A.N. Not going to lie, I was pretty much ready to give this up (not happy with the quality of my writing). However, I reread some of the reviews and messages I've had for this story and felt like giving it another shot. So I pulled this out of my files and put it up. Don't forget to review, apparently they inspire me to keep on going with this thing =P
Starkiller: The Clone Wars
Arrival: Part Three
Galen filed into one of the landing craft assigned to the strike team assigned to take down General Grievous. Joining him were Generals Kota, Skywalker, Padawan Tano, Captain Rex, and a few members of Torrent company.
"So, Master, are you nervous about finally meeting the chief clanker?" Ahsoka asked from next to him.
"What, like you were?" Skywalker teased her, smiling. "I'm excited more than anything. Once we get rid of Grievous, we'll not only stop his assault in this sector, but also cripple the CIS war machine."
"Yeah, you're nervous," the Padawan laughed.
"Am not!" Skywalker responded, feigning hurt.
"Are too!" Ahsoka shot right back.
"Isn't coming along for this mission," Skywalker finished with a grin.
"That was so, so lame," Ahsoka criticized, folding her arms under her chest.
Galen stopped listening to their conversation at this point. The first, and most obvious, reason for this was that Ahsoka's crossed arms had somehow accentuated her breasts, pushing them upwards and drawing not a few glances from the male occupants of the landing craft (several clone's head's had snapped around and down, thankfully their helmets stopped the other Jedi from noticing).
The other reason was the persisting feeling of doom he felt around Skywalker. For some unfathomable reason, he took issue with the man seeming to enjoy himself. There was just something about him (in Galen's opinion) that meant he should be constantly angry, dour, and hostile.
Naturally, breasts and feelings of doom don't mix, as the moods each create are the opposite of each other. So it was that, while Ahsoka and Anakin were arguing, Galen found himself just standing there, not listening, and feeling very confused.
Thankfully, Kota was there to save the day. "Not that your bickering isn't highly amusing," the older Jedi deadpanned, an eyebrow arched in the direction of Ahsoka and Anakin. "But the orbital bombardment should be commencing any moment now."
"Of course, Master Kota," Anakin nodded, slipping seamlessly back into the role of a professional military officer. "Captain Rex, are the men ready to move out?"
"Yes, Sir!" said the clone with the interesting Mandolorian style Jaig eyes painted on his helmet.
"Excellent," Skywalker responded before flicking on his wrist comlink. "Admiral Yularen, the strike team is ready. How long until we start the bombardment?"
"Our fleet is moving into position now. Bombardment commencing in two minutes," Yularen's response sounded in the confined space of the landing craft.
"Any change in the Separatist fleet's position?" Anakin asked. All around the other occupants leaned in slightly more, eager to know of any changes.
"Yes, General, their Destroyers are moving to screen their Capital Ships," Yularen answered, sounding slightly apprehensive. "I am fairly certain that Grievous has deduced our plan and is preparing his fleet to engage ours."
"Excellent, then everything is working out as planned," Anakin said with a sure grin. "What's the situation on the ground?"
"Our defensive lines have made contact with the enemy. So far we are maintaining our position and are keeping the Separatist's forward units bogged down... Hold on, General! We've just picked up a large squadron of manned fighters under heavy droid escort leave from Grievous' flagship!"
"That's got to be him! Send tracking data to our pilot, we're moving out!"
"Yes, General, commencing orbital bombardment now," Yularen responded and cut the com channel.
"He's going to try to reach the Capital in a fighter? That takes some daring," Kota said with a tone that almost sounded like admiration.
"It has a better chance of getting through that way than if he used larger transports," Anakin responded as the ship took off and moved to exit the hangar bay.
"Besides, Grievous has some serious balls, missing anatomy aside," Ahsoka added with a lopsided smirk.
"You've fought him before?" Galen asked, eyeing her quizzically.
"Yeah," she nodded, her attention switching to Galen as she locked gazes with him. "Me and Rex got in a pretty nasty fight with him on a Separatist listening station."
"You must be tougher than you look, Grievous has a fearsome reputation," Galen said admiringly.
