"Once again you've become a slave." B'Ni Lok Ji stated to Vader as he lay there on the floor.
Vader returned out of memory and gazed up at the Jedi Master coming closer to him with his lightsaber in hand. He was taking careful steps as he approached the bewildered Sith Lord and spoke to him in a softer tone.
"This has been a hard life for you, son. So little options have come on the path you've chosen; now you are destined to be in darkness forever. Death is your only release now."
Vader nodded in agreement as he was still too stunned from his thoughts to take in what the Jedi was saying. Death is the only thing that waits for him now. Padme is gone, his mother is gone and now even the man that was 'Anakin Skywalker' was gone. For a brief moment he accepted his fate and so wanted to join with Padme in the next life. B'Ni stepped closer and closer. He held the lightsaber over his head and prepared to strike down on Vader while he was overcome with emotion. It saddened his heart to do such a thing, but whatever he may feel for this former Jedi Knight, he knows full well that the Sith must not live. For the good of the living Force, the Sith must not rule.
"Embrace your destiny, Anakin." B'Ni said as he stands over Vader with sword in hand. "May the Force be with you."
Vader was ready to die. He lowered his head and felt at peace; a peace that was a long time and coming for him. But it was only for a brief moment – because he soon realized that as much as he wanted to turn back to the good side, to return being a Jedi with honor once more, it was far too late. The Darkside was too powerful to ignore and since he'd lost all that he cared for in life, there was nothing before his path – nothing but darkness. His hand managed to bring the lightsaber back and switched it on at lightening speed. Before B'Ni could deliver the ending blow to the Dark Lord of the Sith, Vader's saber blocked the attack and turned his eyes up to the surprised Jedi.
"If this is my destiny, then I shall embrace it." Vader stood up and continued to keep the Jedi blocked as he pushed harder down on the other sword. "And I shall give in with all my hate, all my rage and all my strength!"
"Don't Anakin!" B'Ni said with a look of fear in his eyes. He could sense the Darkside gaining power as he pushed back. "Balance must be restored!"
"You don't know the power." Darth Vader growled at him as he managed to fling the Jedi Master to the ground. "The Darkside of the Force calls to me." B'Ni gazed up at him in horror as the towering black figure poised his lightsaber down to his throat. "And I must obey!"
The old Jedi quickly moved out of the way of Vader's sword and leapt back to his feet in a defensive stance. The Sith Lord wasted no time and attacked B'Ni with a powerful swing. His angered scream seemed to fuel his erratic swordplay. The old man was now trying his best to keep up with the chaotic and random strikes that were being poured on to him. The Darkside's power clouded Vader's every move and became harder for the Jedi to predict where the next swing would come at him. The room once again flashed with brilliant hues of red and blue, as well as the echoing sound of the Sith's respirator as it grew quicker in pace. This was madness unleashed. B'Ni now had two hands holding his weapon as the blows became deadlier and more powerful then the last.
"Anakin! Stop!" The old man howled at him. "Don't let Palpatine use you like this!"
Darth Vader continued to beat down onto the man's lightsaber with brutal punishment. The only thing he could hear was the sound of his own breath as it filled the room to almost deafening resonance. The Jedi Master was losing ground and grit his teeth as one of the strikes managed to slip past him and burn his shoulder. Focus and grace no longer became important to the struggling senior; this was a fight for his very life. Vader was relentless as he constantly pushed the man closer to the brink of collapse.
"Anakin!" B'Ni desperately shouted. "I said – STOP!"
"Anakin is dead!" He shouted back. "Just like all the other Jedi!"
With one last strike against the aged Jedi, Vader managed to slice the man's hand off that held the lightsaber. B'Ni screamed in pain and fell to the ground on his knees. The darkly suited Sith Lord pointed his saber at the wounded Jedi and clutched his fist at him bitterly.
"You're time has ended, old man!" He said in a joyful tone. "Now you finally see the true power before you. I've become stronger then you – stronger then all of you!"
"What is – What is strength?" B'Ni gasped in pain. "Without reason, my boy? What can power bring but only misery and death?"
"Death is all that there is." Vader stated in a cold fashion. "Against the power of the Darkside, nothing can stand in its way."
B'Ni quickly opened his other hand and let the Force guide the lightsaber back to him. As it came into grasp, he quickly switched it on and stood up thrusting it in Vader's direction.
"For I will."
"We shall see." Vader mused.
