Chapter 8: A Battle Ends And A Jedi Kills
"Don't be fooled into thinking of the Trial of Skill as a physical challenge. The Council members will judge your performance based on a series of lightsaber tests, but in truth this Trial hinges on a Jedi's ability to maintain self-discipline in the face of distraction.
Restelly Quist, Chief Librarian of the Jedi Temple.
Naruto knew that he couldn't just leave the clones to their fate, despite Obi-wan insisting that he stay with them until they could get the Chairman's authority revoked, but in the end the young Padawan found himself traveling to catch up with the clones. It didn't take him very long to stumble across the Republic forces being pinned down down the native horde that had been sent against them. The Chairman was standing behind his downed speeder, a blaster in hand, while shouting orders for the Clone Troopers to kill the natives no matter the cost. Rex was even slowly walking towards the charging riders, both his signature blasters firing away as fast as he could pull their triggers, while he casually dodged the spears being thrown at him.
"Sir, we got another speeder approaching from the rear!" a clone shouted to his Captain, which caused Rex to dive behind a speeder so he could assess the new situation without getting a spear to the face.
Naruto didn't even wait for the speeder to come to a stop before he jumped out of it's enclosed cockpit and dived over to where Captain Rex was currently hunkered down, his lightsaber igniting mid jump. His training under Obi-wan allowed Naruto to slice apart several spears just moments before they would hit him, although he had to angle his body slightly to the side.
"So kid, do we have a plan on how to get out of here?!" Rex asked as he came out of cover and fired several shots in the hordes direction.
"Master Kenobi and Skywalker are trying to get the government of Pantora to denounce the Chairman so we can hopefully settle this peacefully. We just have to survive until they get here!" Naruto shouted back, sitting down behind cover and instantly entering his battle meditation state, giving the clones a much needed boost.
The resulting increase in skill and precision was quite noticeable once Naruto's battle meditation took hold, with the clones now standing up from cover while they fought, moving from side to side to dodge incoming spears. It was actually quite a sight for the Chairman of Pantora to behold, watching how the presence of a single Jedi could affect how the soldiers of the Republic fought in battle. Rex had even started walking towards the natives of the planet, just like he was a few moments ago, but this time there was no trace of hesitation in his steps. Sadly, no matter how improved they were, the clones were out numbered and the natives were almost on top of them thanks to their mounts. One mounted warrior had managed to get past the barrage of blaster fire and swiftly turned its beast around to attack Naruto, since he was the least protected warrior there and would make an easy target, only for his mount to suddenly stop inches away from the Padawan.
The moment of hesitation ended up causing the warrior native his life when another soldier put a hole through his chest, but still the beast remained frozen in front of Naruto like a stone statue. The clone from before prepared to put the beast down and protect the superior officer, only for said beast to suddenly jump back over the improvised barrier and begin attacking any native that got too close.
"Sir, more contacts incoming!" a soldier shouted to Rex, who had moved back to the rest of his brothers so that he wouldn't be singled out and surrounded out in the open.
"It doesn't matter, these savages die today!" shouted the Chairman, who had somehow managed to remain unharmed for the majority of the battle, while his two bodyguards flanked him with blasters still firing at every enemy that came into sight.
"Chairman, sir, we are outnumbered and outflanked. If we don't leave now then none of us are surviving this!" Rex argued, only for Cho to scoff at his warning.
"We have a superior fighting force and technology; these creatures stand no chance against us. Now prepare for the next wave!" Cho's harsh words instantly caused Naruto's concentration to slip as anger bubbled up in his heart.
"With all do respect sir, but even with Commander Naruto's battle meditation, we will be overrun eventually. Our only option to survive is to get on our remaining speeders and attempt to get back to base," Rex argued, having had enough of the Chairman's lack of proper planning that was going to get all his brothers killed at this rate.
"You will do as you are ordered, Clone," Cho said with a sneer, only for any further talks to be interrupted when another soldier called out that they were being surrounded.
