The Seth Cloudrider Chronicles
The Lone Jedi
A bead of sweat ran down the side of his face. His mind was clear and the world around him had disappeared. There was no emotion, only blissful darkness. Everything that had happened to him his entire life felt as if they were mere illusions… a dream perhaps. His breathing was deep and soothing and he felt as if he was one with his environment, everything around him became one coherent energy. He took refuge in that energy, absorbing it, letting it run freely through his veins as if right here, right now is where he’d truly belonged his entire life… it was now he felt ready. He slowly bent at his waist and then raised his body straight taking one final deep breath.
The ignition of both lightsabers cut through the pin dropping silence, their hum becoming the two clairvoyant voices that were about to argue with deep concentration. The blue and the orange sabers clashed against each other letting lose an almost blinding very fleeting light. Seth slide across the dirt away from his opponent, bringing the saber up and straight to his right side, the top of the hilt level with his chin, both hands taking firm grip of the weapon. The blue hue of the lightsaber reflected against his face detailing the concentrated look he gave the Twi’lek in front of him. He spun the saber vertically as he began his second attack. Again the sabers clashed slightly above their heads. Seth then brought his saber down and to his right stopping his rivals’ saber dead in its track. He spun his body around swinging his saber in a deathblow sweep only to be deflected by the quick moving orange bladed lightsaber. Seth ducked as the orange light swept just over his head then performing a well-practiced back jump with a twist as he gave his foe an airborne parry. He landed square on his feet only to meet the alien saber to saber in eight more quick and well placed parries, followed by an invisible force slamming him twelve feet back and flush against a large boulder. Seth quickly gathered himself and moved his body from the waist up quickly to the left as the orange saber impaled the huge rock where Seth’s chest had just been. Without missing a breath Seth leaped up and forward landing behind the Twi’lek and spinning his saber vertically and thrusting it backward meeting only air then bringing it back, up, and down the length of his back, the hilt level with the back of his head as the blue and orange sabers met again.
Dirt came cascading into his mouth as a foot swept over his ankles bringing him face first onto the ground beneath him. “Good duel!” broke the wordless concentration as Seth saw the hand of the Twi’lek being offered.
“Almost had you that time Roan.” Seth said rising to his friends eye level.
“Whatever gets you through the night Seth. Though you lost…again, you have showed tremendous improvement over the last few months, your mind was completely clear of all distractions and you seemed very much at peace. It seems these lessons haven’t been for nothing after all.” The Twi’lek smiled as the two of them made their way towards the Academy. Roan had been a long time student of the Jedi Academy on Yavin 4, but had recently made his ascension to the rank of Jedi Knight. A title well deserved in Seth’s opinion, though Roan wasn’t Seth’s master it didn’t mean that the more experienced padawan’s couldn’t help out the recent additions to the academy. Though Seth was anything but a recent addition, having been on Yavin for the last two and half years, Seth had proven to be a quick study and a respectful student and was himself very close to the trials. That meant that any time he could spare with Roan training brought him that much closer to being fully prepared for anything the trials could throw at him.
“Well friend, I’d hate to have been wasting your time these long months.” Seth said with a small laugh, latching his saber to his belt. He looked up as Jailyn came running down the stairs and his smile widened at the sight of her. She’d been away with the Fearless Jade, Seth’s Nubian cruiser making sure that any trace of them to this location had been erased from Courscant. Given their last fleeting moments there it was decided that no one from there have any idea himself, Jailyn or Zavier, Seth’s old friend, were here. The two embraced each other and squeezed tightly. “I missed you.” Seth said taking in her smell that he’d missed so these past few weeks.
“You missed me? Figured you didn’t even know I was gone what with you playing your Jedi games.” She said smiling and looking into his eye’s.
“What?! Jealous Roan has been marketing all my time? Scared he may have alternative plans?” Seth said jokingly as he looked over to his friend, the Twi’lek simply rolling his eyes at the human. The three of them turned and began walking up the large stair case to the doors of the Academy.
“Damn this planet…I need a vacation.” The coarse sand-filled air, scratched at Monaks face as he walked the perimeter of the rag tag over night colony. The blaster rifle in his hand showed signs of serious aging and at times was as reliable as a wampa in mating season. The planet he’d passionately come to hate was littered with small colonies of people trying to find their place in the galaxy. Unfortunately this spot was further out then Tatooine and just as unpleasant, more so even as this planet known as Demon to most but officially on the star charts XIP-118, had a nasty habit of tormenting its inhabitants with relentless sand storms. Some more serious then any other planet had the luxury of never witnessing. On top of that, the “peaceful” way of life many had come here to find had been stripped away as colony after colony began raising arms at one another making his job of sentry very necessary. “I swear, I’d give my left arm just to go back to Sullust…I’m sure if I talked to the local law very nicely they’d give me a nice sand free cell to rot away in for the rest of my life…it’d be a hell of a lot better then this plac…”. Monaks verbal hatred of the sand world was interrupted as a quick flash just on the horizon caught his attention. He squeezed his blaster rifle close as he peered intensely into the sandy void from the twenty foot wall he stood on.
