Note: This has been written for some time and since I posted the Kamino Challenge I've been wanting to put it up to give people an idea of what I meant. It's basically a set up for future stories using the characters I've brought together, a series I guess. It's full of cliches, it's a rehash of canon at the beginning, but with the timeline changed due to Xander's involvement. And to top the whole thing off, it's a Xander put into Satele Shan's body, so that means a sort of-gender change. It's not a freaky sex thing. I just wanted him suitably powerful when the time comes to do battle. This story is finished and awaiting a squeal if there is any interest. So let me know afterward if you are interested in anymore, if you want. Otherwise it's be a standalone.
Disclaimer: Owned by Disney and whoever owns Buffy at this point. I don't have a clue.
"I might not defeat you, but in time, there will be others…"
13:5:28 GrS (22 BBY) The Jundland Wastes, Tatooine
The third time was the charm as the last piece of the holocron fastened in place and began emitting a soft golden glow. Normally, I’m not a big fan of yellow or its various shades; however, the color had significance. Jedi Sentinels, for the most part, possessed yellow-bladed lightsabers, and one of their most famous sentinels was the one responsible for bringing me into this world – or I suppose I should say, this galaxy. When a person can travel from one side to the other in a span of hours or days he or she has to think in larger terms.
My rebirth was significant in a number of ways. By rebirth I mean that my essence, or my soul if you will, was pulled out of my dying body on Earth and brought to the world of Kamino where I was inserted into a clone body. That may not seem like such a big deal considering where I come from, but for this galaxy it’s quite the dark ritual only performed by the most evil people. But given the right set of circumstances, the light side can do it as well.
Almost two weeks have gone by since I was first pulled out of that embryonic growth tank the people on Kamino use to semi-rapidly grow bits of blood, flesh, and bone into an actual living being. They didn’t go much past three times the normal growth rate, because genetic disorders tend to pop up if you go any faster and nobody needs a psychopathic killing machine running around the galaxy. There are more than enough hanging around as it is.“There was no request for any physical or mental improvements. While this is not unheard of it is rare that a customer does not change something: better hearing, better sight, denser muscles for improved strength.”
The really tall Kaminoan appeared curious more than anything while I slipped on my leggings. Modesty at by that point was a joke, since they were the ones that had been watching over this body since the project began.
“Is my ship ready?” I asked in an attempt to change the direction of the conversation.
“The upgrades have been completed and it was delivered last week. It is fueled and ready,” she said and then she turned it right back around on me. “If I may inquire as to how you achieved an intellect? We were informed to leave you in the incubation tube until you achieve sixteen standard years and then to release you without even the most basic training.”
By the time she quit yammering I’d finished putting on the tight-fitting combat attire. Olive-brown with gold trimmings really wasn’t my style back on Earth. The armored thigh boots were next. It seemed a little bit of overkill, but I had a roll to fill and this was the outfit that gave it credence.
“You can ask, but it won’t do you any good. You won’t be able to replicate it.”
The Kaminoan frowned slightly. “If you wouldn’t mind – my superiors are quite diligent about record-keeping.”
I really thought wearing thigh boots would be restricting, especially at the knees, but the material was strong and very pliable; the boot portion was a little stiff though. They still hadn’t been broken in properly. Normally, I’m not a clothes horse, but considering this was all new to me consider this my way of accepting my current situation.
“Okay. A Force ghost visited me and asked if I wouldn’t mind inhabiting a cloned body of an ancient ancestor in order to help bring balance to the Force. After we talked for a while and she explained things I said yes. Then she took me out of my original body and brought me here and put me in this one.”
That seemed to shut her up.
I just smiled, fastened my armband, slid on my gloves and forearm guards. “These are made of beskar, right?”
She seemed a little distracted, but nodded absentmindedly. “Your shin, boot, and forearm guards are all made from the finest Mandalorian-durasteel alloy as requested. Your combat duty clothing includes a lightweight cortosis weave as well; all according to the specifications provided by Jedi Master Fay.”
“Excellent,” I commented.
If I was going to be pulled into a war then I was going to have the best protection I could under the circumstances. It wasn’t like I could have a Death Star built for me or anything, but allowances were made as long as they were within Jedi operating standards. Satele told me that Fay was kind of picky about that.
“Whoa,” I said to nobody in particular since I’d been alone once I’d arrived on Tatooine.
I stared at the holocron and finally realized how it went about its business, at least this one’s business anyway. Some of them are just simple journals or places to store vast amounts of data in whatever form you choose. This one seemed to want the whole HD experience and recorded my first memories of this galaxy.
Deactivating the holocron I looked the thing over and made sure it wasn’t going to come apart at the seams. It was my first one after all. Jedi normally go for the whole square looking shapes. They’re very anti-pyramid shapes, since that’s the shape that Sith use in their holocrons. Me? I chose a pentagonal trapezohedron, and yes I had to look that up. It was the shape of a ten-sided die only bigger. The whole thing almost fit in the palm of my hand. I’m not a big thinker – or at least I didn’t used to be.
As you might have noticed I put together a very complicated interactive storage device, a task that most Knights have problems accomplishing. That isn’t my doing. Most of the time I’m a doer while other people think and point. While I generally hack, slash, and put my face in the way of other people’s fists. That all came to a screeching halt when Satele hung out in this body while it was growing and basically implanted her memories so I could use them.
The option was given to me to be dropped into a four year old’s body and grow up amongst the Jedi, but seriously. Me, in a four year old girl’s body – yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. Last I looked I was a thirty-seven year old man. I could deal with being female if it meant I didn’t have to die before I hit forty. The idea gave me a serious amount of pause; there was much pausing done. Being surrounded by beautiful aggressive women for the majority of your life does strange things to one’s brain.
