Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars or Harry Potter.
I am sorry this chapter is so late, I had so computer issues that took some time to fix and that slowed me down so again sorry!
Some of you have noticed Leia's behaviour and I will give more attention to the Skywalker Twins in this chapter. I have also tried to find an opponent for the Mandalorians that might give them a challenge.
No review responses this chapter I'm afraid. If you have any questions best message me and I will answer them as best I can.
9 BBY – 991 ARR
8 BBY – 992 ARR
On with the story…
Chapter 34 – New Rivals
Reijar, Ordo System…991 ARR…
Luna sat in the meditation grove, in tune with the force as she held her son in her arms, Lorcan had a very deep connection to the force and even though he was still so young they connected deeply.
She smiled and let her son know how much she loved him, Lorcan was smiling and she could feel his good dreams.
Luna was so content that she almost forgot about the growing sense of danger she was feeling in the force. It brought a frown to her face as she knew something was upsetting the balance of the force, it was growing and she still had no idea why. She sensed Lorcan's distress as he felt her worry and she pulled herself back and did her best to calm him, he settled down as she hid her worries from him but couldn't help but think about it as she took him back to the compound.
What was it that she was sensing? She pondered with growing concern.
- x -
Meanwhile in the Compound's Medical Bay, Deera and Zara were welcoming the newest addition to their family. Since time had now passed since the birth of their daughter Mari, they had decided to have another child. Since Deera had carried their last child, it was now Zara who would carry and give birth to the second.
Deera held her wife's hand as she fought through the labour, mopping her brow until finally after a long and difficult labour their second daughter entered the world.
"She's precious." Deera said as the baby was wrapped in a blanket and placed in Zara's arms. Zara was struggling to hold back the tears as she held her little girl, apart from Mari she was the most beautiful thing that she had ever seen. She took more after Zara with dark hair and slightly darker skin but still had the same green eyes that all Ordos had. Mari had taken more after Deera with blonde hair.
"She is." Deera said with love in her eyes. "We should name her Treyla, after your mother."
"Treyla Ordo. I like it." Zara said with a warm smile, feeling almost high on joy for the new addition to their family. They stayed like that for quite some time until Haron, Ara, Vysa and the other Ordo children came in to see the new addition to their house.
They all smiled at the tiny little girl nestled in Zara's arms while Haron lifted Mari onto the bed so she could greet her little sister. The little girl looked on with curiosity at the tiny baby and peered at her face with confusion before Deera told her with a smile as she put a hand on her shoulder.
"This is your little sister, Treyla." She told her and Mari made a face as she studied the baby before asking to clarify something.
"Like Astoria and Markus?" She asked, Deera and Zara smiled and Zara told her with a wide smile.
"Yes, and she will look up to her big sister." She said and then Mari came forward to touch the baby and Zara gently cautioned her. "You have to be careful sweetie. She's very small and delicate for now. She needs to grow up a bit before she can play with you and the rest of the children."
"Then we can play together?" Mari asked eagerly and both her parents nodded with a sigh but Deera reminded her.
"Yes, but only when she's grown up a bit. That will take a while Mari." Deeta told her sternly and Mari pouted before sighing in resignation.
"Okay mommy." She said and cuddled into Zara's side, Zara wrapped her arm around her and held the baby in the other while Deera sat on the other side. Haron and the others all left the small family alone, just enjoying the moment, happy times like this were in short supply and should be cherished when they came. So, for now, they let themselves forget the wider galaxy and the civil war that was gripping so much of it…just for now they let themselves enjoy the moment before the chaos came back to remind them of the cold hard reality that was waiting elsewhere.
Coronet City, Corellia…
In an office containing the Corellian Research and Development Bureau for national defence a single person was in there after hours, downloading files to a small data storage device and calmly listening for anyone. Three bodies lay around her, all members of staff here and she had killed them to steal files about projects being worked on both with and for the Rift Alliance.
She smirked as she completed her task only for the door to open and as she looked up, she found herself being flung against the wall and held there by something she couldn't see. She stared at the doorway as Corellia Security Agents came in alongside people in green robes, she signed in annoyance and resignation as she recognised them as Corellian Jedi.
"Rasha Bex, you are under arrest for espionage on behalf of the Empire." A woman younger than her said as she came through the door. "Bind her." She ordered and the Jedi let their grip fall enough for the security agents to move forward and try to cuff her but she whipped out her hold out blaster the moment she was free but the lead officer had a blaster already in hand and shot her in the head immediately.
Rasha's body fell to the ground with the smoking hole in her forehead and Qi'ra who holstered her blaster and smirked as she looked down at the Imperial Spy they had been watching for several weeks and then turned to Rivi-Anu, the Jedi who had been assigned to help this case.
"Thank you for your help, we appreciate it." Qi'ra said with a more genuine smile towards the Jedi who had been a big help in finding the spy ring and all its members. Rivi-Anu nodded and told her.
"It's our pleasure to help Corellia, this world gave us sanctuary when nowhere else would. It is the least we can do to help you now." Rivi-Anu said with complete honesty. The Empire had been chasing her and other Jedi across the galaxy every single moment so having a place that they could be safe and live as Jedi was truly a gift from the force itself.
Imperial Science Centre, Coruscant…
The personnel working at the Advanced Projects department of the Science Centre were busy with a number of important projects that most of the galaxy had no idea even existed and today two new projects were being started which had great potential.
The Extremis Project was a very interesting form of genetic manipulation, created using nanotechnology which was primarily geared towards healing and strength amplification and potentially even fix deformities and psychological damage. Even to the extent that it could regrow lost limbs but the first batch had a nasty habit of potentially causing the subject to explode but it was of little concern. It actually was a potential argument for the resuming cloning so they could be used as cheap exploding cannon fodder but that was a decision for the Imperial overseers to decide.
The second project was something that had been inspired by the first, due to the dangers with Extremis it had been decided to try and create a more stable version for longer term use. It used a mix of Extremis along with several other elements in a device that would constantly pump the compound into the subject that would do many of the same things. It gave many of the same advantages that Extremis did but it didn't cause people to explode even if removing the device would kill the subject.
They had even created a side project which would add cybernetics into the subjects to increase their effectiveness in combat. Ugly ones that weren't easily hidden but that mattered little to them, if it was effective then what did it matter.
Work on the projects would be top priority given their usefulness, the scientists were all very excited to get to work and see just what they could make of these exciting new developments regardless of the cost in lives.
Solis, Outer Rim/Unknown Regions…
Solis was a planet settled by humans over five hundred years ago, colonists from the Core Worlds who had been desperate to escape the built-up nature of the core planets and find a new and unspoilt world to call home and get back to nature.
On the edge of known space, they had found such a world, verdant and untouched by any intelligent life and had wasted no time settling down there only for their haste to settle on the seemingly perfect planet, they had failed to do several studies including a geological one.
A couple of years after they arrived that oversight had come back to haunt them as a period of massive geological instability struck the planet. It happened only once every thousand years or so but they had chosen to settle right at the wrong moment.
The earthquakes had been so powerful that they destroyed just about everything the colonists had built and most of them along with it. The survivors had been forced to start from scratch, scattered and divided without the means to contact anyone on the galactic stage or get into space. Internal Combustion Engines were the most they could manage although solar electric power had now begun to be used in their small cities. The idea that there were ships that crossed the stars and massive numbers of aliens out there a forgotten myth passed down through the generations.
But like some other new worlds they were in for a rude awakening when they looked to the sky and saw an enormous triangle shaped ship appeared in the sky overhead. They were stunned at the sheer size of the thing hovering above them, unsure of just what it was or where it had come from. Then the air was filled with a pitched droning sound and they stared at the sky as small little dots started appearing and seemed to be getting bigger by the second.
That was when people realised that they weren't getting bigger, instead they were getting closer. The sight of flying machines the likes of which they hadn't even imagined before coming straight at them terrified them and all started running for cover as Tie Fighters and Landing Craft approached.
They would ironically rejoin the galaxy community, by force as Solis became yet another planet conquered by the Empire.
Hidden Path Base, Thyferra…
The humid environment of Thyferra was something that took getting used to especially if you had little exposure to such jungle weather.
The abandoned Bacta processing facility which was the unofficial base for the organisation and a makeshift Jedi Temple was surrounded and mostly covered by the thick vegetation which aided in keeping it hidden from prying eyes.
Obi-Wan was meditating as he considered his own predicament, the pressures of the sort of work they did sometimes get too much and so when he and Tala had gone undercover to find a force sensitive child posing as a married couple they had stayed in the same room and the same bed as part of their cover.
How they had had ended having sex had been as much a mystery to her as to him, he still didn't understand what had possessed them to do it but they had and it hadn't stopped there. They had carried on doing in private after the mission and it had become a way to mutually comfort each other and provide affection that was missing in both their lives.
Then Tala had gotten pregnant, despite the precautions they had both taken it had just happened and he had to imagine it was the will of the force. He was deeply concerned though as he would regardless of the reason or not become a father this late in life. He had never really wanted a family; he was content with his life as a Jedi and his sense of duty.
He and Tala had both mutually decided to accept the baby rather than abort it but as to what their relationship would be like they weren't sure. Their feelings for each other were a mess and very awkward at times so co-parenting sounded like the best decision.
How that was going to work they hadn't yet decided.
Tala was now giving birth to their child; he heard her cries and did his best to comfort and reassure her as the labour continued. He mopped her brow while Master Denia, an elder Jedi who had been recruited by the network helped with the delivery.