Ahsoka gave him a sly grin, her eyes filled with a mischievous glint. "You'll find I'm full of surprises."
"Kriffing hell!" One of the clones exclaimed, startling Galen and causing him to look away from Ahsoka in embarrassment (he spied Kota giving him an amused look).
As one, the rest of the crew looked through the hatch from their compartment into the cockpit in order to look out of the view port. The space outside them was filled with a solid stream of heavy blaster fire coming from the Republic Star Destroyers as the fired at the droid forces positioned on the planet below. Slightly further off, they could see the entire Separatist fleet closing in on the Republic ships.
"Things are going to get messy up here really quick," one of the clones muttered pensively.
"Admiral Yularen knows what he's doing," Rex butted in, his confident voice shaking off any doubts the men under his command were experiencing in the face of such overwhelming odds. "The fleet is doing its job, just as we are going to do ours as soon as we catch up with the head clanker."
From that point on, the ship maintained an determined silence as they swiftly moved along their intercept course with Grievous' squadron. Based on their positioning and speeds, it was estimated that they would reach the airspace above the Bothan capital exactly twenty seconds after Grievous.
"Enemy in sight!" one of the pilots called excitedly from the cockpit not long after they entered the planet's atmosphere. "Bothan air defences are really doing a number on their escort fighters."
"Have they hit any of the manned fighters?" Anakin demanded as he gazed out of the viewport at the approaching enemy fighters.
"Negative, General," the pilot answered. "Their escort has moved ahead and is soaking up all the anti-air fire."
"Damn it! Are we able to engage?"
"We're only just within firing range, General," the pilot confirmed. "However at this distance we have a high risk of missing the enemy and causing damage to the Bothan's city."
"Close in and open fire as soon as it's feasible," Anakin ordered.
"Understood, Sir!" the clone answered.
Galen looked at the swiftly approaching cityscape with a great deal of apprehension. At their current speed they would be landing within the next few minutes. Already, the HMP droid gunships that were part of Grievous' retinue were unleashing a deadly missile barrage against the Bothan's defences, tearing a hole in their anti-air fire through which the General could send his forces.
"What sort of opposition do you think we'll face down there?" Galen asked Ahsoka (her being the only Jedi present to have already faced Grievous before).
"MagnaGuards and Commando Droids are the best bet," Ahsoka asked, her right hand coming up to absent-mindedly touch her right lekku while a speculative look crossed her face. "He needs to move quickly but still be able to overpower any Bothan ground defences."
"And he'll be using the gunships and surviving fighters to prevent the Bothans from launching an effective counter strike," Galen added.
"Exactly, so it will end up being down to us to stop him."
"Well, I suppose that was the plan in the first place," Galen chuckled.
At that moment the compartment started rattling as the drop ship began opening fire on the enemy forces. Even through the thick armour of their ship they could hear the sound of blasterfire and explosions as the battle began in earnest.
"Separatist HMPs have punched a hole in the anti-air grid!" the pilot bellowed. "The enemy is heading for the Information Centre!"
"How far behind them are we?" Anakin barked as he stared at the carnage through the viewport.
"We should arrive at the building about twenty seconds after Grievous' forces land," the pilot answered.
"Kriff! That's too much of a head start!" Anakin swore before a manic gleam appeared in his eyes. "Change of plans; don't go into landing procedures and maintain full speed. I and the other Jedi will perform a low altitude drop."
"Yes, Sir!" the pilot acknowledged.
Galen looked in horror at Skywalker. He wasn't sure what to be more concerned about; that the young Jedi had suggested the plan in the firs place, or that the clones were so used to stupid plans like this that they didn't even question them.
"He's serious, isn't he?" he whispered to Ahsoka.
"Yup," she acknowledged with a grin. "Don't be suck a scaredy-nerf. Just give yourself a force push before hitting the ground and you'll be fine."
Galen glared at her. "Just so you know; if I die because of this, I'm blaming you."
Ahsoka just grinned at him in response.
"Look alive, Younglings!" Anakin called to them as the doors to the compartment opened. "Making the drop in three, two, one."
