Star Wars Chronicles:


The Refugee Sector of Nar Shaddaa always seemed to scream with a million voices. A constant stream of both living beings and droids wandered the dirty streets of a sector so overcrowded it wasn't uncommon to find entire alleys filled with the sleeping bodies of the homeless. As time went on the Sector almost seemed to have a layer of filth grow over it's surface, over the very people who endlessly wandered it's streets.

That same dirty growth helped mask those who wished to become lost in the crowd, which happened to be the very thing many who came to the Refugee Sector wished to do. Some were people exiled from their own homes as the Galactic Empire expanded, others were criminals with death warrants worth as much as a Star Destroyer.

Jerren Ven was neither of those things, yet at the same time he was both. He had been exiled from his home, and the Empire was greatly interested in finding him and killing him. There would be no reward for the Imperial Death Squads that hunted him, except a possible promotion. He had learned long ago however, that his worst enemy wasn't Stormtroopers or even Bounty Hunters. The very epitome of evil itself had it's watchful eyes on him...the Sith.

As he sat at a booth in the back of a dim cantina, the Rancor's Tooth it had been named, Jarren Ven was subject to a constant barrage of holovids which flashed the latest glorious escapades of Darth Vader. The man's emotionless black mask could be seen ion passing as he stepped off the decks of an Imperial Shuttle fresh from a trip to Corulag where he'd discovered two Jedi.

It was obvious neither of them had survived, none ever did. Vader had proven himself to be a flawless killer, one that struck fear into the hearts of anyone he encountered. The reporter on the holo-vid praised Vader's continual service to the Empire, calling him the Emperor's greatest emissary and servant.

Ven snorted and took another shot of juma juice, forming a warm pool in his stomach. He drew the tattered pieces of his tunic together and leaned back a bit. Since he'd arrived on Nar Shaddaa six years ago Ven had been the subject of constant suspicion. A quick wave of his hand and a few reassuring words had kept the weak minded from following up on any of those suspicions. Some of the stronger willed had recognized his ploy and Jerren was forced to silence them. His life depended on secrecy.

The visage of Vader made no attempts to look at any cameras as he stepped back onto the deck of one of the Empire's Star Destroyers surrounded by a legion of Stormtroopers. Ven felt a grimace come over him as he watched the white armored troops march beside their master. He caught himself making reflective defensive movements with his hands, his thoughts remembering the actions he was forced to make when those same men turned on him six years past. He caught himself and stuffed his hands under the table, looking around casually to see if anyone had noticed his little display.

Not a single soul had turned from the screens showing the vids of Vader. Each of them seemed enamored with the imposing black figure, or they were so anxious at even seeing him on a screen they couldn't look away. Ven himself was fixated on the figure, watching him move confidently across the ship's landing decks. The long back cape billowed and flowed as the black figure disappeared through one of the side doors, several Stormtroopers remaining at the door to keep anyone from entering.

Ven sighed, downed another shot of juma and stood. He brushed past a group of Rodians and didn't even seem to notice him as he walked slowly to the door. On Nar Shaddaa sentients didn't care to notice others unless there was a profit to be made. Everyone in the sector knew Jerren Ven as just a human hermit that didn't try to make trouble, and so he rarely attracted it. Few of them had even an inkling that Ven had once been a Jedi Knight in the waning days of the Galactic Republic. He had fought in the Clone Wars to protect these very beings, yet seemed to ultimately fail as the rest of the Jedi Order had.

As Jerren stepped into the stinking streets his mind scratched over the details as they so often had over the last six years. He often wondered how different things would have been if the Order had only stopped for a moment during the madness of the Wars and examined the situation more closely. He himself was as guilty as every other Jedi for not realizing until it was too late. The Sith had been manipulating things from the very beginning, the Dark Side clouded all.

It had taken Jerren two years before be finally admitted to himself that he was a Jedi no more. During the time after he spent many of his waking hours recording holocrons of Jedi lore and lightsaber combat, keeping them hidden in his pallet near the landing docks. He had stopped recording several standard months ago as he finally realized recording was only a way for him to hold onto a past that should be forgotten. His lightsaber was safely tucked away into a secret compartment near the cot in his pallet, and he had no plans to use it again.

What money he made was from helping keep the Sector's landing pads in serviceable condition. The credits weren't great, nor were the hours steady which suited Jerren just fine. He had spent his entire life stuck in the routines of Jedi life, something he'd never been a particular supporter of.

Jerren Ven - Mechanic For Hire is a man of spontaneity and unpredictability, he thought to himself with a smirk. He had often wondered what the life of a normal person was like before be had gone into exile. Some Jedi had craved adventure, even against their Master's wishes, Jerren Ven had always been anxious when he wandered through the Room of a Thousand Fountains, or meditated in the gardens. When the war broke out he had still been a Padawan, he and his master were sent to Geonosis with many of the other Jedi Knights to rescue Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Padme Amidala. He had watched Mace Windu stand beside Count Dooku and ignite his purple lightsaber. He heard Windu and Dooku have words and watched as Jango Fett attempted to burn Master Windu alive.