"Not long now child." Master Denia said with a kindly smile and then told her firmly. "Now push!"
Tala cried out in pain and Obi-Wan held her hand which nearly crushed his with the pressure she was creating until finally the moment finally arrived.
Tala's head fell back in relief and Denia cut the cord and cleaned up with practiced and experienced hands, cleaning the baby and wrapping her in a blanket to keep her warm.
A daughter, Obi-Wan thought to himself is slight awe of the child that gently placed in his arms by Master Denia who smiled, feeling the pure and untainted presence of the baby and the force within her. She was at least as strong as her father Master Denia thought with a smile before leaving the new parents to bond with their child.
Tala took their daughter from him carefully and held her close, the girl snuggling into her for warmth which made both of them smile.
"What should we call her?" Obi-Wan asked knowing they couldn't keep calling her 'baby' or 'child' forever. Tala was slow to answer but asked him.
"Maybe after one of our mothers. What was your mother called?" She asked and Obi-Wan frowned before admitted to her.
"I was taken by the order when I was very young, I am not even sure she named me."
Tala looked disgusted at that before she felt her child make a fuss, maybe sensing her distress so she stopped and let her hold her finger while they considered just what to do.
"My grandmother was Vala, she was always nice. Taught me right from wrong, I wouldn't have gotten involved with the Hidden Path without all that she taught me." Tala said with a considering look on her face before she came to a decision. "Vala Durith-Kenobi."
Obi-Wan smiled before looking down at 'Vala who was now sleeping peacefully as she was watched over by her parents. Both of them smiling at the name.
- x -
The Next Day…
Obi-Wan was taking a walk of the base as he left Tala and Vala to sleep in the Infirmary, he looked in on the younglings they had who were busy learning from Masters Elaiza and Tsui Choi. He was glad the senior masters had joined them here to teach the younglings they had managed to save from falling into the Empire's hands. Teaching them to be Jedi and keep the light of the Order alive despite all the misery of the galaxy around them.
He was just passing the mess hall to meet Kalifa when the first explosion happened.
Obi-Wan staggered, so did Kalifa as they looked around, feeling the cold presence of the dark side descending on the place. Without wasting a moment Obi-Wan hit the evacuation alarm and ignited his lightsaber as did Kalifa which was well timed as Stormtroopers came rushing in, shooting wildly.
The pair quickly started deflecting the blaster bolts back at the enemy and moving close enough to cut them down when they could before Obi-Wan's blood ran cold as he felt Tala's distress.
He turned and ran for the room while Kalifa confused at the sudden hurry went to look for more people in trouble.
Obi-Wan ran straight to the Infirmary where he was greeting by a pile of dead storm troopers, coming into the room he expected the worst but saw to his immense relief that Tala was crouched behind the overturned bed with Vala in one arm and a blaster in the other. Seeing him she gasped in relief and came out of her hiding place.
Kalifa meanwhile was moving through the facility looking for those in need, she felt the air leave her body as she saw Masters Elaiza and Tsui Choi laying there dead but what worried her more was the younglings were gone. She ran around looking for them and found Morvet Storm and his family hiding with another class of younglings while Vanzell Mar-Klar and their former padawan Nedriss Norr did their best to protect them.
"Come on, we need to get out of here." Kalifa said feeling nervous but the Master and knight nodded and the small group made their way to the hanger bay where they hoped they might be able to find a ship to flee in.
Along the way Obi-Wan and Tala ran into them and they all joined together, arriving in the landing bay to see a massive group of dead Storm Troopers along with the dead bodies of Denia, Kai Justiss, Selrahr Eluos and even Kara Shuba who had rejoined the Jedi Order after having been failed her trials before the Clone Wars.
The sight of so much death was horrible to witness but there was something else that grabbed their attention.
Master Ylenic It'kla, Joc Sah and Niebur Boton all were engaged with three of their own people while the missing group of younglings sat terrified in the corner!
Danann Kerr, Vivert and Mill Aliberth all fought the other three Jedi with cold dark side auras raging around them and it didn't take a genius to figure out just who had betrayed them.
But then another more chilling figure emerged as Gerrick and Roganda Ismaren the last unaccounted-for Jedi arrived, emerging from the end of the hanger bay. They all knew the harsh and disturbing breathing sound or knew what it meant.
Obi-Wan was afraid as he knew these creatures were cloned from Anakin and to date only two people had ever defeated one, neither of whom was here now. But seeing Tala holding their child in her arms with fear on her face made his resolve harden and he gave his orders to the others.
"Help the others deal with the traitors, I will deal with Vader." Obi-Wan said and the others especially Kalifa and Tala looked worried.
"Master! You can't face him alone!" Kalifa said despite her previous encounter with the monster she wasn't willing to let down her former teacher and role model by letting him face Darth Vader alone.
But Obi-Wan was stern as he spoke to her and the others.
"I will be fine, now go deal with the other traitors and get a ship ready to take off. Either way." He told her, hinting what they had to do if he lost this fight.
They all reluctantly did as he said, Kalifa looking mutinous but did as he commanded and Tala as she passed by looked at him with pleading eyes and asked him.
"Don't let our daughter grow up without a father." She begged him and he nodded, knowing he couldn't promise that but he would do his best.
"I won't, now go." He said and she nodded, running forward with the others to help the other Jedi, free the captured younglings and get a ship ready.
Obi-Wan meanwhile turned to face Vader.
"I know you are cloned for Anakin Skywalker and that the Emperor made you to serve him but if you want to then we can help you break free of him." Obi-Wan said, trying to buy the others as much time as he could. The deep and menacing voice of Darth Vader that answered was nothing like Anakin.
"Anakin Skywalker was weak; he was a fool that didn't take the great power that was offered to him and I will destroy him the moment I find him. As I will destroy you now!" Vader said before his lightsaber ignited with a snap hiss, the red blade coming to life and Obi-Wan igniting his own and without any more hesitation they crossed blades.
Obi-Wan was not as young as he used to be and these heavy cleaves from Vader were soon wearing heavily on him but he kept on using his tried-and-true Form 3 against him, doing his best to parry and deflect blows away from himself so he could hold him off long enough for the others to escape.
But Vader was persistent, regardless of how much effort he put into his defence Vader was slowly battering his way through, Obi-Wan had to grab the blade with the force and hold it to keep it from harming him.
"You are weak!" Vader said to him. "Just as that child you think of is weak now! The Empire will make her strong." Vader said as he picked up the worries Obi-Wan had about Vala.
Obi-Wan was not given to bouts of anger but the mention of the Empire forcing his daughter to become an Inquisitor infuriated him. He felt the spirits of Master Qui-Gon and even Count Dooku in that moment and so for the first time in this duel, Obi-Wan went on the offensive.
He leapt back from Vader and began to engage in the altered version of Form 4 that Master Qui-Gon had taught him, mixing it with the Form 2 he had learned from Count Dooku's holocron which was safely nestled in his pocket. Engaging Vader with thrusts, jabs, counter attacks and cleaves that were unlike anything Vader had been prepared for.
Obi-Wan's change of style forced Vader on the defensive which was not his strong suit as it turned out, Obi-Wan managing to get a few strikes in before using the force which again was something Vader had not been prepared for when facing Obi-Wan.
He lifted all the loose bits and pieces, all the shrapnel from destroyed ships and blasters that were laying around and sent it all at Vader. From the ship the others looked on as Vader was pummelled by all the debris. It was so harsh it forced Vader back against the wall and when the bombardment finally stopped Obi-Wan was on him again. Moving around and moving the blade out of the way before he smashed the butt of his lightsaber into the chest unit that not only injected Vader with the stimulants that gave him greater strength but also helped stave off the physical degeneration of the cloning process. These clones grew quickly but they also decayed quickly and so the unit helped keep them active a little longer.
The damage to the unit robbed Vader of much of his strength, his anger and the dark side now the only things keeping him up but Obi-Wan was not going to let that continue and so with a final leaping strike, he cleaved Vader straight through his head.
Obi-Wan stood over his fallen opponent and was sorrowful to have to kill it but glad to relieve its pain and misery, the Emperor had a lot to answer for making such things he thought with revulsion.
Turning he saw Tala and Kalifa standing on the ramp of the ship that was taking off and Obi-Wan ran towards it, jumping most of it helped by the force so he landed on the ram as it swung closed.
With that done the ship blasted free of the now ruined base and rushed away, Obi-Wan exhausted by his fight with Vader managed to make it to the small galley where most of the survivors had grouped together. All of them were looking at him with awe as if he had just singlehandedly brought down the Empire, Tala sat next to him as he all but collapsed in the seat and her presence along with Kalifa who returned just having made sure they had managed to escape the planet and jump to hyperspace.
"Master, that was unbelievable." Joc Sah said with a very impressed look, no one but Anakin Skywalker and the Mandalore Haron Ordo had ever defeated a Vader and yet Master Kenobi had done just that.
"There might not be such a thing as luck but making sure you master what skills you have and learn as much as you can to the best of your ability and you'd be surprised what you can do." Obi-Wan told him and the others. They nodded in acceptance especially as with the other masters dead, he and Ylenic It'kla were now the senior masters here and he seemed content to follow whatever decision Obi-Wan made for now.
"Should I set course for Corellia master?" Niebur asked, the Zeltron Jedi knight wanting to know their destination.
