R2-W5 woke them from their meditation.

They had arrived at Dagobah.

Tasher stirred first from the constant droid beeping and he stood on the bridge. He moved to the view port and saw the dark planet before him. Dagobah was a swamp planet, mucky and dank. It was a great place to hide in and a horrible place to die in. It wasn't a huge planet by any means, but it was okay. There were thousands if not millions of different swamp monsters living throughout the world; Tasher couldn't imagine anyone ever going to Dagobah to live.

"It's beautiful," Casse whispered, moving up behind Tasher.

"I suppose," he responded, looking back at her. He noticed that Ka'shard and Miran were walking onto the bridge and he waved at them.

"Were is he exactly?" Ka'shard asked. The ship was zooming into a particular part of the planet.

"Down there somewhere," Tasher answered. "W5 has the coordinates, he'll take the ship near there. We'll go out and use the Force to feel for Master Rhea. Heal him as best we can and hope he can stop Aurra Sing."

"What if he's already dead?" Miran asked suddenly and yet quietly.

"Then this is for nothing," Tasher whispered.

"We're just going to have to take that chance," Ennem announced as he entered the bridge with a smile.

"We're all here," Casse reported, looking at her friends.

W5 beeped.

"We're landing," Casse translated. The five of them watched through the view port. They had entered the atmosphere and they could see the dark green and black of the swamps. They descended through foliage and trees and marshes and other forms of plant life until they safely hit ground. It was a soggy ground, a soft, unsettling land, but it would do.

W5 shut down the ship and opened the landing walkway. A warm, wet air hit them children as they stood at the exit. The smell of the swamp was almost overpowering to the five who had spent their whole lives on metallic Coruscant. But it was nothing that could beat them.

"Let's go," Tasher said as he took the first few steps down the ramp. The others followed behind, none saying anything, all gripping their training sabers tightly. Ka'shard took the back. W5 stayed on the ship, ready for an emergency take off if they needed it.

"Reach out with the Force," Casse whispered, she was caring the medical kit, "feel for Master Rhea."

The children did as she suggested and they felt the almost infinite different types of life on Dagobah. It was amazing.

Miran buckled and almost fell over. Ka'shard caught her.

"What is it?" he asked her as he helped her up.

"Can't you feel it?" she asked with wild eyes.

"Feel what?" Ennem asked her.

"The Dark Side," Miran answered, her voice breaking, "it's strong here. Very strong."

"Is it Aurra Sing?" Tasher inquired.

"No," she replied, "something else."

"Let's keep going," Tasher responded shakily. "Shake it off Miran. Since you can feel something like that, you can sense life better than the rest of us. Try to find Master Rhea."

Miran took the lead, concentrating.

"I've got something!" Ennem announced after a couple minutes. He had brought a technical scanner. It would find technology on empty planets like Dagobah. There would be very little technology. Whatever they could find would most surely be either Master Rhea...or Aurra Sing.

"Where?" Tasher asked as they huddled around Ennem's device.

"We landed in a good spot," he laughed, "it's only a few meters that way." He pointed off to the West. The trees and fog made it hard to see very far in that direction.

"Ka'shard, take the lead," Tasher ordered. "Miran, behind him, keep feeling with the Force. The rest of us, keep safe and alert!"

The young boy dressed as a Tusken Raider stepped forward. He unclipped his grandfather's lightsaber from his belt and ignited the ruby red blade.

"That's a real lightsaber," Ennem whispered.

"It's my grandfather's," Ka'shard responded. He waved it in front oh him, slicing through the fog.

"Why's it red?" Ennem asked.

"You'll have to ask him," Ka'shard responded, smiling underneath his breathing mask.

"Lead the way oh mighty Jedi hero," Miran giggled. Casse and Tasher both sniggered along.

Ka'shard sliced his way through the foliage and led the small band off Jedi children. Ennem, third in line, gave directions. Miran reached with the Force, as did Tasher and Casse. All were looking for a powerful Force signature that would represent Master Nario Rhea.

Ka'shard swung his lightsaber and arced it through a heavy branch, clearing their way. The young Jedi stepped into a clearing. A small clearing, meaning that perhaps there was an extra foot of space before the next plant. Sitting before them was a speeder bike armed to the teeth.

Miran gasped and everyone crowded around it. It was decorated red with skulls and guns. There was no doubting whom it belonged to.

"Aurra Sing," Ka'shard snarled. The bounty hunter had killed his grandfather. Not much had been heard about Aurra Sing the past couple of years, but still the children knew her name. She was an assassin of Jedi, an enemy. She was Force-sensitive and was definitely a part of the Dark Side.