All the while the Knights on the arena floor of Geonosis had become surrounded by an army of Confederacy droids. Jerren remembered looking over at his master, Jaruk Kai, the aging man gave him a stern look and a nod, the last things his Master would ever give him. During the battle Jaruk had been killed on the arena floor while Jerren and the rest of the surviving Jedi valiantly battled against the droids. Somewhere in the chaos the infamous Jango Fett had been killed by Master Windu. Master Coleman Trebor had been shot to death by Fett while attempting to attack Count Dooku. Jerren remembered kneeling beside the corpse of his Master, several blaster wounds showing that he had been struck from all sides. Master Kai hadn't a chance to survive.

Jerren had glimpsed around the arena, seeing Masters kneeling beside their fallen Padawans, and Padawans checking their deceased Masters. Aayla Secura had given Jerren a sad look, one he knew was a look of pity. Jerren had taken his master's lightsaber and stuffed it into his tunic, standing up and facing the leader of the Separatist forces. Only Yoda and the Clone Troopers had saved them that day.

After that point Jerren had almost seemed to be in his element. The Council knighted him for his bravery at Geonosis, although it had been time for him to achieve the rank of Jedi Knight anyways. From that point on his home was the battlefield, his mediation chambers the hulls of star ships and shuttles. His dueling partners became Dark Jedi and CIS Droids. By the end of the war he had grown accustomed to things being radically different every morning, something he felt he would sorely miss. In retrospect it would have been a very welcomed change to what he was forced to witness instead..

But that was all just ancient history now. At thirty seven standard years old, Jerren Ven was your work-a-every few days stiff that drank perhaps too much juma, and sought too much solitude. Thankfully the number of sentients that recognized him as a possible Jedi had waned off over the past few years. Jerren had immediately stowed his robes in a crate at his pallet, but kept the tunic. Six bounty hunters and two Imperial patrols later he finally clued in to the problem and abandoned the tunic too. Now he wore a normal refugee's tunic most of the time, enjoying the familiar feel he was used to, one that would allow him to go without harassment on the Smuggler's Moon.

Ven had just begun to get his thoughts back into his surrounding as he turned a corner and passed Nien Ningo, droid merchant, when he heard the cries of a small child. Jerren's attention fully snapped into alert as he looked around, noticing that Ningo made no moves to look for the source of the screaming, the typical Nar Shaddaa response to cries of distress. Jerren shook his head and continued on his way, attempting to ignore the pleas for help.

You're not responsible for the lives of others now you blockhead, he scolded himself. Take the local attitude and blend in. Let your heart take a vote of non-confidence, while your brain elects inaction. That's the new Jerren Ven way.

As hard as it was to break old habits, Jerren had effectively stifled many of his Jedi reactions over the past few years. Tossing them over the thousand kilometer ledges of the moon's walkways, never to be seen again.

I'm not a bad person, he rationalized. Just caught in a bad situation.

Ven turned another corner, he was only a few minutes away from his humble pallet, hidden near the back of a cluster of refugee pallets near a set of landing docks. His neighbors didn't make much noise, and didn't stick their noses, or whatever they had; into his business. Several Quarrens walked past him, blubbering something about the considerable stink of humans. Jerren decided to let it pass, mostly because he fully expected that he did stink, since places to bathe were somewhat limited in this sector of the moon.

Most of it coming from the Hutts. Their smell comes up all the way from Nal Hutta to every crevice of the moon, he thought idly, chuckling at his little jibe. He was just turning to step through the doors that gave access to a hallway leading to the little pallet he called home when the sound of screams forced him to jerk his head to the left.

Running down the walkways was a young Twi'lek girl, probably no older than ten or eleven. She raced like a stuck boma, her lekku bouncing wildly. The girl's little red arms pumping like there was no tomorrow. Jerren looked back past her and saw the reason for her rapid escape. A group of two Gamorreans, two Trandoshans, and a Rodian were racing down the path after her.

The Rodian was leading the pack, followed closely by the Trandoshans. Taking up the rear – the far rear, were the Gamorreans. They were all gaining on the little her, she was obviously tiring from the pursuit, her short legs running out of steam. Before he could react the girl flung herself around his waist and hid behind his back. She sobbed deeply, her entire body shaking with fear. Jerren swallowed, his emotions doing cartwheels as he thought of how helpless the little Twi'lek was.

Before he could actually say anything to her, the group of aliens were in front of him, glaring at them both.

"Girl wormhead we want, not smelly human. Give her, now," the Rodian blurted out in his native tongue which translated less than articulately into Basic.

