Deep in the heart of Coruscant, where the sunlight cannot reach, a rasping, damaged Kelborne clenches his wound as he travels through the dark misty streets of the older city below. A bloody cloth is held in his hand as he keeps it pressed against the stump of where his arm once was. The Jedi sword that tore it off cauterized it immediately, but it still oozes slightly from the lack of proper treatment as the burn tries to heal. Kelborne holds himself against the building's walls as he walks along; his once golden polished armor now shows the scars of being in battle. The vacant streets of this shadowy lower level are a sign that no one lives in this area anymore. This part of the city is home to those who don't wish to be seen, the poor, the forgotten, the anti-socials and the criminal element. Kelborne has been here many times, he knows the streets and of the few that reside here. None will bother him as he walks alone because there is no one who dares to step out of their homes; this is a place where anything can happen at any given time.

As the wheezing bounty hunter turns down another path, he looks up and sees his small round craft waiting for him. The golden sphere shines like a beacon to him in this dark underworld, the last remaining part of his once beautiful ship and now his only means of escaping Coruscant before the authorities or even the Jedi try to find him. Scattered about the base of the ship are a few bodies, some of the criminal scum that usual try to break into any vehicle that lands in their territory. It is very apparent that his small craft is rigged with booby traps; their missing limbs and smoldering corpses are an indication of that very fact. Kelborne gives a slight chuckle as he witnesses the fools that dared to break in, and kicked their bodies out of his path as he gets to the door. Stepping inside his small ship as the door slides open, he leans over the pilot seat and powers up the vessel. The ship is small enough for him and a small amount of cargo, as the round inside shows that there is enough space for that. The interior is black and barely lit, the few buttons he switches on are the only source of illumination the craft will ever have. As he presses the last button on the console a holographic image of the Dark lord, Bane appears. The soft flickering and hum of the hologram gives an eerie tone as Sith stares up at Kelborne as if he had been waiting for his call.

"Well? Have you completed your task?' Bane asks.

The shifting image of him causes his voice to distort, deep at first but then back to normal as the transmission settles. Kelborne holds on to his armless stump and continues to wheeze in pain.

"I couldn't get near the child! Too many Jedi…this bounty has cost me much!"

"I don't care what it costs." The Sith lord growled. "You told me you could do this…that the Jedi were no match for you."

Kelborne slightly giggled as he remembered telling Bane that. "Two I can manage…but more then that…a difficult task indeed."

"So you failed." Bane bluntly states.

"It wasn't my fault!" Kelborne shouts. "I almost had him, had it not been for some other Jedi trying to fight the boy as well."

Bane's head rose suddenly as he hears him mentioning that fact.

"Another Jedi was dueling with him?"

Kelborne holds on to his sore stump and nods as he feels the pain of it still throbbing.

"Yessss…he wasn't dressed like regular Jedi…but his methods were almost the same."

"Excellent." Bane chuckles. "Then the war between them has already begun…much sooner that I anticipated. The collapse of the Jedi Order will send the Republic in turmoil… and from the ashes of that chaos…the Sith shall finally rise again and take our place as masters of the Force."

Bane quickly points at the bounty hunter as if he can see him standing right in front of him. The old man sneers at the creature and continues to talk in his sinister tone.

"Go back and fetch me that young Padawan. I don't want to hear anymore excuses, remember our bargain and fulfill your contract."

Kelborne hisses again at him and clutches his fist in anger.

"But I can't take on all of the Jedi, the Republic guards and some foolish mercenary woman on my own! I lost my arm, my ship, everything I had to get at this stupid child! This is more then what we agreed I would have to do…I demand to be compensated for my loss!"

The image of Bane flickers again as the cloaked man laughs at his suggestion.

"For what? I see no reason to pay you for nothing…all you had to do is grab the boy and be done with it. But like the arrogant idiot you are, you took on the Jedi to satisfy you're revenge for the loss of your people. And your arm will grow back in due time…your species has the property to heal within six months. So don't waste my time with such stupid requests."

Kelborne leans closer to the hologram Sith and hisses at him.

"You will pay me in full or I will expose you to your enemies!"

That caught Bane's attention as he glared at the bounty hunter curiously.

"I beg your pardon?"

"You heard me Bane." Kelborne snickers. "If you don't compensate me for my loss…I will turn myself in and tell the Jedi everything. Even the location of your dark moon…yessss…I think they'd be very interested to hear that."

