Well, it is now very late. But I have managed to finish this chapter and spoken every word of it. A couple of people who read the latest chapter of my last story pointed out many of the spelling mistakes that came with the words sounding similar to one another. And I admit that Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 is not a perfect program but hopefully as I go along I will be able to iron out the kinks. But for now, I have done something which I have actually never done before and that was proof read them this time. So if there are any mistakes in this one, it's ones that I have missed with my eyes while going over it a second time.
Quest of the Gods
Chapter 36:- A Balance Broken
As Anakin and Barriss succeeded in freeing Ahsoka from the Son's control, the Son himself staggered backwards, clutching at his chest and his red, glowing eyes widening in shock. He was not hurt, but he was most definitely surprised. He had just felt something which he had never thought possible – somehow the Togruta that he had infected with his darkness had managed to shake off its influence. She was no longer his obedient slave. She was free again.
How? How was this possible? He was the Dark Side of the Force itself. His power was limitless. And yet, somehow, a mere Togruta Jedi, not even a fully fledged Jedi Knight, had managed to overcome his control. He had felt her struggles in the back of his mind while he had been fighting his own sister, but had paid them no mind. And now he saw his mistake. Somehow the leverage which he had used to occupy the Chosen One had vanished.
"I feel it too," the Daughter said as she looked at his surprise and there was a hint of a smile at the corners of her mouth as she said it. "The girl has broken out of your control. She is a member of the Light once again. It seems that your plan to bring the Chosen One to his knees is futile."
The Son looked up with a furious snarl gracing his face. "It is of no consequence," he growled. "Granted, I am surprised that they managed to do it, but in the end it will all mean nothing. The Force will be brought into balance and if necessary, I will make the chosen one bow before me by force."
"You have lost, my brother," the Daughter shook her head, her long green hair rippling behind her. "You cannot hope to achieve victory now. With the Chosen One's mind clear, he will be able to defeat you. That is why the Father summoned him here. If there is anyone that can put you down, it would be him."
The Son chuckled menacingly, looking up into his sister's eyes with malice. "There is much about this that you fail to understand my sister. My power is growing and has been growing for so long. The Force is already out of father's version of precious balance. The darkness is rising once again. It is true that when the Sith Lord Darth Sidious was defeated I did lose ground. I would have been able to rise to this point last year if it had not been for that. But the darkness always rises up once again. It can never be tamed by the Light. Not forever. And it shall never be tamed again, you have my word on that."
"How blind you are, brother," the Daughter closed her eyes. "Your selfish nature is blinding you to everything. You are refusing to listen to what our Father decrees. A universe consisting of only one side of the scale is not balanced at all. It is against the very law of both physics and nature. Only together can we prevail and achieve that balance. Why must you do this? We never had a problem working together when we were going up against…"
"SPEAK NOT OF HER!" The Son roared as he raised his hands and blasted another volley of red lightning directly at the Daughter's face. As before, the Daughter managed to reflect it, scooping up the lightning as if it was in a giant ladle and throwing it back at her brother. The Son rolled out of the way and rose up, flexing his arms and gritting his teeth before letting out an almighty scream of rage.
The Daughter covered her ears and flinched downwards as if that would protect her as the noise battered against her eardrums. The walls around them fractured into splinters of stone. The windows shattered and sprayed glass out into the room and the floor cracked as if there was an earthquake without the quaking part. The Daughter felt herself buffeted back and thrown off her feet entirely by the sheer noise.
As she crashed to the ground and rolled into the wall with a heavy thump, the Son sprang towards her with both arms raised in the air like an animal, spraying down another massive blast of red lightning from both hands. The Daughter rolled onto her side and thrust one hand out in response, sending a burst of green lightning from her own fingertips – her own version of the Electric Judgement which, like the Jedi who could use it, she rarely did use. It crashed into the Son's volley with enough force to explode violently as they cancelled each other out.
The Son blazed through the smoke like a Demon from Hell and seized his sister by the entire face in one hand, slamming her head to the ground and holding her still. The Daughter immediately felt her strength waning as the Son attempted to drain her strength away and replenish himself but before he could get very far she suddenly morphed into her giant Griffin shape, pushing off from the wall and tossing him into the air.
The Son twisted in midair and let loose another round of lightning that the Griffin took head on with a squawk of pain before it spread its wings and charged straight towards him. But suddenly the Son shot past the Griffin with a speed that practically defied all laws of nature and before the Griffin realised what was going on the Son was on her back, seizing her by the neck and filling her with red lightning at point-blank range.
The Daughter screamed as she reverted back to her original shape but before the Son could deliver the final blow she whipped around and landed a solid punch right to his nose.
Thrown, the Son staggered backwards, his hand flying to his face and staring at his sister in disbelief. "A punch?!" He yelled. "An ordinary punch?!"
"You cannot always rely on the Force to do everything for you, my brother," the Daughter almost smirked before she raised her hand and emitted a sudden flash of light from her palm that filled the room for a split second and blinded the Son, causing him to stagger backwards with his hands over his eyes. The Daughter ran forward and leapt into the air, but despite being blinded momentarily the Son still heard her coming and rolled underneath her. The Daughter wheeled around at the same time as the Son and they both readied another Force Power to hurl at one another.
But before they could, a shape descended into the room right next to them and yelled, "STOP THIS! NOW!"
Both of them wheeled around to see the Father standing right next to them – the Son could only just make him out through the haze that was now his vision. The Father lashed out with both his hands and simultaneously scooped up both of his two children with the Force and tossed them across the room, through the shattered window and out into the courtyard below.
Anakin and the others, who had all climbed to their feet and were making ready to head into the room to do something about the Son (though they had quickly taken cover when the windows shattered) all had to dive out of the way again as the two Force Entities crashed to the ground where they had been standing in rolling heaps. Both of them quickly scrambled to their feet, relatively unharmed, but the Son's eyes blazed as the Father glided out of the window on his own small wings that seemed to unfold from nowhere and settled down in front of the tree in the courtyard.
"So you made his after all did you, Father?" He snarled.
"You must stop this now, my Son," the Father instructed, holding out his hands imploringly. "You cannot do this. You cannot continue down this path – it will destroy everything. Including you. That is what the darkness does when it gets to out of control and there is no light to oppose it. Do you not see?"
"All I see is another obstacle in my way!" The Son roared as he unleashed his biggest lightning blast yet at his own Father. The Father quickly raised his hands before him and generated a near invisible shield in the air in front of him, taking and absorbing the lightning bolts that flickered across its surface.
"Why do you insist on fighting me, my Son?" The Father yelled from the other side of the shield. "You know that I have always had your best interests and the interests of your sister at heart and always done what is best for the both of you. Yet you continue to fight against me."
"You hold me back!" The Son was practically screaming now. "You do not let me fulfil my potential! You care nothing for me – only for your precious balance. And I care nothing for you anymore. You are dead to me!"
"And I thought that I could occasionally be a stroppy teenager," Ahsoka muttered.
"You are," Anakin patted her back, though his gaze and hardened and was focusing on the middle of the Son's back. The Daughter was now standing off to one side, refusing to disobey her father's direct order.