"We have no trouble with you human," one of the Trandoshans hissed, his claws linked firmly in the belt of his large flightsuit. "Give us the slave and we'll let you keep the use of your puny limbs."

Jerren looked at the group and sighed. Of all the people in the galaxy he had to attract an escaped slave girl.

"Look gentlemen," he said, hoping that the Trandoshansand Rodian were all in fact male, it was hard to tell. "I'm sure we can reach an agreement here..."

"No agreement," the Trandoshan snarled. "Give us the girl or we'll kill you. Very simple, yes?"

The large lizard-like alien pulled a blaster from a holster at it's side. The Rodian and other Trandoshan did the same. Both Gamorreans were carrying large axes that would make short work of anything caught on their edge. Behind him Jerren could feel the poor child crying and shaking, fear rolling off her in waves.

I...I can't let them hurt her. She's so scared, I can't let this happen. Jarren took a deep breath, deep down knowing this was a big mistake. He looked at the group and slowly waved his hand in front of them, causing a mild distraction as he touched their minds with the Force.

"You don't want this girl, you're looking for someone else."

They looked at each other blankly, then looked at the girl.

"We no want this girl, we..." the Rodian began, only to be snapped back into reality with the stiff swat of the mouthy Trandoshan's hand.

"Get control of yourself Geech," the Trandoshan snarled, obviously unaffected by the mind trick. The large alien glared at Jerren. "That's a Jedi trick...Jedi."

Uh oh, of all the Trandoshan's in the galaxy I had to try tricking the only intelligent one. Jerren's mind began to race as the group raised their blasters towards him.

"The Empire will pay a handsome price for a Jedi, alive or dead. Zorba's price on the girl can't even compare," the Trandoshan smiled, licking it's lips. The muzzle of the blaster waved quickly. "Put up your hands Jedi."

Jerren wasn't about to let them take him or the girl, especially not now. He moved quickly, pivoting on his left heel and spinning around, kicking the blaster from the Trandoshan's clawed hand. Within seconds the rest of the group were firing.

Run kid! he screamed in his mind as the Twi'lek child let go of him. He couldn't turn to see where she went, his hands were moving quickly using the Force to deflect blaster bolts that stuck his palms. One of the bolts struck his left arm, burning into the tunic. Breathing deeply he bent his knees and leapt to the side, hails of blaster fire striking the durasteel walls behind where he once stood.

Jerren knew he'd slowed considerably during his exile. His connection with the Force was beginning to blur from lack of meditation, his reflexes dulling without practice. The seething pain in his left arm was evidence of that, his fingers feeling the warmth. Jerren grimaced and kept low, waiting for his attackers to turn.

The Trandoshan he disarmed turned first, only to be met with a stiff diving foot in the stomach. Jerren's momentum forced the large alien back, slamming into the wall. Jerren quickly rose, driving an elbow into the mid section of the Rodian called Geech, forcing it to double over, gasping for breath.

Both Gamorreans swung their axes in a wide arc towards him, which was easily dodged with a quick sidestep. The second Trandoshan was trying to fire, but wouldn't risk hitting his pig-like allies. Jerren used this to his advantage, forcing the Trandoshan to move to his position. Being one of the least intelligent sentients in the galaxy, the Gamorreans swung their large axes ignoring the fact they had just mistakenly cut down their Trandoshan partner. Their only focus was hitting this annoying little human.

Geech and the second Trandoshan were back now, attempting to come in from behind. Jerren quickly turned, reaching out to their bodies through the Force, pushing them back over the ledge. The last he heard was a mixture of screams in two distinctly different alien languages.

This little dance had to end, Jerren knew that much. Nar Shaddaa was notorious for it's uninterested populace, but that rarely lasted long if a real confrontation broke out. Jerren was honestly surprised betting hadn't already started. If they saw him using Force techniques he'd be finished around here. That meant he needed to get rid of these smelly brutes and fast.

Jerren rolled past another axe blade, just barely escaping it's sharp edge. He turned and faced both Gamorreans, waving his hand slightly and reaching out to their weak minds through the Force.

"You two need to leave right now, your mothers are calling for you on Gamorr," he spit out quickly, unable to think of anything else in the heat of the moment. The two aliens looked at each other and began snorting.

"Mother just call me, she need me to come home."

"My mother say same. Maybe our mother be the same mother?"

Jerren's eyes rolled reflectively as the two 'brothers' discovered their newfound relation to each other. They plodded off, grunting some snorting something else that Jerren couldn't make out. He watched them slip out of sight and quickly ducked into the door leading into the hallway he had originally intended to enter. As he stepped inside Jerren found himself nearly hitting the floor after tripping over someone crouching near the entrance.

"What in the name of..." Jerren raged, trailing off.