The four Jedi simultaneously leapt from the drop ship. They shot through the air towards the landing platform below. Already they could see Grievous' fighters had landed and unloaded their payload of Droids; a fierce fire fight having commenced between the CIS forces and the Bothan defenders.
Looking to his sides, he noticed that both Kota and Skywalker had shed their outer robes (he and Ahsoka hadn't been wearing theirs in the first place) thus lessening the air resistance they would be facing as they sped towards the landing platform.
All around them, the remaining Droid fighters were opening fire seemingly at random. Vulture droids were speeding around, trying to get at the Republic drop ships while the HMPs were unleashing their remaining payloads at the streets below, causing massive devastation to the nearby buildings and preventing a Bothan counter attack.
Reaching out with the force, Galen slowed his decent so that he landed perfectly upon reaching the landing platform. Next to him, Skywalker did the same while Kota and Ahsoka had to use a variant of force push to suddenly halt their momentum.
Standing up straight, Galen swiftly palmed his Lightsaber into his favoured reverse grip. Soon all four Jedi were up, armed, and charging towards Grievous' forces.
Noticing the danger they were in, a group of Commando Droids turned back and began opening fire on the fast approaching Jedi. The advanced droids used firing patterns specifically designed to be near impossible to block with lightsabers.
However, all four Jedi were combat veterans (to varying degrees) and each had their own method for getting past the barrage of blaster fire.
Kota swept to the side, keeping his blade deflecting the few bolts that neared their mark as he went in a wide arc to flank the enemy.
Anakin, in a display of truly phenomenal Lightsaber prowess, simply sped up and intensified the pattern his blade was moving in order to deflect all the bolts.
Ahsoka leapt high in the air, tucking her body into a roll to make for a smaller target, aiming to land right in the midst of the droids upon landing.
Galen, however, drew on the innate knowledge that he gained in such situations and used the force to propel himself forwards at great speed. Combining this with a force push sent him straight through the first wave of blaster fire and made him the first to close in with the enemy (Ahsoka soon following).
His Lightsaber danced around him as he moved between the Commando Droids, each slash of his blade either deflecting a blaster shot, or else cleaving his enemies into heaps of scrap metal. Next to him, the other Jedi had joined the fray and had soon made mincemeat of Grievous' rear guard.
Not pausing for a moment, the second the last droids fell saw the Jedi moving on into the building in pursuit of Grievous. The halls were littered with the corpses of dead Bothans (with the occasional droid thrown into the mix). Most had clearly been killed by blasters, although several bore signs of being felled by either Lightsabers or electrostaffs.
"Kriff! They're tearing through the defences," Anakin swore as they ran past another group of dead Bothans.
"They're not far in front," Kota responded. "I can hear them just up ahead."
Rounding the next corner, they found themselves in the midst of a hectic battle. The large room they had entered into was reminiscent of the Jedi library, with a large ground floor full of info terminals overlooked by many balconies filled with the same.
The Bothans had dug in well here, and were putting up a fierce resistance to the Separatist advance. However, it was made immediately clear that General Grievous had already passed through here.
"Jedi!" One of the Bothans called from his position on a nearby balcony. "Grievous has pushed through to the spynet control room; you have to stop him!"
Several of the assaulting droids had turned to face the Jedi upon realising they had entered the room and began opening fire upon them. Unlike the skirmish earlier, there were much more droids but also much more cover.
Dashing behind an info terminal, Galen was easily able to avoid the enemy fire. Knowing that the need for speed was paramount, he levitated a nearby bench and threw it towards the enemy with the force (and was rewarded with the satisfying crunch of Commando Droids being smashed to pieces).
Leaping out of cover, Galen swiftly closed in on a pair of Commando Droids that were moving to flank him. His first sweep with his Lightsaber sliced cleanly through both droid's blasters while his second bisected the droid nearest to him.
The second droid turned out to be more tricky. Adapting swiftly to its new situation, the Commando Droid pulled out a vibroblade and adopted a melee stance.
Galen lunged, hoping to end the droid quickly so he could move onto the important stuff. With some stroke of luck, his sabre struck true, the droid not having time to either parry or dodge his sudden attack.
"Huh," he murmured. "I'd expected that to be harder."