"Obi-Wan, pass me that dagger thing," Anakin held out his hand behind him.
"What do you intend to do?" Obi-Wan asked, handing the Dagger of Mortis over all the same.
"You say this thing can kill the Son," Anakin muttered as he held the Dagger in his hand, activating his lightsaber once again. "Then I intend to finish this, once and for all."
But even as he started forwards, the Son was knocked backwards with blast of the Force by the Father, collapsing onto his back and sending him scraping backwards. He looked up in slight fear but mostly anger as his Father stepped down off the pedestal towards him.
"You are strong indeed," the Father looked down his nose at his own offspring. "But not strong enough yet for your desires, I fear. Not when I am on my guard. Were the Sith still in power as they were during the Clone Wars then you would no doubt be stronger than you are now. Your strength reflects the strength of the Dark Side of the Force just as the Dark Side of the Force reflects your strength. As you grow stronger, so does it. As it grows stronger, so do you. You are in balance that way. Can you not use that analogy to see what I'm trying to tell you about light and dark?"
The Son growled, flexing his fingers as if itching to throw another bolt at his Father. "You think that I did not know that? Were things set to go on the regular course I would have been stronger earlier and with greater power – that I will freely admit. It was thanks to those blasted Digimon that entered our universe that the course altered from the one I had envisioned."
"Indeed," the Father grimaced, turning to look towards Anakin. "I apologise for this situation that I have put you in. Truly I do. I put it off for as long as I could. I did indeed want you to have as much of a life as you could out in the proper world before you came and took my place. When you brought balance to the Force by destroying Darth Sidious you gave me enough strength to continue on for another year. But alas, even that cannot last forever and I finally had to ask you. But still, my Son is still not as strong as he could be if Darth Sidious was still alive."
Anakin blinked, suddenly having a newfound respect for the Father for at least trying to ensure that he didn't have to come here until he deemed it absolutely necessary.
"Well, thank you I guess," he nodded.
But before the Father replied, his eyes seemed to be drawn downwards towards what Anakin now held in his hand and a ragged gasp came from his ageing throat. "The Dagger? You have the Dagger of Mortis?"
The Son felt a sneer forming on his face once again. "Ah yes, the Dagger is here, isn't it? Given to the Jedi by my dear sister while you slept on, in order to kill me before you could intervene."
The Daughter looked slightly stricken as her Father turned a horrified gaze upon her. "I… I am so sorry, Father. But he was going to attempt to escape the planet. This was the only way I could think of stopping him from wreaking havoc on the Galaxy."
"And you played right into my hands," the Son grinned. "I knew if our Father was down that that would be the option you would take to try and stop me. And now, thanks to you and the Jedi, there is a weapon here that can kill what cannot be killed by any other means. Including you, Father."
Anakin suddenly darted forwards with intent to thrust the Dagger of Mortis into the Son's back but the Son whirled around to toss him backwards again with the Force before he could make much headway, sending him crashing into Obi-Wan. The Son then yanked the Dagger straight out of Anakin's grip and brought it zooming towards his hand.
Though he was seemingly surprised, as was everyone else, when Ahsoka suddenly sprang forward and grabbed the Dagger by its hilt. The powerful Force Pull ensured that the Dagger was still brought straight towards the Son but Ahsoka was pulled along with it and before the Son could stop the Dagger's progress, Ahsoka had flipped herself around and landed a solid kick straight to his face. In the same place where the Daughter had previously punched him. The Son staggered backwards as Ahsoka flipped around back onto her feet.
Barriss, catch! Ahsoka cried across the mind-link, before tossing the Dagger over her shoulder and back towards the Mirialan, who grabbed it with the Force and pulled it to her, hiding it behind her cloak. Anakin, Obi-Wan and the Father all then hit the Son with a combined Force Push that sent him shooting to one side to impact the wall so hard he left a small crater that made it look like a little meteor had hit it.
The Son slumped to the ground and pushed his way up, snarling at the entire group and shifting into his Gargoyle form in an attempt to get away, before he was solidly yanked back to the ground and pinned there by the efforts of the Father and Anakin. The creature thrashed almost feebly on the ground before switching back into the Son and continuing its glaring tirade.
"You cannot do this to me!" He snarled. "You may contain me and stop me from advancing forwards today but there will always be darkness. And even if you and the Chosen One have the strength to pin me today, Father, you cannot do so forever. The Chosen One is leaving and your strength is waning. I shall eventually break free and escape this place."
The Father sighed. "Then it has come to containment then," he muttered wearily and seemed to gain an additional ten years right there. "I had hoped that you would be more willing to listen to reason. But if I cannot keep you here of your own will for much longer than I will have to force you to stay by the less friendly means. I have striven for so long to keep the universe in balance is much as I can. I cannot allow you to change everything that we have worked for since we got here."
Anakin felt his fist tighten slightly. On the one hand, he was thrilled that they had actually managed to stop the Son before he could do too much damage – although the corruption of his Padawan was damage enough in his opinion – but he was also frustrated that this did not solve his problem of whether to stay here or not. And while the Jedi Code taught him that killing someone that had already lost and was helpless was wrong, he could not help but think that so many things could be solved if he just took the Dagger from Barriss and plunged it into the Son right there.
Evidently the Daughter felt his distress and placed a soothing hand upon his shoulder. He looked up at her and could see that she was in obvious distress as well. This was after all, her own brother that was trying to take over the universe and make everything dark and totally opposite to what she herself was. But despite everything it was clear that she still loved her brother. It was in her very nature after all just as it was in his to be what he was.
Anakin sighed and stood up, watching as the Father held the Son to the ground.
"Thank you for your help," he said.
"My Son is my responsibility," the Father said with sad eyes. "I must do what I can. I do not like it, but I must for the sake of the universe. However, my previous point still stands. You must still come to a decision on whether you stay on and keep them in balance in my place or whether you leave and risk him escaping once again."
Anakin bit his lip. He had thought the decision would be hard enough as it was but the Son's actions had just made it seem even harder.
"I still have to think about it," he said.
"Then I shall not press you," the Father nodded. "I must now quarantine my Son while you must go and fix your ship if you wish to leave the planet yourselves. But I still feel that I have not long to live and you must make your decision soon."
The Father opened his mouth to reply… but before he could there was a sudden whooshing noise and what looked like a massive, swirling vortex of darkness curved downwards from nowhere and struck the Father full on in the back. The Father gasped as he felt the vortex slam straight through his body like a giant drill, piercing him straight through and smashing into the wall in front of him, which he was then thrown into.
"How about right now?" A deep chuckle came from above.
"FATHER!" The Daughter shrieked as she ran over to him while everyone else stared in shock momentarily before their heads whipped up to the sky and viewed the speaker.
None of them, not even the Son, was expecting what they saw.
