Hey, everyone, sorry it's taken so long to update, but between Christmas, family, and my own original work of fiction, I've not had much time to type much. Oh, and XBOX Live has taken up some time as well. Anyways, without further ado, here's Chapter Four. And remember, I don't own Teen Titans or Star Wars.
ADDITIONAL STORIES BYGuardian Kitch:
Star Wars: Jedi Wasteland (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Gates to Terabithia (Bridge to Terabithia)
Chapter Four: (Aftermath Part III)
"Okay," Cyborg declared, leading the rest of the Titans into the Tower's common room. "The next time we decide to follow someone into space, let's make sure they can't go into hyperspace first!"
Following the mysterious Crix's jump to lightspeed, the Titans had spent almost four full hours scouring the Solar System for any signs of the young teenager before finally realizing that such a search was doomed to failure.
"Cyborg is most correct." Starfire agreed, following a foot behind the cybernetic Titan. "I did not believe such a tiny ship could obtain such great speeds."
"Who is this Crix guy, anyways?" Beast Boy asked, plopping down onto the couch at the front of the room. "Every time we see him, he's fighting some new bad guy and leaves it to us to kick their bad-guy butts and clean up his mess!"
"I wish to disagree." Starfire countered. "He did save our friend Raven from the dark Maw and her evil powers."
"Yeah?" Beast Boy challenged, turning around to face his Tamaranian friend. "Then why is it every time we save his sorry skin he runs off before we can talk to him, huh? If he's a good guy, then why hasn't he helped us in these fights, and why does he seem to ignore us every single time?"
"Beast Boy has a point, Starfire." Robin mused, Raven standing at his side. "He did help Raven, but he always runs away before we get a chance to talk to him, like he's hiding something-"
"Of course he's hiding something from us." Raven interrupted, the hood of her cloak hiding, as always, a majority of her face. "But I don't think he's evil."
"Perhaps," Robin considered. "But you don't have to be evil to be a criminal."
"Ummm…you don't?" Beast Boy asked, eyes going wide in confusion.
"To be a criminal you only have to break the law." Starfire explained. "Some criminals break the law out of desperation, or else because they are forced to do so, not because they are evil."
"Yeah, but they're still the bad guys…right?"
"All criminals must be held accountable for what they do, Beast Boy." Robin added, his arms folded across his chest. "No matter who they are, what they did, or why they did it, it's our job to bring them to justice so that they can be given fair punishment for their crimes."
"Regardless, he doesn't feel evil, and he's done nothing to break the law-"
"Yet." Beast Boy added, causing Raven to stop speaking as she turned to glare at the green-skinned teen, and, before any of them could move or act, the couch, suddenly enveloped in Raven's signature black aura, shot out from beneath Beast Boy, causing him to tumble to the ground…just in time for the now-hovering couch to come crashing down on top of him.
"Raven's right." Cyborg said as Beast Boy took his ape form, sending the couch across the room. "Whatever he's hiding or planning, he's done nothing wrong so far, so now I guess we wait until he shows up again, and see if we can get him to talk to us then."
"And in the meantime," Robin took over, his right fist slamming into his left hand. "We focus on Maw and Grievous and bring them down, before they can do anymore damage."
"Ummm…dude, I don't know if you realize this or not, but we know nothing about either of them; how are we supposed to fight bad guys we don't know and can't find?"
"By being ready the next time they attack." Robin explained. "The next time they attack, they won't escape."
"Yeah, that's fine and all," Beast Boy responded. "But can we at least get some sleep first?"
"C'mon B, you didn't even wake up until after noon." Cyborg said, sounding as though he might be slightly scandalized by his best friend's words.
"Yeah," The young changeling confessed. "But it takes a lot of energy kicking bad-guy butt all day and saving the city from certain destruction."
"Yeah," Raven said dryly, never losing her melancholy tone. "You so saved the day; what would we have done without you?"
"You can sleep later, Beast Boy." Answered Robin. "Right now we need to see if we can't find out where Crix was headed, and we also need to find out where Maw and Grievous are hiding."
"I'll plot the trajectory of his movement into the Tower's central computer and see if I can't narrow down his destination-"
Cyborg, however, never got to finish his sentence, for it was at that moment that the lights inside of Titans Tower winked out of existence, pitching the entire building into a near-total darkness that matched the outside world.
"Okay, that's so not cool." Beast Boy whined, but before anyone could respond, a large, glowing-red box came rising up through the floor in the center of the common room, easily drawing all eyes to its small, square form. Then, now hovering exactly four feet off of the floor, a blue light came to life atop the box, projecting twelve simple words into the air above it.
-TO: ROBIN, LEADER OF THE TEEN TITANS, TITANS TOWER, JUMP CITY, USA—
"Robin," Starfire said, her voice little more than a whisper. "I believe it is addressed to you."
Robin, in turn, was silent as he moved forward, taking the box into his gloved hands as he began to inspect it. The moment his hands touched the thing, though, the light disappeared, and, just as suddenly as it had begun to glow, it went dark, as, in total silence, the box opened up, while, simultaneously, the Tower's lights came flashing back to life, as strong and bright as ever.
"That was weird, yes?" Starfire asked, but Robin's blood went cold as, still looking into the depths of the box, the world around him came grinding to a halt.
"So, what is it? Please say it's chocolates this time. Honestly, I don't think we can handle anymore puppets." Beast Boy finished with a shudder, clearly recalling their previous encounter with the Puppet King.
"I knew it." Robin breathed, reaching down into the box with his right hand to retrieve the item within, feeling suddenly more alert, wide awake, and as frightened as ever.
"What did you know, Robin?" Starfire asked, moving towards the leader of the Teen Titans. When she reached his side, however, she shrieked with such volume that it left the Boy Wonder with ringing ears. Turning around, forcing his hands to remain steady, Robin held up a metallic mask, the right side painted a deep black and the left painted an orange color.
"What?!" The three remaining Titans exclaimed together, eyes going wide in shocked horror.