I knew every single thing that had to do with womanhood except experiencing it personally. It’s hard not to when after living together in the same castle for a while, they sync up their periods. Imagine, a couple dozen super strong women all cramping at once and being the only man around.
Anyway, I digress.
It was Fay I was talking about before; a Master Jedi that rarely, if ever, uses a lightsaber during the course of her duties. In order to pass her Trials I’m sure she was required to build one and learn how to use it, but her reputation precedes her. She doesn’t use one because she doesn’t need one. That’s more power and control than ninety-nine percent of her peers have. She’s the one that Satele contacted to set this whole thing up on this side of things.
The girl has major connections. Once Satele and I came to an agreement we had to work out the details. I wasn’t just going to be dropped into this world to fend for myself. The basics were needed, clothing, defense, and a ship so that I could accomplish what I needed without having to expose myself and where I came from. Nobody would believe me anyway. I could do the whole, “I know everything about you and can tell you who the Emperor is,” thing, but then I’d have to follow their orders and be a monk.
I’d much rather swoop in and save the day, and then disappear leaving only a silver bullet in my wake… or maybe a silver lightsaber hilt. No, that’s a lot of silver and I have no idea where to get a hold of any. I’ll think about it. In the meantime I had things to do after sitting on my laurels for almost two weeks. You know the sad part? After merging my memories with Satele, I actually know what sitting on my laurels means
. I didn’t before, and I was relatively pleased with my existence not knowing.
There’s something to be said for being undereducated.
Slipping the holocron into my utility belt pouch I cleaned up the workbench and set off to the command deck. During my time spent on Tatooine I realized just how much of a shithole it is. Why in the world did a system need two suns? I thought the deserts of North America were bad. Pfft!
Setting the navcomputer on a course to Geonosis, I left the surface of the big honking desert planet, hopefully never to return. I needed the dark, seedy lifestyle of a hunter, something I was well familiar with. I definitely couldn’t find that there.
Once I hit hyperspace I set the controls on auto and resumed my practice with the Force.
The body I wound up in was a clone of a sixteen year old Satele Shan. This is what the Force does to Jedi. It gives them visions of storing all the things that a cloner needs to do their job into stasis for 3400 years, give or take a few decades, and then boots them out of the collective to finish the job they started.
Being sixteen with the mind of a Jedi Grand Master directing your moves is a little frustrating. I knew what I needed to do, and for the most part I was good at what I did, but I simply didn’t have the stamina to do the hardcore stuff. I don’t know if using the Force is like toning a muscle or making a bigger battery, or opening the fuel line progressively wider as time goes by. I really don’t think they even know. There was one thing I did know, practice and you’ll get stronger. Make of that what you will.
Another thing that I know is once you accept that the Force is there and will be right alongside you the whole way then life is much easier controlling its presence. It didn’t take me long. I knew it existed, just like magic. I just had to get over the whole being surprised when things actually worked for me.
Geonosis isn’t all that far from Tatooine. It’s even in the same sector, just a different system. So, a couple of minutes of practice and I was already leaving hyperspace. I still hadn’t gotten used to leaving myself open to the Force. Something has to be said about leaving your destiny open to an all-encompassing power of the universe. With that said I stretched out my feelings and my fingers slid across the controls of their own volition banking the ship and cutting in the atmospheric controls.
They also powered up the solar ionization cannons and the proton torpedoes. I’d only get a few shots with the former since they were seriously power hungry, but they were also effective.
“Looks like I arrived just in time for the party.”
Skimming low across the plains I entered the valleys and had to just let my fingers do the walking. I’d never be able to do this without the Force making each little correction a millisecond before the wings of the ship clipped the mountainsides.
Feeling the large presence of Force users dead ahead I tipped the head of the ship up and over the cliff face, banked to the right and let loose with four ionization cannon bursts at the grouping of aliens and an old Jedi Master looking over an area of droids and Jedi doing battle. The side of the mountain exploded raining debris over a kilometer, at least.
Banking again my target was the lower level of the mountain where droid soldiers were pouring out of the foundry, cutting off access and hopefully bringing more damage to them. Jedi were taking advantage of my distracting and mowing down the remaining droids. Releasing the ramp of the ship I cruised low in front of the girl in the white outfit and the Jedi guarding her as I sent out a call with the Force.
The stupid droids below were shooting at my baby and carbon scorching the bottom. It’ll take forever to buff all of that out!
Instead of two, three people boarded, and I lifted off again closing the ramp behind before making another strafing run. It was starting to get messy down there and I wouldn’t be able to take any clear shots soon enough. Switching to laser cannons I blasted the larger droids along the south wall that was starting to make a dent into the Jedi line just as troop carriers started coming over the rise.
The cavalry was here and I had to make tracks, because I knew my original shots didn’t hit their ultimate mark. Of course I had a little company to take care of as well which were making themselves known behind me.
I blinked when I saw a Rutian Twi’lek take the second seat and review the controls.
“Your timing is impeccable,” she said.
I looked behind me and saw that Padmé and Anakin were safely aboard. Anakin took one look at me and his eyes widened. “You! You’re the one…”
Holding up a finger I stopped him. “Later. Dooku is making a break for it. Come here and stand beside me, Anakin. I have things to tell you and we don’t have much time.”
Looking to the side I said, “Aayla Secura, I’m guessing?”
“At your service.”
I sighed. This wasn’t happening like it should; and that’s the price you pay for screwing with the timeline. “Look, Dooku is heading to his ship, but we’ll be there before he gets a chance to leave. Ah, there he is.”
I strafed the area around him with cannon fire and managed to get his two guards, but not him. He managed to dodge well enough to avoid even getting dirty from the debris. Ex-Council members, what are you gonna do?