Bane holds his black twisted cane tightly as he brings it around and uses it to keep him self balanced as he listens.

"So you would go and make peace to the same Jedi that wiped out your species? What does that say about your honor Kelborne, Last son of Brathinzen? You seem to have a double standard within you."

The creature swipes at the image causing it to warp and disrupt the Sith's transmission, the dark lord didn't even flinch as the bounty hunter snarled at him and took his hand to him.

"Careful Bane!" The creature hissed as he started to control his anger. "You could be next on my hit list if you don't watch you mouth! I'd track you to the ends of the universe and kill you for not paying me for my services! Pay me…or be prepared to have the Jedi come calling to you."

Bane again remained motionless; the simple sigh he gave was enough to see there was no point in arguing with the bounty hunter. As the image flickered again, the signal started to become weak and Bane began to speak his final words to him.

"Very well, Kelborne. If this is how you want it, you shall get what you deserve."

The creature hissed in delight and bowed at the Sith for his decision.

"Darth Gaul…give it to him." The Sith lord said as his image flickered and turned off.

Kelborne was confused by the last statement and suddenly heard a lightsaber turning on behind him. Quickly turning around, the bounty hunter saw the other Sith sitting in the shadows directly behind him with the glow of his blood red lightsaber shinning on his face. As the creature howled in horror, Darth Gaul took his sword and struck down at the bounty hunter. Outside of the ship, the main window only shows a brief flash of light and shadows of their figures within the ship as the Sith kills the man instantly. The golden-orbed craft now sits silent as the power inside dies down and sits in the lone dark streets of the Coruscant underworld.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

On an open balcony in the Jedi Temple, So'bal glares out at the city as the day shines through the many buildings and vehicle traffic above. The open space gives him time to think and reflect on the events that have happened and his eyes show a more melancholy gaze that he never had before. Jedi Master Zen'Tauk and Yoda join the quiet man standing outside and share in his view of the cityscape.

"Life goes on…see how the world passes over…even in a time of great danger." The wise old man speaks out loud.

"Yes." Jin Wan says as he notices the man trying to imply a meaning. "Even when death comes to those defending those many passing day by day…they'll never know what truly happened in the night."

The young Jedi Master looks to Zen'Tauk with confusion.

"How did we not see it? How is it that Master Oberon passed our eyes with this blinding hatred? I didn't think it was possible for any Jedi to act in such a way."

Zen'Tauk pats him comfortingly on the back and smiles at him.

"Don't you? Remember I wasn't too thrilled about your actions as a Jedi…always looking to the future were you, seeking adventure and wanting to have some excitement beyond the temple. Seems that your actions have fired the imagination of others."

"Forgive my foolish actions Master Zen'Tauk." The young man replies. "I've not helped the Jedi in returning to the temple …I've only deepened the rift that has inflamed a war within."

"War was coming with or without your return." The old man sighs. "It seems that even the Jedi Order is not immune to growing inflexible with the way of change. The old ways conflicting with the new…and vice versa. Still, the time has come and we must find a way to not let this rebellion destroy the very core of the Jedi belief."

Turning back to watch the city, Jin Wan gazes out in despair and folds his arms together as he leans down on the balcony railing.

"That won't be easy. No doubt his followers will spread to every Jedi training facility throughout the Republic and continue to recruit others into his madness. How do we keep this a secret Master Zen'Tauk? The Republic Senate will demand an answer…especially with the riot that took place on the lower levels."

The old Jedi turns around and walks away slowly with his cane in hand. The tapping of it against the marbled floor causes an echo through the air, Yoda, who had been simply watching the city as Jin Wan had, was wakened out of his trance and watched the old man leave suddenly.

"Leave that to me and the Council." The old man grumbles. "We'll just tell them it was another Jedi training exercise that got out of hand and that we've managed to disiplne the young ones that started it. The Senate will take our word and return to their own affairs. Just so we're clear on this Jin Wan…there is no rebellion, no civil war in our order and no Jedi will make mention of this to any citizen of the Republic."

Jin Wan quickly spins around and stares at the old Jedi as he continues to walk away.

"They won't believe it this time!" He shouts. "Too many have died…too many witnesses have seen…if other Jedi camps begin to fall how will you hide it from the Senate? We're going to have to tell them sometime…if not us…the other planets that discover it will. "

Stopping in his tracks and looking back, the old man stares at the young brash Jedi Master and taps his cane in anger.