"No way; Terra took him down!" Beast Boy continued, his hands balling into fists as he approached the mask Robin was holding while Raven took the box from her friend to begin inspecting it more closely.
"I don't know, man." Cyborg added as he, too, moved closer to the pristine mask. "Something just doesn't feel right."
"I knew Slade wasn't destroyed." Robin growled, his grip tightening so much that he half-expected the mask to shatter.
"Perhaps you should read this." Raven said, causing the rest of the Titans to turn and face her. The empath was holding a single sheet of plain, white folded-up paper in her hand.
"Read it." Robin ordered, causing Raven to quickly unfold the paper before she began to read it aloud, her voice never wavering, never allowing a drop of emotion to color it.
"Do not believe that just because you've earned victory in the battle you'll win the war, for the war begins only when the battle ends." Raven paused, then, just briefly, before adding "There's an address here."
As she finished speaking, Raven handed him the sheet of paper, receiving the mask in return as Robin silently re-read the message.
"I'll be back." He declared at last, turning to walk off, only to have Cyborg and Raven appear in front of him, as though they'd come out of nowhere.
"And where do you think you're going?" Cyborg asked, his metal arms folded firmly across his broad, robotic chest.
"Where do you think?" Robin asked angrily. "I'm going to go finish what Terra started."
"Not alone, you're not." Raven corrected.
"Ummm…dude, I don't know if you've noticed or not, but when it comes to Slade, he's got your number."
"Beast Boy is correct, Robin." Starfire explained, joining her friends in surrounding their masked leader. "None of us could ever defeat Slade alone."
"No, man, ya can't." Cyborg cut off firmly. "If this is Slade, you're gonna need our help."
"But it might not even be Slade-"
"Then you would surely be walking into a trap, and you would know not who is doing the ambush on you."
"Starfire is right." Raven agreed. "Whether or not this is a trap, whoever's behind it knows how you'd react and are planning on you rushing out to this address."
"Look, this might be nothing but a joke; it may not be Slade-"
"But you think it is." Cyborg again cut off.
"You guys need to stay here and work on Crix and his enemies, okay? If it is Slade, I'll call for backup, and if it's not Slade then I can handle it."
Though the looks of the four remaining Titans didn't change a single bit, none of them argued, giving Robin the chance he needed to move between Cyborg and Raven, leaving the room in silence for several long minutes after their lead teenager had left.
"I have a the bad feeling about this." Starfire said softly, now looking sadly at the floor.
"I'm with Star on this one, guys." Cyborg added
"So…ummm…what do we do now?" Beast Boy asked, his single tooth now visible on the left side of his mouth.
"You heard the man." Cyborg answered. "But bring up his communicator on the big screen; we'll keep a track on him."
"Cyborg, perhaps I should perform the trailing on him, just in case?"
"He wants us to stay here." Raven responded. "I don't think this is Slade, though; something feels off."
"If this is not Slade, though, then would that not be worse?" Starfire countered. "Surely, whoever sent Robin the mask and address knows he will come to them, and if they are not Slade then would they not have a plan to defeat Robin?"
"Robin can handle himself, Star." Cyborg countered, moving towards one of the computers to begin working on plotting Crix's last known trajectory.
"Maybe Starfire has a point." Raven considered. "If this is Slade, Robin will need help, and with Starfire there he'd be better off until the rest of us could join him."
"And if it's not Slade?" Beast Boy asked. "I mean, Terra did drown the dude in a pool of molten lava."
"Then it's either someone who wants Robin or it's a prank, and if it's a trap he would still need help, and if it's just a prank…we all know how obsessed he can be when it comes to Slade."
"Which means," Cyborg picked up. "Starfire could keep him from losing his cool, at least until we get there."
"You do know Robin's going to go nuclear when he finds out that we not only disobeyed his orders but that Starfire followed him, right?" Beast Boy asked. "I mean, the guy doesn't like being second-guessed, or having his orders questioned."
"Perhaps." Raven responded. "But just because he's our leader doesn't make him right."
Without waiting for anyone else to speak, her mind now made up, Starfire turned and flew away, following Robin out of the common room and towards whatever the night held in store for him.
Crix opened his eyes to find himself staring ahead at the multicolored expanse of hyperspace. Stifling a yawn, he stretched his arms as best he could, using the Force to wash away what was left of his exhaustion and pain, noticing that his body felt much better and more alive than it had since his first encounter with Elianna earlier that day. Accepting the gift of healing the Force had given him, the young Jedi looked down at the instruments in front of him…and instantly he realized something was wrong.
"Skipper, why haven't we reached the Relay yet?" He asked, frowning as he continued studying his fighter's instruments and his Heads-Up Display. "It shouldn't have taken us but a couple of hours to reach it, but according to the chronometer in front of him, nearly four hours had passed since their jump to lightspeed.
A long sequence of beeps and whistles came through his headset then, even as the words began scrolling across the bottom of his HUD.
"IT DOES NOT TAKE A JEDI MASTER TO PLOT A COURSE THROUGH THE RELAY."
"You didn't wake me up?"
"YOU'RE A GROWING BOY; I ASSUMED YOU COULD USE THE REST."
"Thanks, Skipper; I definitely enjoyed it. I owe you one, buddy."
"CORRECTION; TAKING INTO ACCOUNT GEONOSIS, MYTUS SEVEN, ANZAT, JABIIM, ALDERAAN, MYRKR, BANDOMEER, BIMMIEL, SLUIS VAN, AND THE INVASION OF CORUSCANT, YOU OWE ME OVER SEVEN HUNRED AND TWELVE TIMES-"
"Okay, Skipper, I get your point." Crix laughed. "Where are we, anyways?"
"WE ARE APPROACHING THE DAGOBAH SYSTEM; ESTIMATED TIME OF ARRIVAL IS ONE STANDARD MINUTE."
"I must have been asleep longer than I thought." Crix muttered as he checked his ship's systems to ensure they were ready to make the conversion back to sub-light speeds. "Hey, Skipper, what were the defenses like around the Relay?"