Where Ven's feet left the floor was the little Twi'lek girl that had come to him for aid. She must have ducked into the hallway when the fighting started. Jarren sat up, looking over at her sadly. The little girl was still shaking and crying, looking at her protector warily. Jerren put on his friendliest smile.

"Hello there little one. What's your name?"

"They...they hurt you..." the little alien managed to sniffle out, noticing the wound on Jerren's left arm.

"They hurt you? Funny name for a little girl," he said smirking, although the humor seemed lost on the terrified child. "Come on, let me take you out of these halls for a little while. It's not safe around here."

Jerren stood and extended his hand, which the girl took with some hesitation. He led her down the hallway, pallets jutting off from both sides. At the very end he reached into his pocket and pulled out an access card, which he swiped through a reader; opening the door to his own little dwelling. He turned to the girl and smiled, leading her into the safety of his dirty little home.

Unbeknownst to the former Jedi someone had been watching his skirmish on the streets...

"My Lord, we've received word of a Jedi sighting on Nar Shaddaa."

Behind the dark recesses of his meditation chamber, Darth Vader took deep, slow breaths, enjoying his few free moments of unassisted respiration. Admiral Josef Pennal waited patiently for his superior to reply, remaining stone faced at the entrance of the chamber, his hands planted firmly behind his back, his posture perfectly straight.

The figure inside the chamber made no movements. Finally after a few seconds that stretched on like days to the Admiral a large arm came down from the top of the chamber, placing Lord Vader's black helmet upon his obscured head. An audible snap and hiss came as the helmet was sealed on Vader's head. As Vader took his first breaths Pennal's blood ran cold from the sound, it was like the endless echo of a krayt cave. The sides of the chamber opened, the chair in which Vader sat quickly rotating so the Lord of the Sith could view his underling.

"From whom did you acquire this information Admiral?" Vader asked, his tone flat. Those black, expressionless eye pieces seemed to stare a hole directly into Josef's soul. The Admiral shifted uncomfortably, continuing to look at Vader directly.

"One of our spies on the moon my Lord, he has proven himself reliable in the past. I would stake my career on it."

Vader almost seemed to chuckle at the thought, standing up from his seat. He placed his hands on the belt around his waist, stepping forward. Even when he came down from the platform, Vader was still several inches taller than Pennal, the Admiral's head barely meeting the dark man's shoulder. Vader turned his face mask to the Admiral, nodding slightly as he spoke.

"Indeed Admiral? Then you should very much hope your informant is correct. The Emperor will not take kindly to wild bantha chases, nor will I."

"Of course my Lord, I assure you he is reliable."

"Very well Admiral Pennal, have the crews prepare my shuttle and set course for the Y'Toub system. I will handle this Jedi personally," Vader said with a nod, stepping past Pennal and to the door.

"Right away Lord Vader," Pennal said, stepping out behind Vader who stalked down the hall, his thoughts obviously on something else, something distant.

Perhaps I have found you at last Obi-Wan. Not even the high ground will protect you now. I will drag the air from your lungs, exhume your body with the Dark Side and leave you broken and you left me.

Jerren watched the Twi'lek, Vasha she told him her name was, swallow some more of the old greens from Dantooine. She obviously hadn't eaten in days, having forked down enough food for three people twice her size. Jerren couldn't complain, food was easily replaced, a life wasn't.

"So how did you end up being chased anyways? What did you do?" he asked her, trying to make conversation.

"I ran away from my master, Zorba The Hutt."

"You're a slave? A little one like you?" he asked, frankly surprised a Hutt could find any use for a child.

"I served my master food until I ran away."

"When did you escape?"

"Two days ago," she said, looking up at him. "I'm sorry I ate so much of your food..."

"That's fine," Jerren said, shrugging. "I can buy more easily enough."

"Thank you," Vasha said, smiling for the first time. Jerren smiled back, patting her on the head lightly. Her lekku twitched and she smiled more, obviously enjoying a sign of affection rather than punishment for eating too much.

"No thanks required. I'd forgotten what it's like to actually help someone rather than deny the fact that they need help. I've been in denial for far too long."

"How did you push those two hunters off the ledge?" Vasha asked. "I used to hear stories from hunters about people that could do that. They called them...Jeeda...Jedda...Je.."

"Jedi," Jerren finished for her. "They were called Jedi."

Now Jerren had reached an interesting intersection. Should he tell this child what he once was? Risk everything he'd built for the trust of a child? Jerren decided to take the middle road.

"I knew a Jedi named Kai once, he taught me how to do it," he answered. Not a lie in the least, just a section of the truth.

"Can he teach me?" she said, her face brightening with the prospect of learning such a neat trick. Jerren couldn't help but chuckle.

"No, I'm afraid not. He died many years ago, and it takes a special sort of person to be able to learn it."

