Sitting in the center of the observation tower atop the Jedi temple, Luke Skywalker's mind drifted between the far reaches of the galaxy and the flurry of activity beneath him.
His body remained taught, his posture perfect, his breathing minimal, all the while his long white hair flitted in the warm forest wind that was gently meandering its way through the tower's open viewports.
He was calm and serene, as was typical of recent years. The nightmares of the past no longer haunted him. The galaxy was stable… more or less. He doubted it would ever be completely subdued, but it was much more so than in centuries past.
The Jedi now numbered in the thousands, with six temples spread across the galaxy. The eight major powers were currently at peace with one another and the likelihood of another war breaking out was minimal.
The galaxy was experiencing a golden age that had long been in the making. The Order had become self sufficient and no longer needed Luke's constant oversight. He still retained his leadership of the council, but maintained a freedom of movement and clarity of purpose that he hadn't dared even dream of in the past.
All was well…and had been so for many decades.
Far below, in the dense forest, a small group of cadets were running the trails with a Master on their heels keeping their pace honest. A few meters ahead on the trail a black and green clad figure stepped out of the brush and into their path. He allowed the cadets to pass by, but as the Master neared with a look of confusion on his face, the figure ignited a blue lightsaber…and slashed the Master across his chest.
The cadets turned in response to the sound of the lightsaber just in time to see the Master's body hit the ground and the assassin disappear back into the forest.
"Master Hij!" one of the cadets yelled as they ran back and gathered around the fallen Jedi.
"Master, can you hear me?" a young girl asked as she desperately shook her teacher's shoulder, to no avail.
"Turn him over," another cadet insisted as he looked for the Master's wound.
"No cut," he said in dismay. "His robes aren't even singed."
"He isn't dead?" the girl asked hopefully.
"I don't think so," the eldest cadet said as he felt for a pulse. "He's alive, just out cold."
"How is that possible? Whoever that was used a lightsaber."
The brown haired boy shook his head. "I don't…" he started to say as they heard the sounds of distant lightsaber combat echoing through the trees.
Ning-Ti got his lightsaber out just in time to block a blue slash at his head. He pushed it back as his apprentice circled around to his right and attacked the armor clad figure from behind with a low slash at its legs.
The attacker had come out of nowhere and already downed Hes and his apprentice by the time Ning's hand had gotten to his lightsaber's hilt. If he'd been a split second slower he would have been taken completely off guard.
His assailant sidestepped to Ning's left and flicked his blue blade down and caught the apprentice's attack near the tip of the blade. He effortlessly flicked it out of the way and planted his boot into his apprentice's robes and sent the youth flying five meters backward.
Ning jabbed forward as he caught a glimpse of more of his fellow Jedi spilling out of the temple towards the training grounds. If he could only hold on a few moments then they could…
Ning's arm suddenly went numb as the tip of the blue blade whipped around and caught his wrist. His lightsaber slipped from his hand but he never saw it hit the ground. A blue whirl swept across his vision, quickly followed by blackness.
By the time the attacker had added Ning's apprentice to his body count, six Jedi Masters and fourteen Knights had piled into the courtyard from various locations. Instead of waiting for them to come to him, he sprinted towards the nearest two and lashed out at them with a speed and intensity they could not match.
They started to step backward and fight defensively, but the blue blade moved too quick and accurate… and slipped through. The first Master went down with a touch to his ribs. The second fared better and sparred long enough for one of the Knights to join the fight before he was force-pulled forward and off balance into a backhanded jab that was flicked forward to intercept the Knight's green blade.
One, two, three parries and the blue blade struck the Knight's skull and dropped her to the ground. The attacker stepped backward as four Jedi came at him at once and tried to encircle him.
He reached down to his left hip and pulled out a second lightsaber. It ignited blue like its twin, then slashed sideways in a feint that caused one of the Jedi to flinch backward.
In that moment the attacker sprung the other direction and into the air overhead. He landed on the opposite side of two of the Jedi and stepped forward into their arcing blades.
He intercepted both simultaneously and braced against each as he kicked out at the Jedi on his right. The Jedi stumbled backward, and the attacker rotated…bringing his now free blade around behind him and into the other Jedi's exposed shoulder.
The Jedi dropped to the ground as his compatriots stood off for the moment, wondering who this man, or thing, was.
That was a mistake.
The attacker reached toward two of them and sent them flying backwards with a force-push that left him free to attack the remaining lone Jedi, two blades to one.
The outcome was the same for him as it would soon be for the others. The attacker would duck, dodge, parry, and evade until he could momentarily isolate the assembled Jedi and take them down one or two at a time.
That was, until Kas Mati appeared out of the temple doors and launched forward with unparalleled speed toward the fight.
When the Master closed to within ten meters he slowed and brandished his blue double-bladed lightsaber and took it to the attacker as the three remaining Jedi stepped back and gave their superior room to fight.
The attacker parried with both his blades against the double-blade, but was momentarily taken off guard by the force behind the Jedi's assaults. The armored attacker backtracked and shortened his parries while adding strength to them. The two fought in this fashion for over a minute before the attacker suddenly increased his blade speed.
Suddenly Kas was on the defensive, shortening his parries in a desperate attempt to keep up. He was quickly losing ground and suddenly jumped backwards off balance.
Or so it seemed. When the attacker moved after him, Kas quickly set himself and force-pushed back directly into his opponent's momentum with enough strength to send his opponent flying backwards by the tens of meters.
But to his great surprise the armored figure was forced backward by less than one. He quickly stepped forward again and launched into the stunned Jedi's failing defenses. Twenty seconds later the Master fell to the ground. Twenty seconds after that, the other three Jedi joined him.
The attacker paused and searched for more opponents, but there were none, save one, just now coming out of the temple doors and racing forward towards him.
One of the blue blades suddenly extinguished and returned to a slot on his armored hip as he set himself against Luke's rushing green blade.
Unlike with Kas, Luke's attacks weren't terribly forceful, but they came with a rhythm that the attacker quickly matched. Luke let this go on for a few moments then began to alter his rhythm at key points in a seemingly random fashion.
The attacker quickly adjusted and countered Luke move for move.
The senior Jedi continued to subtly adjust his attack, feeling out his opponent and searching for a weakness in his technique…or at the least a slip that would allow him to break through and avenge the deaths of the Jedi whose bodies were littering the field.
But no such slip came. The fight continued on for several minutes with no headway made. Then, seemingly content that Luke had given him all that he had to offer, the attacker switched back to offense and suddenly started to drive Luke backward.
The 701 year old Jedi drew on every bit of experience and skill that he possessed to try and hold his form. The intersection of blue and green blades grew faster and faster until it was all Luke could do just to get the green blade in front of the blue.
Luke's precision diminished and the attacker used this to his advantage, gradually maneuvering Luke's hands into a precisely measured position with each blow…
A green and black armored knee came up into Luke's wrists and knocked his lightsaber from his hands. It fell to the ground then arced up into his attacker's grip.
Luke, unbalanced and disoriented, fell backward onto the ground and quickly found the tip of his opponent's blue blade centimeters from his face.
The attacker held it there as he reached up and removed his helmet. He palmed it and Luke's lightsaber in his left hand as he looked down into the Jedi Master's startled face.
"We need to talk, Skywalker."