"Not even a droid tri-fighter?"
"NOT EVEN SO MUCH AS A DROP OF HUTT DROOL."
"Nice mental image, Skipper." Crix laughed. "Well, we now know just how highly this Darth Vector thinks of the threat I pose, don't we?"
"OR PERHAPS THEY HAVE SIMPLY YET TO ORDER ANY SHIPS TO THE RELAY TO TAKE UP DEFENSIVE POSITIONS."
"Perhaps, but I don't think so; if they were going to move in any fleet elements, from either side, to defend the Relay, they would already have done so. Nope, Vector doesn't see any threat to the Relay, and Sidious believes its location and existence are completely unknown by anyone alive today minus those who are completely loyal to him."
"AS PER YOUR ORDERS PRECEEDING OUR EMERGENCE INTO HYPERSPACE, I HAVE IDENTIFIED A CRITICAL WEAKNESS IN THE DESIGN OF THE RELAY DEVICES. WHAT SHALL I DO WITH THAT KNOWLEDGE?"
"Hold onto it for now." Crix responded. "We may well need it."
"WOULD I BE CORRECT IN SUSPECTING YOU MAY PLAN ON DESTROYING THE RELAYS BETWEEN THE GALAXY?"
"It's an option, certainly, but I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing next, not just yet; hence our visit to this backwater swamp…always did think Master Yoda was a bit out of it, and here's our proof."
"PERHAPS, BUT I BELIEVE THE GRAND MASTER WOULD REMIND YOU THAT HE DIDN'T GET THAT POSITION IN A LOTTERY."
"Too true, Skipper, too true." Crix conceded, remembering his countless lessons under the aged Jedi Master. "Okay, looks like we're about to make the reversion to real space in fifteen seconds, all weapons and shields are green across the board, and engines are at peak operational performance. Stand by, Skipper; cutting in the sub-light engines in three. Two. One."
Fitting actions to words, Crix pulled back on the hyperspace lever, and instantly, responding perfectly to the ship's orders, the hyperspace ring engines went silent, immediately slowing the ship down as the starlines reformed into individual stars, the green and blue swampy planet of Dagobah now looming directly ahead.
"Okay, Skipper, go loud; anything out of place around the planet itself?"
"NEGATIVE." The R4 astromech droid answered almost a minute later. "WE'RE THE ONLY VESSEL THIS SIDE OF THE SYSTEM."
"Okay, drop the ring and let's get going." Crix ordered, waiting the few quick seconds before the clamps holding the ship disengaged. Taking the control yoke in his hands, Crix deftly maneuvered the Delta-7 between the clamp dock and lower half of the ring, leaving the device alone as it orbited the planet.
As they descended into the planet's upper atmosphere, the young Jedi could sense a growing presence within the depths of the Force, a manifestation that felt much akin to a coming sunrise following a long night.
Then, with the small interceptor still making its steep descent, the craft began to shake violently, and while most would attribute it to stronger-than-common turbulence, Crix had the feeling there might be something else involved.
"Skipper," He ordered, flipping a switch above his right shoulder. "Landing struts are down. Take the controls; I'm going to see if I can't use the Force to help keep us steady."
Not waiting on the little droid's response, he closed his eyes and began trying his best to hold the small ship steady with his fledgling powers, something he'd never before attempted. He'd heard stories of other Jedi doing it before, sure, but attempting to do it himself…
Focusing on his own presence in the Force, he imagined his powers expanding outwards to envelope the Jedi Interceptor, using this mental image to imagine a clearness of nothing but vacuum surrounding them, and a moment later the turbulence seemed to lessen as the ship began to grow steadier and more stable, a would-be apparent sign that his attempt was working...and then the shaking and turbulence returned, stronger than ever as the power overwhelmed him with such suddenness that it opened his eyes, ending all hopes that he could use the Force to bring them in for a soft landing.
"Skipper, got us a good landing zone picked out?" Crix asked, resuming control of his ship as it began shaking harder than he'd thought could be possible. The droid, in turn, beeped an affirmative, and about that exact moment a small clearing came into view, nestled directly beside a small, swampy lake; though there wasn't much room, he knew that it was just big enough to land the craft.
Banking hard to port at the last moment, Crix whipped the little fighter around as hard as he could, and, in an effort to keep the nose up as he positioned the craft for its final landing, he found himself pulling back on the controls with such strain that he half-expected the yoke to snap out of the craft. Luckily, however, amazingly, it didn't, and, after several long, difficult moments, the winds buffeting the Delta-7 subsided, and, with eerie ease, the landing struts touched down on the foreign swamp, and the ordeal, he realized, was at last over.
"Piece of Corellian Spice-Cake, right Skipper?"
"I BELIEVE MY MEMORY BANKS HAVE STORED A SIMILAR EXPERIENCE FROM THE TIME YOU TRIED TO RUN THE CONFEDERATE BLOCKADE AROUND MYTUS SEVEN."
"Bleh, don't remind me about that one…I still have a headache from that one." Crix muttered as he unfastened his crash webbing and popped open the canopy.
As the small R4 unit jetted up and out of his socket, Crix stepped up out of the cockpit before wasting no time in jumping down to the damp ground, pulling his cloak around him, despite the warm, humid conditions surrounding him.
"Well, Skipper, we've landed; now all we have to do is find him."
"Lost something, have you?"
Spinning around and away from his ship and the R4 unit, the young apprentice found himself face-to-face with a three-foot tall diminutive figure with skin that looked more like wrinkled, green leather than it did actual skin.
"Master Yoda!" He exclaimed, instantly moving forward towards the much older Jedi Master.
"Surprised that you're here, young Kavar, I am not; foreseen your visit, I have."
"Then you must have some idea why I'm here, master." He responded, knowing by now that there was no answer to the question of how the Grand Master of the Jedi Order could have known he was coming.
"For you to make a difficult decision, come, the time has."
"Master Yoda, Sidious and Vader aren't the only Sith left in existence. I-I found another Sith, a really old Sith, a Dark Lord over four times older than even you."