Obi-Wan considered that, Corellia was the smartest place as it was a haven for Jedi but he didn't want to put too much of the Order's survival, not least his own loved ones in danger by keeping so much of the Order there. There was a galaxy wide civil war going on and everything was always changing, so it might not remain safe forever. The rest of the Hidden Path network thankfully should be safe enough, they kept no data on the base that could lead the Empire to any other safehouses and apart from him no-one else had any real knowledge of them.
So, with that information and reasoning he made another decision.
"We'll go to Master Cordova and Master Junda before making any decisions." Obi-Wan said, not wanting to risk any of their safehouses till they knew they weren't being tracked.
Raxus Prime, Liberated Separatist Space…
San Hill stood in front of the reunited Separatist Parliament, smiling as they applauded their latest success recapturing their old capital and even better, they had the wealthy world of Serreno back with them again.
"It is a great day for the Separatist Alliance." San Hill said to the gathered Separatist representatives who had gathered here for the first time in years. "We have been liberating worlds taken from our embrace by the Empire and restoring our independence from the corrupt and ruthless Galactic Empire. A fight that will go on to make sure that we are not oppressed by them again. We will continue to resist, to carry on and one day we will witness the fall of Emperor Palpatine and his rotten Empire once and for all." San Hill said to his people, the speech being broadcast to not only the worlds that they had already kept free or liberated but to other worlds that were still oppressed as a statement. The symbolic and practical investment in retaking these two planets was substantial he thought with some concern of the amount they had invested in this but it was worth it for the political relevancy and moral boost it brought them. So much so that they would continue to support the war and more pressingly his leadership San thought with satisfaction, sure that for the future his position as head of the alliance was secure.
Rebel Alliance Base, Unknown Location…
"The new Thranta class light cruisers and Foray class blockade runners have been proving immensely useful in engaging the Empire in space and running planetary blockades." Garm told Bail, Mon and Padme who had all gathered to discuss the future of the rebellion.
"Which we shouldn't be doing." Mon told him with anger. "Antagonising the Empire is only going to make the oppression it brings worsen for others! We should be gathering more support in the Senate and to sway public opinion."
Garm scoffed at her naïve opinion while Bail and Padme sighed as this old argument came up again.
"And what sways public opinion? You making pointless speeches to a room of his sycophants who don't care about the people they're supposed to represent as long as it doesn't affect them? This is war Mon, the time for debate is over and we need to take the fight to the Empire if we hope to have any kind of freedom in future."
"Enough!" Padme said with frustration knowing that these two would go around and around this debate for hours if she didn't put a stop to it. Honestly, she thought with exasperation, couldn't they at least look at each other's viewpoints to find some kind of middle ground? Why did they have to be so stubborn she thought with anger before forcing it down and Bail thankfully got the meeting back on track.
"We need both military action and peaceful protest to make any kind of change." Bail said calmly, deep down feeling as disappointed as Padme in the inability of his colleagues to find some kind of middle ground. "That is why we have managed to secure a new starfighter design for our fighting forces from a sympathetic shipwright. The Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter. It has relatively light armament but it has very long range and the capacity for three people which makes it very useful for missions where a carrier isn't available. It looks to have great promise." He said, a hologram of the large fight/assault ship appearing on the table but the scowls being sent between Mon and Garm only made him and Padme feel more like they were managing two extremely difficult and unyielding children.
Kaitain, the Pasdisahah Imperium…
The capital of the Imperium was alive with expectation as word of the Paul Atreides' consort and wife both being pregnant spread through the city and through the Imperium beyond. The question of just which would provide them with a new heir first was a subject of much debates and betting pools.
As it happened, Chani won the unofficial race.
Irulan and Lady Jessica sat with Chani as she gave birth to her twins, Irulan was disappointed by not having given birth first but seeing just what she was in for she was somewhat nervous of what would happen when her turn came. Paul was outside, not permitted inside due to culture so he had to contend himself with pacing outside the room.
A midwife was tending to Chani alongside them, neither recognised her which confused and worried them but Chani was the main focus of the moment. Her face screwed up in pain and Irulan mopped her brow before Lady Jessica went to get some medicine that might help.
A sudden snap hiss shocked both Chani and Irulan and they saw the midwife had ignited a red lightsaber and held a blaster in her other hand. She shot before either woman could do anything and hit Chani in the chest making her scream out in pain, Irulan would be next as she swung her lightsaber at her but fear combined with her deep-rooted desire to defend her unborn children made her call on the force in a way she had never done before.
She managed to hold the woman with the force and push her back against the wall, the woman seemed shocked at what she was doing and tried to fight but Irulan knowing this was possibly the most important thing she would ever do continued as not only her life depended on her keeping this assassin under control but so did the wounded but still living Chani and the children that they were both carrying. However much it hurt or put pressure on her she had to keep her pinned!
"HELP!" She screamed out, desperate to get help. Paul and Royal Guard burst into the room much to her relieved eyes and saw the wounded Chani and Irulan struggling to hold an assassin who was holding a blaster and lightsaber against the wall.
Paul immediately ignited his own lightsaber and took over restraining the assassin till she was properly disarmed but before they could question her, she activated some suicide implant and died right before their eyes.
They stood shocked as Lady Jessica came back into the room and looked at the scene with horror then looking at Chani who was barely clinging to life and ran forward to her. Irulan exhausted by the effort but still conscious sagged on the bed next to her and looked to Chani, who was struggling to breathe.
"We need a medical pod and a surgeon!" Jessica called out but Chani with her last bits of strength managed to push both twins out with some help from Jessica and Irulan as they desperately waited for the surgeon.
Chani was close to death when she saw the twins for the first time, looking at them with the smallest smile which was all that she could manage with her limited strength. Irulan and Jessica could both feel how close to death she was and Irulan took her hand while Paul held the other and made perhaps the most important promise of her life.
"I will take care of them." She said to Chani trying to reassure her as her fate was all but sealed. "I will raise them and treat them as my own, and when they are old enough, I will tell them of their brave mother." Irulan swore to her while Paul just begged Chani.
"Don't die! Please don't die!" Paul was close to tears as his love was dying before their eyes but Chani smiled to him and then to the twins not having the breath to speak but then to Irulan and gave her perhaps the first genuine smile to her that she ever had, squeezing her hand gently as if thanking her for that vow.
Able to rest easy knowing her children where in safe hands.
Irulan did her best to return it before Chani's eyes slowly closed and she drifted off before their eyes, Paul continued to hold her hand while Jessica and Irulan both sighed in grief.
Today should have been a day celebrated by all as the next generation of House Atreides was born, only to tainted forever by the murder of Chani. Paul was inconsolable and sobbed as he held Chani's hand, Jessica and Irulan reluctantly left him and took both of the children one each to be away from here.
Irulan held the boy while Jessica held the girl, both looking down at them with sorrow and Irulan told them both.
"Don't worry little ones, I'll keep you safe and take care of you. Leto and Ghanima will be your names." Irulan said with a warm smile at them both. Jessica frowned as she looked at them, not sure she was okay with her naming them but Irulan wouldn't budge on this. Paul was in no fit state to do it and if she was going to take care of them and raise them as if they were her own then Irulan was their mother now. The name would stay and she would not let anything else change that.
Irulan was conflicted, not sure if she could do this but she had made a promise on Chani's literal deathbed to take care of them and she wouldn't break that vow. She felt Ghanima become unsettled and gently too her from Jessica to hold her too, letting her feel safe and content despite all that was going on around them. The twins felt her reassurance and settled down which made Jessica raise an eyebrow as Irulan while strong in the force had little skill in using it but she was already creating a bond between her and the twins.
She would keep an eye on her but Irulan was a strong woman, she would see to their wellbeing.
- x -
The following day was a mournful one as the news spread of what had happened, the woman was a mystery to many but their Mandalorian allies managed to fill in some of the gaps. An Emperor's Hand, a personal assassin of the Empire. Lady Jessica vowed to make sure that they didn't get infiltrated like that again or would at least try too.
Irulan went into labour herself a day later, under extremely heavy guard and with Lady Jessica and a full medical team around her. Leto and Ghamina were in the room with her and like Chani, Irulan gave birth to twins of her own, naming them Steven and Zera. All four children cried at first but when placed together all fell silent and slept at ease. This confused many and Irulan looked down at them with Jessica and smiled gently, connecting together in as siblings should in the force even if they had different mothers.
Kodoh, the Outer Rim…
An isolated planet in the middle of nowhere with only a stellar anomaly with which it shared its name the planet Koboh was a rocky and rugged world with a shattered moon. There were wrecked Separatist ships that had crashed here and scattered settlements, Bedlam Bandits with their reprogramed Separatist droids roaming the surface.
It was to here that Obi-Wan and his band took refuge after fleeing Thyferra, they knew two of their people were working here but not specifically where for operational reasons. They went to the point of contact they had listed for emergencies, an owner of a local cantina in one of the small settlements who was a friend of Cere Junda.
Obi-Wan entered the cantina while the others remained on the ship out of sight. He looked around and saw the male in question behind the bar and walked up to him.
"Denbian Devil." He ordered, using the code word that the Hidden Path had decided on to act as a password. The bartender looked up, blinking in surprise for a moment before handing him a glass filled with red liquid and asked.
"Will you want something to eat with that? It can make you hungry if you drink it without a meal." The bartender asked and Obi-Wan smiled slightly before giving the last part of the conversation.
"I will take a loaf of Novi Bread and some cheese with a side order of fruit."