“Anakin, don’t rush into a one on one battle with him. You’re not good enough and he has decades of experience on you. Wait for Aayla and me. Do you understand?”
The massive amount of adrenaline coursing through his veins was obvious. He wanted payback for Dooku’s endangering Padmé. That much was also obvious.
Sensing someone about to fire on us I pulled the ship up and looped around blasting the attacker with the ionization cannons and watching it explode into a flaming mass. I looped around again and kept up pursuit of Dooku, never letting up for a single second with the laser cannons.
“Who are you?” Padmé almost demanded.
“You’re a Jedi,” Anakin concluded. “But you’re younger than I am, and I don’t recognize you.”
“Pay attention, Anakin,” I snapped. “Yoda is on his way, but we have to stall long enough for him to get here. Stay on the defensive and I’ll keep him distracted long enough to… dammit!”
I had to bank at the last second to avoid more fire from behind. Where the hell were these ships coming from? Before I had the chance to take aggressive maneuvers it exploded. Apparently, we had allies back there as well.
“Excellent! Obi-Wan is following. We might not need Yoda after all. Okay, change in plans. All-out assault on Dooku. We have the manpower now. Padmé, I need you to take the ship while the rest of us bail. Can you handle it?”
“Yes,” she responded immediately.
“Fine. After we jump just turn it around, land on the pad and block access so he can’t take off. Don’t drop the defector shields and don’t interfere with the battle no matter what. Dooku knows how to use Force lightning. Alright, take it.”
I slid out while Padmé took the controls.
“See that opening in the mountainside; that’s where we’re going. Get us within fifty meters.”
As the three of us were running down to the ramp I pointed at Anakin. “The three of us, together, right?”
He frowned at me and I stopped long enough to push him onto the side of the bulkhead. “If you screw with me, I will kick your ass. Together, right
“Right,” he grumbled.
Giving him a swift nod I hit the ramp control on my wristlink and watched as Aayla was giving me a measuring look. Great.
When we felt the ship start to slow, we took the hint and rushed down the ramp, all of us jumping at the exact same second with an enhanced Force leap. I actually had to duck a little or I would have slammed my head into the top of the landing pad. I did mention that I still wasn’t used to this body, right?
Dooku was ahead and it actually looked as if I mussed his uniform with some dirt. He was probably pissed. The man was anal retentive incarnate.
“Master Secura, an overconfident immature padawan, and…” when his eyes landed on me I saw him falter for the slightest of moments. “I don’t believe we’ve had the pleasure, my dear.”
“Keep talking, Dooku. Nobody’s listening. This is your one chance to surrender.”
Anakin lit his saber and Aayla was next. I knew I wasn’t any match for a Makashi master of his caliber. I didn’t bother lighting my own. I had other areas of expertise to utilize.
“Please,” Dooku replied. “The day I can’t defeat the likes of the three of you is the day I turn in my lightsaber.”
Summoning the Force to me, I threw out my hand hitting him with a Force wave, blowing him across the cavern and slamming him into the wall. I kept up the pressure as he fought against me, and brought my other hand up doubling the power before throwing another at him again.
The cavern wall behind Dooku exploded, raining debris all around, but Aayla threw up a shield quick enough to protect the three of us. Right after, I dropped to my knees.
“That’s all I’ve got for now,” I said through breaths. “He’s all yours.”
“Impressive,” Aayla said appreciatively. “Anakin.”
While I knelt there panting, the two Jedi advanced and Dooku blasted away the fragments of the cave that covered him before pushing himself up. From head to toe he was covered in dirt, grime, and blood. A particularly large gash opened the side of his cheek to where I could actually see teeth and jawbone. That had to hurt.
Pushing myself even further I trusted the Jedi to keep him busy enough to drop myself into a meditative trance to help aid them and demoralize Dooku at the same time. Someone walked past me and said something, but I ignored him, concentrating on the battle and my meditation amidst the chaos.
Minutes flew by. There was a scream, and then a small hand settled on my shoulder. As if I was given a couple cans of energy drink, my meditation increased a hundred fold and another scream called out, only this time it sounded male, and I knew we’d won.
Opening my eyes I saw a little green, very lifelike Muppet standing beside me, and he hummed once. “Great power with the Force you have. Battle meditation I have not seen for some time, yet Jedi I know you are not.”
I blinked and then stood to bow slightly to the current Grandmaster of the Jedi Order. “I’m just someone that wanted to lend a hand, Master Yoda.”
Looking over I saw Aayla down and clutching her abdomen. Anakin and Obi-wan were deactivating their lightsabers and Dooku was peering down at the stumps at the end of his arms. With a swallow I ran over to Aayla and saw she’d been run through and had already set herself into healing trance. It wouldn’t be enough if she wanted to recover fully in a short amount of time. I was already responsible for taking her away from her duties and altering the timeline where she was concerned.
I levitated her and started toward my ship when Obi-Wan called out to me. “Where are you taking her?”
“I have a Bacta tank and a medical droid on my ship,” I sent back.
Padmé rushed down the ramp as I approached and didn’t even spare me or Aayla a glance. Yeah, it was a little too late to stop their budding romance, but who was I to alter the timeline that much. Hopefully, Anakin wouldn’t be the rage machine he was before.
After I got Aayla to the medical bay I watched as the droid fixed what damage it could before immersing her in the tank. With everyone here there were bound to be questions asked that I really didn’t want to answer, so I closed the ramp and backed the ship up to leave. Anakin and Obi-Wan ran to intercept me, but it was far too late. I had to make it to Coruscant in time to drop a Jedi off and get out of there before they figured out where I was.
