RATING: PG-13 - Violence
SUMMARY: A message between Bail Organa and a fugitive senator set in motion, changes for Anakin, Padme and another familiar character.
FEEDBACK: - Be my guest. But please, be kind.
DISCLAIMER: All characters and things STAR WARS belong to Lucasfilm. All non-original dialogue in this story is credited to "Revenge of the Sith", which is based upon the story and screenplay by George Lucas. The characters, Romulus Wort aka Darth Rasche, Voranda Sen and Thalia Yeb are my creation.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the second in a series of five stories set between ROTS and ANH. Also, this particular story is more or less an Alternate Universe story set nine months, following "Altered Lives"
"THE CORELLIAN CONNECTION" by RFK
18 BBY - AMIR, ANDALIA
The Imperial shuttle entered Andalia's atmosphere, before it smoothly made its descent upon the planet's capital, Amir. The young Sith Lord, Darth Rasche, stared through the shuttle's cockpit window and saw a delegation of officials gathered on a nearby landing platform.
Rasche stood up and made his way to the other end of the shuttle, where four platoons of clonetroopers sat. "Men, we're now approaching Andalia. Get ready." The troopers nodded.
Minutes passed before the shuttle finally settled upon the landing platform. The shuttle doors opened, as the boarding ramp extended outward. Rasche took a deep breath and stiffly marched down the ramp. The four platoons marched close behind him. A light-brown skinned Andalian man, covered in a deep teal robe, stepped forward to greet the Imperial visitors. "Good day, um . . .?"
"Darth Rasche," the Sith Lord coolly finished. "I'm here as a liasion of the Imperial Senate."
The Andalian's eyes flew wide open. "Liaison? I . . . I don't understand. Why would the Senate . . .?"
Rasche regarded the other man with cool and impassive eyes. "You're harboring a Jedi on this planet," he accused. "In fact, I believe that the Knight in question is here in Amir." He took a step forward, forcing the Andalian to step back. "Where is she, Senator Yeb? Where is Anjuli Nab?"
The Andalian delegates regarded the Sith Lord with confusion. The one who had greeted Rasche replied, "I'm afraid that you have me confused with someone else, sir. I am not Solipo Yeb. My name is Junipero Khan, head of the Andalian State Council. Senator Yeb has left for his personal retreat, a few hours ago."
The Emperor's apprentice became still. He took a deep breath and used the Force to extend his senses. Then he felt it . . . another Force sensitive signature. One that could only come from a Jedi. The signature emitted from the capital's busy center. Rasche glared at the Andalian politician. "You lie! The Jedi is here in this city! I feel her presence." He summoned the clonetroopers' company commander. "Lieutenant Necros, have a squad set up a detention center, nearby, and place Representative Khan and the rest of these . . . prominent members of the Council there, where they can pass the time."
Outrage flared in Junipero Khan's dark eyes. "You cannot arrest us! We're members of the High Council! We haven't done anything!"
"You are harboring a Jedi fugitive! An enemy of the Empire!" Rasche barked, "Necros! Do as I ordered!"
The clone officer ordered a squad of troopers to arrest the High Council members. "Do you honestly expect to take over an entire planet's governing body, because of some fugitive?" Khan exclaimed in disbelief. "The citizens of Andalia will not allow it!"
Rasche glanced upward. Imperial Destoyers descended from the sky like locust. The Sith Lord then stared pointedly at the Council leader. "I'm afraid that your citizens no longer have any say in the matter."
A male Andalian stepped out of a landspeeder and covered his head with his cloak's hood. He glanced furtively about and rushed inside a two-story building made from pale-rose adobe mud. The building, called the Karidote Seminary, happened to be a chapel that served as a sanctuary for those citizens who wanted privacy for religious mediation. Senator Solipo Yeb strode past a series of doors, until he came upon the last one on the right. Once more, he glanced around to make sure that no one saw him. Then he knocked.
Over a minute passed before the door slid open. A tall, lithe female with similar light-brown skin, along with high cheekbones, wide brown eyes and long dark hair worn in a single braid, stood in the doorway. "Senator Yeb?" she said in a low, husky voice. "What is it?"
The senator threw back his hood. "Anjuli, you must leave at once. Imperial troops have arrived in the city. And I believe that the Senate has sent a liaison to arrest you."
The Jedi Knight's face became slightly pale. "The Senate's liaison?" She paused with a frown on her face. "I thought I had sensed a presence, but I wasn't sure. And this person is . . .?"
Sighing, Solipo added, "His name is Darth Rasche."
Fear crept into Anjuli's eyes. "Darth? A Sith Lord? The Emperor has a Sith Lord working for him?"
"Anjuili!" Solipo exclaimed sharply. "This is no time for questions! You must leave! The planet will soon be overrun by Imperial troops!"
The pair entered Anjuli's room. The sparse décor struck a deep contrast to the more lavish furnishings favored by many of the planet's citizens. The room consisted of a pallet, a low table, two large cushions next to the table, and a wardrobe filled with her personal belongings. Anjuli grabbed hold of a burlap sack and opened the wardrobe. Then she began dumping its contents into the sack. "If I were you, Senator, I would also leave. Get your family and get out. Hide out in the Outer Rim Territories."
Solipo sighed. "I've already made arrangements for my sister to leave, not long after your arrival."