"You Jedi can't help but come up with some weird codewords." Greez Dritus said with a smirk as he cleaned a glass.
"It helps when no-one thinks we'd go to such lengths to just say hello." Obi-Wan said before becoming serious and saying the reason that he was here. "I need to see Cere Junda and Eno Cordova."
"Thought you might." Greez said with a frown.
- x -
Hidden Jedi Base, Koboh...An Hour Later…
The cave where the two Jedi Masters had made their base was extensive and full of salvaged technology from many different sources as they worked to reassemble some semblance of the Jedi Archives and the galaxy's true history. The party of Jedi entered the caves and Master Cordova and Cere greeted them accompanied by an old droid.
"Master Kenobi, welcome to Koboh." Master Cordova said with a kind smile before noticing the defeated expressions on the face of those with Obi-Wan and felt their heavy hearts he knew something bad had happened. "I take it that Thyferra has fallen."
"Indeed Master Cordova." Morvet Storm said with a beaten look on his face. "We came here to hide until we could decide just what to do next."
"I see, well we might be able to offer a potential option." Cere said as she came over to join them with a serious expression on her face. "We uncovered Jedi ruins on this planet that date back some centuries to the era known as the High Republic. It seemed that they came here to study the Koboh Abyss nearby but discovered that not only was there a habitable planet inside it, Tanalorr but a safe path to it. We have been trying to find the traces to plot the path but if we can then it would be the next and far better home for all Jedi." Cere told them and they all looked at her like she was mad for a moment before Master Cordova stepped in.
"Indeed, it was never recorded beyond a scientific expedition that apparently achieved nothing in any archive Jedi or otherwise so there is little to no chance of the Empire ever discovering it. A far safer haven than the last one. My friend, will you help us find the way?" Master Cordova asked him with a hopeful look in his eyes.
Obi-Wan sighed, this was not what he had hoped for but it had the potential to be a true blessing to the Jedi. The others including Tala and Kalifa were looking at him to see just what he intended, he didn't want to have to make the call but he had too. Master Ylenic It'kla, Joc Sah and Gerrick had all left to join the Rebellion in the hopes of helping in the fight against the Empire and provide what skills they had.
That left a much smaller group and him as the senior master in the group now, he was the leader and the one responsible for them all. Tala and their child chiefly among them and while it would ensure their safety if they were right, he could sense danger in this.
Just because the Empire weren't here that didn't mean it was safe.
But it was too big of a chance to pass up.
So, with a stiffening of his resolve, he told Master Cordova.
"Where do we start?"
The bright of hopeful looks in their eyes was a blessing and a relief on his battered soul but at the same time he couldn't help but wonder just what dangers awaited them on this planet.
Mandalorian Outpost, Edge of their Space…
On a small planetoid a small outpost had been built, designed to intercept enemy transmissions and relay them to central command for decryption. Only ten personnel there and hardly any defences, not even the best equipment as the upgrade they had been scheduled for which would also have given more security had been delayed by logistics issues.
The people that manned the station weren't warriors, mostly just normal civilians with technical training.
It was soft target that had been overlooked.
When the attack it was swift and brutal, the warning systems gave them enough time to send a distress call, to lock down the system and deleted any important data before it could be hacked.
But without anything more than a moderate strength energy shield it didn't take the attackers long to get through and it soon became clear that whoever these attackers they were neither Imperials or Kalderans.
The warriors broke in to the installation with incredible speed and co-ordination, moving through the facility they ruthlessly cut down the people stationed there before trying to hack the computers, unfortunately they found themselves locked out as the system was purged despite their best effort, one last act of defiance by the crew.
It was a great disappointment to these attackers in their armour that looked strangely like those used by the Mandalorians themselves four thousand years before during their Neo-Crusader period. It was also uniform in the colour they all had, a simmering gold finish had been applied to each suit and they carried a variety of weapons both ancient and modern.
They fled the facility quickly though as they detected the approaching Mandalorian taskforce, sent in answer to the distress call but with a single act of defiance when they destroyed the facility, they used explosives to leave little of their presence behind.
The report they sent to the Emperor afterwards gave him a small amount of pleasure in the destruction and the fact he had found a force that could finally match the Mandalorians in a fight.
The Sun Guard were worth his work to gain their loyalty and would do well against the barbarians.
Lucrehulk Leviathan, orbiting Reijar, the Ordo System…
News of the raid had shocked the Mandalorian leadership but a spy drone had managed to catch a glimpse of the culprits and now the council was meeting to discuss the issue.
"The Sun Guard are perhaps one of the few forces in the galaxy that can really give us a challenge." Duke Caduruso said with a frown on his face as he and the others thought on their deadly reputation.
"Only because they caught us by surprise." Duchess Farr stressed, not liking these mercenaries at all.
"Why do they wear armour like ours?" Duke Korkie asked, not knowing much about them.
"To mock us." Duke Ijaa said with a sad look on his face.
"They are more a religious order than a mercenary group, and worship the Sith intensely." Duchess Kane said with a frown as she knew they would not see the end of these people until they wiped them out.
"I have my sources looking for their bases, the Underworld Alliance is too. We will find them." Duchess Katale Ma'Gard said with a cold look in her eyes.
"Indeed, that is the only way to deal with extremists. They can't be reasoned with, bullied or bribed. Only destroyed." Haron said as he chaired the meeting before changing the subject. "Now I believe Duke N'Val has something to show us." He said turning to the only none-human duke present who smiled proudly before directing their attention to the ship that hung just out of the nearby window.
"My friends and colleagues, while the captured Lucrehulks have proven extremely useful to us as both fighter carrier and cargo ship a time will come when they need to be replaced. So, myself and my people have designed a new ship that will serve as not only a powerful support ship for our fleet but the backbone of our logistical needs."
"The Spirit of Fire." N'Val said proudly as he showed the extremely large vessel to them.
The ship was very large, not as long as a Lucrehulk or as wide but it shared the harsher and more angular shapes with the Halberd and Gladius class ships. It had heavier armour than the Lucrehulk's as well not to mention Mandalorian weapon systems and shields built in. A much more advanced and powerful hyperdrive had been installed for quick deployment across the galaxy.
Duke N'Val proudly showed them his creation, it had limited armament but did carry heavy and medium turbolasers where possible for defence and to support larger battlegroups not to mention the usual the usual missile launchers and he had even integrated the point defence system used on the Aden class ships into the design. More a carrier than a warship though it could carry enormous amounts of cargo and supplies not to mention large numbers of warriors and ground vehicles to support campaigns. All of which could be dropped quickly due to the large number of small craft including fighters and dropships, the idea it could be converted to carry fighters exclusively occurred to many of them as Duke N'Val talked them through the design.
"It can also act as a command vessel given the large internal space and room for a proper war room to be installed." Duke N'Val said proudly hoping it would attract their attention but Duchess Morli Kast had another question.
"Would they have a peace time role? They are extremely large and would be expensive to build." She asked with doubts given the large number of resources it would take to build such a ship in considerable numbers. Duke N'Val rallied and presented her with as good an answer as he could.
"Indeed, with the massive development of our infrastructure across the new territories the Spirit of Fire could be an essential support ship. Carrying the equipment to wherever we need it quickly. Even in peace, they have a use." He asserted and then silence fell on the room as they all considered what he had said.
Haron eventually spoke when he came to a decision.
"We shall give the new ship a trial period to see how it performs, if it does as well as you claim then they might be put into production." Haron declared and Duke N'Val breathed a sigh of relief as he knew his new ship would do well.
However, there was still a rather big issue to be addressed. The last Duke Ralmiz had died and had no heir to take his place.
- x -
Ralmiz, Mandalorian Territories…A Day Later...
The funeral was a solemn occasion, the Mandalore and house leaders were in attendance along with all the clans that had served Ralmiz as two thousand years of history just came to an end.
House Ralmiz was now extinct…and already the question of just who would be replacing them as the new house was being hotly discussed before the last duke was in the ground.
"He served his people well, a firm but just leader." The functionary said as the coffin was lowered into the ground. "His presence in this war was a reassuring one, one that we could all rely on to stay true to the ideals and principles of being Mandalorian. He will be missed as we enter this new and unknown era."
They all kept silent at least as the coffin containing the last Ralmiz was lowered and the grave filled in. Buried with his ancestors they all thought sadly many hoping for the same thing when their time came or at least that their own special rites were carried out.
They all then returned to the Ralmiz Compound where the matter of just who would take up the title and position of Duke/Duchess would be decided. The counts and countesses followed and Haron made the announcement they were desperate to hear although not as they expected it.
"Today is as much a day of new beginnings as it is of endings. While Ralmiz will be awarded to Clan Xeria who have long been stewards for the late and departed Ralmiz family and know how to run this planet well, who shall take the title of Duke or Duchess over this domain is now up for debate. To ensure all of you are given a fair chance…each of you will present your case for why you deserve the position. We shall see each of you in turn and then when we have heard all of the arguments, we will make our decision. Not before." He added with a warning to not push the matter.
The clan leaders didn't look to happy as they had hoped to be named as the next ruler immediately but it was still an opportunity so they each went to prepare their case before one by one being called before the Mandalore and other Dukes/Duchesses to say why they would be the best choice for the next ruler of this domain.
The hours passed slowly, the council was increasingly bored with the constant declarations of fealty and promises of personal favours that were being offered. Some might have interested some of them but they had resources of their own and for once were all on the same page about this. They needed someone that was not only loyal to the cause but also wouldn't try to undermine them for their own benefit.