"A grave threat to your home galaxy, then, this new Dark Lord would be."
"Wait…m-my h-home galaxy?" Crix asked.
"Tried, your old master did, to hide your true origins when brought you to the Temple, he did. Hmph. Knew differently, I did, the moment you arrived."
"That makes no sense, master; I'm from-"
"Told me the story about his discovery of the Relays between the galaxies, Talm Zi'Kez did. Informed me, he did, reluctantly, of your true origins. Agreed with your master, I did, about training you as a Jedi."
"Earth!" Crix exclaimed, not understanding why he'd just thought about it. "That's why Master Zi'Kez had Skipper store the coordinates to the Relay and beyond to Earth; he knew that I'd one day be going back."
The older master nodded his head. "Our plan, it was, to send you back to your home planet when came, the time did, for you to begin your Jedi trials. Has other plans in store for us, though, the Force has."
"Obviously." Crix muttered bitterly as long-buried memories of the night the Temple fell came rising back up inside of his memory.
"Mind your emotions, young one." Yoda reprimanded sharply. "Of the dark side, anger is. A shade of aggression and hatred is vengeance."
"I don't see how you do it, my master." Crix admitted, hanging his head. "You've been a Jedi for nearly nine hundred years, and for about eight hundred years you've been the Grand Master, and now, after all that time, you've been reduced to hiding in exile on some Force-forsaken backwater swamp…no offense, Master Yoda." Crix sighed, taking a deep breath. "How do you do it, master?"
"Changed, nothing has." Yoda responded calmly. "Fallen, the Jedi Order has, but destroyed, it is not. As long as alive just a single Jedi is, then survives, the Jedi Order does, and my duty, I will do. Remember my training, I do, and follow it until my final breath, I shall, as shall you, young Padawan."
"Of course, master." Crix answered, taking a deep breath and holding it momentarily before releasing it, allowing all his emotions to ride out on it, leaving him much calmer and more open-minded. "What are we going to do about this True Sith that's survived four thousand years in a galaxy far, far away?"
"Do nothing, we shall."
"Yours alone, this decision is. How best to help your home galaxy, up to you, it is."
"M-me?" Crix stammered. "Master, I'm no match for a Sith apprentice, let alone a Dark Lord who's survived for four straight millennia. If you couldn't defeat Darth Sidious, how could I dare defeat this Darth Vector?"
"Realized something, I did, when I lost my duel with Palpatine. Adapted and evolved, the Sith have. Allowed them to become more powerful than ever, this has, while trained, I did, my Jedi to re-fight our last war with the Sith. While they grew and evolved, stagnate the Order grew; the reason, this is, for our current predicament."
"That makes sense, master, but why are you telling me this?"
"Doomed to repeat history are those who learn not from it, young Jedi. If hope to save the galaxies from the Dark Lords, we do, then allow the Jedi to grow and change as the Sith have, we must."
"That's fine and all, master, but no matter how much I learn, no matter how powerful I become, I'll never be able to be a serious threat to Darth Vector. He's already corrupted Elianna, master, and even if I could bring myself to cut her down, Vector would still kill me."
"Fates worse than death, do the Sith have in store, if their way they're allowed to have."
"No, master, they don't." Crix vowed sternly. "I don't care what happens, I'll never turn to the Dark Side of the Force."
"Made this claim before, countless Jedi have, and fell to the Dark Side, they have."
"Yes, master, but I'm not Reven, or Malek, or Ulic Qel-Droma. I'm different than Anakin and Elianna were. I will not fall."
"So certain, you sound, and yet, inside of you, the seeds of darkness are."
"Capable of both incredible evil and outstanding good, all living beings are." Yoda explained. "The Light Side and the Dark Side, two faces of the same coin, they are, two faces of the Force. Matter not, do our abilities, but rather, the choices we make and the motives for our decisions."
"What am I supposed to, Master Yoda?" Crix asked with another sigh. "I can't defeat Vector and his forces, not alone."
"Alone, young Jedi, you will never be; with you always, the Force shall be."
"Yes, master, and it'll be with Vector too."
"Draws from the Dark Side of the Force, this Lord Vector does. During the centuries he's spent in the darkness, forgotten about the light, he has; your advantage, this will be. With you both, the Force is, but backed by the entire history and presence of the Jedi Order, Darth Vector is not. Draw on the Jedi who have preceded you in becoming one with the Force, you must. Fight wars alone, Jedi do not. In this galaxy or another, around you, possible allies and friends are. If trust them and confide in them, you do, then stand before you can no enemy, Sith or otherwise."
And then, as though he was suddenly waking up, it dawned on him. He'd already met some of those potential allies, a group of heroes who could help him take the fight the Sith Lord plotting against the planet of Earth. However, as quickly as that thought lifted his spirits up, they fell once more.
"Master, Vector's corrupted Elianna. Lady Maw, as she now calls herself, is playing Vector and Sidious against one another so that whoever wins control of both galaxies will think she's loyal to them alone. They've taken what little remained of General Grievous's biological structure and resurrected him as a complete droid that's more powerful than the original. I'm going up against two of history's most powerful Dark Lords of the Sith, their respective hand-picked apprentices, one of who was the Chosen One, and a robotic monster bent on killing whoever he wants. Any allies I could possibly rally to my cause on Earth, even with my help, could do nothing to defeat them all. Even together, it's unlike the Order's survivors would have a chance at stopping them."
"Together, no chance would we have." Yoda admitted. "But apart, a chance we might create."
"Divide and conquer?"
The aged Jedi Master nodded his head.
"It's possible." Crix admitted, thinking carefully on the matter. "But how…" He trailed off, then, as an idea exploded quite suddenly to the front of his mind.
"Skipper!" He shouted, spinning to face the silent astromech droid. "You said you identified a critical weakness in the relays between the galaxies, right?"
A series of positive-sounding beeps and whistles gave the young Jedi the answer he wanted.