Sure enough they were now completely surrounded on all sides by mounted Talz, each of them ready to end this so called war before it could ever truly begin. The chief of the Talz, one Thi-Sen, was at the head of this mob with a spear in hand. By this point, Naruto abandoned his battle meditation and took out his curved lightsaber; not wanting to kill these people but also not wanting to die himself.
"Well we're too late now; no way we're getting out of this alive," Naruto grumbled to himself, igniting his lightsaber with a simple press of a button.
"Soldiers, prepare to kill these savages!" even now Chairman Cho still believed they would win this fight, just because they had better technology.
A loud roar echoed over the howling blizzard winds, signaling for the entire tribe to descend upon the outnumbered Republic soldiers, and none of the Talz hesitated to spur their beasts forward into battle. Naruto felt fear creep into his heart at that moment, knowing that he was very likely to die within the next several moments, but if it was his time to die then he would not go out quietly. The horde grew closer by the second with no sign of stopping before they swallowed their enemy up in a vortex of death, at least that was five gunships suddenly descended upon the area. Each gunship fired three short bursts from their main guns, hitting the ground right in front of the Talz to make them stop their charge, before coming to a land once everything had calmed down.
None of the people there had been more relieved than they were the moment those gunships showed up, especially one Padawan that now deactivated his lightsaber and attached it back to his belt.
"Naruto, are you alright?" asked Obi-wan as he placed and hand on his Padawan's shoulder and looked the young boy over for any serious injuries that he may have gained, only to give a sigh of relief when he found none.
"I'm fine Master, but many of our soldiers gave their lives today," Naruto said, motioning to the few dead Clones that hadn't survived the first attack of the Talz.
"I'm pleased that you brought reinforcements, General Kenobi. Now we can truly crush these animals," Cho said with a wicked grin on his face, only for Obi-wan to smirk ever so slightly.
"I'm afraid, Chairman Cho, that your government has decried you out of order and has ordered us to make peace with the Talz. Senator Chuchi is now in charge of this operation while you are to remain right here next to myself," Obi-wan informed the Chairman while Chuchi walked past the man without even so much as glancing at him.
"Master Kenobi," Chuchi began as she stared out at Thi-Sen, "I believe it would be best if your Padawan accompany me for these peace talks."
Obi-wan looked down at Naruto, silently asking what his Padawan thought, but the blonde Jedi just nodded his head before moving to the Senator's side, followed by the protocol droid. Cho, on the other hand, was visibly fuming at how his authority had been undermined so easily! How dare these people go behind his back to make peace with a bunch of creatures that were little more than animals!
"Impossible," Cho growled while clenching his fist around his personal blaster, "Peace with animals."
By this point, Naruto and Chuchi were steadily walking towards Thi-Sen while the Talz leader dismounted his beast and also walked towards them. Chuchi picked up one of the spears and removed the tunic she kept around her shoulders, to show the Talz that she would offer a piece of her own safety to ensure peace. Both sides finally came to a stop not five feet away from one another, ensuring that any attack would put both sides in danger.
"Droid, translate for me," Chuchi order, to which the droid responded in acknowledgement.
"To die for one's people is a great sacrifice. To live for one's people, an even greater sacrifice. I choose to end this war and live for my people, what do you choose?" not a very good speech, since it was made up on the spot, but Naruto had to give the Senator points for how heartfelt it was.
For a moment it looked like Thi-Sen was about to attack, if his raising of his weapon was anything to go by, but he simply stabbed it into the ground. Chuchi knew what this meant and followed his example before tying the two spears together with her tunic. It was a symbol of unity and peace between the people of Pantora and the Talz; a peace the Senator Chuchi hoped would last until the end of the galaxy itself, but the hands of chaos would try one more time to make war! A cry of outrage was heard from Chairman Cho as the man aimed his blaster at both Chuchi and Thi-Sen, firing two quick shots before anyone could reach. Yet it was the will of one Naruto Uzumaki that stopped chaos by reactivating his lightsaber and deflecting both shots right back at Cho without realizing he had done it.