It wasn't until the end when Clan Cutter finally had its turn that something finally livened things up.
The head of Clan Cutter was an older human man, Count Greg Cutter stood before them. He was familiar to Haron and N'Val as he was a commander of one of their dreadnaughts and had been decorated for valour and high performance in combat both on the ground and in command of a warship.
Among all of the ones that came before he stood out as while all had fought and bled for their people, Cutter showed the best leadership of all of them.
He was also the most honest of all of them, not promising what he couldn't deliver or personal bribes.
"I offer you only my loyalty and service, along with the clans that might serve under me. My intention is to establish a military academy that will teach our people all matter of capital ship operations. We can work with the flight school to create a new generation of capable space warriors to man our ships. That is my intention." Cutter told them. He had no grand plans, nothing that was too over the top, just practical aims and an idea of how to achieve them. That definitely scored him points with them.
"Interesting." Duke N'Val said with a thoughtful look. They each had a small facility for that in their own territories but much of it was still done by on-the-job training. So, a facility like this would be extremely useful to them especially if it would co-ordinate with Fenn Rau's flight school.
Haron nodded in agreement, one facility that could help standardise their naval training program and set the level to which they were hoping for would be a great benefit for all of them.
That was when the decision was made to appoint Clan Cutter to become House Cutter, a vote that was thankfully unanimous.
The establishment of a new house, House Cutter would be only a day to remember although on Mandalore, they soon had something else to enjoy.
- x -
Sundari, Mandalore…. A Week Later…
The crowd cheered as a new sport was begun here on the home world, one that by the cries of crowd would become very popular when it was seen around their space.
Haron had decided to introduce professional sporting events in their culture as a way of not only bringing his people together but also to encourage a sense of competition. He remembered that feeling from Hogwarts when all four houses had come together to watch a Quidditch game. Regardless of if your house was playing or not you could feel the energy of the crowd and the excitement of the contest.
That was something he wanted to give to their people, a sense of excitement at a contest that was not merely a fight like the martial arts contests they held often on the small scale but an event that was never the same twice.
With that decision made, he had brought Quidditch to the Mandalorians.
He had been forced to make some changes which actually made it more inclusive, using special speeder bikes in place of brooms while the snitch and bludgers had been replaced with droid versions. It had taken a little doing but already it looked like the crowd was loving it.
He smiled, sensing their enjoyment and considered the other sports he was adding over time, his people needed a lift so he would act some muggle sports too. Rugby and Basketball were two that he felt would be enjoyed by the Mandalorians along with hockey. Professional ship and speeder races were also in the works in hopes of finding innovative minds with sublight and ground engines. Even a version of the Olympics possibly.
They needed a distraction from the war, from all the pressure Haron thought hoping to ensure their wellbeing. Even the best warriors needed some respite or at least something to look forward too.
Forest Array, Koboh, Outer Rim Territories…
Obi-Wan and Kalifa crept into the old Jedi facility known as the Forest Array, according to Master Cordova it was a place where the path to Tanalorr might be discovered. A small number of compasses devices existed that could show the way and most had been destroyed, supposedly only one remained but they had no idea just where it was and hoped it might be here.
Apparently according to Master Cordova's research, a lead to where that last compass was remained here if not the compass itself, information was unfortunately very scarce and as he crept inside the facility with Kalifa at his left, Obi-Wan felt the dark side around him. It was faded by time but it was still there, he would have never noticed it if he had not had the experiences, he had in his earlier years but he knew something of the dark side was here.
Now more on edge than ever Obi-Wan explored the facility but found little left intact, much of it was High Republic Era like other places on this planet but when they came to the medical wing, they discovered a single bacta tank that was still full and more importantly had someone inside.
"Is there someone alive in there?" Kalifa asked with astonishment as she looked at the bacta tank. Obi-Wan was concerned as he felt the dark side aura grow stronger here and felt the living force inside.
"Indeed, there is, while impossible for most species some can stay alive for centuries especially when drawing on the force and their bodies being preserved by the bacta." Obi-Wan said seeing whoever it was in there was indeed humanoid but that meant nothing. There were many different species it could be and more importantly they knew nothing of just who it was in there. The presence of the dark side certainly didn't make him feel any better.
"Then shouldn't we release them?" Kalifa asked with confusion as to why they wouldn't just let them out but wherever else he could have said to answer her was rudely interrupted by an explosion. Both Jedi took cover as a bunch of the rough Bedlam Raiders came in wielding lightsabers of different colours. The old crossguard design reflecting the High Republic era so both Jedi assumed they had likely scavenged them from other Jedi sites on the planet.
Obi-Wan and Kalifa ignited their own lightsabers and began to clash with the Raiders, thankfully they were not as skilled in their use as the two Jedi who swiftly overpowered the poorly trained raiders but this provided enough of a distraction for their leader…a Gen'Dai no less to get passed them to the bacta tank and open it.
The liquid drained quickly and revealed a pale looking humanoid male with greyish green hair. He was missing an arm and spluttered as he tried to regain his strength, the Gen'Dai handing him a lightsaber.
"Thank you Rayvis." The figure said with a nod before turning to the two Jedi and snarling at the sight of them. "The Jedi dare come back here after abandoning Tanalorr!" He said enraged, the crystal of his lightsaber being bled before their eyes. Obi-Wan was concerned as he felt the force strongly with this person whoever they were and they were full of rage and anger.
"We came seeking a safe haven. The Republic has turned into an Empire and is hunting down the Jedi who remain." Kalifa said hoping to reason with him but the man was beyond calming down and told them with fury.
"After the Jedi abandoned the planet to the Nihil, they don't deserve it!" He said with a disgusted look at them. Obi-Wan seeing a fight was fast approaching asked one thing at least.
"Then may we at least have your name before we duel? It seems impersonal to duel without knowing at least who you are. I am Obi-Wan Kenobi and this is my former apprentice and now Jedi Knight Kalifa." Obi-Wan said with a cold formality. The pale skinned man looked at him with amusement for a moment before telling him.
"A funny master. There is always at least one. Very well I am Dagan Gera, you can take that name with you to your graves." Dagan said with a glare as he ignited a double bladed red/orange lightsaber, while Rayvis prepared himself for battle also.
"We shall see." Kalifa said as she leapt at Dagan, crossing her single blue with his which Obi-Wan didn't like but then found himself under attack by Rayvis and unable to help her as he dealt with the infamous Gen'Dai who had slaughtered many Jedi in his time.
- x -
Rayvis attacked with a hybrid mace and fail, built Obi-Wan suspected from Phrik as it resisted his lightsaber extremely well but as Obi-Wan moved and defended from that shoulder mounted rocket launchers and blasters who attack him. Obi-Wan gritted his teeth and was at a lost as to why this Gen'Dai would be working with a fallen Jedi and asked him as he deflected his attacks away with his lightsaber and the force.
"Why are you helping him? I have met your kind before and they are no fans of the Jedi." Obi-Wan said calmly and Rayvis told him with a sense of depression.
"Dagan defeated me in combat, the only one to ever do so and denied me a warrior's death. So, I serve him until I can gain an end benefitting my people." Rayvis said as if it was a tragedy which was true and while it was not the Jedi way, Obi-Wan made him an offer.
"Tell me how to find the compass, and I will give you what you desire." Obi-Wan said and Rayvis was immediately looking hopeful if guarded.
"There is a second array, on the shattered moon. That is needed to find the way to Tanalorr. Now Jedi, do as you say you would." Rayvis said almost eagerly and Obi-Wan nodded with a resigned look in his eyes.
"As you wish. The force be with you." He said giving a final blessing before changing his style into a more aggressive one. His fights with Durge who was of the same species having driven him to find out as much as he could and knew how to kill one of the extremely resilient Gen'Dai.
He summoned the force to bombard Rayvis with all the debris around him and then which the huge warrior struggled against him, Obi-Wan leapt over him and with a single effortless strike severed the core nerves at the back of his neck. Giving the warrior what he wanted and ending his fight in one move.
Rayvis in his last moments was actually pleased with his death, something Obi-Wan found hard to swallow but it was their way he thought with sadness. They wanted to die as warriors and if given the choice of how they were going to die then most if not all of them would choose to go out like this.
- x -
Kalifa had never heard of Dagan Gera until today, many Jedi had either been forgotten by history or in his case she suspected been deliberately erased. But now she was finding out why Dagan had been a powerful and respected Jedi in his time.
She charged in, her saber meeting his in a shower of heavy sparks but despite missing one arm Dagan was flawless in his technique and used a strong force push to force her back.
"Pathetic." He said with a sneer as she regained her footing and charged in again, switching to Ataru to try and knock him off balance, using a mix of the acrobatic normal style and the cleaves of her master's modified style.
The unusual style seemed to catch Dagan by surprise, allowing her to try and regain some ground as she pressed her attack, Dagan used an efficient one-handed parry to counter her and they locked blades momentarily and Dagan taunted Kalifa.
"You are weak, like the Order that trained you…they gave up to easily." Kalifa however countered with a statement of her own.
"And you are obsessed, obsessed over a planet that you thought you could make in your own image. I care for others, those we protect…you only care about yourself." She said, taunting him right back as they strained against each other. Dagan didn't like that she noticed and broke the blade lock to attack with a rapid series of stabbing jabs splitting his double bladed lightsaber into two separate ones and turning to Jar'Kai using the force to hold the second half, Kalifa countered with a force push of her own that knocked him back in surprise and she managed to get a cut on his arm stump, the pain making him weaken his hold on the second saber, allowing her to pull it from his force grip.