If there was a touch of the Force in Vasha, Jerren sadly couldn't feel it. She was a brave little girl. It only went to prove the fact that even those not touched by the Force could be capable and steadfast even in the face of danger. Vasha could very well have just stopped running and let them catch her, or not take the risk of escaping at all. The fact that she had done so many things without needing the Force to guide her made Jerren respect her even more. For years he had tried to push the Force away only to realize it would always be a part of him. In the end he knew he needed it, it was as much a part of him as Vasha's lekku were part of her.

"Oh..." Vasha said sadly, breaking Jerren from his thoughts. "That's too bad. I guess I'm not that special sort of person, huh?"

"No," Jerren said, leaning back against the wall of his pallet. "You're a different kind of special person."

Vasha shifted on Jerren's cot, her brow wrinkling as she thought. She frowned, happy that her newfound found her special, but not sure of his meaning. She looked at Jerren and saw he was smiling at her.

"What?" she blurted out, more harshly than she intended. Vasha's eyes went wide and she covered her mouth, as if trying to stop herself from sounding any more rude.

"Someday when you're older Vasha and you look back at the experiences in your life you'll understand what I mean. Until then just know that you're special and that'll be enough."

Vasha nodded, happy enough with that answer. She smiled at Jerren sweetly and leaned forward, giving him a hard hug. At first Jerren didn't know what to do, eventually he placed his arms around the tiny girls shoulders and gave her a squeeze back. There were many more years etched in this girl's eyes than her age would lead you to believe.

Master Kai had always told him the galaxy was a cruel place. Throughout the Clone Wars Jerren always believed that the conflict and the brutalities that he witnessed were what his master had meant. Now Jerren finally realized the answer to his master's most important lesson. The sentients of the galaxy faced many challenges a Jedi would never experience, but through this they grew and adapted. Even sentients like Vasha, who had no parents to guide her like Master Kai had guided him, still learned much, maybe even more than a Jedi.

"You need to get some sleep kiddo. Tomorrow we'll have to figure things out, alright?"

She released him and nodded, rolling back onto the cot. Jerren took what few coverings he had and covered her, watching her drift off into a deep sleep. As she slept he went to the secret compartment and reached inside. When his hand came out her clutched the hilts of two lightsabers. He examined them in the near darkness, one he had taken from the dusty floor of Geonosis, plucked it from the hand of his deceased master. It's design was intricate and the hilt was worn from frequent use, the activation plate was especially dulled from use, it's once proud sheen washed away with the sweat of his master's weathered hands.

The second was much more personal, it's design simple but serviceable. Even now he could feel the impressions of the Force he had made inside of it during construction. Jerren ran his fingers along it's sides as Master Kai had done when his student completed it so many years ago on Coruscant. This blade had seen war, had seen death and destruction. Deep inside his chest a tightness was released as Jerren Ven once again held the blade he had used to defend the Republic that betrayed him.

All that Nesbah Nevv could hear was the sound of Vader's breathing in the darkness. The aging man walked slowly towards the cold figure as lights on the landing pad turned on. Lord Vader's shuttle had hailed him during entry into Nar Shaddaa's orbit a few hours ago. He had come instantly, waiting for what seemed like forever for Vader to arrive.

"Lord Vader?" Nesbah asked as the imposing figure stepped down the ramp onto the landing pad. Behind him stood four Stormtroopers, their blaster rifles ready for any problems. Nesbah nearly released all of his previous meal at the Rancor's Tooth into the seat of his pants as Vader's visage became more easily visible. The man was truly something to see in person, much more terrifying than any of the holovids could possibly convey.

"You are Nesbah Nevv..." Vader stated, not asked.

"Y-Yes..." Nesbah stammered.

Darth Vader could tell this shoddy looking human was completely terrified of him. The man once known as Anakin Skywalker would have once found a degree of pleasure in that, but the novelty had worn off some time ago. Manipulating scruffy looking creatures such as this Nesbah Nevv had little appeal. Darth Vader would rather have the respect of his underlings than terror. That small part of Anakin Skywalker that remained was insecure and desperately seemed to want the respect of others. This broken man needed that part of his being to be filled.

"I have been informed by Admiral Pennal that you witnessed a Jedi come to blows with a group of sentients here on Nar Shadda, is that correct?"

"Ye...Yes my Lord," Nesbah said. "No more than a few klicks from here in fact. He had to be a Jedi, shoved two of them off a ledge without touching them, and made two Gamorreans just turn around and walk away from him with the wave of his hand."

"Indeed? That would be a trick that a Jedi would use."

"Yes my Lord."

"You say that you saw the Jedi not far from here? Did you recognize him from before?"

"Yes my Lord. He goes to a cantina not far from here called the Rancor's tooth. Medium height, shortly cropped brown hair and a beard. Don't know his name I'm afraid."