The Jedi Knight finished packing. "I'm ready. Let's go." She led Solipo out into the corridor. Blaster fire whizzed past their heads. The pair glanced down the corridor and saw three clone troopers approaching them with blaster rifles. Anjuli barked at Solipo, "Get out of here! Now!" She nodded at the door situated at the other end of the corridor. "That way!"
Without hesitation, the senator sprinted down the corridor, toward the door indicated by Anjuli. Just as he reached it, Solipo glanced over his shoulder. He saw the Jedi Knight use her lightsaber to deflect the troopers' fire with great ease. He opened the door and found himself in a lush, formal garden with hedgerows, low trees and flowerbeds. A stonewall surrounded three-fourths of the garden. And a wooden gate divided the wall in the middle.
A minute later, a panting Anjuli emerged from the building. "They've been taken care of," she murmured. "Let's get out of here, before it's too . . ." She broke off, as a tall man dressed in a black tunic, black pants and a maroon cape leapt over the stonewall.
"Anjuli Nab!" the tall man growled. "I arrest you in the name of the Emperor! You are charged with treason!"
Anjuli stared at the man with disbelieving eyes. "Romulus Wort? You're . . . you're a Sith Lord?"
"The name is now Darth Rasche!" Wort shot back. He whipped out his lightsaber. Its red blade illuminated his handsome face.
Blue light lit up above the Jedi Knight's lightsaber. "Senator Yeb!" The mention of his name popping into his mind startled Solipo. "The minute we start fighting, I want you to leave. Head for your transport and get out."
Solipo opened his mouth to speak, but the two Force users began to ignore him. He watched anxiously, as the pair circled each other, cautiously. The moment their blades connected, the senator sprinted toward the wooden gate. Upon reaching it, he glanced over his shoulder. Both Anjuli and Wort . . . or Rasche . . . or whatever his name was, swung their lightsabers at each other with the ease of master swordsmen. Solipo almost felt inclined to remain behind and watch. But his sister and freedom waited. The senator inhaled sharply. Then he passed through the gate and into the streets of Amir.
Red and blue blades clashed in the gardens of the Karidote Seminary. Utilizing the Sorensu form, Anjuli Nab coolly parried Rasche's aggressive attacks against her. The Sith apprentice could not help but admire the Jedi Knight's lightsaber skills. As he recalled, Nab possessed a talent for luring her opponents with minimal physical moments. Rasche decided that he would not fall for such strategy.
The moment he took another step toward her, Nab made her move. The Jedi Knight swiftly executed a 360-degree spin, otherwise known as the Jung Ma move. She would have sliced Rasche's midsection in half, if he had not parried the blow. But he did . . . by dropping to one knee and swinging his weapon in front of his face.
Nab gasped in surprise and Rasche sprung to his feet, forcing her weapon away with another swing. Then he finally went on the attack. Rasche delivered a series of fast swings that kept his opponent off guard. The attacks continued, until Rasche forced Nab against a stone bench, causing her to fall over backward. Then Rasche sliced off her sword hand. She cried out in pain.
"Why?" she whispered, clutching her burnt stump with her uninjured hand. "I don't understand."
Rasche coolly replied, "It's simple. You're Jedi. I had dedicated nearly all of my life to an order that proved to be nothing more than an archaic institution that ruined the lives of others. Why should I remain loyal to it?"
"Ruined . . . lives?" Nab exclaimed. "The Jedi served democracy! Brought light to the galaxy! How could you . . .?"
Harsh laughter escaped from Rasche's mouth. "I used to believe the same. Until I learned the truth about the Jedi. But do you want to know why I really hate them? Hate all of you? Because despite their power, they could not prevent the deaths of those I cared about. In fact, I believe that they are responsible for his . . . those deaths. And they allowed the so-called Chosen One in our midst. The Jedi weren't all wise and powerful. They were stupid! And blind."
Confusion whirled in Nab's dark eyes. "I don't understand."
Rasche stared down at her with contempt. "Pity. I guess you never will." With that remark, he plunged his lightsaber into the Jedi Knight's chest.
Seconds passed before he stared at his former colleague's dead body. Six or nine months ago, he would have felt a little remorse over her death. But Rasche had learned a lot about the institution he had served most of his life. Before the Jedi records had been destroyed, he learned about the Council's duplicity in keeping their diminished power to the Force a secret from the Senate. He learned of their plans to take control of the Senate during the Clone War's waning days. He also learned that the late Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas had been responsible for the creation of the clone troopers. These discoveries, along with knowledge of Master Windu and Master Yoda's illegal assassination attempts on Palpatine, led Rasche to realize that the order he had served had been nothing but a lie. His anger deepened and he developed hatred toward the Jedi Order. And a deep contempt for those who continued to serve it.
A clone trooper appeared in the seminary's garden. "Lord Rasche," he announced, "the Andalia High Council members have been incarcerated, as ordered. Three divisions have taken positions throughout the planet. So far, no resistance has been met."
"Good," Rasche replied with a nod. "Also send a squad to track down and arrest Senator Solipo Yeb. As soon as possible."
The trooper nodded. "Yes, my Lord." Clutching his blaster rifle, he rushed back inside the building. Rasche picked up the fallen Jedi Knight's lightsaber and followed closely behind.
END OF PROLOGUE