Chapter 9: The Fall of the New Republic
The flight back to Yavin was going too quietly for anyone's tastes. Kim quietly cried in the back cargo bay of the shuttle, clinging to the only sign of Jim they found on Bespin: his outer robe. "How are you holding up?" Luke asked as he entered the bay and found her holding the robe tight to her chest.
"How do you think I'm holding up?" Kim snapped, but softened visibly. "I'm sorry, Master … I just …"
"It's alright …" Luke patted her shoulder and sat down beside her.
"We're going to drop the kids off at Coruscant," Luke said, glancing to the robe in Kim's arms. "Jaina's still catatonic. What ever happened to Jim … it affected her almost as badly."
"What am I going to do, Luke?" Kim asked with a trembling voice.
"We'll figure something out," Luke pulled her to him in a comforting hug. "We'll figure something out …"
"What gives us the honor of this visit, Lord Demonus," Darth Sidious said sarcastically as Demonus and his cloaked apprentice entered the bridge of the Leviathan.
"I have taken an apprentice," Demonus nodded back to the young man behind him. "He is known as Darth Gemini."
"What gives you the right to take …" Darth Shego growled from Sidious' side.
"Silence, Daughter," Sidious growled before turning to the turned Jedi. "Is he loyal to our cause?"
"He is to mine." Demonus replied shortly.
"We must test his loyalty and yours as well," Sidious smiled wickedly. "Stoppable."
"Have I ever done anything to disprove my loyalty to the Sith Order?" Demonus questioned angrily.
"Where do you want us to start?" Shego shot back.
"Do not pretend to think I do not know you have released some Jedi when you are ordered to slaughter all who you come in contact with." Sidious leaned forward. "But I have the ultimate test for both of you."
"Admiral Thawn," Sidious turned to the head of the bridge. "Set a course for Yavin IV …" He smiled over his shoulder at the Demonus and Gemini. "We will destroy the Jedi this time, no children left to be raised to oppose us."
"Is that satisfactory, Lord Demonus … Lord Gemini?" Sidious gave a sadistic smile.
"Yes … my Lord…" Demonus growled before turning and leaving the bridge, Gemini following silently behind.
Luke rubbed his forehead as the arguing continued outside the Solo apartment. Han Solo and Boba Fett had been at it for the hour they'd been there. Leia and Kim had helped make Jaina comfortable in her room while the others rested in the living area.
Luke, himself, was now at the communications console speaking with Mara and Rue Fus.
"I do not believe it," Rue Fus denied again, "Harm a hair on anyone's head that had the surname Possible, Ronald would not."
"It's what it looks like," Luke sighed, "Unless … I shudder to think what could happen if he had turned the boy."
"We have more news, Luke," Mara spoke up. "We think we've found the last cloning facility. At least, we hope it's the last."
"Excellent, I want you and Rue Fus to go pick up Knight Thekio on the Forest Moon of Endor; he's visiting his father there. I'm sure you're aware of his stealth and infiltration skills, Rue."
"Proud of my former apprentice, I am," Rufus nodded, "Leave at once, we will. May the Force be with you, Master Skywalker."
"And may it be with the both of you," Luke nodded.
"And you better be careful, Farmboy. Talk to you when we get back. Love you." Mara said as the hologram faded out.
Luke sat back as Leia came in and hugged his neck from behind. "Mara's going after Palpatine's cloning facility. I'm not sure where he gets all of these."
"What about …" Leia said, glancing back to see Kim walk into the living room and sit down. Her once lively, vivid green eyes were now dull and drowned in sadness.
"He won't end up like father, Leia," Luke whispered, watching Kim sit and listen to Jacen and Anakin talk. "If that happened … I doubt Kim would survive it."
Leia started to retort when Luke's eyes widened and his cheeks paled. "What's wrong?"
"Jacen, Anakin, we have to go, NOW." Luke said shooting to his feet.