This could be it. Finally Obi-Wan, we will finish what we began on Mustafar, Vader mused, nodding as the terrified man spoke. He turned to the Captain of the Stormtroopers suddenly.

"Captain Cody, take your men to this cantina and search for the Jedi. Do not engage him, I wish to deal with this one myself. If he is there report directly to me," Cody nodded as Vader turned to Nesbah. "I require additional services from you as well."

Nesbah's face was wide with shock. He began stuttering, licking his lips and nodding.

" Lord?" he managed.

"I wish for you to follow the same route the Jedi took the last time you saw him. If you encounter him request his assistance at this landing pad. Use whatever excuse you deem necessary, but do not reveal our intentions or my presence. Is that understood?"

Nesbah could only manage a nod. Vader's breathing filled the silence as he ushered the Stormtroopers and Nesbah off into the Smuggler's Moon. He returned to his shuttle, standing in the compartments in the back. Vader reached down and pressed the button for the holo-communicator, kneeling down before it as the image of Darth Sidious flashed into view.

"Yes Lord Vader?" the sickly voice asked, the face of the holo shrouded by the shadows of a black hood. "You bring news of the Jedi on Nar Shaddaa?"

"Yes my Master," Vader said, only slightly looking up.

"Stand my boy and tell me your findings eye to eye. Is it as you suspected? Does Obi-Wan Kenobi live?"

Vader stood and brushed his cape back behind his shoulders. He nodded only slightly, his breathing speeding up slightly as he began to speak.

"I believe so Master. The description is similar, and surely so few Jedi remain that if Obi-Wan lives it would be him."

"Do not be so presumptuous Lord Vader. The Jedi are more numerous than either you or I would like. If this is indeed Obi-Wan Kenobi than you will strike a great blow against the skeletal remains of the Jedi Order."

"Yes Master."

The holo of Darth Sidious grinned slightly. His hands remained folded in the arms of his robes, the scarred face still covered with shadow.

"Then go Lord Vader, show him no mercy. He was indeed a fool to reveal himself so openly. Show him the power of the Dark Side my apprentice, show him the iron grip of my Galactic Empire."

"Yes my Master," Vader said with another nod as Sidious disappeared from view.

Jerren could feel it distinctly now, a dark presence in the Force. It had been difficult to sense at first, Nar Shaddaa practically screamed at him through the Force, but this presence had become very pronounced. It left Jerren ill at ease.

Something isn't right Jerren thought to himself. I can feel something here that I couldn't before. It's strong...

"What's wrong?" Vasha asked, looking up at him. "You look like you were standing too close to Zorba."

Jerren looked down at her and smiled, trying to mask his concern.

"It's nothing, just a little bit of a headache."

Vasha knew enough to know that was a complete lie but stayed silent. No use arguing with him about it, Jerren was the only friend she had in the entire galaxy. She couldn't stand to make him made or even worse: send her back to Zorba the Hutt. He'd be better off killing her.

Jerren had agreed to let Vasha stay with him. The extra mouth to feed wouldn't amount to much, and he was truthfully thankful for the company. It had been a long time since Jerren had felt any connection to someone, but Vasha was different. During the heat of the Clone Wars he had almost begun to feel that he could no longer connect with anyone on even the most basic levels. He was relieved that the Wars had not totally deadened him to emotion, only forced him to strip them away for his own protection during a time of absolute horror and suffering.

As they turned the corner leading to the cantina Jerren and Vasha were nearly run down by a man rushing along the street. He was scruffy looking at best, his blonde hair long and wild, his clothes caked in the filth of Nar Shaddaa. Jerren kept his arm in front of Vasha, in case trouble started. The man looked at Jerren, his eyes showing some kind of recognition. Jerren's hand moved to the imprint of his lightsaber.

"Hey, you're that guy who took out Zorba's thugs aren't you?" the man asked quickly, he was practically leaping from foot to foot. "Look man, I need your help! A bunch of Zorba's thugs have my wife trapped out on landing pad 33-A, they're looking for information on that little Twi'lek girl you've got there! I won't spill my guts, but you've gotta help her! She'll be killed!"

Jerren could sense the fear in the man, but he was unsure what it was about. Realistically it could very well be about his wife in danger. Jerren looked at the man for a moment then nodded.

"Alright...I'll go see what I can do," he turned and looked at Vasha. "Vasha, go back to my pallet, it's too dangerous for you there. The thugs will probably recognize you and we can't afford that. I'll get you when I'm finished helping this man and his wife. Alright?"

Jerren could see the terror in the little girl's eyes. She nodded, biting her lower lip, saying nothing. She hugged him before turning and running back the way they came. Jerren himself stood and turned to the man who asked him for aid.

"Take me to the landing pad."

The man simply nodded and started running down the streets of Nar Shaddaa. By the time they reached the pad Jerren knew something was wrong. He stopped about four meters inside the pad, seeing a distinctive Imperial Shuttle sitting on it's surface.