~O~ Corellian Run Hyperspace Route
Updating the holocron with the activities for the day was therapeutic. It helped me organize things in my mind for lack of a better way of saying it. I spent the better part of two hours going over what amounted to about thirty minutes worth of battle. Seeing what I could have done different and where I needed to improve. Obviously, most of it came down to building my endurance. I definitely needed some serious lightsaber training.
Satele was proficient in Form VI: Niman, which was basically a little of everything before it all mashed up into one, and not very well at that. She was familiar with the rest, and fairly decent with them. Long before she took her Trials Satele wanted to be a politician or a teacher, a Consular. Then the Sith wars started and all of that got put to the wayside. Sliding sideways, she became a Sentinel instead, but relied far too heavily on the Force to take up the slack in what she lacked in fighting skills.
Don’t get me wrong. She rocked the house with the Force, but I would have liked to join that battle against Dooku instead of sitting on the sidelines cheering them on like a Force cheerleader. Not that I couldn’t fill out the outfit or anything. I think I’d look pretty cute in one of those short skirts and… nevermind.
“You contributed much to the outcome,” Aayla said as she winced while sitting down in the second seat.
She looked somewhat pale, but definitely on the mend. Deactivating the holocron I stowed it away on my belt under her watchful eye.
“Your design?” she asked, and I nodded in return. “I’ve met very few Jedi that have the ability to make one of those. Would you mind teaching me?”
With a smirk I leaned back. “Is this your way of getting me to stick around the Temple after I drop you off?”
“I see my deception is transparent. However, I would like to learn to make a holocron. My former master found his very useful.”
“The guide is in the Jedi Archives; I’m sure Jocasta Nu would be more than happy to show you where.”
Aayla was enjoying the back and forth since it was obvious what each of us were going to say before we said it.
“I find hands-on training with a master to be most beneficial.”
“I’m not a Jedi Master.”
“Battle meditation in the middle of a lightsaber fight and you’re not a Jedi? I figured you for one of the secret sects, perhaps a Shadow under the Council of First Knowledge?”
I looked away at that, remembering something I should take care of. Aayla took that to mean that she’d hit the nail on the head.
“That’s it, isn’t it? You’re a Shadow.”
“No. I have no affiliation with any Jedi. I was just lending a hand.”
“Hmm,” she noted. “And now the deception is coming from you.”
“My fault, I should have said I have no affiliation with any current Jedi.”
Aayla’s brow creased.
“I’ll be dropping you off on Coruscant, Aayla. It’s been a pleasure meeting you. You have no idea how much, but I have things I have to get accomplished and you have healing to do.”
There was a moment of silence that hung between us before she chose to break it. “May I ask where you’re going?”
Not seeing any harm in it I answered. “Jebble.”
She looked confused for a moment. “Jebble?”
“It’s an ice world in the Ojoster Sector.”
“That’s Mandalorian space!”
I nodded in confirmation. “Yes, it is.”
She sighed. “Would you mind if I accompanied you? I have a feeling I’m supposed to.”
I started to say no, but I had the same stupid feeling. It was annoying having the Force interfere in things like this, but that’s what it does.
“Fine, but you need to heal and I need to meditate. The little boost Yoda gave me is wearing off.”
Aayla nodded. “Then we shall meditate together.”
Resetting the navcomputer we dropped out of hyperspace, turned and jumped right back in a couple of minutes later.
The alert that we were exiting hyperspace woke me from my meditation along with a much healthier Aayla Secura. She frowned as she looked down at the dark blue planet.
“What a desolate place.”
I kicked in the sublight engines and reached out with the Force as I put us in orbit and scanned the surface.
“What are we looking for?”
Taking a breath and pushing further, I said, “An ancient Sith oubliette.”
It was somewhat amusing to feel Aayla’s total attention on me, probing for danger. “And how do you know it’s here?”
“I can’t tell you that.”
That didn’t seem to dissuade her in the least bit. “Can you tell me what’s in the oubliette?”
“Two things, a person and an ancient Sith talisman that I intend to destroy.”
Leaning back on her chair Aayla smiled. “Are you sure you’re not a Jedi?”
Spotting a site that looked like a battle took place where everybody
lost, I started circling the area until I got a power reading off of something. Then we landed.
“So how dangerous is this thing?” Aayla asked on the way down the ramp.
“On a scale of one to ten, about a seventeen. Ever hear of the Muur Talisman?”
“I know who Karness Muur was; a Sith from the from the days of the Great Sith War. Nasty sort.”
I nodded. “Most of them are.”
Fifty feet ahead of us I spotted the oubliette leaning up under half of a… something. It was vaguely starfighterish, but most of the pieces were missing.
Using the Force I pulled it out from under the wreckage and looked the control panel over.
“Okay,” I said. “Stand back. If this thing gets loose your lightsaber is useless. Use the Force to push it away until I can get a bead on it. If it comes at me, let it.”
“I know how to destroy it. Are you fluent with the shatterpoint technique?”
Aayla’s mouth opened slightly. “Uh… no.”
“Battle meditation, Shatterpoint, a Force wave that took out half the cavern on Geonosis. Who are you?”
With a smile I punched the release controls and took a step back. “A friend.”
The panel lit up and I heard air pressure release from somewhere, while I focused my attention on the hinge about where this thing should be. The lid rose while the inside lit up as well. Inside there was the stasis induced sleep body of a Jedi older than Satele herself, probably looking just as young as she did the day she let herself be sealed away for the safety of the galaxy.
When I spotted the talisman I immediately focused on its weak points waiting for cracks in its metaphorical armor. It was Sith Alchemy at work here. It was gold with a large red gem in the middle and resembled one of those facehugger creatures from the movie Alien
, except this one had its spidery legs wrapped around her neck.