It appeared to be a man of some kind, but it was five times taller than any average human – or even the slightly taller humanoids like the Son and the Daughter. He was covered entirely in black and grey armour except for a golden jagged breastplate and the top of its helmet, which had small devil horns, and the tips of his massively pointed boots and kneecaps. He also wore long black cloak, and a large strangely shaped axe was attached to its left arm and in his right hand he clutched a giant, red, double ended spear. His face was entirely covered in armour but for the eye holes, through which two small golden dots peered out at them.
"I do so love taking people by surprise like that," the giant entity said. "It makes it so entertaining to see the faces of those around me with their expressions of shock and horror."
"Who the heck are you?" Anakin cried, levelling his lightsaber with a furious glare. "And exactly what are you?"
"Ah," the being raised a hand and waved a finger at him as if he were a naughty schoolboy. "Well, that is the question, is it not? And I'm afraid that I do not have time, nor the inclination, to discuss and give the answer to you. You, on the other hand," the figure turned to look down at the Son. "You, I would like to have business with."
"Business?" The Son asked as he pushed himself back to his cloven feet. "How so? And what makes you think that I, the being of all darkness, would need to do business with you?"
"Perhaps it would be better if we were to take our conversation somewhere where there is not a wailing female," the dark entity frowned, glancing down at the Daughter as she desperately tried to heal her Father's gaping wound with tears spilling down her face. "Though I will say now, that it appears I did you a favour. It seems that the one that was able to keep you and your darkness in line is now lying severely weakened and unable to do anything. He will surely not recover from that. And I have something that you might want to hear. A proposition, if you will."
"I do not need to do business," the Son felt his lip curling just at the thought of the word. He then paused and added, "Who are you? And how did you get onto our planet? You were not invited inside by my Father. How did you get inside the monolith?"
"Ah, as to that…" The creature raised its arm with the giant axe attached and roared, "SUPER-DIMENSIONAL AXE!" before slashing it downwards through the air and the blade of the axe seemed to tear straight through the fabric of reality itself, leaving a giant, gaping rip hanging in the air, with many flashing colours on the other side and generating a powerful suction before any of the others knew what was happening.
Even the Son was caught totally off guard by this and as he was the closest to the newly constructed portal he found himself whipped off his feet first by said suction. Yelling in annoyance, he found himself catapulted straight into the tear, and the dark entity followed him in with a laugh. Everyone else had been pulled off the ground as well but before they could be thrown into the hole themselves, it snapped shut behind those that had already gone through, causing everybody to fall to the ground in a heap once again.
"Who was that?" Ahsoka gasped as she pushed herself upwards, helped to her feet by Barriss.
"I don't know," Anakin suddenly growled. "But unless I am very much mistaken the Son just got away."
The Son stopped catapulting over and over like a windmill in a hurricane the moment the portal closed and found himself floating about in sheer nothingness. Literally nothingness. Even for someone as dark and twisted as him, this was extremely unnerving. There was no light anywhere but nor was there any darkness. He was floating effortlessly in the air but he couldn't seem to be able to tell which way was down and which way was up. It was just an endless expanse, stretching on forever in any direction, or at least that was what it seemed.
It was a far cry from the swirling colours that he had been pretty sure was on the other side of the portal moments ago.
The only other thing here in this vast nothingness was the one that had taken him here, the tall humanoid who was currently floating in a similar manner, albeit at about ninety-five degrees to the angle which the Son was currently floating.
"I do hope you excuse me for my interruption like that," the entity said as he casually flicked his spear and rotated around until he was floating at the same angle as the Son himself, looking down at the much smaller being – if you could call it down. "But it did seem like you could be doing with some help and naturally, as one dark entity to another, I felt obligated to act."
"You will forgive me if I am not in a very cooperative move right now I'm sure," the Son muttered as he fixed his glowing red eyes on this creature's glowing yellow ones. "You just whisked me away from a moment that could have been my triumph. It would not have taken me very long for me to grab the Dagger of Mortis and run it through my Father."
"I would not worry too much about that old man," the dark entity chuckled. "I do not believe that he will be bothering you again anytime soon. If my blow to him did not finish him off straight away then he will surely perish in due course. But now we must get down to the facts. The bedrock of why I am here. Quite simply, I came for your assistance. It was only coincidence it seems, that I was able to be of assistance to you right before I even asked."
The Son folded his arms against his coat and gave the entity before him a level stare. "And what makes you think that I would have even needed assistance? I am darkness itself. Darkness always finds a way…"
"… To come back again and envelop the light," the dark entity chuckled. "Oh, believe me, I know that. I believe you could say that you and I are; what is the phrase, birds of a feather?"
"I too am being made almost purely of darkness," the entity smirked. "I absorbed endless amounts of dark energy to take on the form which I now possess today. I watched as darkness in front of me crumbled before the light and yet I too have managed to find a way to re-enter the world and threaten it once again. And this time, I have every intention of succeeding where those before me have failed."
"In the end, darkness will always prevail," the Son grimaced.
"I'm sure. But the light is a powerful adversary and it would do well not to underestimate it. And that is why I have come to you. For you and I are of the same mind and have the same goals. For the most part at least. Therefore, I was wondering if perhaps you would be interested in a compromise. I help you and you help me. Another old saying – you scratch my back and I scratch yours. I believe that is the phrase."
"You still have not told me exactly who it is I am addressing," the Son pointed out, although he had to admit the words of the being before him were catching his attention. Perhaps it would not be so difficult to hear him out instead of blasting him with Force Lightning.
"How rude of me," the entity shook his head. "Perhaps I should have introduced myself at the very first. I am known as DarkKnightmon."
"DarkKnightmon?" Now this had definitely caught the Son's attention. He might not know a whole lot about the Digital World and its inhabitants but he knew enough to guess that the strange creature that had a name that ended with the suffix 'mon' could only be one thing. "Then, you are a Digimon?"
"Then you already know of my race," DarkKnightmon actually was mildly surprised. "You are very well informed."
"I have much to feel resentful of Digimon for. There was a time over a year and a half ago where three Digimon landed in my universe. Apparently warped there by another of their kind. And it was them that steered the universe away from the dark path which it was going on, changing the delight I felt in the condition of the world to rage. If they had not intervened then perhaps the universe would already be under my thumb."
"It would seem that we Digimon tend to make our presence known," DarkKnightmon chuckled.
"I do not find this situation remotely humorous," the Son pressed his fingers together. "Give me one good reason why I should not destroy you immediately?"
"I wondered if it would come to hostility threats such as that."
"Then give me an answer."
"Very well," DarkKnightmon nodded. "I shall tell you why. You should know that not all Digimon are of the mindset that those that came to your universe must have had."
"You have already told me that you are a creature of darkness," the Son narrowed his eyes. "And I can sense the intense darkness within you. I have no doubt that you are quite like me in that sense. But that still is not a good enough excuse. You are from a different universe to mine. You have no place in any of my affairs."
"Ah, but I do now," DarkKnightmon chuckled triumphantly. "For you see, in order for us to have this conversation I have transported you into the Void. Why do you think there is such a sheer amount of nothingness here? We are currently hovering in the space between dimensions – a space of sheer nothingness. A place where nothing exists except for things that enter from other universes such as us. If, and this is a big if, mind you, if you manage to kill me you would never be able to escape from this place. You already need me to get back into an actual universe."