"Could she be around," Casse cringed.

"No," Miran answered, "I don't feel any person."

"This box feels bad," Ennem interrupted, kneeling near a medium-sized storage box. "Feels like...explosives. A lot of them."

"Feels deactivated to me," Casse responded. She kneeled down next to Ennem and gripped the lid, "in fact, it's open." She lifted the ornate lid and revealed a row of lightsaber hilts. They were kept on a soft bed, one appeared to be missing. Four were left.

"It's true," Casse whispered.

"She's killed Jedi," Ennem shuddered.

They all stared at what the box held for a few moments. It was hard to believe. Tasher swallowed hard.

"Everyone take a lightsaber," he instructed and reached down to select one for himself.

"We can't do that," Miran urged, "these belong to great Jedi warriors."

"Then we'll use them proudly," Tasher told them, "In their memory we will use them to fight the one who slew them." Tasher ignited his hilt and a beautiful green blade arose. He waved it around in front of him, smiling.

Miran grabbed one next and loosed a blue blade, almost the same color as her skin. Ennem and Casse overcame their doubt and each grabbed a hilt. Two more green lightsabers joined the fray. And so the children were armed, each wielding the powerful weapon of the Jedi.

"They're beautiful," Ennem whispered.

"Power down people," Tasher told them, "we don't want to make it too obvious that we're here."

One by one the lightsabers extinguished, even Ka'shard's.

"Let's keep moving," Miran told them. They each placed their training sabers into Aurra Sing's box in replace the real lightsabers they had taken. Ka'shard took off in the lead again and Miran kept scanning around them. Ennem kept his eye on his scanner and everyone slowly walked through the swamps and muck of Dagobah.

It was a harsh world. None could imagine anyone sentient living there. It was too horrible. This place was as far from Coruscant as one could get. But they weren't going to back down. They had come too far to simply give up because the terrain was too different. If they stayed on the solid ground everything would be okay.

Also, the feel of actual lightsabers in their palms made them warm all over.

It wasn't too long before Miran felt the pulling of the Force. A silent cry for help from a calm mind. It felt of power and light. It was not Aurra Sing.

The students started at a run. In a few moments, the others could feel Nario Rhea as well. But they could feel something dark as well. Ka'shard powered his lightsaber first. It's red blade a stark contrast to the dark green of the swamps.

The others followed suit and five lightsabers flashed through the swamps of Dagobah.

They slowed when they saw the Jedi robes lying on the ground and stopped when the man looked at them. He was a bald human male; blood stained his normally brown robes.

"Children?" the Jedi Knight questioned with a wavering voice.

Tasher extinguished his lightsaber and moved to the man. The others formed a circle around them, lightsabers at the ready, eyes watching the surrounding landscape.

"Casse, the meds," Tasher whispered and she moved with him to the Jedi Master.

"What are you children doing here?" Master Rhea asked, trying to stand. He was standing in the message they had received in the Council's Chamber. He could barely lift himself now. Something had happened.

"We're here to save you Master Rhea," Tasher whispered as Casse set to work inspecting his wounds and patching them up.

"I contacted the Council," he groaned, "why are you children here? How did you get here? Where did you get lightsabers? There are so many questions young ones."

"I know Master, and I'll tell you," Tasher sighed. "The Council was called away, all of the available Jedi were. We were left alone, and we...snuck into the Council Chamber. We were just having fun. We got your message and since we were the only ones who knew about you we took it upon ourselves to come after you. To at least help you, heal you." Tasher looked sorrowful. He hung his head.

The Jedi Knight sighed. He moved his arm so Casse could see to a wound on his side.

"Well thank you," he finally responded, "you children are truly brave. But still you are irresponsible and something will be done. But this is a very dangerous place. I have been hunting the bounty hunter Aurra Sing for years now and I've finally trapped her here. She's hurt, somewhere in the vicinity. You children are in grave danger."

"We know," Tasher told him, "we found her speeder bike back there a ways. These lightsabers we found in a storage box she had. We took them for self-defense. We're not afraid."

"You have a ship?" Master Rhea asked.

"We...borrowed a Republic Cruiser," Tasher told him and the Jedi Knight chuckled. "What is your name?"

Tasher swallowed and darted his eyes at his friends.

"My name is Tasher Jaken," he told the Jedi, "the young girl working on you is Casse Rion. My friends are Miran Daa, Ennem Terth, and Ka'shard Hett."

"So that's why he's dressed as a Tuskan savage," Nario Rhea groaned. Ka'shard took a quick look back.