Naruto's eyes widened when he realized just what he had done, but the damage was done and the former Chairman of Pantora lay dead in the snow with two holes through his chest. The Padawan looked down at his now shaking hands, that held the weapon of a Jedi, while reminding himself that if he had not acted then all of this would have been for nothing. It was at this moment that Padawan Naruto Uzumaki's life would change forever; when he learned that sometimes taking a life meant that others could be saved from death.
(One Week Later: The Jedi Temple)
It didn't quite surprise Naruto to learn he would be called before the main Jedi council, especially after they learned his role in the death of Chairman Cho and his borderline insubordinate actions during said mission. Not to mention that Obi-wan no doubt informed them on his emotional slip and resulting use of the force to try and shake apart an entire facility. They would no doubt watch him more closely, which means Naruto needs to be on his best behavior from now on.
"Again," Obi-wan's voice drew Naruto out of his thoughts and back to the training he was currently undergoing.
Seven remote droids floated around Naruto, who had his lightsaber activated while standing in a familiar Soresu stance. Obi-wan stood off to the side, his hand lazily stroking his beard, as he activated the pre-programed simulation what would test his Padawan's skill in the third Lightsaber form. It should also be noted that three of the four times Naruto has been tested, he has deflected every shot sent his way with a surprising amount of accuracy, a similar skill he had shown when learning the second form as well.
Naruto continued to go through this same practice until Obi-wan could blindfold his Padawan and still get the same results, not that it was easy for Naruto in the slightest. Yet each time he was hit, Naruto learned from his mistakes and didn't make them a second time. Now, instead of seven droids firing at him, Obi-wan set twelve to target his Padawan. Five hours of this had showed Obi-wan the true breath of Naruto's skill and he was not disappointed in the slightest. It would seem that Naruto had found a reason to push himself harder in his physical training.
By the time the day ended, Naruto could barely find the strength to crawl back into his bed, let alone undress himself properly. Sleep was quick to find the young Padawan and never before had it felt so wonderful to simply close his eyes and drift off into sweet nothingness. The next few weeks felt like a blur to Naruto, between training and meditation, and it had honestly surprised the blonde that he hadn't been called to the council after his outburst on his last mission. Obi-wan responded to Naruto's question by stating that he wouldn't be much of a master if he went to the council about every little thing. It was his duty to help Naruto through his trials and not the council's.
Ahsoka had come by as often as she could, with the two of them now spending most of their time in the simulators fighting hologram representations of Separatist forces. It had actually been Ahsoka's idea for them to do this, so that they could both become more capable when fighting out on the front lines with their masters. Their teamwork improved at an astounding rate, as noted by both Obi-wan and Anakin, and many other Jedi were beginning to think that the two of them were somehow clones of their respective masters. In fact, the two Padawans were currently practicing switching between defending and attacking advancing droid forces. Naruto was currently deflecting several blaster bolts while running alongside Ahsoka, who was cutting the fake droids to pieces.
"Switch!" Ahsoka shouted and, like a well oiled machine, both Padawans changed their positions so that Naruto was now attacking while Ahsoka was defending him.
"Hm, most impressive they are," commented Grand Master Yoda, who was watching the two Padawans along with both their masters.
"Indeed, their training has come along nicely, although I have a feeling that there is something else on your mind, Master Yoda," said Anakin as he broke his gaze away from the two Padawans, instead deciding to look down at the old Jedi Master.
"Unusual Padawan Uzumaki is, a talent in the force he has yet never shown it before he has not. A midichlorian count, wish to run I do," Yoda said in his normal broken galactic basic, causing both Anakin and Obi-wan to share a curious glance.
"My I inquire as to why?" Obi-wan questioned.
"A theory I have, but do this without his consent I will not."
"Sirs, and incoming transmission just came in for Knight Skywalker. It would appear that Senator Padme Amidala has been taken by Separatist forces on the planet Naboo."
'Here we go again.'