"We could destroy one of the relays." Crix explained, hope rising inside of him once more. "Without both relays, travel and communications between the two galaxies would be impossible, so Sidious, Vader, and the Empire would have no influence in the battle against Vector." But once more his heart fell as another realization settled in on him. "But if I destroy one of the relays then I'll be stranded in one galaxy or another for the rest of my life. If I'm here when I destroy it, I'll never get back to Earth, and Vector would certainly win, but if I'm in the Milky Way Galaxy when I destroy it, I'll never be able to come back."
"Forbidden for a Jedi, attachment is." Yoda explained. "See why, now, you do."
Crix nodded his head. "I didn't mean to, but I've become attached to the world, the galaxy, I'm so familiar with, and it'll kill me knowing I can never return, that I'll be stuck in a foreign galaxy where I know no one or nothing."
"Yours alone, this choice is, young Jedi. Make this decision, I cannot, nor can anyone else. Know how to help this foreign galaxy, alone you do."
"Earth really is my home planet huh?"
Slowly, Yoda nodded his head.
"And you said you and Master Zi'Kez always planned on sending me back as part of my Jedi Trials when the time came?"
Again, Yoda nodded.
"You said the Force has made it clear it has other plans in store for us. Perhaps it's the Will of the Force that I begin my Jedi Trials now, rather than later."
"Strong, you are, in the Force, young Padawan. One day, a powerful Jedi Knight you will become, when learn to balance the old Jedi Order with the new, you do."
"Balance the old with the new?"
"The sole Jedi in this new galaxy, you will be." The ancient Master explained. "Up to you, it will be, to ensure the light of the Jedi Order never leaves it. Use well, you must, the texts and holocrons you and your friends rescued from the Temple ruins."
"You know about that?"
"Visited the Temple, Master Kenobi and I did, following the betrayal of the clones. Noticed, I did, the missing data. Two and two together, I put."
"You don't want them back?"
"The sole source of knowledge, those texts are not, and need them, you will, in your coming mission."
"You sound like you already know the decision I've made."
"Grand Master of the Jedi, I am. Won this job in a raffle, I did not. As you said, young Crix, the Will of the Force, this is."
Crix nodded his head, knowing deep down that his choice had likely been made long before now. His entire life and existence, it seemed, had come down to this moment, to this decision. He would miss his adopted home a great deal, and he'd never be able to forget about this galaxy so far from the one in which he'd been born, but he knew he had a duty, and Jedi Order or no, he was still a Jedi.
"Then, Master Yoda, to the Force, my duty shall I obey, and if I do die, at least I can say I remained true to the Jedi Code."
Before Yoda could speak, however, Skipper began to whistle and beep loudly as the rotund droid rolled up to Crix's side. One of the panels on the small droid's torso opened up, allowing an extender arm to extend towards the young Jedi, who immediately noticed a deep blue sapphire clutched firmly between the two prongs that made up the mechanical arm's hand.
"What's this?" He asked, taking the crystal from his droid friend as he listened to the response.
"Master Talm instructed you to give it to me when you felt the time was right? Thanks, Skipper…now if only I could find the equipment needed to fashion a hilt."
Again, the droid began to beep and whistle loudly, turning towards the Jedi starfighter as though attempting to show the young Jedi something. As if on cue, the twin doors to the compartment housing the craft's spare parts canisters opened, and, feeling as though he were being drawn towards the rear of the vessel, he moved forward, stopping as he found a small box at the very front of the canisters stored inside of the craft.
"Skipper, is this what I think it is?"
The whistles and beeps that came from the small droid could be interpreted as nothing but positive.
"I'm beginning to think Master Talm knew I'd end up in this situation, needing to construct my own lightsaber."
"Wise, Master Talm is. The construction of a lightsaber, a true test for any Jedi Knight is. For eons, a central core of Jedi training, this trial has been. Hmmmm. Pass this test, you must, if wish to be a full Jedi Knight, you do."
"How would that even be possible, Master Yoda?" Crix asked. "The Order's fallen, so there'll be no Council-"
"Be with you in spirit, the masters of the past will be. Close you are, young one, to passing your trials. Soon, when right, the time is, a Jedi Knight you will become."
"How will I know?"
"Know, you will, when right, the time is." Yoda explained cryptically, closing his eyes and tilting his head slightly to the right, as though sensing something faint and far off. "Go, now, you must, young padawan. Needed elsewhere soon, you will be."
"Of course. May the Force be with you, my master." Crix responded, grabbing the small box from the rear compartment and closing the doors as Skipper jetted himself up onto the portside wing and began fitting himself into the astromech socket.
"And with you, as well, may the Force be."
Seating himself into the cockpit and laying the box and sapphire in his lap, Crix fixed his crash webbing around him and began to the process of bringing his ship's systems online. Almost immediately, the small interceptor's engines roared to life, and within mere minutes, the young apprentice was ready for takeoff.
"Oh, and Master Yoda!" Crix shouted, forcing his voice high enough to be heard over the whine of the Delta-Seven's engines. "Thanks…for everything you've done, for me and the Order. I'll see you on the other side, when right, the time is!"
In response, the old Jedi Master bowed his head as the canopy closed down around him. Taking the controls in his hand, Crix nudged the craft into the air, and, calling on his training to keep himself calm, he turned the nose upwards and rocketed up into the Dagobah atmosphere, never looking back, not as the ship escaped into space, not as they docked with the Hyperspace ring, not even after the stars had stretched into star lines. Not once did Crix Kavar look back behind him, gathering his strength for the task that lay ahead of him.
It's not common knowledge. It isn't something you can flip to and read in any textbook. It's a fact most people will often try to ignore, rather than face it, this horrible yet true fact. Yet, no matter how much one might ignore it, it's still present, still the truth, and it's as simple, as it is true: every city has two sides. A city is but one side of the coin. On one side, you have the public city, the beautiful, law-abiding metropolis the world at large knows and recognizes. With its gleaming skyscrapers and sparkling lights at night, its beauty appears perfect. On the other side of the coin, however, there's the city within the city, the city that very few (the unluckiest of society) ever witness. In areas where even the police are hesitant and wary, this undercity is a no-man's land, a place where the only real law is to survive, by any means necessary, where the strong rule and the weak either obey or die. Dick Grayson, the sixteen year-old leader of the Teen Titans, known to everyone but those closest to him as Robin, knew this fact all too well, had known it for a majority of his life, since that tragic night all those years ago. Like many of the greatest known criminals, Robin was intimately familiar with the darkest alleys, the most dangerous districts, of this city.