"What's wrong, Uncle Luke?" Jacen asked as they all glanced up in worry.
"Reach out with the Force, feel the presence approaching Yavin." Luke said, and all Force-sensitives present closed their eyes and gasped.
"What is it?" Leia breathed, gripping her chest.
"Stay here with Jaina, Leia. Keep a blaster and … do you still have your lightsaber?" Luke asked, his worried eyes penetrating his sister's soul. She nodded quickly. "Keep it close too; you may need it. I'll get Boba and Han to come with us. We may need both ships to evacuate."
"Will we get there in time, though?" Kim asked as they raced away from Leia and the apartment toward the landing pad.
"Han's always bragging about the Falcon's speed; let's see if it can live up to the name …" Luke said as they approached the ships and their captains.
"Very good!" Kyle Katarn said as Bonnie deflected a slash from his lightsaber. "You see, children? It's not a forceful defense, but a smooth fluid rise from her blade to deflect my own."
"Master?" one of the younger Jedi apprentices asked, pointing to the sky. "Aren't shooting stars supposed to fall at night?"
Kyle looked up and paled visibly. "Everyone to the shelters!" He yelled, pointing toward the exit, and the class jumped to their feet and ran as the ground shook from impacts.
"Atmospheric Bombardment …" Bonnie breathed and could see the faint line of dropships and a large battleship approaching through the blue, smoke-filled skies. "Sith …"
"Exactly," Kyle sighed, drawing his lightsaber in one hand and a blaster in the other. "Looks like we're being invaded."
Several dropships slammed into the ground around the Jedi Temple as Sith Troopers poured out, firing blasters at anything that moved.
"Just troopers? Where's the fun in that?" Josh Mankey laughed as he deflected several blasts back at the troopers. "Oh, good, there it is." He said as he saw an armored figure and three cloaked ones exit a dropship.
"Kill them all; I want no one left standing or breathing," Sidious said as Shego, Demonus, and Gemini walked out through the attacking troops.
"You know what to do," Demonus whispered to Gemini, who nodded in response as they drew their lightsabers.
"Hello, old friend," Gemini said as the young Jedi Zekk stood before him with his saber pointed right at him.
"You're no friend of mine, Sith," Zekk growled, narrowing his eyes and earning a grin from his opponent's half hidden face.
Gemini drew his twin sabers, blue and green, and leapt at Jedi in a dance of blades.
They slashed and clashed for several moments before Gemini said in a very familiar voice. "I need you to tell Jaina something for me."
"What?" Zekk stopped with wide eyes, giving an opening that Gemini took. He came across his face with the green saber, but killed the blade for a moment, so only the unlit hilt dug into the skin on his cheek bone. He relit it a moment later, leaving the illusion of an instant kill instead of the factual KO, scarring attack.
"Tell her I'm sorry," Gemini said in the unmistakable voice of Jim Possible.
Meanwhile, Josh slashed a few troopers and spun around just in time to block a powerful strike from Demonus' saber.
"Darth Demonus, I presume?" Josh smirked at the armored Sith Lord overconfidently.
"When we last met, Mankey, I was but the learner," Demonus growled, rounding around to slash at Josh's blade multiple times, before doing a hard thrust. "Now, I am the master."
"I've never met you before!" Josh growled, pushing the Sith Lord back with every lightsaber attack he knew.
"You won one battle, Mankey, and that will your only victory," Demonus growled lazily deflecting Mankey's attacks. "I will serve you a fate worse than death."
"You'll have to beat me first!" Josh said, and as the words left his mouth, Demonus' crimson blade cut through the center of the hilt of Josh's lightsaber, slicing his hand in half between his middle fingers.
Josh screamed loudly as his lightsaber fell to the ground in two halves sparking and burning. He stumbled back and dropped to his knees cradling his crippled hand to his chest. "I remember this," Demonus said as he placed the tip of his saber at Mankey's chin. "Only our positions were reversed."