The Son glowered and clenched his fists. He felt trapped, just like how the Father had always kept him trapped within the monolith of Mortis. He felt the overwhelming urge to lash out and blast this arrogant creature straight in the chest with a burst of lightning. But he managed to restrain himself, knowing that it would not do him any good in this situation.
"Very well," he growled. "Say what it is that you have to say and be done with it."
"I had a feeling that you would come around," DarkKnightmon laughed. "Very well then. I shall tell you what you wish to know. As you have already guessed, I am a Digimon. A Digimon of darkness. And I seek to take over another universe and allow the darkness to rule it, just as you do with yours. And currently, I am searching for allies. Allies that can aid me in my fight."
"And you came to me, did you?" The Son asked with a slow drawl. "How very touching."
"There is a reason for it," DarkKnightmon said. "Beyond a simple one that is. Recently, during the scouting patrols that have been set up around the universe I am attempting to infiltrate and take, there has been some activity spotted that was of great interest to me. It seems that some elements of your own universe have somehow found their way into the one I am attempting to rule. A strange woman wielding similar laser swords to the ones that those others back there were wielding."
"Your point being?" The Son asked with a raised brow.
"I have long since thought that one of the best ways of going about combating the enemy was to learn all that I could about them before I strike them down. Come up with the most effective possible strategy. And so far this woman has proven very adept at leading the enemy forces against me even though they do not even know of my actual existence. I believe she is referred to as a Jedi."
The Son suddenly burst into uproarious laughter. "You came to me for assistance in helping you to get rid of a single Jedi? A single pathetic Jedi? If that is the case then I really do not believe that you are worth my efforts. I would be quite capable of crushing this Jedi for you in an instant flat. And if you were not capable of doing such a thing yourself, I would not consider you a worthwhile ally. Or even a worthwhile enemy."
"You are saying that this Aayla Secura should be pretty easy to deal with then?" DarkKnightmon asked. "I merely wish to know the extent of her abilities and how to combat them. If you would be willing to tell me that…"
"Aayla Secura?" The Son interrupted, his red eyes widening. "You are referring to the Rutian Twi'lek Jedi woman that wields two lightsabers and was once a part of the Tenacious Ten? She is one of your opponents?"
"You are saying that this particular Jedi is indeed someone to be concerned about after all then?" DarkKnightmon pressed.
"Of course not," the Son scoffed. "It would only take a mere fraction of my power – and a tiny fraction of that, less than 1% – to deal with someone like her. Though she is strong for a Jedi, no Jedi is able to stand against me. Not with their lives intact for very long. But I have a particular grudge against that Jedi. Next to the three Digimon that helped to sway the universe that I come from back towards the path of light, she was probably the biggest factor. It was she that stopped the Chosen One from slipping into darkness and into the future that I foresaw. It was her that turned the Sith Lord, Darth Sidious', own allies against him in order to bring about his downfall. It was her that met the Digimon in the first place and guided them to the Republic to wreak their havoc on everything that I was ready for."
"I understand very little of your universe," DarkKnightmon stated. "But it seems to me that this Jedi is then indeed a troublemaker."
"Oh yes," the Son nodded. "If it had not been for the fact that I had been imprisoned on my planet, Mortis, by my own Father then it would have been quite a different story of course. But her interference cost the darkness near everything in our world. I would hope that a powerful Digimon like you claim to be would be able to crush her into nothingness with the bat of an eyelid. But for lesser people she is certainly dangerous."
"Then perhaps you could be useful to me after all," DarkKnightmon chuckled. "Or should I say with me? That sounds like a better fit. I am trying to take over a universe that is not the one that Digimon come from – a world inhabited by creatures known as Pokémon, which you could say are the weaker equivalent of Digimon for the most part. Everything was running quite smoothly and it seemed only a matter of time before we made our movement took over everything. But recently this Aayla Secura and her band of Digimon friends showed up there. They have already been causing havoc amongst some of my troops."
"Her Digimon friends?" The Son asked, his voice lowering and starting to drip with venom. "Are you, perhaps, referring to the Renamon, Terriermon and Lopmon that showed up in my world? The three Digimon that Aayla met in the first place? Along with their three human children – the Tamers?"
"Yes, indeed I am," DarkKnightmon nodded. "And I have long decreed that underestimating the enemy is a very bad idea indeed. I know full well that those three Digimon, as well as the fourth one that accompanies them called Impmon are all capable of growing into extremely powerful Mega level Digimon. And perhaps under the direction of this Aayla, who seems to have a head for this sort of thing, you see my potential problem. I believe that it is possible I could take them on myself with enough time. But I do not want to wait for much longer than necessary, hence why I came to you."
"How did you find me anyway?" The Son asked. "You said you came looking for me specifically, did you not?"
"Yes, I most certainly did," DarkKnightmon nodded. "As a creature of darkness myself I am able to sense darkness easily and as I am capable of crossing dimensional barriers, I was able to sense exactly where in your universe I would slash the portal to arrive close to one of that universe's darkest sources. Then I slashed and found myself on your little planet watching the show that went on below me. I could tell immediately that you were the one I was looking for and when I saw you apprehended in that way… Well, naturally I had to step in."
"I already said that I did not need your assistance," the Son growled.
"Perhaps," DarkKnightmon shrugged his massive armoured shoulders. "But I was not prepared to wait around and find out. I believe I have got you what you wanted. I have got to your freedom. Your freedom to walk away from that planet where you were imprisoned by your Father and to go where you choose under no one's authority but your own, or at the very least our joint authority to choose to help me."
"What exactly are you asking me to do?" The Son asked.
"Merely that you lend your powers to my aid in conquering the Pokémon world in any way that you see fit," DarkKnightmon waved a hand airily. "I do not mind so long as the Pokémon world eventually does end up under my thumb. You can even take revenge on this Aayla Secura and her companions in any way that you so choose. And once that goal has been accomplished, I would be more than willing to send you back to your universe. Perhaps I would even help you to conquer it myself with my armies behind you. Another phrase I like to use is – one good turn deserves another. Though personally I hate the fact that every turn has to be good."
The Son snickered. "I had thought the opportunity to destroy Secura and her companions had been lost to me. I was going to take pleasure in dismantling the Tenacious Ten member by member until the Digimon left for their own universe and took Aayla with them. I was still going to enjoy destroying what remained. But now, perhaps I shall get the complete set."
"Is that a deal then?" DarkKnightmon asked shrewdly.
The Son looked across at him with narrowed eyes. He seemed to take about a minute or so to consider… although considering there was no time in this place it was very difficult to tell exactly how long it would have been in terms of regular time.
"I have a set of conditions," the Son said after a while. "Conditions which I expect to be upheld. For one thing, you cannot order me around as you please as if I was one of your own servants. I am the servant to nobody. I will not take orders from anybody but myself. I may, on occasion, listen to what you have to say and suggest. But ultimately, if I choose to do things my own way then there is nothing that you can do to stop me. Is that clear?"