Keeping all five of his senses alert and on the watch, the young solo Titan moved forward towards the abandoned warehouse, the address given to him by the mysterious package announcing the return and continued existence of his greatest foe.
Coming to a brief halt, now less than thirty yards from the front entrance of the building, he could see no visible signs of recent activity; there were no guards on lookout, no visible security measures, nothing at all to indicate that he was approaching the location of one of the city's greatest criminals. Had Slade, or this imposter, thought he'd not actually show up, or, as Cyborg and the others doubtlessly suspected, was Slade or this imposter counting on him showing up alone, without the support of the rest of his team?
He knew the risks of coming alone all too well. Despite his skills and knowledge, he was only one person, one part of a team, of a larger force of good, and, as Beast Boy had so colorfully pointed out earlier, Slade did seem to have his number. However, he also knew the dangers of confronting Slade with the rest of his team, his friends. Their last battle with the super villain had cost them much more than any of them had been prepared to pay. The cost for bringing down the monster known as Slade had been one Teen Titan, a broken heart, the near destruction of the Teen Titans, and a shaken and fragile team of super heroes, a cost it would take the Titans weeks, months, and perhaps even years to make up for, meaning, in short, that if Slade had indeed survived, as Robin knew he had, then the Titans were not yet ready to go to war with him once more; they would not survive another full-blown battle with Slade, not so soon. Ultimately, the young hero knew, he had to protect his team, his friends, even if it meant putting his health, his very life, on the line.
Now moving forward once more, his senses still alert for a sign of anything suspicious or out-of-the-ordinary, Robin reached the front loading door, and, wasting no time, he reached down and pulled up, ignoring the screech of rusted metal as it slid upwards, granting him an otherwise-silent entry into the empty, bare storage area beyond.
Looking around, he did his best to scan the dark area around him, a new, strong determination filling him up with confidence and strength. He'd seen the worst evil Earth had to offer, and though it wouldn't be easy, he knew, deep down, that he could defeat Slade, without having to risk the rest of his team.
It was as though that thought was the switch, for at that precise moment the lights above winked into a weak, dim existence, and it was only through his training and experience that Robin didn't find himself blinded by the sudden change in vision.
"As predictable as ever, Robin. You really should learn some new tricks."
Turning right towards the source of this voice, Robin found his blood freezing over and his muscles tensing in preparations for combat as, once again, he found himself staring at the six-foot-plus towering figure clad in the usual grey-black-and-orange armor, hands clasped firmly behind his back.
"I knew Terra didn't destroy you!" Robin shouted, stepping forward towards Slade.
"Come now, Robin; do you seriously think some child who can't even harness her own powers could ever stop me?" Slade asked, his voice as calm and emotionless as ever. "I have big plans for this city, after all, and no one will get in my way. Not Terra, not the Teen Titans, not even you, Robin."
"Yeah?" Robin asked, taking one of his steel, collapsible bo-staffs in his right hand. "We'll see about that."
Rather than move to defend himself from the coming attack, however, Slade merely laughed.
"Some things just never change, do they? We've fought one another a hundred times, and each time it's the same; I beat you to within an inch of your life; the only time you ever seem to win this little war of ours, Robin, is when you have the help of your friends, and yet here you are, alone and so very vulnerable."
"I don't need help to take you down, Slade."
"Why didn't you bring the rest of your friends, Robin?" The villain asked, ignoring his foe's words. "Did you think it'd be some kind of prank? Did you think maybe it'd be a wild goose chase? Or perhaps you're afraid of risking your friends again, especially after our last encounter."
Though he'd not thought it possible, Robin suddenly found himself feeling weak and vulnerable, as though Slade now had the key to completely destroying him from the inside out. As though he could read the young hero's mind, Slade's laughter grew louder than ever before.
"You and I are so very much alike, Robin, so much so that you could almost pass for my son."
"I already have a father." Robin growled angrily. "And I am nothing like you."
"Deny it all you want to, Robin, but you know it's true. The strength, the aggression, the willingness to go all or nothing, even that certain disregard for the law."
"I fight to protect the law, not break it." He countered, taking another two steps towards Slade.
"Is that so, Red X?" He mocked, causing a surge of anger to rise up inside of the masked hero. He'd indeed gone undercover as the infamous thief Red X in an effort to get close to Slade and figure out what it was the villain was planning, a plot that had seen him not only commit multiple thefts but had also put him in combat against the rest of his team. Even now, so long after that failed attempt at stopping Slade, he still wrestled with himself on whether or not he'd done the right thing.
"You couldn't stop me then, Robin, nor can you stop me now."
However, something else was now stirring inside of Robin, something much more worrisome than the buried guilt he still felt over his actions as Red X. Something, he realized, was off here…Slade, he knew, was up to something. He'd known Robin would come alone…
"What are you up to, Slade?" He asked, now within reach of his mortal enemy. "You knew I'd come here, and you knew I'd come alone. Why reveal yourself now, and why like this?"
"Now Robin, that'd be telling, wouldn't it?"
Before he could react, before he even saw it coming, Slade's right foot had come up through the air, catching Robin squarely on the chin with enough force that it sent the young teen staggering back, unable to properly defend himself as a follow-up kick sent him flying across the empty warehouse, his now-useless weapon rolling away as he landed hard on his back. Before he could move, before he could even fully realize what was going on, Slade was on top of him, standing triumphantly over him with his boot securely planted on the teenage Titan's throat.
"It's over, Robin." Slade announced. "The era of the Teen Titans, the protection of super heroes, is coming to a close. Join me, Robin, join me or be destroyed with the rest of your friends."