"Who … Stoppable?" Josh gawked as Demonus used his free hand to unsnap the faceplate and removed his helmet, dropping it to the side. "Stoppable? You're Demonus …" Josh whimpered staring into Ron's yellowish red eyes. Ron lifted his hand as if he was clutching something and Josh was lifted to his feet on into the air. "But … you're … a … Jedi … you're … a Jedi …"
Josh levitated toward Ron and gasped when the gloved hand closed around his face. "Now, I will give you what you deserve." Ron said as he narrowed his eyes in concentration, ignoring the screams Josh was releasing. He finally dropped the young man to the ground and smirked down at him. "Now, you are what you think the least of…" Ron said as he turned his back on his fallen enemy.
"I'm not dead! It's not over!" Josh tried a Force attack, but despite how much concentration he felt nothing. It was as if he was never connected to the Force at all. "No … no … no …" Josh shook his head as he continued to try to touch the Force.
"Pathetic." Demonus said before levitating his helmet back to him and putting it back on.
"Ron …" A voice called from his left, and Demonus looked to see Bonnie standing with a group of pre-teen students.
Demonus turned to face them as he relit his lightsaber.
"The area is secure, My Lord," Darth Shego said as she approached Darth Sidious. "Demonus, Gemini, and the soldiers are finishing up the search and destroy operation. The temple is ours."
"You picked the wrong school to attack," Kyle said as he fought his way toward the two Sith.
"Kyle Katarn, I remember you." Sidious nodded toward the Jedi Master. "Lady Shego, kill him. Slowly."
Shego beamed at the command as she lit her light-claws and dove for the Jedi. "Ah! Skywalker," Sidious grinned as the Millennium Falcon appeared in the distance. "The game is coming to an end..." he said as he lifted a com-link. "This is the Emperor. The Jedi are falling. Begin the attack." he replaced the com-link as the Falcon flew overhead slowly.
"There he is," Luke Skywalker spoke into his own com-link as he stood on the opened gangplank of the Falcon. "Han, land the Falcon and you and Chewy help Kyle with Shego. Kim, get Ron. Try to get through to him; if not, you know what to do. Sidious is mine." He said before he flipped out of the still airborne Falcon and landed with a slash attack on a pair of Sith Troopers.
"Hello, Young Skywalker," Sidious said as he approached the Jedi Master, his arms crossed inside his robe.
"I give you one warning to surrender, Palpatine; yield or be destroyed." Luke said, drawing his saber.
"You are so much like your father, Young Luke," Palpatine chuckled, "So full of blind allegiance; it is your excuse, is it not? So much hatred you feel, but you do not allow it to surface, just like your father. And like your father, it will one day burst and consume you. And on that day, you will bow to me, followed by my destruction of you."
"You've been cloned too many times, Emperor," Luke said, gripping his saber, "you've become delusional."
"Maybe so, but whatever the case may be, the Jedi fall today." Sidious said, drawing and lighting his crimson lightsaber. "And with it, the New Republic."
Luke answered with an attack that Sidious deflected easily. "Powerful you have become, but you could be stronger, almost as strong as your father before he fell on Mustafar."
"There's something I always wanted to say to you," Luke growled as he slashed at the Sith, "You talk too much."
Across the galaxy, the armada of Death Stars dropped from Hyperspace at strategic locations. While smaller and less powerful than the original variation, these Death Stars' number was more of a threat then the original Death Stars combined.
"This is Admiral Thrawn," The Sith Admiral came over all communication channels. "Attack and Raid, leave no city untouched by our power. Retake the Empire!"
Not a moment later, Coruscant and every other major New Republic plant was bombarded with the Death Stars' main weapons, bringing massive beams of energy crashing to the surface destroying buildings, homes, and lives.