Oh no...,was all he could think as he heard the sound of footsteps behind him. Reflexes took over and before he knew it Jerren was turning, his lightsaber turning with him in a blue vortex. Two Stormtroopers fell instantly, the blade cutting them down with ease. The last two were moving towards him, blasters aimed. Neither seemed eager to fire and Jerren took advantage of their hesitation, driving the point of his lightsaber home on the first. He pulled out the blade and quickly swung upwards for the last one's head. Surprisingly the Stormtrooper rolled to the side, his blaster rifle aimed directly at Jerren's exposed side and back.

"That's enough Captain Cody, I will deal with this one as was specified."

Jerren didn't turn, he simply glimpsed over his shoulder, watching Captain Cody stand and nod. The distinctive breathing that was coming from the shuttle, and the waves of darkness that rippled from it through the Force told him all he needed to know.

"Yes Lord Vader," Cody said, stepping back towards the shuttle.

"Rise Jedi, I do not wish to strike you from behind, but will if you provide me with no other options."

Jerren stood, his blade still active. He turned and looked at his tormentor, all six feet seven inches of him. Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith finished his descent from the shuttle's ramp. Vader's hands remained on his belt, the long cape at his back fluttering slightly behind him as he stepped onto the landing pad. The sounds of his breathing were even more chilling in person than in the holovids.

"You are not who I expected," Vader said. Jerren could detect a slight amusement in his tone.

"Sorry to disappoint," Jerren remarked, smirking slightly. His grip remained firm on the hilt of his lightsaber, it's blue blade reflecting off the steel landing pad. "You did a good job of baiting me Vader, very resourceful for a Sith."

"Only a matter of knowing the weakness of Jedi. Blindly racing to aid another without the slightest inclination of what they heading into. A fool's errand."

"Only a Sith would view aiding another as a weakness."

"Indeed?" Vader asked, nodding his head. "I have aided many in my time Master Jedi, and I have killed many. True power comes from knowing both sides, and eliminating those too weak to seek solace in them."

"Don't lecture me, Lord Vader," Jerren spat, lifting his blade. "You won't take me without a fight... "

"No," Vader said simply, drawing his own lightsaber and igniting it with a snap-hiss. It's crimson light almost seeming to filled with the blood of a hundred slain Jedi. Vader's hands gripped his lightsaber tightly as he raised it and struck.

Jerren brought up his own lightsaber to block the blow, only to be nearly knocked back by the strength of the blow. He was surprised at how strong physically Vader was, and wondered just how much of him must be machine under that intimidating black suit. Jerren quickly draw his blade back and swung wide, trying to take Vader's arm. The swing was easily counter, Vader's blade locking with his.

The Sith Lord swung in a circle, dragging Ven's blue blade along with him, at the circle's climax Vader attempted a straight cut along Jerren's chest, but the Jedi quickly stepped back, narrowly avoiding a potentially lethal blow. Vader struck again, and then again. He came at Jarren with surprising speed, leaving the Jedi to quickly backpedal on the defensive, his own lightsaber working to deflect and parry the blows.

As they neared the edge of the landing pad Jerren struck Vader's blade down and used his momentary advantage to quickly pivot and roll his body to the side, getting a wide shot at Vader's back. The Dark Lord didn't miss a single second, he quickly half turned his body, taking the lightsaber into his left hand and swinging it back, roughly blocking Jerren's attack. Before Ven could attack again Vader was facing him, locking their blades together.

"Good, exile has not slowed you Master Jedi," Vader mocked. He began forcing Jerren's blade down with his superior strength. "I can sense your fear...your uncertainty. You may be the last of your kind, and soon you will die and the galaxy will forget the Jedi forever."

Jerren ignored him, focusing more on getting out of Vader's forceful downstroke. He slid his blade down the length of Vader's saber and stepped back. Before he could refocus himself something hard hit him from the side, sending Ven crashing to the groundm, his lightsaber tumbling over the edge of the pad into oblivion. He shook his head, seeing that Vader had hurled the body of one of his dead Stormtroopers at Ven with the Force. He looked desperately for his lightsaber, but couldn't see it. Vader was on him now, the end of his blade pointing down.

"Nice trick, you're smarter than you look," Jerren said, desperately reaching out with the Force, Vader almost seemed to be using the Force to keep Jerren pinned to the ground...and he was strong.

"You have proven most disappointing Master Jedi, I had hoped you'd provide more sport than this."

Keep talking ugly , Jerren thought to himself, using every ounce of strength he had to throw the body off of himself and break Vader's hold. The Sith Lord even seemed surprised as Ven leap into the air, he reached into his tunic and came down on Vader, the green blade of Master Jaruk Kai's lightsaber flashing against the red of Vader's.