"Now, now." DarkKnightmon raised his hand. "We are supposed to be forming an alliance here. At no point did I say that I would be your master. But at the same time we must work together. If we each go about doing our own thing all of the time then neither of us will get anything done to a degree that we are both satisfied with. There has to be compromises. Just as there is with my idea to exchange your help for my help in your own world when the time comes."
"A coalition of sorts then?" The Son asked with a raised brow. He had never been part of anything like that before and he was not sure if it was comfortable with it now.
"Oh yes," DarkKnightmon nodded. "I have observed forces of the light fighting many times. And the reason for the constant victories over the darkness that I have seen comes from their teamwork. Arguments between them are rare and they all work together to achieve a common goal. While no doubt on our own we are both individually powerful, imagine what damage we could cause if we pool our strengths together to one goal. That means that you must listen to what I have to say as much as I listen to your own suggestions. If it seems like one suggestion that we go with his not working, then we can always switch to another. That is how these things work."
"You do not seem much like many would-be conquerors," the Son observed with a slight quirk to his brow. "Especially not the Sith Lords that I am so familiar with in my own. Each of them are only looking out for themselves. It is the nature of darkness to be selfish. You are saying I should deny it?"
"Deny it, no," DarkKnightmon shook his head. "You misunderstand me. We are both of darkness after all. Why should we not combine our strengths? Our aims are the same. It is only our methods to obtain those aims that may be different."
"I shall consider it," the Son said offhandedly. "But there may be times where I will want to set off to a complete my own personal objectives. Particularly where these enemies of yours are concerned."
DarkKnightmon stared at him levelly for several moments before saying, "Very well. And what are your other conditions?"
"If I decide that I no longer have any interest in helping you take over this world," the Son smirked. "Then you are to send me back no questions asked to continue on with the task of taking over my own universe."
"But of course," DarkKnightmon nodded. "If you no longer had any interest then you might become compromised to my plan. It would only take minimal effort to send you back to where you belong."
The Son regarded him suspiciously for several moments before he added, "And the final condition, if any of your current servants and minions displease me then I shall take any measures that I deem fit to discipline them."
DarkKnightmon chuckled. "I have no problem with this one so long as you do not actively slay too many of my forces. Extreme pain will suffice but death must be kept to a minimum."
"And if I see this through to the end," the Son asked with an ominous growl. "You will honour your personal agreement to me and allow your forces to assist me and take over the various planets across the Galaxy in my universe?"
"I see no reason why I should not," DarkKnightmon chuckled. "I shall be the Lord and ruler of my own world by that point. But if there is one thing that will never get old, it is bringing terror to a new population of individuals. Spreading chaos. Once I sink the Pokémon world into darkness, there will be very little of that left to do. And an army of evil that can go about destroying things is a happy army of evil."
"Spoken after my own of what little heart I have," the Son smirked. "If that is the case, then you definitely have a deal. I am much looking forward to 'bringing the pain,' as they say, to Secura and her companions. And when I returned to my own universe, free of the bonds that my Father and sister put me in then I shall be able to proclaim said deed to the rest of the Tenacious Ten. Maybe I shall even bring them Secura's head as proof. Who can tell? Perhaps something like that will drive the Chosen One, who has now hardened up against darkness, over the edge where he was originally meant to go."
"If that is the case and you are happy with everything," DarkKnightmon chuckled. "Then let us proceed immediately. SUPER-DIMENSIONAL AXE!" And he slashed another gaping gash in the nothingness in front of them and slipped through it into the world beyond. The Son took a look over his shoulder at the nothingness around him, which was merely a symbolic way of looking over at his past since his past was not actually in that direction.
"Goodbye Father," he sneered. "Goodbye sister. I do hope that you enjoy your last moments together on Mortis. In the knowledge that you have both failed to stop me. I shall return. And when I do I shall already have an army at my back and a world at my disposal. The universe will be utterly powerless against me. More than it was already, that is."
Then he disappeared into the vortex.
The Father gasped, clutching at his stomach and the gaping hole that went straight through him. It was one of the most horrible sights that any of the Jedi present had ever seen before. They could see the wall right through the aged man. His long beard was soaked in his own blood and he was slumped against the wall, his Daughter bent over him and desperately trying to use her powers to heal him.
"I can't believe that scum got away!" Anakin growled. "And who the heck was that guy who aided him to escape?"
"He was a monster," Ahsoka felt the urge to vomit and tried to resist as he stared at the Father's grievous injury. "The lowest of the low to strike from behind like that."
"It seems there was very little point to me even getting this," Obi-Wan looked down at the Dagger that Barriss had handed to him. The Mirialan herself had just run forward to kneel on the other side of the Father and hold her hands over him in the same pose as the Daughter in an attempt to heal him. But Barriss had never seen a wound as horrific as this. And she was pretty sure it was beyond her power to heal. It looked like half of the Father's internal organs had totally gone. And she herself was also fighting the urge not to be sick. They all were.
The Daughter's eyes were streaked with tears that ran down her cheeks unabated as she kept mumbling some ancient and archaic words that nobody could make out in her efforts to get rid of the damage and to Barriss's amazement it actually appeared to be working – the skin around the horrible wound was starting to grow to fill in the gap that had been left.
Maybe, maybe there was a chance after…
The Father lifted a hand weakly and placed it against the wrists of his Daughter, forcibly lowering her hands to the ground. A moment later he did the same thing to Barriss, cutting off their healing attempts.
"It is no use, my children," he gasped with a ragged cough. "Do not waste your energy on me. There is no time."
The Daughter looked momentarily surprised to hear the Father refer to both her and Barriss as his children but it was only for a split second before her own hacking gasps returned as she blubbered. "No! Do not say that, Father! We can heal you if you let us! Just allow us a moment to…"
"My Daughter," the Father cut her off. "It is no use. You might be able to heal my physical wound but it would only sap away at a massive amount of your strength. And it would not save me."
"Why not?" Anakin demanded as everyone crowded around him. "I'm sure that your Daughter and Barriss could heal you up with no problem if you let them."
"No," the Father shook his head. "You already know that I was dying. And a blow like this has sapped a large part of what remains of my strength. And what is left of my strength will be needed for all of you now. If you are to continue with the next phase of your journey."
"Next phase?" Ahsoka asked with a bewildered stare. "Would do you mean?"
"Are you referring to the Son?" Obi-Wan asked. "Are you requesting that we hunt him down? I feel that you would be better equipped to tackle such a task than us."
"No," the Father gasped. "I am not as strong as I appeared to be when I fought him and subdued him earlier. My face was a careful mask so as not to betray just how much of a strain blocking his attack was. I was at the end of my rope and he was very close to overpowering me. With my strength depleted further by this blow, I believe that I would be next to helpless in another confrontation with."
"Father, if you would just…" the Daughter attempted again.
"No, my child!" The Father said with a firm voice. "It is over. Everything that I have attempted to do over the millions of years that we have been here on Mortis has at long last come to an end. The balance of the Force has been broken. My Son, he has left…"
"So we saw," Anakin muttered bitterly.
