47 came out of the shadows to join them.
"Good, depending on how well we get to the planet surface," Revan answered "HK, I have mission for you," he added turning to his droid.
"Statement: At last Master I was beginning to fear I'd never kill again," HK-47 responded.
"As soon as we drop out of hyperspace take a fighter and head for the planet's surface. Find the enemy base and destroy it," Revan ordered. "Cause as much damage as you can, kill anyone who attempts to stop you and then head to the battle and join us," he added.
"Statement: That sounds like a wonderful plan Master, I feel a tingly sensation just at the thought of so much destruction and death," HK-47 shot back. "Statement: I will prepare myself for the mission," he added before he turned and left the hangar.
"Well at least one of us seems to be excited about the battle ahead," Tarin said, breaking the silence that fell with the blood thirsty droid's departure.
"Speak for yourself, the battle ahead will be glorious," Canderous shot back, before he too turned and exited the hangar.
"It's best we all prepare for the fight ahead," Bastila said before anyone else could speak. "We will meet again before we exit hyperspace," she added, before she took Revan's hand and led him from the hangar.
Tarin watched them go and wished Visas was with them before he shook his head and headed for his own quarters to prepare. The battle wouldn't be easy, but it had to be done.