He swore that he had seen something…there it was again. A quick white light flashed hundreds of meters away from the colony wall. What it was he had no idea, unfortunately he never got the chance as a blaster round streaked through the sky landing square between his eyes, his head combusting into a mix of skull, gray matter and a fine red mist. His headless body propelled toward the colony side of the wall landing on a merchants cart. The sudden scene of gore turned the quiet street into a frenzied dash for cover as the main doors burst open. Dozens of mix matched soldier came streaming through killing anything that moved in a hail strum of blaster fire and blood.
The usually voice filled common hall at the academy was bustling with students and instructors alike sharing drinks and reflecting on the days activates. Sitting at the table in the center of the activity sat Seth, Roan, Jailyn and Zazz. The four friends ritualistically ended everyday here telling stories from before they were united and busting on Zaviers sad ignorance.
A hand rested on Seth’s shoulder and he looked up. “Is this seat taken?” A tall woman Zazz’s height looked down on the Jedi. She had long blonde hair and an athletic tone to her arms. Her blue eyes told anyone looking at them precisely what kind of a person she was. They told Seth that she could be the nicest person you’d ever know or your worst enemy, as they had told him time and time before as the two of them studied together for the past two years. Prayse had joined the academy roughly the same time as Seth and had showed just as much if not more control over the force then himself. Seth nodded and she took a seat beside Roan flashing him a brief but shy smile and Seth raised an eyebrow as Jailyn placed a hand on his leg and laughed quietly behind her other hand.
“So who are we gossiping about tonight?” Prayse said with a crooked smile.
“We were just talking about how Bail and Squibit did on pre-trials. Both of them did an excellent job. Compared to those two, I wouldn’t have a snowflakes chance in hell in the trials if I had to face them.” Seth said with a depressed laugh.
“Don’t sweat it Seth, Roan here has been busting your butt religiously. If your not ready to be a Jedi Knight now…then their standards are too high.” Zazz said hauling back on his drink. Zazz and Jailyn like a hand full of other non-force sensitive people at the academy were permitted to live here with the condition that they be the permanent crew on the Fearless Jade a ship that the academy had found useful on more then one occasion. Though Jailyn at first had no talents aboard a ship, she’d quickly come to familiarize herself with the weapon’s platforms onboard and had one heck of gunners eye.
“Zazz is right Seth, you’ll do just fine.” Jailyn said as she gave his hand a gentle squeeze.
“I know I’m overreacting but I haven’t even been sent on assignment…well at least not off world that is.” Seth said then remembered a time he and Squibit were once sent to the far perimeter to investigate a “disturbance” that simply turned out to be a downed beacon that had fallen from orbit.
The conversation was interrupted by an outside voice. “How would you like that to change?” Seth turned in his chair to see Master Skywalker standing behind him, his arms behind his back. Seth quickly rose from his chair.
“Master Skywalker! I didn’t notice you come in.” Seth said giving a small bow.
“Calm down Seth, I just came here to see if you were interested in a small problem we’re having.” Luke said.
“Yes Master Skywalker I would. What is it I can do for you?” Seth answered back half anxiously.
Luke looked over to Roan and Prayse to come over. “Well I’d like to talk to the three of you in private if I could.”
The three Jedi walked out of the hall leaving Zazz and Jailyn behind. “What are we? Bantha Fodder?” Zazz said with a dumb founded laugh and Jailyn simply rolled her eyes at her friend.
The three Jedi stood side by side with hands cupped behind their backs as Luke Skywalker cleared his throat. The grand room had a wonderful view of the academy grounds through tremendously tall windows that let in an almost horrid amount of sunlight. Seth wanted terribly to scratch at the itch on his neck but never dreamed of actually doing so. His garments were more tradition in terms of Jedi fashion. The light on dark brown cloths he wore were more to what Jedi wore around the time of the clone wars, where most Jedi of today wore anything that allowed for maximum maneuverability. Though Seth looked the part of a Jedi, at least as the Holodrama’s portrayed, the uniform would itch horribly at times, something Seth found out a few months back was done on purpose to help Jedi with training in concentration.