He looked around the room, casually reflecting blaster fire back at the battle droids futilely attempting to take him down. The other three Jedi had similarly dispatched the enemies trying to stop them and soon Galen found himself moving onto a large walkway that lead to the Spynet central hub.
As would be expected, the walkway was heavily defended by CIS forces.
"Keep your eyes peeled for HMPs," Anakin warned as they blocked, reflected and hacked their way across the walkway. "We're sitting ducks out on this bridge."
No sooner had the words left his mouth, than a pair of HMPs came into view, heading straight towards the bridge.
"You've got to be kidding me," Galen said in disbelief as he casually decapitated a commando droid. "Cover me! I'm gonna give us some cover!"
He immediately sheathed his lightsaber and reached out with the force. With a colossal effort, he force pulled the broken bodies of the defeated droids up into a make shift shield between the Jedi and the swiftly approaching gun ships.
"I hope you can run and hold that thing up at the same time," Kota said over the sound of the gunships opening fire.
Galen took off at a slow jog. "How about you try holding up this much crap, Master," he snarked, almost buckling under the pressure of the sustained fire coming from the HPKs.
"Not much further now," Anakin encouraged as he continued to bat away blaster shots from the battle droids remaining on the bridge.
"That shield won't hold up much longer!" Ahsoka shouted, a worried look marring her usually jovial face.
Galen was just about to drop the make shift shield when a familiar hum signalled the arrival of the LAAT carrying Rex and the rest of their clone squad.
"Thought you crazy kids could use some backup," the clone commander shouted cheerfully into the Jedi's com channel. This proclamation was swiftly backed up by the sound of the LAAT firing its missiles at the enemy ships. The first HMP exploded under the missile fire while the second attempted to bug out.
From there, the LAAT's turrets made short work of the remaining droids on the bridge while the pilot continued to fire at the escaping HMP.
"You guy's get after Grievous," Rex called to them. "I've got things out here."
Galen dropped the shield with a casual gesture (totally faked, but who needed to know?). He cocked an eyebrow and grinned cheekily at Ahsoka. "And you doubted me."
She just stuck her tongue out at him.
Kota just smirked at their antics before indicating they move on with a "Lets move."
The room they finally caught up to Grievous in was enormous. The cavernous room wouldn't have felt out of place at the Jedi temple, were it not for the myriad of holographic displays all over the place.
Grievous was standing on a raised dais in the middle of the room. He was flanked by a pair of magnaguards and accompanied by a tactical droid that appeared to be in the process of downloading data from the Spynet.
"I was wondering when you would arrive, Skywalker," the General called out, his arms clasped casually behind his back. "I was beginning to think I wouldn't get to kill any Jedi today."
"Give it up, General," Anakin called back, ignoring Greivous' insult. "You're no match for the four of us.
They advanced slowly towards the droid commander, lightsabers in hand, ready to spring into action.
"That remains to be seen," he retorted cockily. "It will take more than a trio of children and their care taker to deal with me."
Anakin snarled. "You want to do it the hard way? Fine. Charge him!"
They all charged straight towards the General, whom, if he could, would have broken out into a wicked grin at just that moment. Grievous clicked down on the switch he had been holding behind his back the whole time.
The floor suddenly came to life with electric currents. The high voltage travelling straight through the group of Jedi, causing their muscles to spasm uncontrollably. All four fell to the ground, limp as boned gooberfish.
Grievous let out a cruel chuckle as he looked down on them. "All to easy," he crooned. Another press of the switch had the four Jedi collapsing back to the floor as they tried to get back up.
The General motioned to his two magnaguards. "Bring me their lightsabers," he said while delivering another jolt of electricity through his victims.
The four Jedi simply lay there, helpless, their muscles twitching too frequently for them to rise. All of them, that is, save for Galen.
From somewhere deep within him he felt an intense rage rushing forth, and with it, somehow, he took control of the energy that should have crippled him and used it to rejuvenate his weakened body.
Just as the closest magnaguard went to strike the killing blow against Kota, Galen leapt into action, his lightsaber cleaving the droid from navel to neck in a single brutal sweep.