"Are we going to evacuate or..." Tasher began but was cut off.

"Children?" a ragged female voice sounded from somewhere in the swamp. "It's been far too long since I've had the pleasure of killing Jedi Children."

"Sing!" Nario Rhea hissed and flattened himself onto the ground. This caused him to wince in pain because he had interrupted Casse's work on a particular wound.

A single blaster shot flew at them from the marsh and Ka'shard quickly deflected it with his lightsaber, sending the beam off into a tree.

"She's over here!" he shouted.

"No!" Miran responded.

"It's a blaster droid of hers," Nario Rhea grunted. "Scout droids armed with a blaster so that they can simply hover and fire, providing cover for Sing."

Another shot almost hit Ennem before he also reflected it with his lightsaber.

Tasher quickly ignited his green blade and Casse wasn't about to join him until he told her to continue helping Master Rhea. Tasher took his place with his circle of friends and deflected a bolt coming at him.

They came from different directions, but the Jedi children were able to deflect them from hitting anyone. They moved through the Force and relied almost on instinct to find the bolts and smack them away with their lightsabers.

"Reach out with the Force!" Miran instructed, "Find her!"

The blasts became more steady and often. The children fought them as hard as they could and were holding it. But anyone of them could sense the fear and weariness coming from each one. It would soon be a losing battle.

Tasher was too distracted to feel for Aurra Sing. Any attention he could take away from deflecting laser blasts he used to sense the feelings and emotions his friends were giving off. The already muggy atmosphere of the swamps was worsening with the heat from the blasters. It was becoming much hotter.

Tasher Jaken felt his friends. Ka'shard Hett, his best friend and grandson of one of the greatest Jedi Heroes in recent years. Miran Daa was a carefree Twi'lek girl who cared for her friends like they were family, especially Ka'shard. Ennem was the most afraid. He was a joker and a quick-learner, but life in the action wasn't for him, yet. Though he was afraid, he wasn't about to stop fighting.

And then Tasher found Casse. She was feeling her friends as well and their minds linked. He could feel the fear washing over Casse. He risked a glance and found that she was shaking while working on Nario Rhea. She could feel the calmness in Tasher and that made her worry even more. She wasn't going to last much longer.

Tasher couldn't take it anymore. They were too young, far too young to be here.

He heard Aurra Sing laugh over the blaster fire. She was somewhere in the swamps.

"Don't be afraid!" Tasher shouted as he deflected another bolt away. "We're Jedi! Defenders of the galaxy! Children of the Code!"

Tasher felt Ennem stumbled slightly and the worry as the young zabrak nearly missed a bolt. He began to recite the honored Jedi Code.

"There is no emotion; there is peace!" Tasher shouted as loud as he could.

He felt a surge of anger come from Ka'shard.

"There is no ignorance; there is knowledge!" he continued.

He now felt pride coming from many of them, and he heard Miran utter the last couple words of that last line.

"There is no passion; there is serenity!" Tasher know heard the other voices of his friends joining him in shouting their immortal code.

Ennem prepared himself for the last line to be shouted. But in that instant before Tasher began, Ennem glimpsed the droid shooting at him. The next blaster bolt Ennem deflected at the droid and scored a direct hit. It exploded and Ennem quickly turned his attention to the Force and finding Aurra Sing. He found her.

"There is no death!" everyone shouted in unison, "There is only the Force!" It was a triumphant moment.

"She's there!" Ennem shouted and lunged because he felt the assassin gripping a rifle. He lunged in front of Miran as Aurra Sing pulled the trigger and hit Ennem Terth in the shoulder.

"Oh hell!" Tasher yelled as he moved over to the fallen Ennem. Ka'shard deflected a bolt into Tasher's droid as well as his own and turned to help Miran. Together, they destroyed the last of the blaster droids.

"Ennem, are you okay?" Casse cried.

"I'm fine," he winced, "just fine." The wound didn't look too bad and Casse was already working on helping him.

"It doesn't look so bad," Tasher assured them.

"Go after her," Ennem groaned, grabbing a hold of Tasher's sleeve.

"Come on!" Ka'shard surged as he lunged forward from where the blaster bolt had come from. Miran followed him. Tasher instructed Casse to stay and help both Ennem and Nario Rhea. Her fear was gone.

Tasher stood and ran after his friends. He caught up to Ka'shard and Miran and the three of them followed Aurra Sing's Force trail through the swamps. She was running.

Another blaster shot came through the trees and Ka'shard easily deflected it.