"No, you do not understand," the Father rasped. "He has left… the universe entirely. He is no longer within this Galaxy or any other Galaxy enclosed within the walls of this universe. Either inside the monolith that contains Mortis on another plane or in the main one where everyone else is."
"What?!" All four Jedi shouted simultaneously.
"Yes," the Father nodded sadly, wincing once again as he struggled to speak. "I was blind. I knew that my powers were dulled but I should have all the same sensed the presence of that being. I should have sensed his arrival to our world. That entity in darker armour, he was not of our own universe. He was from another one entirely. And he has taken my Son with him out from this universe and to another."
"Who was he?" Obi-Wan asked gently. "Do you know?"
"I could not tell you a name," the Father replied. "All I can tell you is the species. And it is a species that you are all familiar with. Even if you have never seen one that looks like him before."
"It was a Digimon, wasn't it?" Barriss asked with a grim expression.
"Indeed," the Father nodded and began coughing as the pain in his torso radiated through his body.
"I had a bad feeling about him," Obi-Wan sighed. "I had my suspicions that he might have been a Digimon. But I had nothing to go on. I am not altogether pleased to learn that I was right."
"And he has taken my Son back with him to the universe that he came from," the Father agreed.
"The Digital World?" Ahsoka asked earnestly.
"No. Another one."
"But if it was a Digimon surely it should have come from the Digital World, shouldn't it?" Anakin frowned.
"A dimension-travelling Digimon like him could come from anywhere, Anakin," Obi-Wan shook his head.
"Exactly," the Father agreed. "And with my Son and my Daughter split up onto sides of the dimensional barrier, the balance has been broken not only here but there are as well. The Force flows through every universe, no matter how different from our own they may be. The Force is what unites all universes together. And now in another universe because of my negligence and my weakness, the strength of the Dark Side will increase exponentially. Just as the strength of the Light Side in this universe will also increase exponentially. The balance is gone. And it will have catastrophic consequences for both universes if something is not done."
"Sometimes I still struggle to comprehend how too much light could be bad," Anakin murmured. "But if you say it's bad then I shall believe you. But what are we supposed to do about it? The Son is now in an entirely different universe, one that is out of our reach."
"And the only way that I can now see of ensuring the balance stays in this universe…" Obi-Wan muttered uncomfortably. "Would be, unfortunately, to kill your Daughter? Is there no other way than that?"
The Father sighed and closed his eyes just as the Daughter put a hand over hers. "I… I did not want it to come to this…" he murmured. "But I fear now that death may be the only option. For all of us."
"Are you kidding?!" Anakin cried. "You want us to kill your own Daughter?"
"Not want," the Father shook his head. "But I fear there may be little other choice in the long run. There is only one thing else that could possibly be done. My Daughter must reunite with my Son in the other universe. It is the only way for the balance to be maintained. They must be within the same universal walls. You can even see that the changes as a result of the shifting balance are taking place here even now."
Everyone, including the Daughter herself, looked around at their surroundings. True to form, everything seemed to be going absolutely haywire around them. The darkness was peeling away around them as if someone was tearing off little bits of wallpaper, leaves blew out of nowhere, and the sky appeared to be swirling with light clouds that looked pretty but also very, very dangerous. As if they would spit forth a tornado at any moment.
"But how was your Daughter meant to follow your Son into whichever universe that your Son has been taken into?" Obi-Wan asked with a frown.
"That is why… you will need… the last of my power…" the Father was beginning to breathe heavily now as his eyes flickered and his face seemed that age still further. "If I use every iota of strength left that I have… I should be able to get you… there myself."
"You can do that?" Ahsoka asked in astonishment.
Even despite his condition, the Father was still able to give Ahsoka her very weak smirk. "The Force runs in ways very few can ever fully understand. None so far ever have in your mortal world. Its capabilities, once harnessed and with enough power behind them, are virtually limitless. Something like this would obviously require more energy than the average Force user could possibly hope to kindle. As it is for me, it will cost me my life."
"No, Father!" The Daughter's body was wracked with more sobs. "You cannot do this. You cannot leave me behind."
"I have lived with you for millions of years, my Daughter," the Father gave her a fading but affectionate smile. "But from now on you must navigate your path without me to guide it for you. I can no longer restrain you from what you think you need to do. You must do something which I have always forbidden you to do and that is to fight your brother. You must do what I cannot and aid the Chosen One and his companions into stopping him and bringing the Force to balance once more."
The Daughter covered her mouth with her hand in a futile effort to disguise more sobs. But the Father's words had triggered another reaction is everybody else.
"Hold up," Anakin raised his hands. "You are saying that we have to go to this other universe as well?"
"Right now?" Barriss asked with eyes wide.
"Yes," the Father nodded with an extra cough. "There is no alternative. My Daughter may be able to help you against my Son but in the end all of their fights only lead to massive destruction if they are left unchecked. For everything around them. If the Chosen One does not go and do what he must to keep the balance then any effort to send my Daughter over there to restore it would be a waste. It would be useless. Therefore if my Daughter goes then so must you, Anakin Skywalker. It is optional for your friends… but if you do not leave now with my Daughter then another universe will pay the price."
Anakin was flabbergasted. This was way worse than anything that the Father had been suggesting that he do before. Before, he had simply been asking Anakin to abandon everything that he knew to look after a pair of squabbling but powerful Force Entities. Now he was asking him to abandon his own universe entirely to go off on what sounded almost like a wild goose chase.
"But… but…" Anakin blustered. "I can't just get up and go. What if I were unable to find my way back? What about my duty to the Jedi? What about my duties to the Republic and to the people that I… know…" he coughed, and Barriss and Ahsoka both knew that he had been about to say something else entirely in reference to Padmé but had quickly stifled himself since he was still in front of Obi-Wan.
"There is little time to decide," the Father's voice was getting weaker all the time. "It will not be much longer before the effects on both universes prove to be too strong. You must decide whether you will go. But if you do not… if you allow your selfishness to shine through… then hundreds of thousands of millions of billions of others will pay the price."
Anakin opened his mouth argue more… but very quickly found that he couldn't. He clenched his fists, but he knew that the Father was right already. There was no way around this. If Anakin was to leave now, in the knowledge that the Son had gone to wreak havoc on an entirely different universe when he could have done something about it, but hadn't, he would be forever plagued with guilt and his mind would constantly be imagining the destruction that the Son had caused in this other universe. Barren wastelands filled with ash came to mind already, along with the skeletons of broken buildings.
He had so many friends back home on Coruscant. So many people to return home to. Members of the Jedi Order, like Barriss's former master, Luminara Unduli – who he had had a lot of contact with since Barriss joined his team, as well as Aayla's former master, Quinlan Vos – who was a good laugh to be around and reminded them of Aayla herself in a lot of ways.
Captain Rex, who was supposedly waiting for him outside the monolith, probably without realising that he'd even gone anywhere if what the Father said about the time difference here was true. His beyond faithful Astromech droid, R2-D2, and the protocol droid that he had built himself, C-3PO.