It twitched when it felt me probing along its body until I finally found the shatterpoint. When I did I slammed a tightly focused field of Force energy into that specific spot and watched as it broke along all of its seams sending a black gaseous form screaming so loud that it hurt my ears as it sailed into the air.
“Holy horcruxes, Batman!” I yelled as I took another step back and watched as the black smoke dissipated.
Aayla looked at it wide-eyed and then glanced briefly at me. “Was it supposed to do that?”
“Zayne!” the girl inside yelled as she nearly leaped out of the oubliette, but couldn’t quite make it.
I nearly wet myself seeing how beautiful she was. Dark hair, blue eyes, hard yet soft in all the right places, and she was blinking at me as she was grabbing at her neck.
“It’s dead; Muur’s gone,” I said reassuringly.
Moving closer I held a hand out to her to help her out. “This is Aayla Secura. She’s a Jedi Knight. We’re here to help.”
Aayla narrowed her eyes at me. “You really don’t like giving out your name, do you.”
I just smiled back at her. “Aayla, I’d like you to meet Celeste Morne, Jedi Master.”
“Where am I?” Celeste asked as she looked around. “Is this… Jebble?”
“Celeste, sit down,” I said trying to ease into this.
Then she spotted my ship and naturally recognized the configuration. “I need to use your holoterminal. I have to report in.”
Grabbing her arm as she just about muscled past me I said, “There’s nobody to report to anymore, Celeste. They’re all gone.”
She rounded on me, eyes already blazing. Apparently, her time spent in stasis with a Sith Lord weren’t filled with rainbows and unicorns.
“The Covenant was brought to justice for massacring their own padawans. What Zayne told you was true.”
“No….” she said, devastated.
“Massacring padawans?” Aayla was out of the loop and she knew it. “I haven’t heard anything about that. When did this
I sighed as both of them were giving me their full attention. “About four thousand years ago. That’s how long you’ve been in this thing, Celeste. I’m sorry.”
Then to Aayla I explained. “The Covenant was an offshoot sect created by Krynda Draay. Their purpose was to destroy any and all remnants of the Sith so they couldn’t return, amulets, books, scrolls, talismans, anything and everything including anyone they missed. She had all the best Seers from the Order. They saw the rise of a Sith Lord from one of their own padawans, but they couldn’t tell which, so they killed them all except for Zayne. So they ordered Celeste to kill him. He was innocent. It turned out that the Sith were already alive and thriving elsewhere and Haazen, Lucian Draay’s family steward was the hidden Sith. So it was all for nothing.”
Celeste opened her eyes and I could see that they were glassy from unshed tears. “You’re familiar to me. Who are you?”
“I would like to know this as well,” mirrored Aayla.
There wasn’t any way I was getting out of it this time, not with both of them pressuring me. “My name is Xander Shan.”
I nodded. “A direct relation to Bastila Shan and Revan.”
Aayla snapped her fingers. “That’s where I’ve seen you before! Satele Shan’s holocron! You’re—you look just like—you could be twins! Bastila Shan and Revan. No wonder you’re young and so gifted.”
That was almost snort-worthy if it weren’t for having to lay all of this on Celeste’s lap minutes after she woke up from a four thousand yearlong nap.
“What do I do now? Everything I’ve ever known is… dust. Am I even a Jedi anymore? Was I blamed for the massacre as well?”
Glancing at Aayla I looked back at Celeste. “The members of the First Watchcircle were to blame. You were a Shadow, so no. As far as I’m concerned you’re still a Jedi, but obviously things have changed. I’m sure the High Council will want to have words with you, but I don’t work for them. I don’t answer to anyone but myself and the Force. You’re welcome to come with me if you want.”
“You’re exiled?” she asked.
I shook my head. “No. I was—taught by a former Jedi Grand Master. I have no affiliation with the Jedi other than our similar style, training, and goals. I’m just not much for politics and that’s pretty much what they deal with these days. The Force tells me where to go and what to do when I get there.”
“And it told you to release Celeste from this box?” Aayla asked.
“Among other things, like destroying the talisman. My goals are very similar to the Covenant’s, without the Seers and the murdering. I destroy Sith paraphernalia, kill Sith Lords, and take vacations when I want.”
“You’ve killed a Sith Lord?” Celeste asked this time.
“Well, no, but I have plans too. I’m just not very good with my lightsaber techniques yet. The Force came naturally, the lightsaber, not so much.”
Aayla made a noise and turned around. I threw her a scowl as Celeste stood. “If you would not mind, I need time to meditate on my future.”
I motioned toward the ship. “There are private rooms on the second level. You’re welcome to any one you want for as long as you want, if you don’t mind traveling.”
Celeste took her leave and Aayla watched me watch her. “She is a Jedi, Xander Shan.”
“I think it’s about time I took you home. You got what you came for, Aayla. Run back to the Council and tell them all about me now. Have them label me a Gray Jedi because I’m on my own instead of with them.”
She shook her head. “I see nothing that differentiates you from the Order. We have the same goals; why not serve the Council and the Republic?”
I closed the oubliette, locked it, and started toward the ship. “You heard me before, right? They serve a corrupt Galactic Senate. They’re too political and local governments use the Jedi for their own personal gains. Dooku was bent toward the dark, but his original views are just as valid. The Jedi are supposed to be peacekeepers of the Republic, not their henchmen.”
Aayla seemed taken aback by my assertion. “You seem awfully young to be so cynical.”
With a pleasant smile I replied, “There’s no cynicism about it, Aayla. Take a look for yourself and make your own judgment. The Separatists were led by greedy people, not including the Sith, but there had to be something wrong there in the first place if so many planets went along with them. Like I said; investigate and judge for yourself. Don’t take my word for it.”