“Before I start, Seth go ahead and scratch your neck.” Luke said with a very small smile. Seth obeyed with a slightly embarrassed look. “The reason I’ve brought you here is because I need you three to go on a mission…off world. Roan seeing as how this is Seth’s and Prayes’ first time in unfamiliar territory it will be your job to look over them, observe and report back to me on how they handle the situation.” His eyes then turned to the two Padawan’s. “You two will be the ones who will lead this mission. Master Belouve is simply there to make sure things don’t escalate too far from the parameters of the mission.”
Prayse raised an eyebrow in a questioning look “Where are we going Master Skywalker?”
“To very remote planet named XIP-118. A colony world.” Luke answered.
Seth gave a crooked smile “I see a lot of thought went into the name Master.”
Luke gave a quiet laugh “Just you wait to you find out what the inhabitants call it. Anyhow we’ve received a request from one of the colony chiefs there. It seems that armed conflict there has escalated to an intolerable level. Your mission is to go there, size up the actual situation and if the opportunity arises try to end the conflict there.” Luke raised an eyebrow at Seth. “Still want that off world mission Cloudrider?”
Seth gave Luke a broad smile “More then ever Master Skywalker.”
The three Jedi walked into the large hanger contained a mixed batch of ships. Some haulers, some X-wings, a couple of cruisers and to the far end the chrome covered beauty that was Seth’s Fearless Jade. The ship was long and slender and the chrome covering it from bow to stern simply accented the magnificence of it.
“I wish my ancestors left me ships
that looked like this!” Prayse said with a hint of jealousy in her voice. Seth
simply smiled and looked up as he ran his finger tips along the bottom of his
ship. It had been the ship that had ferried him to his new life here at the
academy. He owed quite a lot to this ship.
Zavier came walking down the boarding ramp and stretched his arms. “Well Seth I’ve finally finished the upgrades to the shields, took me long enough but she’s finally ready to go.”
“That’s great Zazz, I appreciate the work you’ve done. Just hope you have enough energy to pilot her for the next twenty-seven hours.” Seth gave his long time friend a quirked smile.
“Oh sure, and while I’m at it I’ll finish off the Empire for you and stomp all the sith popping up while I’m at it.” Zazz rolled his eyes at Seth as he folded his arms in annoyance.
Roan stepped up on the boarding ramp and placed a hand on Zavier’s shoulder. “I’m sure I can take her for a few hours while you get some sleep Zazz.”
“At least one Jedi around here appreciates me.” Remarked Zazz with a raised eyebrow directed toward Seth, then turned and made his way up the ramp.
Seth followed hurriedly with both hands up in the air. “But I just said how much I was happy about the work.” He said laughingly “the piloting thing was a joke, c’mon!”
The sound of footsteps on the large stones grew louder and louder. They were coming again and the young man didn’t know if this would be the last visit they would make, he prayed it wouldn’t be. If this was the last visit, then these would be his last few moments of life, he knew when they were done with him they’d kill him. The shackles around his ankles and wrists had cut through many layers of skin during their many days of rubbing and dried blood and sweat covered most of his body and face.
They’d taken him when they had invaded his colony. Any men and women with any fight in them that they hadn’t already killed, they took for interrogation. It seems there were mining operations going on that were producing a very special crystal. Though he had no idea what their purpose was this off worlder seemed very intent on getting his hands on them.
The damp wooden door swung open and two dark robed people walked into the room. It was always these two, never just one, and never with any visitors. The silence of the moldy and decaying room was broken by a raspy and course voice. “Hello again Oglely. How was your night?” The bloody and broken man simply spit on the floor. “Why must you make this so difficult? I simply want some information from you and you’ll be freed from this horrible way of life I’m having to put you through.”
Oglely curled his top lip and gave the hooded character his sternest look. “I’ve told you before I have no idea what your talking about! Even if I did know do you honestly think I’d put myself through all this to protect some crystal? I don’t even know what you want it for!” The hooded character simply stood there for what seemed like an eternity, until he raised his and signaled the other dark robed person to go forward. The second character moved slowly toward Oglely stopping a mere few centimeters in front of him. The persons hands came up and pulled back the hood. The face an extremely attractive female emerged from the shadows of her robe. Oglely’s eyes were locked on her for he had never seen anything quite as beautiful in his entire life.
The raspy voice spoke from behind her. “The information I want today has nothing to do with crystals young Oglely. What I want to know is shortly before our time together your father sent out a signal…off world…I want to know who he was talking to.” Oglely’s eyes grew a little wider before returning to his composure.
“I have no idea what your talking about! My father spoke to no one off world. He was much to busy uniting colonies to fight your lackeys!” Oglely said in defiance. The woman then turned her head back to her companion and the raspy voiced figure gave her a nod. She turned back to the young man and gently placed her hand on his face. She ran her fingers softly around until her thumb rested just above his eye and without warning drove her thumb deep into his eye socket. Oglely screamed out in pain as blood began running down his face carrying with it the remains of his eyeball.