Then there were the members of the Senate, like Chancellor Bail Organa, Riyo Chuchi of Pantora, Onaconda Farr of Rodia… and of course Padmé. His own wife, secret to all but a few – he would have to leave her behind knowing that there was every chance he would never be able to return. And he had no way of contacting her to tell her where he was going.
It felt like they were all faintly calling to him, like echoes in the distance or in the corners of his mind, begging him to come home.
But he knew now that he couldn't.
He had to go.
He had to step away from all of them and enter the world of the unknown to stop a powerful being that they had been unable to contain here from doing as much damage as possible to another universe.
How the heck could he cope with this?
It was at this moment that he felt a gentle hand touching his arm and he glanced down to see Ahsoka giving him a reassuring smile. "It'll be okay, Skyguy," she said. "Everything will be alright. We'll find a way. We always do after all. It does not matter how long it takes us, we will find a way."
"And you won't be alone," Obi-Wan's voice registered in this other ear as his former master placed his own hand on Anakin's other shoulder. "You will not have to shoulder this responsibility by yourself, Anakin. And besides, there is no way I'm leaving this up to you alone. You are going to need a level head with you after all."
"I could resent that a little bit," Barriss's voice interjected and Anakin felt her hand slip into his own. "But they are right again. We have to do this. And think about it this way – will be like the Digimon that we so miss if we do this. And like Aayla. It's our turn to head into another strange universe that is very different from our own. They did it and they got by. And they eventually managed to go back in the case of Digimon. If they can do it then so can we."
Anakin sighed quietly and then his eyes filled with a resolution as he looked up at the Father once again. He briefly noticed a strange look in the Daughter's eyes as the tall green haired entity regarded them. It was vaguely a astonished and amazed look along with a little hint of guilty envy. He understood what that must be like for her. Her own family was about the most dysfunctional one that Anakin had ever come across before and seeing them acting like that, such a close-knit group, probably couldn't help but make her wish to her own family had been like that too.
"Okay," Anakin nodded as everyone released their grip on him and he tightened both his fists. "Let's do this. Let's go."
The Father nodded with satisfaction and said, in a fading voice, "Then gather round." He raised his arms weakly, looking as if he could barely support them. The four Jedi gathered round and knelt beside him along with the Daughter, who looked positively stricken at was about to happen.
"Father…" she whispered, but before she could say anything more the Father reached up and touched her chin with one finger.
"Do not grieve for me, my Daughter," he said with a sad smile. "I may now be dying, but my spirit shall always remain within the Force and therefore within all universes. I shall never truly leave either you or my Son. There is nothing more that can be said. There is not the time for a prolonged goodbye. I must act now while my strength still remains."
The Daughter sniffed and bit her lip but managed to swallow any further crying. She nodded, indicating that she understood, but that was about all she could manage.
"Everyone join hands," the Father instructed, holding up his own gnarled ones to the Daughter and Barriss who took them gently. Barriss's other hand met with Ahsoka's, who gripped Anakin's, who held Obi-Wan's, who took the Daughter's free hand (and found it strangely warm to the touch). Then the Father shut his eyes and took on a look of deep concentration, so deep that it looked like he had gone into a meditative trance. Except that he was still able to speak:-
"There is some residue left in the fabric of space-time," he murmured so quietly that they could barely hear him even though they were standing right over him. "The gash that the Digimon cut into the fabric of our world has not fully faded. It has closed but it is still there, like a tiny invisible crack in the wall of the world."
"Is that something to be concerned about?" Obi-Wan asked.
"No," the Father replied weakly. "If many more slashes were added then it would become more of a problem. But fortunately the slashes were only made to the astral plane of Mortis and not to the wider universe. When my Daughter leaves this universe and I pass on and join with the Force, Mortis will disappear – it is sustained by our powers and the entire astral plane will no longer exist. Meaning that those two gashes are irrelevant as they will cease to exist too. But remember this, all of you, these gashes are dangerous. There will be some remaining in the world that Digimon has gone and taken my Son too. One for every time he leaves and returns to that world."
"What does that mean?" Anakin asked. "What is the consequence of those gashes?"
"You will know it in time," the Father replied, before his eyes snapped open suddenly. "There!" He cried. "I have found it!" He then slipped his hands out of Barriss's and his Daughter's own, before taking their wrists and joining their hands together instead. "Make sure that you hold on tight to one another so you do not get separated when crossing the boundary. Farewell, all of you. Do you have the Mortis Dagger?"
"I have it," Obi-Wan nodded, and indeed the bladeless hilt hung from his belt next to his lightsaber.
"Use it… if you deem it necessary…" the Father sighed. "My Son cannot be allowed to inflict any further damage… and if that means you must kill him… then you have my permission to do so… our family is broken just as the Force is. I do hope that you can find another way. But I realise that that is most likely not an option. Do whatever you must to prevent the darkness from overtaking. And now… you must go….
Suddenly, and quite alarmingly, there was an enormous spike of the Force that each of them felt within their brains as their entire body suddenly tingled like every skin cell was buzzing. Almost a split second later, and equally alarmingly, the Father's body suddenly vanished, leaving nothing but empty robes and his hat which suddenly fell to the floor in a heap. The Daughter gasped one final gasp of shock before all five of them, hands joined together, suddenly glowed with a bright white light, lifted off the ground and… blipped into nothingness.
When they blipped into somethingness, what seemed like a split second later, all five of them were thrown backwards to land in various undignified positions. And unfortunately for Obi-Wan, his back smacked straight into a tree, knocking the wind out of him and sending him slumping to the ground.
"Ugh," he moaned as he rubbed his back. "If that is what in extradimensional jump feels then I think I understand exactly why Renamon was knocked unconscious when she first shot out of a portal and almost crashed into Aayla."
"Where are we?" Ahsoka asked as she pushed herself up and they looked around.
"A forest, apparently," Barriss replied, looking at the trees that surrounded them. "And I am afraid that that is about the best answer I can give. Because other than that, and the fact that we are in a totally different universe now, I have absolutely no idea."
All of them took a moment to let exactly what Barriss had just said sink in. They were, as of now, in a totally different universe. They were just like Digimon when they had been flung into the unknown. But unfortunately this was not the world that their Digimon friends lived in. And that meant, like the Digimon, they were going to have to make their own way and hope that they came across someone who could help them.
And they had absolutely no way of getting back that they knew of.
Anakin felt his fingers tightening over the grass blades nearby. Exactly what had he just managed to get himself into this time?
Back in their own universe, in the Chrelythiumn system, Captain Rex was irritatedly beating upon the com system that had just gone down about thirty seconds ago. The signal out here in Wild Space was pretty poor, but this was just ridiculous. Communications between ships that were supposed to be close to one another should still not be that difficult.
"Got anything Artoo?" the clone Captain looked down at the small Astromech droid that was standing beside him, twiddling in the scomp-link and trying to boost the signal. R2-D2 merely rotated his head around to look at him and gave a few negative bleeps. Rex could not really understand Binary but it was not difficult to tell that Artoo was worried.
"Come on General Skywalker," Rex muttered as he resumed trying to figure out what the problem was. Technically Anakin was no longer a general, but Captain Rex had never been able to slip the habit of calling him that. "Where are you?"