For my troubles, the ground crew at the Temple was cool enough. They even topped off my fuel for my contribution to helping them at Geonosis. Celeste was still in her quarters when I got back aboard. It was already late in the evening, Galactic time, so I decided to take advantage of the moderate safety of the Temple and rest up for the evening.
In the morning I had my bowl of nutritional goo. I’d be on it for two more weeks as my body became accustom to eating solid foods. I was sick of it after the first day. While I ate I had the HoloNews on in the main conference room and enjoyed watching the mess that was Geonosis come crumbling down on the Chancellor’s shoulders.
Dooku’s defeat and subsequent capture had to hurt him, especially since the dear Count had the plans to a super weapon that was supposed to be passed on to Palpatine that very evening. Whoops. There were already calls in the Senate for Palpatine to relinquish the power he just got the day before since all the leaders of the Separatist movement were dead. I almost expected him to go ahead and enact Order 66, but since there wasn’t any news on the clone troopers I suppose he didn’t try that gambit quite yet.
“Good morning,” Celeste said as she entered the room. “We’re still at the Temple?”
I nodded. “It was late and I didn’t have plans to leave Coruscant just yet. There’s a job to finish first. Grab some breakfast. It’s not much but it’s nutritional.”
She looked at the goo dispenser and frowned.
“I’m kidding. Check the pantry above the hydrator. There’s normal food there.”
“Why are you eating this?”
With a shrug I turned reached over to turn down the news and saw a holo of my ship. “Oh, no.”
Celeste stopped what she was doing and approached from the side. “Is that this ship?”
There was even a shot of me standing in the cavern with Anakin and Aayla with the caption Jedi Heroes Face Off with The Count!
“I’m not a Jedi!”
“You were in a battle yesterday and you took time off to rescue me?”
Cocking my head to the right I stared at her. “I’m on a schedule. So many things to do, so little time.”
Looking back at the holo there was me blasting Dooku twice with the Force wave and then collapsing. “Great, now everyone knows I’m a lightweight. How do they get a hold of this stuff?”
Celeste sat down with a nutrient bar. “They don’t. Something like that gets leaked to the HoloNews reporters to make the Republic look like they’re doing something. They did the same thing during my time.”
I stared back at her, open-mouthed at how stupid I was. “Windu.”
“Mace Windu, Head of the Order. This is just the sort of thing he would do. He’s so political he makes the politicians envious with his awesomeness. Yoda was probably right there egging him on. I left before they had a chance to find out who I was. Aayla probably filled them in with all the dirt, so now they want to make it hard for me to do my job and did this to smoke me out; go running to them for the protection of the Order.
Celeste’s eyes narrowed at me slightly. “Are you always this paranoid?”
“It’s not paranoia when they really
are out to get you. No… it was the Sith! I destroyed his plans and now… ugh. Bounty hunters. He was the one the leaked it.”
Celeste set the bar on the table. “There’s a Sith here? On Coruscant?”
“In the Senate no less.” I waved at the holo that was playing over and over again. “That’s why all of this is happening.”
“The Senate,” she said pondering something with a faraway look on her face. “Who?”
“It’s not that easy. I can’t just point a finger and yell, Sith in the house! Jedi like this little thing called proof, and since he can mask his Force presence it’s not that easy to do. That’s why I’m ruining all of his plans.”
I nodded. “He wanted to start a war between the Republic and the Separatist planets so it’ll create chaos around the galaxy, but Dooku was his apprentice and I made sure he didn’t get away. There’s still a droid army out there without a leader, so he still has a chance to do it, but hopefully the Council is intelligent enough to have his newfound power stripped.”
Celeste looked angry. I was aware that she really really hated the Sith, but seriously? She was a Jedi. They’re supposed to be above these things.
“Xander, we can’t sit by and allow the enemy to exist in the heart of the Republic.”
“I’m not,” I replied, pushing my bowl away. “I was planning on hitting the Republic Executive Building tonight. He’s supposed to be heading to Naboo for some reflective time, or whatever Sith do when they’re at home alone playing with their lightsaber. All his artifacts, books, scrolls, holocrons, etcetera, ad nauseam are there.”
She looked at me like I was crazy. “You know all of this proof is there and yet you do nothing?”
“Again, I have to have proof to look for the proof in the Chancellor’s private residence. The word of a nobody means absolutely nothing to the Order or the Senate. See what I mean by politics?”
Celeste sighed wearily. “Then how do you know it’s there?”
I shook my head. “I can’t tell you, but I can say I know it’s there the exact same way that I knew where to find you and how to destroy the Muur Talisman. I just know.”
She gave me theI know you didn’t just say that to me look. “If I am to be your master then you have to confide in me, Xander.”
“Master? What? Did I miss something?”
“On Jebble you said that you needed to improve your lightsaber skills. You’ll need a master in order to do this.”
Very naughty thoughts just flew through my head at lightspeed before Satele’s side of my brain locked them behind a door with a radioactive symbol on the front. “Master… hmm. You do understand that I’m not a Jedi nor do I want to be one.”
Celeste leaned back onto her seat. “Apparently I haven’t been one for four thousand years.”
That kind of surprised me. From what I read about Celeste Morne, she was more on the fanatical side of the anti-Sith movement. It’s why she joined the Draays in their misguided quest to rid the galaxy of evil. She was pro-Jedi in almost every conceivable way.
“Are you saying you’re leaving the Order?”
She cleared her throat and picked up her bar again. “Taking a sabbatical. Considering what I’ve been through, I think it’s best to reacquaint myself with the current time, technology, the ins and outs of…”
“If I find the Order has degraded to the point you believe it to be, then it might be in our best interest to take another path.” Her voice and expression were very serious. “I’m not giving up on the values I believe. There needs to be a force for good in this galaxy.”