Running through the maze of hallways and rooms, Lenko quickly dodged about looking for the old Jedi Master. He called out his name over and over as he sped past from one doorway to the next. The panic in his eyes showed a sign of concern as he felt a tremor in the Force. He could hear the distant lightsaber clashes as he came in closer to the center of the building. The sound was bouncing about the walls and made it hard for him to get his bearings to find the room B'Ni was in. He finally decided to rest for a second and stood in the middle of the hallway he was in. Closing his eyes and focusing with the Force, the boy managed to use the power to locate the sound direction of the lightsabers. In his mind, he could see the path as the energy flow guided his thoughts directly to the Jedi Master.
"B'Ni!" He cheerfully smiled as he opened his eyes.
Lenko followed the vision he had seen and continued to smile, as he remained proud of the fact he utilized the Force exactly as the old Jedi Master had taught him. As he came close to the room, a group of Stormtroopers appeared behind him and aimed their weapons.
"There's another one!" The lead trooper shouted. "Blast him!"
He heard their voices and quickly spun around deflecting the laser fire coming at him with his lightsaber. The boy was becoming a pro at activating it within a split second. A fanciful flick of his wrist and the beam came streaming out to block the shots and bounced them back at the Stormtroopers. Rather then running away to hide, the child quickly sprinted up the side of the wall close to him, flipped skillfully in the air and continued to deflect the barrage of energy blasts. By the time he landed on his feet again, the entire squad had been taken out. Just as fast as he had turned on his sword to defend himself, a flick of the wrist switched it off and gave a slight nod of a job well done.
With great speed, Lenko then returned going down to the end of the corridor and found the room where he had sensed his old master's presence. As he approached the archway, the boy halted in his steps and seemed fixated on the battle that took place before his eyes. B'Ni Lok Ji and Darth Vader were clashing lightsabers rapidly and trying to keep a steady pace against one another. They flew so fast that the young Padawan could not keep up with their movements, the flashes of light seemed to blind his vision as he squinted to each brilliant strike. He noticed the old man had lost a hand and gasped at the sight if it. Vader's dark presence gave him a slight chill up the spine as he felt the Darkside all around the room and feeding the evil one with unlimited power.
"Will you always be the slave, boy?" B'Ni shouted to Vader as it echoed over the hum of the lightsabers. "A dark servant to Palpatine as he bends your will to do his bidding?"
"If it means to bring about order to the galaxy and end this conflict of power." The Sith Lord managed to shout back from his noisy respirator. "Then it is a small price for the greater good."
The Jedi Master managed to gain some distance after his last attack; he cautiously paced around Darth Vader as he tired to catch his breath. Like a hungry shark, the Dark Lord watched him carefully and slowly followed his every move.
"All Power will not bring about peace, Vader." The old man coldly stated. "The circle will complete itself and you will find that all things must come to an end eventually."
"For once – " Darth Vader snickered. "We agree."
The Sith quickly sprung into the air, leaping over the head of the old Jedi Master and managed to thrust his sword into his back. By the time Vader's feet touched the floor, B'Ni had gazed at the deadly blow the Sith had delivered to him. The sword was protruding through his chest, the energy searing his flesh all the way through; it was a peculiar feeling that made the Jedi fall to his knees. Vader clutched his fists in victory and watched the old man continuing to look at the red lightsaber sticking through him. As B'Ni raised his head, he saw Lenko standing in the doorway full of shock in his face. It seemed to be a moment that lived in eternity for both, their eyes locked on to one another as they knew this was the last time they would see each other. Lenko reached out his hand as tears flowed from eyes, he so desperately wanted to save his master from this fate, but was overcome with sorrow as the arrival was too late. The boy wanted to cry out him, but before he could even utter a sound, B'Ni gave a queer smile to the boy as a tear rolled down his cheek. He was returning to the Force, he could feel it taking him away as a wave of peace washed over his soul. It at least gave him some final joy to see the young Padawan one last time; a grandson he never had, living on in his stead.
"Run" B'Ni mouthed to him as his life came to an end.
The lightsaber withdrew from the Jedi as it came back into Vader's awaiting hand, once it returned; Dark Lord finished him off by removing the old man's head. That horrific finale shattered Lenko. To see such a terrible thing rattled the boy's senses. This was a true evil he had never known and it frightened him beyond words. Rather then dwell on the matter further, the boy did as his master had instructed and hurried out of building before Vader could see him. The image of B'Ni's final moments repeated over and over in Lenko's mind as he scurried down the corridor. Flashes of memory of the old master giving him wisdom, instruction in the Force and sharing laughs flooded his brain as his weeping grew more intense. This was a loss far too great for him to bear.