"N-never." Robin forced out, fighting for enough oxygen to speak.
"Come now, Robin, don't be stupid." Slade responded. Desperately trying to just breath, Robin fought to gather the strength needed to respond. Before he had the chance to even open his mouth, however, there was a familiar flash of green, and then, a mere blink of an eye later, two green disks of energy slammed angrily into Slade's temple, sending him flying sideways across the room, leaving his one-time apprentice free to gulp in a lungful of fresh air.
"I am afraid you are the stupid one, Slade." A feminine Tamaranian voice declared. Pulling himself back to his feet, despite his anger at his orders being disobeyed, he couldn't help but smile. "Robin, are you okay?"
"Looks like your prediction was wrong, Slade." Robin answered before turning to face Starfire.
"Why'd you follow me, Star? I told you-"
"I know what you told us, Robin, but I was afraid you would require assistance, and it looks like I was right."
"It was still risky, Starfire." He explained sternly. "There were reasons I wanted to come alone. Slade's dangerous, too-"
"I understand why you wished to face our foe alone, Robin." She confessed. "However, we are the Teen Titans…all our missions are dangerous, and we are used to that. You wish to protect us, but it is you who needs the protection. You have become obsessed with our enemies, especially Slade. What if he had brought reinforcements? What if this had been the ambush of which we spoke earlier?"
"But you could not be certain of this when you left the Tower to proceed here."
"There are no buts on this, Robin. Friends must not allow friends to walk blindly into danger alone. This is the reason we are a team, the reason we do combat together, as friends."
Robin opened his mouth but then quickly shut it, unsure of what to say. How could he explain to the girl who was, in most senses of the word, his best friend, that he'd not been willing to risk their wellbeing again, not so soon after they'd almost lost everything days before…
Luckily, however, the subject of their argument gave Robin the opening he was looking for, for it was at this moment that Robin realized something was, as Cyborg had mentioned earlier at the tower, not right.
Turning in the direction Starfire's star-bolts had thrown Slade, Robin expected to find the villain climbing to his feet, making some snide comment about Starifre's disobedience, but to his complete and utter astonishment, Slade's crumpled form remained face-down on the ground, unmoving, looking, for all intents and purposes, as dead as he should have been days before, following his demise at Terra's hands.
Robin had too much experience, though, to be suckered in so easily. Retrieving his lost bo-staff, he extended the weapon before cautiously stalking towards Slade, on the watch for any sign of life or deception from his arch-nemesis, Starfire hovering slightly behind him, star-bolts hot and ready to fire at the slightest sign of attack.
It was soon apparent, however, that the battle was over, for when Robin at last turned the fallen villain over, he realized (with a mixture of disappointment and relief) that Slade had yet to truly return, silent as he stared down at a shattered face and a small television screen, the same kind of robotic double he'd faced the night his friends had unmasked the truth behind Red X. As he and Starfire looked down at the flickering, static-filled screen, Robin got the sudden feeling that this whole thing had been nothing but a setup…
"So, you're the infamous Boy Wonder, huh?" A cold, deep voice said, cutting into the silence. "I'd have expected someone with your reputation to be a little older and taller."
As he spoke, the static disappeared, replaced now with a towering figure in a crimson cloak, his face covered in a black, skull-like mask with two crimson streaks, one above each eye, and a matching crimson cloth that divided the mask into two equal parts, covering his nose.
"Who are you?"
"That really doesn't matter, not now, anyways. Satisfy yourself with the knowledge that I am, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most dangerous individual you will ever meet."
"That piece of worm-ridden filth? As far as I know, he's been reduced to his most basic molecules, thanks to that pretty little vixen friend of yours. Of course, those things we belief dead and gone often have a way of returning when we least expect or want them."
"This robot?" The mysterious figure asked with a sharp laugh. "It's like I said, Robin," He explained, now sounding exactly like Slade. "You really are predictable. I knew that if I gave you enough clues you'd find this place, and I also knew nothing would grab your attention quiet like Slade would. This robot was but the bait, you fool, and, like all fish, you bit."
"Why bring me here, then? What do you want?"
"Now why in the five moons would I tell you that? I mean, I tell you that, then you'll know what I'm planning, then I'd be reduced to a memory, just like the template for this useless thing. I mean, if you know what I was planning, right this very moment, then you'd race home, desperate to save your friends-"
"WHAT?!" Robin asked, pulling his communicator from his belt and flipping it open, urgently, frantically, hailing each of the other three Titans. The screen, however, remained full of static.
"WHAT have you done with our friends?" Starfire asked, angry as she jumped on top of the fallen robot, her right foot placed on the machine's neck and her star-bolts now aimed directly at the screen.
"I have no idea what you're talking about, sexy little alien. I have done nothing to your weak little friends."
"Come on Starfire, we've got to get back to the Tower, now!" Robin said, causing Starfire to move away from the fallen robot, allowing Robin to again face their newest enemy.
"We will find you, and when we do-"
"Of course you'll find me, you pathetic little hero…I'm counting on."
Angry at both this mysterious figure and himself for being so gullible and blind, not knowing what else to say, Robin brought the end of his staff down, crashing through the screen and sending angry sparks everywhere.
Once on his cycle, Robin sped off back towards Titans Tower, Starfire soaring dozens of feet above him, the pair of friends desperate to get home and warn the rest of their team, his head swimming with a hundred scenarios of what they may well find upon their arrival home.
When at last the pair arrived, however, there was no one to be found. Inside of the tower, the lights were still on but, as the old adage goes, there was no one home.
Wheeling around at the sound of his friend's screech, he saw a blue blast of energy wash over Starfire, causing her to fall to the ground, unmoving as she landed.
As he rushed to help her, however, a blue flash of light temporarily caught his attention, and then, only moments later, his entire body went numb and began to violently tingle, and then darkness claimed his entire universe, relieving him of all his burdens.