"You can't run Sing!" Ka'shard shouted, "You can't run from us!" Anger was washing from Ka'shard. Too much anger.

The three used their lightsabers to cut through foliage and used the Force to deflect anything else that might get in their way. From time to time they'd have to deflect a poorly aimed laser shot from the woman.

Ka'shard charged forward and wickedly sliced through a branch. He was angry, almost too angry. Miran felt it and it bothered her.

"Ka'shard," she said just loud enough for him to hear her and she stopped to talk. But it was too late for help; the next shot came through the trees and hit Miran in the leg. She had stopped to help Ka'shard and so she paid for it.

Ka'shard and Tasher stopped as she screamed out. They turned to her, and all the anger left Ka'shard and he became filled with sorrow.

"Miran," he whispered and moved to grab her before she fell to the ground.

He carried her as she fell and they rested together on the ground, him kneeling, holding her. "Are you okay?"

"Don't be so angry," she scolded him.

"Go Tasher!" Ka'shard yelled at him. He deactivated his lightsaber. Tasher paused slightly, but stood up and continued after Aurra Sing. He stood just in time to deflect the next bolt.

Tasher charged forward, there were fewer blasts he had to deflect. Aurra Sing was weakening; he could feel it in the Force. He fought his anger and fear as he cut through bushes and trees with his lightsaber. She would not get away.


Through the green he saw a flash of red. Her outfit. This surged him on, and soon he could see her easily. The red pants and top, the stunning gray/white of her skin. Her red pony tail. It was Aurra Sing, the killer of Jedi. She was holding a rather large sniper rifle.

She limped as she ran, and Tasher could see some blood and bandages on her. Master Rhea wasn't the only one suffering from their encounter.

"You can't escape!" Tasher shouted after her. He dodged under a low branch and sliced away a small sapling in his way.

"You want this?" she asked in desperation and suddenly threw her gun at Tasher.

He easily sidestepped and cut the gun in half with the green blade and resumed the chase. He watched as Aurra Sing reached into a pouch on her belt and withdrew something silvery.

Suddenly she stopped running and turned to face Jaken. In her hand was a lightsaber hilt. With a harsh sneer, the bounty hunter ignited a red blade and took an offensive stance as Tasher slowed to face her. He raised his lightsaber in defense, prepared to give her the first strike.

"You're just a child," she sneered.

"That's what the historians will say for years to come," Tasher responded.

"That's what it will say on your tomb!" Aurra Sing shouted and charged at Tasher.

She swung her blade horizontally at Tasher's neck, but he easily knocked her blade up and side-jumped left to escape the down swing. Her wounds were mainly on her left side. He knew that to win he'd have to use her battered state to his advantage.

In a fair fight, she would kill him no questions asked.

Her red blade followed after him and Tasher stopped. He arced his own lightsaber over his back and blocked it. Tasher spun with his blade and faced her, slashing it diagonally at her left shoulder. She blocked it, but grunted in pain with such effort on that side.

But Aurra Sing was not affected for long. She was through with fancy work and sliced down at Tasher. He blocked it and slashed back. She blocked and attacked; Tasher parried her blow and slashed at her legs.

Sing jumped over his blade and again tried to arc down and use her height as an advantage. But Tasher's lightsaber was there. It was always there. No matter where she struck, no matter how hard, the cutting green blade would block and strike back.

Tasher was beyond fear, beyond rage. He was above all that. He was truly one with the Force, it was unlike anything he had ever known or felt. There was no emotion, no ignorance, no passion, only the Force. He felt the trees, the creatures, the very air through the Force.

But mostly, he felt Aurra Sing. She was mad, angry, enraged, and full of the Dark Side. But she was also wounded and a little afraid. He could feel her every movement, see it as if she were moving so very slowly.

He could see each strike she dealt before it happened. He knew where it would go.

He had never known such power in the Force.

Their blades hissed and whined through the swampy air. The harsh rasp as they clashed made birds fly from their trees. The small animals scurried around as Sing struck as hard as she could.

Aurra Sing's blade slashed the air and aimed for Tasher Jaken's right shoulder, but his blade was there. The instant they hit, a stone flew through the air and smashed Sing in the forehead. Tasher took his chance and looped his blade in a circle, pushing hers with it. This movement made her lose her grip and Tasher launched her blade out of her hand and through the air. It deactivated and landed somewhere in the tall grass.

Tasher kicked her in the gut as hard as his little body could and Aurra Sing stumbled. He then had to trip her and she finally fell backwards. Tasher jumped on her fallen body and held the lightsaber pointing at her throat.

She laughed a guttural laugh.