Darth Vader stood over the body of the former Jedi Master. Heavily breathing and lightsaber still humming with power in hand, the Sith Lord raised up his head and felt the power absorbing into him. This was the addiction he could not break. To feel the surge flowing through him and making him stronger, more aware of the Force all around him, it gave him a euphoric charge like no other. But as the power subsided, the black masked Sith returned his attention to the body below him once more. The great Jedi Master, the lightsaber instructor of his Padawan years, was now dead. He couldn't help but feel regret once the madness had left. But it seemed somewhat strange to him that this time – it wasn't as painful as before.
"A slave." Vader breathed. "To the Darkside forever. To my – Master."
His fist clenched at the thought of Palpatine controlling him. The lies and things he had him do for the good of the Republic seemed to gnaw at his anger again. Perhaps B'Ni was correct. Maybe all of the Jedi were right. Palpatine used him and made him an evil pawn to do his bidding. Now there was an Empire, one that his beloved Padme never wanted to see happen. Vader's moment of glory seemed to fade as he thought of her again. Was there any good left inside of him he wondered? Was this indeed his only path to take? Questions needed to be clarified and there was only one man that could give it to him.
"My Lord Emperor." Darth Vader said holding his fist higher. "You will reveal the truth to me, I promise you."
"He's dead." Laytana gasped.
Den Solo gazed up at the bewildered woman, her trance-like state made her lower her guard as the laser fire started to make its way past. The Stormtroopers were gaining ground as they inched closer and closer across the large bridge. Solo had finally come to grip with his sorrow and returned to defending them both. His blaster managed to take out a few troops that stood out in front, but the rapid fire coming at them was becoming too much for the man to take on alone.
"Who's dead?" Solo questioned. "We'll be dead if you don't keep at it!"
"Look who's talking!" She shouted at him. "A minute ago I couldn't even get you to help me."
"Alright, alright." He said shaking his head. "I kinda got sidetracked. But don't you get that way on me either. We've got major Stormtrooper troubles going on."
Laytana nodded in agreement and shifted her mind back on the fight. Together they over came their grief and focused on survival. Instinctively the pair began retreating back to the building behind them. Solo's shots became timed to her sword swings as each deflection of the trooper's shots was met with his laser blasts back at them.
"We can't keep this up forever ya know." Solo shouted over the noise. "Eventually we are going to run out of space here."
"Well, I'm open to any suggestions you may have." She replied in a bitter tone. "Seems to me you put us in the spot."
"Yeah." The man said as he managed to take out four Stormtroopers trying to sneak up from the left side of them. "And don't I regret that decision, Sweetheart."
"Oh and that's another thing – " The woman said spinning around in anger. She then proceeded to flip over his head, lunged forward and took out two more troopers approaching from the rear. She twirled her sword and faced him with a scornful gaze. "Don't call me, Sweetheart!"
Den gave a slight smile at the woman; he was very impressed with her skill and her feisty nature. Had he been younger and not locked in heated battle, Solo would have asked her out for a few drinks. Rubbing his unshaven chubby face, the man felt a wave of energy and used his blaster to cripple the massing Stormtroopers even more. They continued to back up towards the building's doorway and tried to keep the soldiers at bay.
"Laytana!" Lenko's voice echoed from the building. "Laytana!"
"Lenko!" She hollered back. "Lenko where are you?"
The boy appeared out of the building and came over to her in a hurry. He hugged her from behind while she battled on and whimpered as he told her the news.
"Master – m – m – master B'Ni is – is – is dead!"
"I know, Lenko. I know." She exhaled in sorrow.
"We've got to get out of here – Right now!" Solo growled in frustration.
Laytana took lead as she tried to figure out an escape route for them. Obviously, going back through the building was out of the question, as they surely would be trapped. Instead the woman ran over to the overpass and peered down to the street below. Lenko and Den continued to give her cover as she studied the area. The troops that had been down there marching away previously had now joined the other forces up on their level. It was a perfect opportunity.
"Let's go!" She said to them.
Den and Lenko joined her to the side and gazed down to the long drop. Solo instantly shook his head and glared at her in fear.
"Are you out of your mind? We'll never survive the fall!"