Almost half a day later, the blue and black Delta-7 Interceptor found itself screaming down through Earth's atmosphere. Upon their return to the Milky Way Galaxy, Crix had locked onto the weakness identified by Skipper, and, after four consecutive torpedo strikes, the Relay had at last fallen, severing all known ties between the galaxies. Now, with that mission over and his fate now sealed, Crix found himself en route to Titans Tower, hoping he'd be able to recruit the heroes in his fight against Vector, Elianna, and the forces they seemed to be mustering.
However, for the moment, he was thinking of none of this. His mind was focused instead on whether or not he'd made the right decision as he stared at his new lightsaber, the weapon he'd built while in hyperspace, en route from Dagobah.
At its basic level, the hilt was the darkest possible shade of black, the metal polished and gleaming in the capital's filtered sunlight. At the neck of the hilt, a piece of silver metal, narrower than the rest of the hilt, jutted out, connecting the blade emitter with the rest of the hilt. Wrapped around the narrower piece of silver metal was a spiraling set of blue metallic wire, one end hooking into the emitter and the other into the main part of the hilt, and while this wire was thin it was also surprisingly strong and inflexible. At the bottom of the hilt was a series of parallel series of foam-like strips that encircled the entire bottom quarter of the hilt, making for a comfortable hand grip, and like that metal wire and the activation stud at the top of the hilt, the hand grips were colored blue. Between two of the hand grips, and the very bottom of the hilt, just below where his hands would grab the weapon, was a small black stud, which hooked onto the belt around Crix's waist. Though he'd only gone for a basic design, he found himself impressed and captured by the beauty of the weapon's design.
He sighed, again questioning his decision. Had he made the right choice in destroying the relays and forever separating the two galaxies? Could he have found some other way to stop the Sith besides cutting himself off from home forever more? What if this wasn't the right choice? What if he'd ensured the fall of light in both galaxies through his unilateral decision?
"Yours alone, this choice is, young Jedi. Make this decision, I cannot, nor can anyone else. Know how to help this foreign galaxy, alone you do."
Taking a deep breath as Skipper began to whistle urgently, Crix closed his eyes and, for the moment, shut all doubts from his mind. He couldn't go back in time and change what had happened, and, as the Jedi he was, he would do his duty and move on with the future, whatever it may hold.
"Open up the comm. To all broad channels, Skipper. Let's see if anyone's home." Crix ordered as the Jedi fighter zoomed forward, the towering figure of Titans Tower now looming ahead.
"Crix Kavar hailing Titans Tower." He addressed as the fighter began to slow and hover in place just in front of the top of the tower. "Crix Kavar to the Teen Titans…can anyone read me, over?"
Crix waited in silence, wondering if perhaps they were getting ready to attack, afraid he might be an enemy, perhaps with Elianna or her new master. The radio, however, remained silent.
"Something feels off." Crix muttered, stretching out with the Force until his sense encompassed the entire small island. However, there was nothing, no sign of life anywhere outside of the ocean and the city itself.
"Hold on to your backside, Skipper; I'm taking us down."
The little droid, however, remained silent as the small craft nose-dived down to the front of the tower, and, even before the landing struts had lowered, Crix had popped the canopy and was running towards the front entrance of Titans Tower.
Slowing down as he approached the door, the young apprentice realized he'd seen this scene before…well, not this exact scene, but he recognized all too much of it, the pock-marks of blaster fire missing their targets, the scorched sight of enemy fire strafing a moving target…this place had seen a battle with Super Battle Droids, and, judging by the odor of carbon scorching, it'd been extremely recently, perhaps only hours before.
"I knew you'd come here."
Spinning around as Skipper began to whistle and wail loudly, Crix found himself face-to-face with a shimmering blue image, the holographic image, he realized, of the newly-christened Darth Maw.
"They're alive…for now." The pre-recorded message explained. "However, if you do not show up at the coordinates saved to this holo-disk within 72 hours of the activation of this message, then they will die, and it will be slow and painful, for I know you will feel it. If you show up before then, you will all die, and if you show up later, you will all die. If you do not come alone, and unarmed, you will die. I know how difficult it will be for you to show such patience, to anguish, knowing you can do nothing to help the Teen Titans. You do anything to interfere in our plans, or if you try to find and free them, you will all die, and this city, this planet, will burn."
As the image faded away, Crix knew the entire war had just evolved. As he picked up the holo-disk, he heard Skipper beep and twittle a question.
"Yes they do, buddy." Crix responded, jumping back up into the cockpit of his fight. "They think they have me real good."
Another beep and twittle to signal another question.
"What else can I do, buddy? It's time to change the rules and do something stupid, crazy, foolish, and totally unexpected; they want me, then they can have me. Skipper, do you mind taking us home?"
The little droid whistled an affirmative, and, as the cockpit sealed around him, the Jedi interceptor screamed up into the air, leaving Crix free once more. Reaching into his robes, he pulled free a small device, a holocron he'd rescued from the Jedi Temple. The property of one of the most infamous Jedi in history, he'd been wary of learning from it, but now, as he re-played in his mind the brief message Elianna had left him, he knew this holocron may well be his only hope.
"Well, Master Surik, I hope you're ready to teach, because it looks like I'm ready to learn."
~Six hours later~
"I am sorry, my master, but according to the diagnostics we've run on the relay device in the Outer Rims, the relay in the second galaxy has been destroyed. Our plans for that galaxy have failed."
"It matters not, Lord Vader; this second galaxy is of no concern to us. The Jedi have fallen and the Sith rule this galaxy once more. Let Lady Maw and her mechanical pet have their fun, or let them be destroyed in the process; nothing they or any surviving Jedi traitors who fled there can stop us, my friend. All that matters now, Lord Vader, is the continuation of your training and the consolidation of our power."
"As you wish, my master."
So, what'd you guys think? Did this seem too rushed too you?
Before you go, I have a few things to say. First, in case anyone is going to tell me that Starfire's star-bolts wouldn't be strong enough to KO a Slade robot, her powers are ruled by emotions, so the more emotion, the stronger her powers are, right?
So, tell me what ya'll think!