My shoulders slumped. “I may be overstating things with the Jedi. It’s just a few of them, but they’re the ones with the power at the moment. The majority of the Order are as they’ve always been, committed.”
Celeste looked as if that was the case the whole time, and she was simply verifying that I was exaggerating. “In that case I should meet with the High Council, get a feel for things myself. Perhaps I can arrange for our activities to be official. The sorts of things you’re involved with is what I did for the Order, false pretenses or not. I was very successful in ridding the galaxy of several Sith… what?”
It was the pained look on my face that stopped her. “About that; the storage facility the Covenant used was broken into years ago. All of your captured items are back out there.”
Her bar crumbled into an unrecognizable mass under her grip. “Everything?”
I nodded. “I know where some of it went, but most of the stuff wound up being sold off to unnamed people. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of it is in Palpatine’s office. He collected holocrons over anything else, but he does have some Sith art and crap like that.”
She sighed and appeared to be counting backward from a hundred. Something tells me that Celeste had anger issues. At least she knew how to deal with them.
“I will speak with the Council and return. We will begin formal lessons at that point. I need to know the extent of your knowledge, skill, and talent in order to formulate a proper plan for tutelage; that is if you accept me as your master.”
Sitting there fidgeting made me look silly and immature, mostly like I did in high school. “I’ve been very independent for a long time, Celeste. I haven’t taken direct orders from anyone for over a decade except for when I’ve been in battles. I don’t know if a master/apprentice relationship would work out. I tend to rebel against authority.”
Celeste stood and smiled knowingly. “That much is obvious. It will be good for both of us, I think. Returning to one’s beginnings reminds us of how and why we started.”
“Okay, I’m in if we can make an agreement.”
Her eyebrows lifted, urging me to continue.
“Two points. We’ll do this on a trial basis. I’ve never had to answer to anyone like this before, except for my parents and they were drunks. So, you can see why I have… reservations. If after one month, either of us wants out then we end it with no hard feelings.”
She considered for a moment and nodded. “Agreed.”
“Alright, the second is I can’t tell you about how I know things. I can promise it’s not dark in the least bit and it won’t affect my performance except as a fount of information I use to do my job. I was sworn to secrecy by an agent for the Force itself.”
That brought Celeste right back to her seat. “The Force has agents?”
“You’ve heard of the prophecy of the Chosen One?”
“No, no, not me; I’m using him as an example. He was conceived by the Force to be its agent to bring about a temporary balance, to rid the galaxy of the Sith for a time so it can heal before the next big battle.”
“So the Chosen One actually exists. I thought it was a myth.”
Looking back up at the HoloNews I pointed at Anakin. “That’s him there. Anakin Skywalker. He’ll be the one to kill Darth Sidious when the time is right and end the line of Bane interfering in the galaxy for a little over a hundred years.”
Her eyes narrowed as she concentrated on me. “Bane? Nevermind, you can tell me later about Bane. You know this Chosen One killing the Sith for a fact?”
I nodded in return. “The exact time, perhaps not. It’s supposed to happen in about twenty-two years, after Darth Sidious takes over the galaxy and destroys the Jedi Order. I was put on this path to avoid those latter two points, and maybe speed his death along. That’s what I’ve been doing all this time, throwing wrenches… um, hydrospanners in his works.”
“I understand now. You’re someone he didn’t know existed up until this moment. That’s why you believe he delivered your image to the HoloNews, to force you out into the open, to find out exactly who you are, and make it easier to get rid of you.”
“Right. That’s another reason I can’t let anyone know what I know and how I know it. He’s… well, by the time of his final death it’s speculated that will become a dark side nexus all by himself; that’s how powerful he can be.”
“Force,” she swore with a whisper. “We need to bring in the Order. This is too much for two people much less you and me alone.”
Considering that for a moment I said. “I can handpick certain people that can and will do the job, but we need to be the ultimate authority here. They can’t know about who I am. I think I’m really pushing it by telling you this much.”
“What are you suggesting?”
Leaning forward I rested my arms on the table. “Four more Jedi; a special detachment answerable to the High Council. Something like a Black Ops squad.”
When I saw I lost her with the title, I explained. “A secret squad that does the dirty work the Council can’t or won’t admit to because of political reasons. We won’t be breaking any Jedi rules, but some of the things we do might be technically against the law, like breaking into Palpatine’s office and destroying his collection that we’re not supposed to know about.”
“That’s not exactly breaking the law. That’s what I did as a Shadow.”
“You see my point then. The hard part is convincing the Council that it needs to be done.”
She nodded. “Who are the four Jedi?”
That was the difficult part. I needed Jedi that had already been touched by the dark side and wouldn’t be tempted again or people with iron will.
“Quinlan Vos and Aayla Secura for sure. One is a master and the other a Knight; that’ll give the Council good vibes so they’ll let the other two be a part. Pix and Ahsoka Tano; both of them are padawans, but they’re very good at their job already.”
Celeste seemed unsure about the last two. “Why the padawans? This isn’t exactly a job for beginners.”
“They won’t be corrupted by the dark side, and they’re aggressive, but not crazy.”
I shrugged. “I’ve never met someone that isn’t, given the right circumstances, but they have strong wills. They just need seasoning.”
“Very well. I’ll see what I can do.”
It wasn’t that I didn’t think she could get the job done, but the Council likes things accomplished in a certain way. I had my doubts where they were concerned.
Jedi Temple, Coruscant
Six and a half hours later and I was starting to get worried. I figured they would figuratively laugh in Celeste’s face and we’d move on by ourselves. However, that wasn’t the case. Instead, I started to get a really bad feeling about this. On the plus side, I think my stamina increased or something. My daily workout went almost two hours longer than my average. Maybe it had something to do with utterly exhausting myself the day before throwing virtually everything I had in those two shots with Dooku and the battle meditation straight after.