On the surface, one of the few untouched parts of Coruscant, Leia Organa-Solo sat with her daughter and their Protocol Droid, using what knowledge of the Force she knew to aid her catatonic daughter. She could feel the danger through the Force, and the fear and dread through her connection with her twin brother. She got up quickly from her daughter's bedside and left the room, moving quickly to her own.
She opened her closet and pulled a metal box she kept hidden away. She pressed her thumb against a sensor, unlocking it, and reached inside.
She stared at the item that she wished she never had to hold again as she heard her front door blasted open. She was a politician now, not a fighter. But to threaten a mother's child … "Threepio, stay with Jaina," Leia instructed as she walked past the gold Protocol Droid into the hallway of their home.
Despite the perpetually bad Kamino rain storm, a group of Sith Troopers quickly moved outside to the landing bay as Slave 1 and the Jade Sabre approached for a landing at the last cloning faculty on the planet. They stayed in position as the gangplanks opened, but nothing exited. No strike force, no Jedi, no anything.
A moment later, two small figures began to walk down the gangplank of the Jade Sabre. They wore Jedi Robes, but neither was more than two to three feet tall.
"Is that … an Ewok?" A Sith Trooper asked as the two approached them slowly.
The twelve troopers lowered their defense, after all, what could a Ewok and something that looked like the size of a standard blaster do? Two pop hisses later followed by twelve dead bodies hitting the wet ground answered that question.
"See, that's what happens when you underestimate the little guys," Mara said as she and Boba Fett joined the two Jedi.
"Weak minded, Sith troopers often are," Rue Fus nodded, rubbing his chin. "Agree, wouldn't you, my former apprentice."
"Feej chak!" the Ewok nodded speaking in his native language.
"Language, you must watch," Rue Fus scolded, "Better, I have taught you!"
The Ewok muttered an apology.
"Cute little killing machine, aren't ya?" Mara patted his head.
"Cute?" Boba Fett glanced Mara's way.
"Don't get smart, Fett," Mara lifted her chin and walked past him, drawing her lightsaber as she followed Thekio and Rue Fus into the complex.
The three Jedi and one bounty hunter made short work of the clone tubes with young and old cloned bodies of Palpatine. "Hope this is all of them," Mara said as she swiped another with her lightsaber.
"Only one to go, do the honors, will you, Mara?" Rue Fus said as the groups turned to the last tube and froze instantly.
"Um … that's not Palpatine …" Boba Fett said staring at the seemingly intentionally damaged clone.
"He looks like Luke … oh, my gods … it … it can't be …" Mara's eyes widened at the mauled body when she realized it wasn't a clone of her husband. Shock caused her to step back toward what she expected to be the wall. She bumped into what felt like a body and turned quickly to see what it was. She screamed loudly after the moment it took her to recognize the demonic armor. She fell to the floor and crawled backward. "Vader!"
"Calm down, you must," Rue Fus said patting Mara's. "Empty armor it is. Dead is Vader, long dead."
"Sorry … just … coming face to face with him again … not … something I ever …" Mara sighed, trying to gather her nerves. "We have to destroy this one too." Mara said, standing up and drawing her lightsaber. Just before she slashed the clone and its tank a voice called from across the room.
"Wait!" Mara glanced to see a transparent figure standing not far from them. "I want to help. That can help me do that."
"You've improved a great deal, Young Skywalker," Sidious said as he clashed with the Jedi Master.
"Yeah, and I didn't have to make myself a young clone body to do it either," Luke said, deflecting the Sith Lord's counter attack. "You should try it sometime. The Light Side isn't so bad."
Mental readouts on the Clone Chamber spiked as the life support systems rose from stasis level.
"You have underestimated the power of the Dark Side for the last time, Skywalker," Sidious growled as he slashed at Luke again and again.
"As have you with the Light for too long," Luke replied, spinning around to slash at Palpatine's neck, but only made contact with the Sith's lightsaber.
The crippled body was lifted from the cloning solution, gasping in pain as the medical droids moved it to a work table.