He immediately turned to attack the second magnaguard, which was already thrusting its electrostaff at him. They traded blows for a few seconds, parrying and counter attacking in a deadly rhythm before another jolt of electricity sent Galen to one knee with a pained cry.
The magnaguard itself staggered back at the electrical overload.
Galen looked up through the burning pain and saw Grievous holding down the switch to the electric floor.
Channelling all of his rage, he used the force to guide all the energy flowing through him into his lightsaber. He saw Grievous' eyes widen in shock and fear as, with an almighty raw, he swung his electrified blade in a great arc.
The magnaguard was the first struck by his saber. The power contained within the weapon tore straight through the droid, literally atomising it straight through the middle. At the height of his swing, Galen released the blade and flung it straight at the tactical droid behind Grievous.
Upon impact, the energy bound within the lightsaber exploded outwards, destroying the tactical droid and knocking Grievous off the dais.
Galen rushed forward and summoned his lightsaber back to him, eager to capitalise on his advantage.
Grievous reacted much faster that Galen had expected. By the time Galen closed distance between them, the General had already drawn a pair of lightsabers and moved one to parry Galen's attack while levelling a deadly swipe at his head.
Galen ducked the blow and used a form five flurry technique to deliver a series of rapid blows against his enemies defences. Although it took Grievous the use of both of his lightsabers, he managed to expertly parry each strike before pressing his counter attack.
Galen was forced back several steps and even had to adjust his stance into that of Soresu in order to avoid getting cut to ribbons. He swiftly noticed that each of Grievous' hands was using a different lightsaber form. One hand was using and adaptation on Ataru to rain down precise blows on Galen while the other used Makashi to create and exploit openings.
Galen increased the rate he lost ground do Grievous as he tried to think of a way to counter this unique fighting style. Clearly the cybernetic augmentations in the General's brain had given him a level of control over his independent limbs that was not possible in organic beings.
A sudden burst of inspiration hit him as he ducked beneath one of Grievous' savage lunges. Ataru was often considered a highly acrobatic style, and often relied on the ability to strike swiftly from unexpected directions to overwhelm opponents. Grievous was using his superior height and reach to achieve this effect without the need for any areal fighting. However...
Galen dodged Grievous' next attack and immediately sprang to the right, and started striking rapidly against his enemies Makashi side. Each time Grievous would try to pivot to re-engage with his Ataru using arm, Galen would jump out of the way and repeat the process.
By taking away Grievous' ability to keep him at bay with swift Ataru strikes, Galen started to gain the upper hand. Gradually, he forced the General to give up ground, his superior skill at Shien more than a match for Grievous' bastardized Makashi.
His enemy soon realised that he was fighting a loosing battle and, in true separatist style, did the one thing he knew how to do in such a situation. Cheat.
With a sudden brutal sweep, that forced Galen to dodge backwards, Grievous created his opening to run. The droid general turned tail and ran straight for the switch to the electric floor.
"No!" Galen called as he tried to force summon the device. However Grievous was too fast and caught it from midair.
"So long, Jedi," he mocked as he fired a grappling hook that pulled him out of the way while simultaneously pressing the switch, sending yet more waves of energy into the downed Jedi.
Galen too got out of the way by jumping onto the dais. He looked between his fellow Jedi and the rapidly fleeing Grievous, indecision written deep on his face.
"Ah, frak it," he cursed to himself before jumping down onto the electrified floor.
The pain lanced through him the moment he hit the ground. But he could handle that. Somehow the pain made him stronger.
But he needed more than stronger.
Summoning the force too him, and digging deep into the mysterious rage he still felt inside him, Galen started to pull all of the electrical energy into himself, including that which was currently killing his fellow Jedi.
He screamed out in pain, but continued to pull the energy inwards. Spots swam before his eyes as his head started to spin.
He didn't even notice as he dropped to his knees, the floor simply seemed closer all of a sudden.
He looked up, just in time to see Ahsoka's piercing blue eyes fixed on him, her mouth hanging open in disbelief. Funny how that's the only think I can see clearly he mused in the back of his mind.
Then the floor rushed up to meet him, and everything went blank.