Right when I had cleaned up after the workout and meditation my wristlink went off. The only person that had access to that was Celeste when I gave her one to keep us in contact.
“Xander, good. You’re needed in the High Council chamber.”
“Nothing nefarious. We’re meeting our new squad. We weren’t able to get everyone you wanted. Vos and Pix are already on assignment and aren’t available. So the Council substituted their own. I tried to argue your points with them, but it was either this or go at things alone. I think we know where that would lead us.”
I closed my eyes and prepared myself. “Who did they want on the team?”
“Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. Are you familiar with the former?”
Of all the people I didn’t want on the squad, it was Obi-Wan. He was a company man through and through, and a part of the problem on the Council.
“Yes. This is not good.”
“We must make allowances, Xander. Surprisingly enough the Grandmaster is supporting you over objections from the others. He’s the one that pushed this through.”
“Yoda?” What the hell?
“Correct. Apparently, you made an impression on him yesterday. What did you do?”
“Honestly, I have no idea. I’ll be there in about ten minutes.”
This was seriously not good news. I almost want to say frak it all and leave, but I couldn’t ditch Celeste like this. She had absolutely nobody and actually wanted to train me. I couldn’t walk away from that and not feel like a total heel.
When I finally found the High Council Tower, after three wrong turns, I tried to calm myself before showing my face. With so many masters in one room they’d smell anxiety like a Slayer after a Big Bad fight. I checked my uniform and straightened the tunic top a little, tugged my gloves, and tilted my lightsaber a tad before exiting.
Celeste was at the door waiting for me. She looked just as unflappable as she did before taking on the Council; that made me feel a little better.
“They’re waiting,” she said and I answered with a nod.
The doors were already opened by the time I turned the corner and walked in with confidence. The only two Council members in there were Yoda and Windu, both seated with the squad members present as well. Ahsoka looked out of her depth among so many of her elders. That was another reason I wanted Pix there as well. The kid was only fourteen, but she was going to be a hell of a knight if she ever made it that far.
Totally ignoring protocol I walked over to her and bowed my head slightly. “Xander Shan, It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ahsoka.”
Her eyes widened and a smile followed. “Is it true that you are related to Bastila and Satele Shan?”
“I have a lot to live up to. No pressure or anything,” I said with a grin. “And don’t worry. You’re just as good as any of these people or else you wouldn’t be here.”
She looked immediately to my right and I cocked my head. “Isn’t that right, Obi-Wan?”
“I’m afraid I haven’t had the pleasure. Jedi protocol dictates introductions are to be made first to the eldest in the room.”
“I’m not a Jedi, and I follow my own protocols. I think Yoda and Mace will survive my rudeness. You on the other hand…”
“I told you,” Anakin said as he butted in. “And you thought I was rude and impulsive.”
“Hello, Anakin. Still rushing into danger face first?”
“Xander,” Celeste called from across the way, closer to the masters.
“Excuse me, Ahsoka… boys.”
Aayla was to the right of Windu when I arrived and gave a bow to the masters. “Master Yoda, Master Windu. I hope you are well.”
There was no sense in stepping off with the wrong foot concerning these two. Yoda’s chair rose off its stand and floated at eye level while he stared at me with really green, almost glowing, eyes, before humming again. He turned slightly to Windu and nodded once.
“With me you will come, Xander Shan.”
Celeste gave me the slightest of nods, so I turned and we exited the chamber, turning left and walking down the corridor, slow as the proverbial snail.
“A clone of Satele Shan I know you to be. Spoke with her Force ghost I have.”
I rolled my eyes and tried my best not to comment as that would confirm everything. As long as I didn’t say anything then there was nothing to be done.
“Approve of the mission I do, Xander Shan. Lost its way the Council has if a Dark Lord of the Sith walks the Senate chambers.”
“Then you really know?” I asked.
He hummed again, clearly dissatisfied. “A precarious position we are in. On one side war, on the other Sith.”
“We can take care of him,” I proclaimed. “I’ll have the evidence soon enough and then he can be… eliminated.”
Yoda’s face set into a deep frown. “Redeemed, he cannot be?”
“There was never anything there to redeem in the first place. He’s always been this way, even as a child,especially as a child. He murdered his own family for the sole reason that that were moving off planet. No, there is no good in him at all. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that he isn’t just a representative of the dark side, he’s the dark side incarnate.”
When we reached the end of the hall I looked out the transparisteel window and over Coruscant so I wouldn’t have to stare at Yoda.
“Authority you need. Told me Satele Shan did about your Trials before your time here; many Trials. Bestow upon you the title of Jedi Knight I do. Form’s sake must be administered for a mission such as this.”
I opened my mouth to object, but the little Muppet had to have his way. “Refuse you cannot if to lead the Jedi you will.”
Blackmail. What did I say about political maneuvering and the High Council? Hand in hand they go. “After this is over I’m retiring.”
Yoda actually smirked and chuckled. “Said this five times have I. For my troubles a Grandmaster the High Council made me.”
“I thought you said you weren’t a Jedi,” Ahsoka said as she nearly ran to keep up with me.
I was a little ticked off. Not only did Yoda Knight me, he assigned Ahsoka to me as a padawan. Apparently, I had too much knowledge and experience from Satele to sit on it all by myself.
“It’s a recent thing.”
“Um… about ten minutes?”
She looked as if something was seriously wrong. “And you’re how old?”
“Well, technically I’m sixteen.”
“But—but most padawans start their field training at sixteen! I’m two years ahead of the curve myself. How can you be so experienced?”
I smiled back at her. “Trust me, young padawan. Yoda does.”
Gotta admit, it was kind of neat to use the young padawan
Ouch.Note: And there you go. It's all set up for adventure.