Now with two lightsabers she began to go on the offensive, launching a blistering series of swipes and jabs at him. Dagan was not one to simply give up though and he concentrated the force against her. The world seemed to twist before her eyes as the floor became the ceiling and the ceiling became the floor. Kalifa was struggling not to become disorientated but it was a losing battle and then just as she managed to stand Dagan seemed to be coming at her from every angle, either strafing her with lightsaber attacks that seemed to be coming constantly or throwing objects at her out of nowhere.
Kalifa was confused and unsure of just what was happening, it was taking all her efforts to hold him off when a voice from the force helped her see the truth of what was happening.
"The shuttles are leaving…I will not return." The unfamiliar female voice said and Kalifa opened her mouth to repeat the words but they came out in the strange voice and not her own. Kalifa didn't understand it but she felt a warm and strong presence in the force. Dagan froze as he heard the voice, not able to believe it.
"You're lost." Kalifa said, whoever it was using her as a mouthpiece. "You've strayed from the Path. And you are no Jedi."
Dagan was unnerved by the voice of Santari Khri coming from the other Jedi's mouth, almost seeing her when she spoke. Enraged by Santari's 'betrayal' even now he cried out in rage as he attacked her.
Kalifa finally starting to regain her strength managed to block his attack and used the leverage this gave her to knock his remaining saber away and impale him through the chest.
Dagan looked down in shock, not able to belief it especially as she had done with his own weapon before she cleaved through his chest to end him properly with her own.
Dagan collapsed, falling to the ground in a heap with his body almost in two pieces. Kalifa feeling the illusion he had been casting collapse around her and the space returned to normal.
She looked and saw Dagan was dead, Rayvis lay not far away with a mournful Master Kenobi standing over him before he came over to her.
"Kalifa, are you alright?" He asked, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder and she nodded slowly as her racing heart began to slow.
"I will be, I think the ghosts that left him behind helped me though." She said, not sure exactly just who that woman had been but she had given her the chance to defeat a strong opponent and for that she was grateful.
"I know the feeling." Master Kenobi said mindful of his own experience on Mandalore many years ago. "We will take what remains here and seek out the array the Gen'Dai mentioned, to find the compass and the way to Tanalorr."
"And the Jedi will have another, much better sanctuary." Kalifa said with relief, glad the Jedi would have a safe place to call home. Without the compass it was impossible to reach Tanalorr and many might find safety there. She knew there were already other places that the Jedi had to hide from the Empire but this place would allow them to live in the open without fear.
To train the next generation so that one day, the Jedi Order would return to the galaxy to put right what had been wronged.
Obi-Wan for his part was exceptionally proud of his former apprentice, while not as powerful as Anakin or as wilful he had never found someone who cared as much about their fellow Jedi and the rest of the galaxy as Kalifa did. She was a worthy student and a fantastic Jedi, worth carrying their name and the responsibility that came with it.
While he was hoping to one day train his daughter himself though apart from Anakin, Kalifa was the only other Jedi he would ever consider fit to do so in his place and he would eagerly wait for the day when she finally took an apprentice of her own.
As the next year dawned the galaxy remained in a state of upheaval, the Kalderans continued to strike at any world that they could reach, stealing and killing whatever they could while the Galactic Civil War raged across the entire galaxy.
- x -
Kaitain, Padishah Imperium…
Almost a year had passed since the death of the Paul Atreides' consort and the new family dynamic was finally settling as Paul refused to deal with his grief and treated Irulan coldly, not doing much at all and just moping around.
Governance of the Imperium fell increasingly on the shoulders of his own mother Lady Jessica and the Emperor's Queen Irulan and their council. It was a difficult situation, leaving great uncertainty at the future of the Imperium with Paul being so absent.
For Irulan though it was even harder as she was not just trying to rule the Imperium and hold it together, not to mention keep the upgrade program on schedule but she had her hands full raising four children virtually alone. Paul was not spending any time with his children whoever they came from and this left Irulan filling all of the parental roles.
The stress was hard, Irulan honestly felt like giving up at times as she slumped behind her desk but the sight of the four children in the playpen nearby gave her the energy to carry on. She had nursed them herself and put them to bed herself, she read to them when she could and had been the one to introduce all four to the court…a move that hadn't gone unnoticed by the Imperium.
Leto was the heir and she would not make it so her own son could take his place, no she thought with dismay as some people had been whispering that she would do. Some of her family's loyalists were actually suggesting she even eliminate Paul and Chani's children so she and her twins would be the only heirs to the throne.
She felt incredible revulsion at that, she might not love Paul as he had made it quite clear he did not love her but a line that she would not cross under any circumstances would be to kill innocent children…especially children that she had been raising for the last year. She had even nursed them at her own breast and sung to them in the nursery so they would sleep at night. She had even when she had a rare spare moment resumed writing the history of House Atreides so they would all know their heritage when the time came for them to learn it.
Irulan smiled as she looked at the sleeping children, they honestly were the light of her life and so far, at least she had kept her promise to Chani to watch out for them and raise them as her own. She leaned back in her own chair and sighed in exhaustion but there was still much to do and so reluctantly she sat up and continued her work, dealing with the mountain of tasks that came with running a large territory such as theirs.
- x -
Manaan, Inner Rim…
Manaan had once been the most important planet in the galaxy at least from a medical point of view, the planet being the sole producer of the best healing agent in the galaxy, Kolto.
Unfortunately for the local population the Selkath, bacta had since replaced Kolto as the best healing agent in the galaxy and so Manaan had drastically slipped in terms of importance.
Kolto was still a widely valuable commodity as a lower cost alternative to bacta and the Empire knew it, having established a strangle hold on bacta supplies to the entire galaxy they now intended to the do same with kolto.
The Empire had been ruthless, stopping any chance of the Selkath seeking safety in their underwater cities and using depth charges to destroy their great cities and force them to the surface where they would be all but helpless against the Empire. They had little weapons or resources to speak of so the entire population would have been enslaved to the Empire.
The Rift Alliance though had other ideas, with Thyferra too heavily defended to liberate immediately and too far from their borders to even try, they had resolved to ensure that kolto would not be lost to them as well. In fact, it would benefit not only the Rift Alliance but the Rebel Alliance and Liber8 and the Underworld Alliance to see this planet liberated from the Empire.
Forces and material had been sent to the planet to assist the local Selkath as they fought the invaders, Ahto City the only surface city on the whole planet had become a fierce battleground as Imperial and Allied Forces fought for control.
- x -
Liber8 Base, Location Unknown…
Leia Skywalker was bored.
She had little to do but meditate and study and she had quickly grown fed up with those things, they were so dull she thought with anger as again she was denied the chance to even see what was happening.
The grownups were busy in the planning room; mother, father, Kahr, HK-47, Master Kagame and even their Noghri friends with the battle being fought at Manaan. She wished Allara or Ahsoka was here so she could at least train with them but Ahsoka was on her home world and Allara was on a mission in a place she wasn't allowed to know about.
That only made her angrier, she was ten! Nearly Eleven! She was old enough to know what was going on and yet everyone was treating her like a child. She was going to be Jedi one day, a knight! She was the daughter of the most powerful Jedi! She was almost as strong as him in the force! She trained harder than either of her brothers and she would surpass them both! Even Luke, she thought with determination to be the best. She would be the most powerful Jedi ever! She thought to herself with her own arrogance and pride spiking.
She saw Luke as playing force ball with Mace and she was again annoyed they would just blindly accept this dismissal of them.
"Young Mistress Leia. It is time for lunch." C-3PO said suddenly, interrupting her thoughts and she glared at the droid before going to get her food and the droid just stepped back before saying to R2 who gave a worried whistle as he looked at the girl. "What did I say?"
Leia almost stomped to the table and took her food, eating it quickly and being quite aggressive to get it down as quickly as possible. Luke and Mace followed behind her looking happy with smiles on their faces which only made her scowl. Luke could sense her feelings through their twin bond but she purposefully was keeping him out the best she could although much to her growing frustration she couldn't block him out completely.
Finishing her lunch, she went to fume elsewhere while Luke felt worried for her. She sat in the landing bay, her anger and frustration building inside her until finally she couldn't stand it anymore.
She went to one of the shuttles and smirked, as a Skywalker she was a natural at piloting she thought with some arrogance, she wanted to see Manaan for herself and maybe even show them that she could fight.
After all, her father at nine years old had won a big podrace and destroyed a droid control ship to save her mother's home world, she would be fine she thought with complete confidence.
With that decision made she walked over to one of the shuttles and quickly made her way up the ramp and into the shuttle, she went up to the cockpit and with some difficulty given her lack of height she managed to get the shuttle to take off and out of the hanger. She smirked with satisfaction as she leapt to hyperspace on the way to Manaan, eager to finally see some actual fighting for herself and to maybe show everyone that she wasn't a little girl anymore.
A sudden sound next to her made her look around in surprise and saw to her great annoyance that Luke had somehow snuck onboard and was looking at her with shock.
"What are you doing?" Luke asked her in confusion as to why she would steal a ship and run away.