"Stoppable was easy to corrupt," Sidious changed tactics as he deflected two more attacks. "After how you let your Jedi treat him, is it little wonder he fell to the Dark Side?"
"Shut up," Luke growled, his eyes flashing, "Just shut up…"
Replacement mechanical arms and legs snapped onto the crippled stubs causing the scared damaged body to scream out even more.
Luke's lightsaber passed through the stone pillar as Sidious jumped away. "Just like your master before you, Obiwan handed your father to me on a silver platter, just as you handed Stoppable to me."
"I will save him …" Luke shot, stabbing at the laughing Sith only to be deflected back.
Black armor was placed on the now cybernetic body. His screaming had been reduced to heavy panting as Mara, Rue Fus and Thekio watched in morbid fascination as one of the most feared symbols of dread was being assembled.
"You will destroy him," Sidious laughed, "Just like you did to your father." He laughed even louder when Luke lost his cool and attacked full force.
"Still a foolish boy," Sidious said as he spun around in a slash Luke wasn't expecting, slashing through the prosthetic hand holding his lightsaber.
The Jedi Master yelled in pain as he fell to the ground cradling his injured limb. "Now, prepare to die, young Skywalker …" Sidious held an open palm sparking with electricity toward the Jedi.
The Clone's ocean blue eyes widened but closed again in preparation as a large black metallic mask lowered toward his face, two eye monitors shined red, showing what the camera-lenses on the front side of the mask showed. It clamped down on the neck piece as the large rounded helmet came down to clamp. With a bone chilling sound of 'Pu-pah' … he lived again.
"It can't be …" Sidious paled even farther as he stared into Luke's eyes, realizing the Jedi Master felt the sudden powerful presence return to the Living Force
"Father …" Luke breathed reaching out through the Force.
"Lord Vader …" Sidious gasped, his yellow eyes widening under his hood. "Darth Shego, come along. We're leaving; leave a shuttle for Demonus and Gemini. All Sith Forces retreat!"
Kyle ran to Luke and helped him up as the woman he had been fighting came to the Sith Lord's side. "We will meet again soon, Skywalker. This latest event changes nothing." Sidious said before the two Sith Lord and their troopers climbed on their transports.
"What just happened, Luke?" Kyle asked, watching the shuttles take off.
"Something very good …" Luke breathed, cradling his injury. "Or something very bad."
"Master, something's happened," Gemini said as he approached the Sith Lord patrolling looking for any other survivors. "We're pulling out."
"Very well. Have you done as I instructed?" Demonus asked, earning a nod from his apprentice. "Very good, Then go get on the shuttle with the others … I will be along shortly."
"Master?" Gemini cocked his head to the side.
"Go on, I won't be a moment." Demonus nodded, and his apprentice bowed hesitantly before going with the troopers. Once they were gone. "Hello, KP."
"Keep your hands where I can see them …" Kim said as she approached the Sith from behind, her blaster held out before her shaking as her arms trembled.
"Stop me." Demonus instructed softly.
Kim said nothing as she held her ground. "Can you stop me, KP?" Demonus said, turning to face her, her own tear stand face reflecting in his solid faceplate. "I have hurt you... far too many times. If stopping me will ease your pain, KP, then stop me."
"You're not my Ron anymore …" Kim gulped, tears running down her cheeks. She wanted to pull the trigger, but she couldn't make her finger move at all. All she could do was tremble and cry.
"Perhaps …" Demonus said as he reached up and removed his protective helmet, letting Kim see his face with its freckles, his slight dimpled chin, longer unruly hair, and the brown eyes laced with red and yellow. "I have hurt many people, Kim. Do you remember? You promised me. If I ever became a monster, you would stop me."