"Enough! Yes, it will be difficult…it will be the greatest challenge we've ever faced. But we must not let the Republic know about it or even see it! If they knew our order was on the brink of splitting apart…all hell would break loose and the Republic would begin to collapse! Yes my boy…that would be a great pity indeed…for all of us!"

Jin Wan stood there shocked by the man's anger and suddenly realized the old man is right. His eyes glazed over with understanding, he lowered his head as he thought about the devastation the impact of the Jedi rift would have at the galaxy at large and nodded in agreement with Zen'Tauk.

"Yes…yes…you're…you're right. Forgive me again, Master."

The old man's face slowly released the angered look and turned his head away again as he looked back inside.

"Don't worry about it now, Jin Wan. The Council and I will see to it that all that has happened is forgotten and overlooked. I don't take pleasure in deceiving the Senate, nor our order, but for the good of all things…this is how it must be. Fear not, Oberon will need time to prepare for this war of his, our goal now is to seek out his followers and keep them from disturbing the Jedi from their true path. Go and get some rest…for tomorrow…the real test of our faith begins."

The old man walks back into the temple just as a group of young Jedi children run into the room he passed playing with a round golden orb. They use the Force to control its movements and laugh at one another as they each pass it off. Yoda not paying attention to them keeps his eyes focused on the troubled face of his Jedi instructor.

"Master…" He says quietly.

"Yes my Padawan?" He responds as he looks down at him.

"Confusing these days have been to me…to see death…to see friends come and go…to not know where the Force truly lies."

Jin Wan crouches down at the boy and looks into his eyes.

"These are confusing times my dear young one. And do not know for sure how they will turn out, but so long as you listen to the will of the Force and pay attention to what your heart truly feels…I believe you'll see the destiny that has been chosen for you and that all confusion will melt away in time. Learn the ways of the Force my young one…and you'll discover it will give you a sense of clarity."

The green boy smiles at his Jedi master and gave him a hug for being a good friend to him. Jin Wan looks over at the children playing and a strange smirk creeps onto his face as he sees them toss the Jedi toy about. As Yoda releases him from the embrace, Jin Wan looks at him again and recalls an old memory.

"You know, when I was about your age, I too was brought to the temple…it was a scary time for me. But when Master Bin Col Daus took me under his wing and saw the fear within me, he told me something I'll never forget. ' Go and be a child' he said. ' Learn to play, to laugh and to have fun. This is the time you need to be innocent to all things and the best time to know what it means to be young.' And he was right…because when we grow up, we tend to shed away those innocent times, our lives become complicated or overwhelmed with duty that we forget what it was like to live in such innocence. Fear, anger, hatred…it will surround us constantly and we need those memories of happier times to make us remember what it is we are trying to protect and preserve…to never forget that life itself is innocent."

Yoda's eyes had not been looking at him the entire time he was talking, he seemed to be distracted by the children laughing and having fun with the golden ball. His curious eyes followed them as they pranced about the room giggling and trying to break the other's concentration by tickling them.

"Yoda? Did you hear me?" Jin Wan says snickering as he notices the boy not paying attention.

"What…what are they doing Master?"

Jin Wan shakes his head realizing that small child is just that, a child.

"Playing." He chuckled. "Why don't you go and join them my boy…"

Yoda looked up as Jin Wan stood again, he winked at him and pointed at the children.

"Go be a child Yoda…and have some fun."

Yoda's grin was from ear to ear; his giddy laugh caused even Jin Wan to do so in a very delighted fashion. Yoda quickly ran into the room with the children and asked if he could play too. The kids all cheered him to join and soon enough he was laughing and tossing the small object around with them. The young Jedi Master watched his student with a smile as he remained out on the balcony and leaning back on the railing. The wise words of his former Master seemed to echo in his mind as watched the children play.

"Indeed you where right my old friend…." Jin Wan whispered to himself as he sat there reflecting. "Times like this…will never come again."

The children laugh as Yoda takes control of the ball with his powers and spins it around the room in a fast motion; the Force within him is growing stronger as he seems to control the ball better then the younger ones around him. Perhaps a sign that a bigger destiny lies ahead for this small, green child.

END

Coming soon….

STAR WARS – THE JEDI WARS

EPISODE II : BATTLE FOR THE JEDI ORDER