"The Force will guide us to safety." She said with conviction.
"Wake up, sister!" He shouted in a panic. "I ain't got the Force to save my butt like you two!"
"I don't have time to argue." She shouted at him.
Laytana and Lenko took hold of Den as they switched off their lightsabers. Leaping in unison, with Den screaming to the top of his lungs in fear, they proceed to fall down to the street below. Using the Force, both Jedi managed to control their rate of descent and landed on the ground on their feet. Den quickly dropped to his knees and kissed the pavement.
"Never again." He said out of breath.
"Hurry, we need to get back the ship." Laytana said lifting him up.
Den agreed hole heartedly and bolted down the street. All three of them looked behind and saw the Stormtrooper masses quickly following in pursuit. With a slight gaze at one another, Den and the two Jedi ran even faster.
Stepping out of the building and approaching the commanding Stormtrooper near the bridge, Darth Vader clutched his utility belt and glanced at the dead soldiers around him.
"Report." The Sith Lord said in a calm manner.
"The Jedi managed to escape." The Stormtrooper said in a disappointed voice. "We had them out flanked until they jumped over the bridge. Our forces are trying to catch up to them before they can get to the launch bay."
"Unacceptable." Vader grumbled. "You should have had troops remain below."
"We needed the reinforcements, the Jedi were weakening our numbers."
Vader was in no mood for such failures. With a raise of his hand, the Sith Lord began choking the soldier. The Darkside of the Force slowly crushed the struggling trooper's throat until he collapsed and died from the trauma. Vader released him and let the body drop to the ground next to the other dead Stormtroopers. Another soldier standing near by with a large weapon in hand looked up at the towering Sith Lord and stood at attention.
"What are your orders, Sir?" The trooper nervously asked.
Vader placed his hands back on his belt in a calm manner and directed his eyes to him.
"Get every available soldier in the area and stop them." He breathed out of his respirator with frustration. "And if you should fail me in turn – "
"I understand, my Lord." The soldier nodded respectfully. "The Jedi are as good as dead."
"Then go." Vader commanded. "Make sure of it."
Once again the soldier saluted him and ran off to do his duty. Darth Vader took out the communicator from his belt and signaled the Star Destroyer in orbit.
"Yes, my Lord?" The man's voice replied.
"Send my shuttle and prepare the ship for hyperspace."
"But, sir – We haven't caught the Jedi yet " The Commander said with concern. "And there is the matter of securing the planet before we leave."
"No, Commander." Vader stated in anger. "I want to leave orbit as soon as I arrive."
"I see. Uhm, what's our destination?" Altavis questioned carefully.
"We're heading back to Coruscant."
"Should I send the recall for the troops then, Lord Vader?"
"No." Vader stated again. "Leave them here. We'll signal another destroyer to pick them up. I want to be underway immediately."
"As you wish." The Commander said in his final communication.
Darth Vader switched off his device and stepped over to the bridge. Gazing out at the vast city before him, a moment of silence gave his mind a bit of reflection while the bodies of dead Stormtroopers remained littered all around him.
"They're gaining on us!" Lenko shouted with panic.
Solo and the two Jedi were running as fast as they could down the numerous streets and lane ways as they headed back to his ship. For every step they took, the Stormtroopers behind them managed to get closer. Den tried to protect the two Jedi by firing at the mob of troops, but the laser blasts coming back at him were too many. The bewildered look in his face showed that this was far too dangerous even for the likes of him. Laytana and Lenko grabbed him arm-in-arm as they began to use the Force to move faster.
"Try not to move too much." The female Jedi said to the overweight pirate. "Just relax your body and let us do the running."
"I don't think that will be a problem, sweetheart." Den said out of breath.
Their speed began to increase ten fold as the two concentrated and summoned the power of the Force to guide them. Within a flash, the trio had gone from the Stormtroopers sight, causing them all to slow down and give up pursuit.
"Blast!" The leading trooper said as he gripped his gun in anger. "They got away."
"What now, sir?" One of the soldiers asked from behind.
"Signal the speeder patrol in grid five. They're the only ones that can reach them now."
"Unit 221, this is a priority alert." The other Stormtrooper commanded on his arm communicator. "All available squads are to intercept and destroy three individuals heading for the ship yard. Two Jedi and one civilian. They are armed, repeat, armed and dangerous."
The Stormtroopers nodded to each other as the command was given and started to run in formation again as they continued on to towards the ship yard.