"I'm not licked yet," Jerren remarked, landing on his knees he quickly stood and launched into Vader with a fury, a wave of green flashing in every direction. Caught off guard Vader was forced to go on the defensive, his audible breathing picking up as his opponent seemingly drew from the very core of his being to aid in this assault. In his sudden wave of attack Jerren missed the obvious signs of Vader's next move.

The Sith Lord swung upwards, knocking Ven's weapon away. Vader quickly stepped to the side, bringing his lightsaber down and through Ven's right arm just below the elbow. Jerren screamed in agony and dropped to his knees, staring at the glowing embers of his wound.

Vader wasted no time, he raised his blade and brought it down. The blow would have been fatal if Jerren hadn't brought his left hand, still gripping Master Kai's lightsaber up above his head in a last line of defense. He pressed what remained of his elbow against the forearm of his left arm for added but this clearly wouldn't last.

Make a move Ven and make it fast or you're dead. He's too strong for you to keep this up. Jerren's mind raced as he thought of a plan. The pain of his wound was unbelievable. He'd suffered light lightsaber wounds and a few blaster bolts but this was agonizing. Combined with the fact he was using what little strength that remained in the arm and it was becoming too much.

He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, he quickly forced Vader's blade to his right side and tried to roll in the opposite direction. He got to his knees and quickly to his feet, wildly swinging with his left hand, trying to keep this black skinned monster away from him. Darth Vader easily knocked the weak blows aside, seeing the sweat pouring down Jerren's brow. The Jedi's strength was failing, that was obvious.

Vader's breathing was rapid as he knocked Ven's saber down again, bringing his own weapon up and connecting with the Jedi's left shoulder, wounding it slightly. A grunt of pain indicated that Ven was doing the best he could to suppress his pain with the Force. The Jedi could hardly move his remaining arm now, weakly swinging down and stepping back; trying to distance himself from the Dark Lord.

"Enough games, it's time for this to end," Vader mused, holding his blade directly in front of him, he took a step towards Jerren.

"Not...not having fun anymore?" Jerren said with a smile, panting.

"Your suffering does little to amuse me," Vader remarked bringing his blade in a downward arc that caused Jerren to stumble backwards, his lightsaber swinging harmlessly off to the side.

Within an instant Vader corrected his own swing and brought his lightsaber around with a quick backstroke, cutting across Jerren's stomach in a wide swipe. Ven made no sound, he merely let his master's lightsaber drop from his hand to the ground, it's green blade disappearing. Vader kept his blade pointed forward as Ven dropped to his back, staring at the skies of the Smuggler's Moon in pain. He still made no sound as Vader turned his lightsaber off and put it back on his belt.

"Take what time you have remaining to reflect Master Jedi. Realize the very one that your masters feared too much, were too arrogant to recognize the power of has ended you. Recognize the arrogance of your former masters and understand why you now lay dying on a filthy moon on the Outer Rim instead of in the field of battle beside your own Padawan. Reflect on why the Jedi must die."

With that Vader turned and walked towards his shuttle. Jerren Ven had no concept of what Vader meant, although he had heard all that was said. As he lay there staring up at the speeders that passed overhead his only thoughts were of Vasha, and how he had failed her. His breathing was becoming labored, the wound in his chest deep.

"Jerren!" came a small voice.

Vasha! his mind screamed. Jerren's body shifted slightly as the small girl raced to him. She saw the wound on his chest, tears began to fill her tiny blue eyes, her lekku hanging limply on her shoulders. Jerren looked at her, smiling weakly.

"Don't...don't leave me!" Vasha sobbed. "You're all I've got!"

Her arms wrapped around his neck, drawing his head up. Small droplets of tears fell against his neck and Jerren Ven found himself almost near tears. He swallowed, licking his dry lips enough to speak.

"Never," he said weakly. "For as long as you live I'll be with you, in your heart, and in the Force. I'll watch over you always."

Vasha exploded with sobs, hugging her friend tightly. Jerren's own eyes began to water slightly, he tried to move his arms to hug her but couldn't. He was growing cold, it was becoming harder to draw breath.

Vasha looked up into his eyes and could see the tears forming, she smiled weakly at him, still sobbing, he was obviously in pain. Jerren smiled back at her, his own smile weaker than her's. He drew another deep breath, grimacing.

"Be strong little one," he choked out, rasping out a few last breaths. "The Force will be with you...always..."

With those final words Jerren's body went limp, his eyes going lifeless as he became one with the Force. Vasha looked down at him and sobbed again, sorrow in her tiny eyes. She leaned down and kissed his forehead, closing her friend's eyes with her fingers. She looked down and saw his lightsaber, taking it and stuffing it into the pocket of her tunic. She kissed his forehead one last time.

"Thank you," she said with a sobbing whisper. "Thank you for giving me my life."