"Go ahead pup, kill me," she choked, her face paler than usual.

"I'm not going to kill you," he said slowly. "You'll get what's coming to you. Greater men than I decide what is justice.

"I've killed greater men than you," Aurra Sing snarled.

"Well then you'll have to live with this shame," Tasher uttered. "I am just a child."

"Not anymore you're not," a strong voice called from the trees. Tasher turned to find Master Nario Rhea emerge. This distraction was just what Aurra Sing need. She shoved Tasher off of her and stood as fast as she could. But Nario Rhea was ready; he shot her in the back with a blaster as she was standing. She fell to the ground, unconscious.

"Master Rhea?" Tasher startled as he slowly stood, shutting off his lightsaber and clipping it to his belt.

"You did good young man," the Jedi Knight smiled.

The other children emerged from behind Nario Rhea and rushed to their friend. Casse arrived first and wrapped Tasher in a large hug. "I'm so glad you're okay," she whispered into his ear.

"Congratulations hotshot," Ka'shard chuckled. Miran had her arm around Ka'shard's shoulders, she was still wounded and he was holding her up. She was just smiling at Tasher. Ennem was standing on his own; zabraks had a high tolerance for pain.

Nario Rhea moved to the fallen bounty hunter and shackled her wrists and ankles. "It's time we got out of here," he told the children.

They all agreed quickly and helped him carry the bounty hunter back to their ship. Master Rhea's ship had long ago sunk into the swamp.

The children couldn't stop talking on their way back. They had all survived, they had saved the day. This was the biggest and most important thing they had ever done.

Tasher, however, was relatively quiet. Nario Rhea, who walked at the back of the group, noticed to. He reached for the boy in the Force and instantly felt his emotions.

Tasher Jaken was full of pride.

He was brimming with it.

* * * *

Jedi Master Yoda paced slowly in front of the gathered students. He was hunched over, weak from his encounter with Count Dooku, and paced with his walking stick. They were in the Jedi Council Chamber, the seats removed. Only Master Yoda's seat remained, but he had decided to stand.

When the children and Master Rhea returned, they returned to a broken and sorrowful Jedi Temple. Something horrible had happened while the Jedi were away. Only a few had returned. They went directly to the Council, but many were gone. Only Yoda stood in the room, he bide them enter.

Master Rhea recounted the whole story to the diminutive Jedi Master. Aurra Sing had been brought to a Coruscant prison.

"Troublemakers these children are," Yoda muttered.

Tasher tensed.

"But brave nonetheless," Yoda stopped and face them.

They kids stood in a line. Tasher in the middle with Casse and Ka'shard on either side. Miran stood next to Ka'shard, hand-in-hand. Ennem was on the other side of Casse. Nario Rhea stood behind Casse and Tasher. His arms were crossed.

Tasher was very nervous, but not afraid.

"But broken the rules you have," Yoda sighed, "punished you will be." There was a lot of Master Yoda's mind.

"Yes Master Yoda," Tasher said quietly, bowing his head.

"I'm sure you'll find something to do with these ragamuffins Master," Nario Rhea chuckled, "but there's something else."

Yoda just looked at him. Ennem darted his eyes to look at the Jedi Knight as well.

"With the permission of the Council," Nario Rhea cleared his throat. "I would like to take Tasher Jaken as my Padawan learner."

Tasher's eyes opened wide and he swallowed hard. The other kids all smiled in surprise. Casse gasped.

"And I would suggest," Nario Rhea continued, "that we find Jedi to take each of these students as Padawans."

All of them were silently cheering now.

"Too young, they are," Master Yoda commented, "their Initiate training not yet complete."

Miran sighed, as did the others.

"What I saw on Dagobah proves that these children are ready," Nario Rhea insisted, "whatever minimal training they have left can be taught to them by their Masters."

Yoda still looked unsure.

"Master Yoda," Nario Rhea persisted, "after what you've just told me about the battle you have come from, we're going to need more Jedi. It is obvious that the Sith have returned, and with the Dark Side so rampant, we need to make these students ready. They have had the greatest lesson of them all, hands-on-training. There is nothing more you can teach them in your classes. They have proven themselves ready. There are dark times ahead."

Jedi Knight Nario Rhea placed his hand steadily on Tasher's right shoulder. The young boy smiled.

Yoda still only looked at them. He looked from child to child, and finally at Nario Rhea.

"Returned the Sith have," Yoda concurred, "Dark times are coming indeed." The small but powerful Jedi again looked over the confident faces of the Jedi children. "Agree with you I do. Your Padawan, Tasher Jaken will be."