"I was going to see Manaan, on my own…without you!" She said with anger and Luke was hurt by his sister's coldness when once they had been so close. He personally thought going to Manaan especially without their parents was far too dangerous but he couldn't leave Leia however much she wanted him too.
"We should go back! Mom and dad will be worried." Luke said with hope she might agree and turn the ship around but Leia was unaffected and told him.
"I just want to see it! That's all." She said and sat back in the pilot's chair, infuriated that Luke had ruined this by tagging along but there was nothing she could do about it now. When they got there, she would just have to keep an eye on him however much she hated it as it spoiled her fun.
Luke meanwhile was scared as he listened to his parents when they and others had told him how dangerous a battlefield is, they had lightsabers that they had just built but neither had mastered using them yet and the moment he was able he would get them both back to their parents who hopefully would not even have realised something had happened.
However, Luke failed to grasp just how long it took to get places even in hyperspace, hours went by as he and Leia sat in silence, Luke wanting to try and reconnect with his twin but Leia stubbornly refusing to even speak to him. She would just glare if he even tried.
Eventually though, they dropped out of hyperspace and saw to their amazed eyes just what was happening.
In orbit of the planet warships fought small scale battles with starfighters dogfighting all over the place. Wreckage of different ships littered the area and the twins were mesmerised by the sight having never seen anything like it before.
But this proved their undoing as a Tie Fighter caught sight of the shuttle and took a shot at it, the aim was bad and they only clipped it before an ARC-170 took it down but it was enough, the forward momentum of the shuttle sent it straight forward into the planet's gravity as it shook violently, Luke and Leia were frozen with fear as they realised the ship was going to crash and there was nothing they could do. They didn't know how to deal with this and both grasped hard at the controls trying their best to remember the piloting lessons their father had given them to try and land the ship where it was safe rather than crash headfirst into the ocean where they would drown.
They both were for the first time in quite a while actually working together and in unison, pushing whatever control of the ship that they had to make sure they made it to Ahto City, the only ground on the entire planet that they could reach and unfortunately the site of the battle for control of the planet.
The shuttle thankfully retained enough control they were able to get there but slammed down hard onto the city, skidding across the surface before coming to a stop, knocking the two young children around as it did so.
Neither thankfully was badly hurt, just shaken with some bumps and bruises and they managed to get out of the shuttle before it exploded but this left them stranded on Manaan with no means of contacting their parents or anyone they knew.
That fear left them even Leia who now was starting to realise the great danger she had put not only herself but her brother in was scared and unsure what to do. This was made worse when they looked out over the city or what parts of it that they could see and the complete madness that had engulfed it. Unaware of a danger that was approaching their position.
- x -
The streets of Ahto City were lined with rubble and wreckage as the Imperials fought against the Selkath along with their Rift Alliance supporters. Canderous Assault Tanks moved through the streets with modified TX-130 Tanks and Basilisk war droids, flanked by Rift Alliance soldiers which included not only the Mandalorians but Separatist battle droids, Mon Calamari and Wookiee soldiers.
Sky Troopers and Mandalorians flew through the air strafing ground targets as they did their best to force the enemy off this planet for good. Even in the water it was a battle field as submarines and aquatic troopers fought each other.
- x -
Selkath/Rift Alliance Command Centre, Ahto City…
"AT-AT spotted on main street." One of the officers, a Quarran said from the communications position and Haron who was standing at the battlefield management table which displayed the positions of all units allied and enemy alike nodded before giving his order.
"Has your order got any one in the area?" He said to a Selkath who was standing opposite him. Tref, the current leader of the planet's own force culture the Order of Shasa nodded and said in their native tongue.
"We have a squad there; they will use the force to deal with it." Tref told him and Haron who thankfully understood their language nodded.
"Good, they are throwing just about they have at main street. As long as we control that, we have the city." Haron said with a considering nod as he looked at the state of things. He looked over to Markus and Astoria who had finally joined them for their first battle and both were also here to learn not only the reality of war but also how to fight a battle.
"We have managed to reclaim the western sector." Chewbacca said to him in his own native tongue as he reported the status of the Wookiee warriors.
"Excellent, superb work." Haron said with a nod of respect to Chewbacca who let out a small noise of satisfaction. Markus and Astoria where comfortable around Wookiees having known Grahuur and his family most of their lives, they even played with his cubs who were still their best friends or at least among them so Chewbacca didn't scare them. They actually liked him a lot and would have gladly hung around the Wookiee all day if given the chance.
"We have them on the run." The Separatist commander Kleeve said with satisfaction only to be censured by Haron who was also teaching his children a vital lesson.
"No battle is over till it is won, never underestimate how fast the weather can change." He told him and the children sternly, both Markus and Astoria nodding in acceptance of his wisdom.
That was proven a moment later when they felt a disturbance in the force nearby, someone…no Haron thought as he focused on it…two younglings were in serious danger and terrified by it. They were strong in the force or he would never have felt it, Markus and Astoria both felt the disturbance as well but lacked his practice in localising it.
"Rally some of the warriors." Haron said with seriousness to his people who nodded and went to carry out his orders. He turned to Chewbacca, Kleeve and Tref before telling them.
"Something is going on elsewhere, I will investigate this personally. Keep me updated on any further developments." Haron told them as the battle was well in hand as his people knew what they had to do and Tref who unlike the other two could also sense the disturbance nodded.
"Will do, good hunting." He said and Haron left the command centre as his personal guard surrounded him and much to his own worry so did Markus and Astoria, he would have left them behind but without anyone he trusted in the camp he reluctantly allowed them to accompany him.
They leapt into the air and activated their packs, flying in the direction of the disturbance to see just what was happening.
- x -
Luke and Leia meanwhile were finding just how much they had to learn as the Sun Guard surrounded them, they drew their lightsabers but the Sun Guard were well prepared for them and pulled out a pair of rare tractor rifles and fired them straight at the lightsabers they holding, ripping them from their startled hands and leaving them all but defenceless.
Leia never one to give up tried to use the force against one of them and leapt in for a kick but the Sun Guard had reflexes that put many force users to shame and easily blocked the attack before slugging her right in the stomach. Leia instantly winded gasped for air and fell to the ground in shock while Luke now more terrified than he had ever been in his entire life as he tried to use the force to make them back away but he was too scared to concentrate and lacked the focus to blast them very far.
They found themselves being grabbed by members of the Sun Guard who held them tightly as they struggled but were too inexperienced to get themselves out of this.
Leia who had been so confidence only a short time ago was now more frightened than she ever had been before, she tried to struggle but the men holding her were too strong and she didn't know how to get out of this.
But then for them, the situation got even worse as a new figure appeared. He was tall and looked skeletal in appearance with extremely pale skin stretched over his bones, dressed in dark robes and had an implant with a red Lense replacing one of his eyes. They had a harsh, cold aura surrounding him making them feel awful and shiver at the sheer strength of it.
"Interesting." The man said in an emotionless and intelligent voice, looking at them like they were specimens under a microscope. "Very powerful, a little training…yes I think I can make something out of the two of you." He said a with cruel look in his one remaining eye.
These two were powerful, very powerful in the force he thought with excitement at having found such a prize. With the right training they would be able to overthrow the Emperor himself! His perfect little puppets and enforcers when the throne was his Antinnis Tremayne thought with cruel cunning as he planned to make the most of this, conjuring up streams of force lightning at the pair from his hands to soften them up a bit.
Both children screamed in pain as they had never been subjected to such things before and at their young age didn't have a clue how to handle it. Tears ran down their faces as they screamed out for their parents in the desperate hope that they'd come but Antinnis used the force to keep them from reach out.
Antinnis was smirking at the great opportunity that had fallen straight into his hands, given time he was certain he could make them into the perfect little puppets, he would need to break them down first but it would be only a matter of time he thought with certainty as the two younglings screamed.
Then a series of blaster shots came out of nowhere, the force giving only the slightest warning before the Sun Guard holding the younglings were shot in the chest and he was forced to abandon his attempt to soften them up to defend himself. His red lightsaber leaping to his hand to block the incoming blaster fire.
The Sun Guard fought back but the Mandalorians as they arrived had better armour than they did and better weapons, not to mention the Sun Guard had no cover to protect themselves with. Not to mention Akaan were among the Mandalorians, igniting two lightsabers of viridian and cyan blades respectably and seeing them cut through the Sun Guard was enough to make Antinnis jealous that he had no time to really interrogate one to draw out their secrets to make them his own. They were highly efficient as they cut them down with lightsabers and the force, using abilities he had scarcely dreamed of but then found himself confronted with the most dangerous of all.
Haron Ordo himself landed in front of him with the Darksaber lit and his voice as it spoke was terrifying.
"Torturing younglings." He said with a cold equal to that of Hoth and Antinnis honestly felt frozen to the spot for a moment as Haron was openly channelling his power which was far great than the Dark Disciple's own. "The Emperor's little minions are really nothing more than playground bullies picking on those smaller than themselves. So, I will have to show you what it feels like to be on the other side of that." Haron said with anger as he began to batter away at him with Form 7 in a furious assault that left Antinnis who had always been more of a thinker than a fighter overwhelmed, he tried to come up with a strategy to get out of the situation but Haron simply gave him no time to think and then he was hit by a blast of light which in the force that froze his body in place, leaving him helpless as Haron bisected him first at the waist and then at the neck.
Luke and Leia who had fallen to the ground and held each other in fear as while they were thankful to be rescued from their rather dire situation by the Mandalorians, neither knew them but they understood that they were no friends of the Empire and were fighting against it. They might not be safe but they were much better off than they had been a moment ago both twins realised.