"Sir?" came the voice of another clone further up the bridge. "Sensors are picking up a ship dead ahead. It's definitely theirs. Not sure what happened – I think our sensors must be on the blink because it just appeared out of nowhere. They didn't even pick the ship up coming out of hyperspace. But it's definitely the one that we were told they were coming in."
"Well, thank goodness for that," Rex nodded with satisfaction, a ripple of relief running through him. The momentary lapse in communications had given them all a little bit of a scare – after all they were supposed to be investigating a suspicious signal that might well have been trap. "Then someone open the hangar bay doors and let them come in. Let's see if we can re-establish communications."
"Erm," Admiral Wulff Yularen coughed from where he was standing by the window but right at the other end of the bridge. "Captain… I think that you may find that exercise… a little futile…" Rex looked up, frowning at the disbelief and horror that he could plainly hear in Yularen's voice.
"What do you mean, Admiral Sir?" Rex asked, slowly, not sure whether he would like the answer.
"Come and see for yourself," now Rex was actually starting to get a little bit scared at Yularen's tone. Slowly, hesitantly, the clone Captain made his way up the middle of the bridge to draw alongside his commanding officer. He took a pair of macrobinoculars that the Admiral handed to him and held it to his eyes, searching for the ship with them.
He found it.
He dropped the macrobinoculars with a clattering thump.
"No," he gasped, his face having gone utterly white, before he scooped up the macrobinoculars and trained them on the target again, hoping against hope that this was some kind of mistake.
But it was not.
There lay the shuttle which the four Jedi had set off in, floating aimlessly in space. And it was a complete and utter mess! The cockpit window had been blown out and there were gaping holes in the hull. One if its wings had been snapped almost clean off and another had been crunched beyond all recognition. Inside it was utterly dark. But it was quite clear, even from this angle and that this distance, that the ship was completely totalled.
And that there was, quite blatantly, nobody in it.
But this was the ship that the Jedi had been on when he had been talking to them only a minute and a half ago. How could it possibly have gotten into a state like that in such a small amount of time without anybody seeing anything?
Almost before Rex realised what he was doing, he was dashing back towards the console at the other end of the bridge and furiously trying to hail the ship in the distance with the comms again. He knew it was hopeless before he'd even begun, but desperation and disbelief was driving him to do it anyway.
"General Skywalker!?" He roared into the static-sounding comlink. "Commander Tano!? General Offee!? General Kenobi!? Is anyone there?! Hello? ANYONE!?"
But he was only greeted with more static.
He whirled around again and began barking orders towards everyone in the bridge. "I want pilots out there right now searching for them! Comb every inch of the space out there! I don't care how long it takes… I want them found right now! Someone tow that thing inside! They have to be out there somewhere! Move, move, move!"
Clones all around him leapt into action to carry out their Captain's orders as Rex ran back to view the ruins of the ship through the macrobinoculars once again. He did not want to believe it, but only one explanation of what had could possibly happened came into his head. He didn't know how on earth they had managed to ruin the ship that much without it being noticed. But the massive holes in the hull could only mean that somehow, at some point, everyone on board had been dragged out into space.
The question was… what had happened to them after that?
"They've got to be out there," he murmured to himself. "They've got to be."
And unfortunately for the good Captain, he would be murmuring those words to himself for a very long time to come. Because the four Jedi he was seeking were most definitely not out there.
All four Jedi in question, across the dimensional barrier that separated the world Captain Rex was frantically searching for them in, had risen to their feet in an attempt to take stock of the situation. But the only thing they seemed to be able to work out was the same thing that Barriss had pointed out before. They were in a forest. A particularly unremarkable looking forest; large trees, green leaves, thick tree trunks, occasional tree roots, fallen leaves, and the occasional stick on the ground and bush.
"Well," Anakin muttered to himself. "I would say 'I don't think we are in Kansas anymore' if I had the foggiest idea what Kansas actually looked like."
Everyone else took this is a good sign that Anakin was emotionally alright for now. Though it would probably take a while for the enormity of what had just happened to fully sink in on all of them.
There was very little that could be done at the moment. Evidently, the Son and the strange Digimon that had taken him away were not here. They probably had not been here at any point.
There was really very little that any of them could do but sit tight and try and figure out their next move and wrap their heads around the fact that they were, for the first time, in a situation that, for space travellers, really could be considered out of their world.
Still, reminded of their objective, Obi-Wan turned to look at the Daughter to ask her if the Force was properly in balance in this world or not. But he shut his mouth when he saw her, for she was leaning against a tree trunk with her arms wrapped around her legs and her face buried in her knees. It did not look like she was crying. But evidently the Daughter was not taking the death of her Father and the departure of her brother very well at all.
Obi-Wan approached her and sat down next to her. He could quite plainly see that her body had lost a lot of the ethereal glow that he had come to place with it. She almost look like a normal person now; even her hair had stopped flowing out behind her like a cloak in the breeze. She almost looked like a normal woman – a fragile, broken woman.
"Hey," Obi-Wan asked her gently. "I suppose that asking you if you are alright would be a little insensitive at this point. So I will ask you this instead; do you think that you are going to be alright?"
The Daughter looked up at him and Obi-Wan was slightly taken aback at the haunted look in her eyes. This must have been harder for her than it was for any of them, even Anakin. Obi-Wan was right – she was not crying. But he could quite plainly see that she wanted to.
"The Force… is stable…" she said, answering the question that Obi-Wan had decided not to ask. "But the Dark Side is definitely stronger here. My brother is more powerful than I am – that I know."
"I'm sorry," Obi-Wan said to her. "I wish it could have been another way. It can't have been easy for any of you, living the way you were."
"It was our life," the Daughter sighed. "I had learned to live with it. But my brother had not. I am not alright now, but I believe that I will be. If we stop him. The only way now that I will be alright is to fulfil my Father's dying wish and prevent the imbalance in the Force. We must defeat my brother. We must find a way."
"We will," Obi-Wan assured her. "You must know what all three of my companions are capable of pulling off when the pressure is high."
"Yes," the Daughter gave a sad smile that did not reach her eyes. "But will they be so successful without the other seven remaining members of their team? They may have you and they may have me… but are the five of us enough?"
Unfortunately, Obi-Wan had no real answer that.
And there you have it everybody. The four Jedi are no longer in their own universe and it does not take a genius to figure out exactly which universe it is they are now in. Of course, they do not know that because they do not know the full background of the story that all of you do, but this chapter certainly has been a long time in the waiting. And here it is now. Hope you all enjoyed it.
And now I really need to go to bed. But you can all expect in the next chapter of To Be a King by late tomorrow assuming nothing happens. And if it does then I will play catch up on Saturday.
Finally back to the Pokémon world. Now with Zapdos in their company they continue onwards, debating what course they have to take next to find this next legendaries and unaware that they are still being pursued. But then Absol's disaster sense goes off. Something very, very wrong is about to happen to the West.
Coming up:- Chapter 37 : Flight to the Mount Moon