Kim couldn't fight back the sob escaping her throat as the blaster shook even more in her hands. She closed her eyes tight and tried again to pull the trigger, but her finger still refused to move. Her green eyes shot open wide when the blaster stopped moving as a hand touched it. She watched in horror as Ron lifted the blaster's barrel and placed it right between his eyes. "Please, KP … don't let me hurt anyone else…"
"Ron … I …" Kim gulped as even more tears rushed down her cheeks.
"Do what you must," Ron smiled, all red and yellow leaving his now perfectly chocolate brown eyes.
The sound of blaster fire echoed across the Yavin plains and the ruins of the Jedi Academy.
Kim pulled the trigger three more times before dropping the blaster she was holding over her head to the ground at Ron's feet. "I … I can't do it … I can't …"
"Kim?" Demonus asked in a tone of pure confusion, sounding so much like the Ron she knew and loved. Kim knew she would regret this choice, but it was the only one she could make, the only one her heart would let her.
"Ron …" She breathed before diving into the Sith's armored chest, wrapping her arms around his back. "I don't care, Ron, I don't … I don't care what name you go by, Ron, Demonus, whatever, I don't care. I don't care what side you're fighting on, Jedi, New Republic, Empire, Sith; it doesn't matter. All I know, all I care about … I belong by your side. You're my partner; you're my best friend and my other half … I have to be by your side no matter what …"
"Then let's go," Demonus said, kissing Kim's forehead before replacing the face plate, and they walked to the Sith Shuttlecraft hand in hand.
An hour later, Luke had his injured prosthetic repaired and was sitting with the surviving Jedi. "How many have we lost?" Luke asked, rubbing his face as he sat against a overturned pillar.
"Actually, we only had 5 deaths and a several injuries. None of the injuries were life-threatening." Kyle said, nodding to Luke's surprise. "The most serious was Jedi Rockwaller losing her arm to Demonus and Jedi Mankey's Force presence being severed."
"What? But Demonus and Gemini were going around taking everyone down!" Kyp asked, shaking his head.
"It seems Demonus and Gemini were merely knocking out and hiding the survivors' Force presence." Kyle nodded.
"Perhaps Ron's still in there after all …" Luke gave a small smile. "With Kim with him, perhaps there is still hope after all…"
"You don't know the power of the Dark Side, my son," A booming voice spoke from around the corner from the ruins of the meeting place.
Luke took a deep breath as the other Jedi began to panic and stare in shock as Mara, Rue Fus, and Thekio escorted their 'friend' toward the Jedi Masters. "Young Possible has placed herself in as much danger as Stoppable," the booming synthetic voice spoke as the armored figure approached with his long, black cape waving behind him.
"D-Darth Vader …" Kyp whimpered as he hid behind Luke as the other Jedi drew their lightsabers.
"Lower your weapons," Luke said in a calm voice. "He's here to help. What is it you suggest we do, Father?"
The armored man said nothing, but glared at Kyp behind him and pointed toward the young Jedi Master. "That name no longer has meaning to me," the deep, synthetic voice said before he turned to his son. "The Jedi must combat the Sith, as it has always has been. I will worry about Darth Demonus. If he can be saved, he will be. I have seen your thoughts before, my son, all of them. Your lack of faith is… disturbing."
"Forgive me, Father," Luke nodded slowly.
"It is not I from whom you must seek forgiveness," Anakin said through the respirator. "Seek it from Ron when he has returned to us. We must hurry to Ossis, there is a Jedi weapons stronghold there the Sith know nothing of. We must hurry, and I feel it may take some convincing of Captain Solo to trust me."
"Oh yeah …" Mara smirked, before nodding to her husband.
"Looks like the war's just getting started," Kyle smirked as he stood to his feet.
"Then what are we waiting for?" Luke said as the Jedi started toward the dock. 'Kim … Ron … Jim … Hang on, guys, we're on our way.' Luke thought as he led the group.
TO BE CONTINUED IN … STAR WARS KNIGHTS OF THE NEW REPUBLIC EPISODE III: THE BALANCE OF THE FORCE