"Hey. Want a hand? You're both safe now." A younger Mandalorian boy who looked to be a few years older than them said as they looked up, holding out his hand. Leia refused it and struggled to her own feet while Luke swallowed his own pride and accepted the help. The boy looked at Leia and scoffed at her which only made Leia snap at him.
"Don't laugh at me!" Leia said with anger partly to shake off the fear she was still feeling at their situation.
"I'm not…yet." The boy said and they could almost feel the smirk he had under his helmet. Leia spluttered with indignation before Haron looked at them himself, feeling echoes in the force he recognised and more to the point with a good look at them he realised just who they were.
"Where are your parents?" Haron asked the two sternly, not sure what Anakin and Padme were thinking letting their twins run around unsupervised. "Where is Anakin and Padme?"
Both Luke and Leia were surprised that he seemed to know who they were and then Luke realised just who he was facing and bowed in respect.
"Mandalore, thank you for saving us. We…we…they're not here. We came alone." Luke managed to say remembering their father had told them of his friend from the Clone Wars that now ruled the Mandalorians. He had offered their family a place to hide when the Empire was rising and been one of the key leaders against it.
Haron sighed with exasperation, they were just children! How in the blazes had they managed the trip here on their own and without their parents noticing? He asked himself.
"What possessed you to come out here on your own?" Haron told them both severely given how much danger this placed them in. "This is a war zone! Hundreds if not thousands will die here and much of the city has been torn apart. Why would you come here without your parents?!" He demanded of them and Luke folded like paper, wilting in shame. Leia however was regaining her own arrogant fire and answered back.
"I'm not little girl! I can handle myself!" She said with complete conviction which only got her a moment of silence before the Mandalorians started laughing. That only infuriated her even more.
"Stop it! Stop laughing!" She demanded stamping her foot which only made it worse. Haron was the only one of the Mandalorians not laughing though and his eyes narrowed at Leia as he started to understand just what had happened.
"I am guessing Luke followed you and that you are the one that decided to come here all by yourself. Am I right?" He asked her with suspicious eyes and she without fear told him.
"You stupid child." Haron said with anger as he considered just how idiotic Leia's actions were. His people and his own children stopped laughing as they realised his anger. "How could you be so arrogant that at ten years old you think you can take of yourself? You can't even reach the controls of a ship properly yet! You crashed your ship and nearly got captured yourself by the Empire! Do you know what they do to force sensitives they capture? I will tell you; they torture them until they serve the Empire! For weeks…months even. How would you feel to see your brother be tortured possibly until he died? Or him to watch you being tortured to death?" Haron told her brutally, making sure she understood the full weight of what she had done.
"It is bad enough that you put your own life in danger but what's worse is you put your brother in danger too! And my warriors who had to rescue you including my son and daughter." Haron told her waving towards Markus and Astoria, Leia was looking more and more downcast as each level of reality was poured on. She was having a rude awakening to reality; he was stern with his own children so this sort of thing didn't happen and clearly Leia needed some cold water to wake her up.
He knew this wasn't his place, this should be Anakin and Padme doing this but they weren't here and someone needed to stop this behaviour before she did get herself into real trouble that they wouldn't be able to rescue her from.
Leia was now feeling extremely foolish and guilty of her own arrogance and selfishness, her parents had tried to tell her about how dangerous it was out here but she had always been protected and done so well in her training that she had not paid attention. But the pain of being electrocuted and the fear of being taken by the Empire had finally made her understand just what her parents had been trying to protect her and her siblings from.
"I'm sorry…Luke. I should never have left the base." Leia said with her head bowed in shame and anguish. Her brother had nearly been killed because of what she had done and she was so sorry to have dragged him into this. She honestly was close to tears and while Haron worried he had gone too far; he had said what needed to be said.
Luke was surprised at how harsh the Mandalore was with Leia that he was honestly ready to argue but feeling how depressed Leia was and how truly sorry she was, opening up to him for the first time in so long he only smiled and hugged her. She returned it straight away, clinging to him tightly and glad he didn't hold her foolishness against her.
Haron sighed and turned to Roon who was standing nearby.
"Prepare a ship, we need to return these two to their parents."
Liber8 Base…Some Time Later…
Panic was spreading through the base as they had discovered that Luke and Leia had disappeared, all personnel were tearing the place apart looking for any trace of them or trying to track the missing shuttle in case they had been on it.
"How could we let this happen?!" Padme said with tears flowing down her cheeks as she curled up on the sofa with Mace wrapped in her arms. She had refused to let her youngest son out of her sight for fear of him disappearing too, however uncomfortable he found it Mace was not only scared for his siblings himself but able to feel his mother's terror and knew she needed it.
Anakin was pacing, unable to think or even concentrate with the thoughts of what might have happened to his eldest children. He had Kahr and their Noghri friends not to mention all the droids tearing every part of the base apart for any sign of Luke and Leia and every moment that went by without news his fear mounted higher and higher.
Kagame was working to find where the shuttle had gone as he was fairly certain Luke and Leia had been on it but as to who might have taken them…he didn't have a clue. The horrible thought that the Emperor might have gotten his hands on Luke and Leia struck terror into Anakin's heart.
He honestly had never felt as powerless in his entire life, even when he had been a slave, he had never felt this helpless. He sat down next to Padme and held both her and Mace in his arms, needing the comfort more than anything at this moment.
The small but incomplete family just held each other, all scared out of the minds by the absence of their two missing members but unable to do anything. They stayed like that for quite a while until Kagame came in with a small smile on his face.
"I think you should go to the hanger bay." He told them simply with his small knowing smile. The scared parents and Mace looked over to him in surprise and Padme asked him desperately.
"Is there news on the twins?" She hoped with her eyes wide and begging for it to be so, much to her and Anakin's relief Kagame nodded and without wasting another moment both parents grabbed Mace and ran down to the hanger.
It didn't take them long to get there and while the sight of Kom'rk class transport sitting there was strange along with a squad of Mandalorian warriors around it, there at the foot of the ramp was Luke and Leia!
Padme broke into a run the moment she saw them, Mace and Anakin just behind her and seeing them Luke and Leia likewise ran to meet them.
Padme pulled them into her arms the moment they were close enough and hugged them so tightly, crying as she held her children as they held her back and cried too. They were so relieved to be in their mother's arms and Anakin and Mace joined in the moment they were able.
Everyone looked on with relief that the two children were alright including Kahr and Master Kagame who nodded in thanks to Haron who took it with good grace. This went on for a moment before Anakin finally asked the questions that they needed to answer.
"Where were you? We tore this place apart looking for you." He demanded, Leia and Luke looking worried but Kagame who had already been told the series of events by Haron answered for her.
"It seems that Leia became determined to see just what was happening on Manaan and decided to take a shuttle to see for herself, Luke following her when he realised what she was doing. Only when they got there they were shot down and nearly captured by the Sun Guard and one of the Emperor's disciples. Fortunately, the Mandalore was close by and sensed they were in danger, rescuing them before returning them here."
"They're just lucky they look enough like you both that I recognised them." Haron said with an amused voice. Padme looked at the twins with shock and then fury at putting themselves in so much risk.
"You did what?!" She exclaimed in a strained voice and wanted to scream at them both for being so foolish and Anakin who was right behind her at least realised how lucky they'd been and was just thankful that Haron had been there.
"Thank you Haron." Anakin said with real gratitude which Haron took with grace.
"Don't mention it, I understand believe me. Especially since I started bringing my children with me." Haron said putting his hands on the shoulders of two smaller figures who had accompanied him. "My son Markus and my daughter Astoria." He said to introduce them, Anakin smiled and shook both of their hands.
"Our father has said good things of you." Astoria said as she shook his hand, Anakin nodded and replied.
"And I of him. He's been a good friend."
"As have you. Now, unfortunately duty requires I be elsewhere so for now, at least until we meet again hopefully under better circumstances. Till next time." Haron said with a sadness that he and Anakin only seemed to meet briefly these days and usually when there was some sort of emergency on. Anakin felt the same but understood, letting Haron and his people board their ship and depart.
Anakin now his fears were relieved looked at the twins who already where being scolded by Padme for their foolishness and looking very much like they wished the ground would swallow them up.
Oh, they would be wishing that for a long while yet, Anakin thought with anger at all they had put them through and worse putting themselves into so much unnecessary danger. He and Kagame would make sure they regreted it when they intensified their training to make sure that they never did something so stupid again! He fumed as he stared at the children frowning, never having thought himself a disciplinarian but in this case he most certainly would be.
There we are, hope you all enjoyed it! Please review and let me know what you thought.
The Extremis Project was inspired of course by the Extremis shown in Iron Man 3 of the MCU. The Centipede is also based on something of the same name from the MCU specially the Agents of Shield tv show. It created Deathlok.
Solis is based an alternate version of Earth from a show called Maddigan's Quest.
The idea of bringing Earth sports both magical and normal to the story was suggested by Okami Princess.
The Spirit of Fire is a ship I took a liking too and it was very popular when I asked for ideas for ships so I was eager to bring it in when I could. Halo made some awesome ships.
Next Chapter – The Sun Guard continues to be a problem; the war continues as two worlds become the focus. The Mandalorians and Rebellion join forces on a special project and House Ordo makes an interesting discovery. In the Imperium meanwhile Irulan is forced to deal with Paul's neglect.