“You see what I must do to you when you do not cooperate?” asked the raspy voice. “Now you will tell me who your father was speaking to or you will lose the other eye Oglely.” The young man began to wimper as the pain became too great.
“The Jedi…my father was talking to the Jedi…” Oglely spoke in between wimpers.
“You see that wasn’t so hard now was it?” The raspy voiced man turned toward the darkened hallway. “When the Jedi arrive here, I want you to take care of them.”
Merely three words game from the black hallway. “As you wish.”
The cloaked figure then nodded to the woman again. “Were done with him, free him from this torture.” Said the raspy voice as it walked out of the room. The woman took three steps back and then reached for a small device beneath her robe. She pulled out a small cylindrical looking object then in a split second the dark room was accented in a bright red as her lightsaber ignited.
Through the view port XIP-118 was a giant brown sphere in the blackness of space. Seth wondered how anybody could have called this home, though he himself hailed from a desert planet Tatooine was at least within earshot of the civilized area of the galaxy. This place was so far beyond that point that it barely cleared the explored boarder of space.
“Well doesn’t that look homely.” Remarked Jailyn, looking up from her sensor sweep of the area. “No signs of orbital stations or satellites or planetary defense.”
Seth looked back at Roan and Prayse. “Open house if ever I saw one, wouldn’t you say?”
“What I say is that for our first off world mission it looks like its going to be a cut and dry diplomacy run. I’ll be surprised if you even touch your saber on this one.” Said Prayse with her arms crossed in a look of subtle disappointment.
Roan looked over at her. “Well at leased you’ve officially jinxed this mission. Anybody have any wood to knock on?”
Seth laughed and was about to come back with his own witty comment when Zazz broke into the conversation. “We’re coming through the atmosphere now. I’m taking us in exactly to the coordinates our contact on the planet sent us.” The Fearless Jade soared through the blue sky and over a rather large colony. Smoke was rising from the town in billows and it looked as though something rather unfriendly had occurred there.
Seth looked down at Zazz’s display. “Are you sure this is the place they told us to go?”
Zazz gave Seth a worried look. “Exactly where they told us to put down. Though it seemed some things have happened since the academy got the call.”
“I’d say.” Said Jailyn, “well either way I think we need to go introduce ourselves.” She got up and reached for her blaster belt.
Seth placed a hand on her forearm before she could reach her weapon. “I’d hold off on that idea, Roan, Prayse and I should head out first. I would like you and Zavier here with the ship. Who knows whats going to happen out there and I’d really like to have a quick getaway if things go south.” He said to her, though his eyes spoke much different words. There was no way he was going to voluntarily put her in harms way and she knew better then to argue with him on this point. She placed a hand on the side of his face and kissed him softly.
“You win this one, but don’t think I’ll let the next time go so easily.” She said giving him a rather annoyed look.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less lover.” He said and gave her a reassuring smile. “Anyhow lets get going you two, we have some colonists to calm down.”
The boarding ramp lowered and Roan, Prayse and Seth walked out onto the sandy terrain. A slight breeze was present, just enough to blow the occasional sand bit into their eyes and Seth gave himself a reminder to remember this moment. From here on out no matter what missions he goes on this will be the one he remembers when he’s old and grey. He reached to his belt for his communicator and activated it. “So you guy’s hold tight and we should be back in a few hours, hopefully we’ll be back on Yavin by tomorrow.”
“Heres to hoping Seth.” Zazz said, “By the way before you guys continue forward I’m picking up something rather odd on the sensors, its an energy spike but I can’t tell if its coming from the town or not.”
Seth cleared his throat from sand then spoke. “Well I’m sure we’ll find out what it is one way or the other.” He deactivated his communicator and gave the other two Jedi a slightly worried look.
Roan nodded to him and said. “I’m sure its nothing at all. Simply…” all three of them felt it at the same moment and in a split second Seths blue, Prayse’s green, and Roans Orange sabers ignited just as a concussion round exploded behind them sending the three Jedi airbourne and apart from each other. Seth rolled as he impacted with the ground and brought his saber to the ready as a man in a long dark green coat came charging at him with two blasters scorching at him. Seth parried the blast’s with his lightsaber sending two off on obscure angles and two directly back at the assassin. The blaster rounds simply deflected off his body as he continued to run directly towards Seth. He raised an eyebrow at the mans invulnerability then struck him with force push sending the man up and backwards thirty feet slamming him against the wall of the colony town. Prayse spun her saber vertically as she charged towards the man and Seth attempted to warn her about the large weapon the man was pulling from the sand behind him but it was to late and the concussion rifle he had spewed out two large rounds at the Jedi woman, but Prayse was just two seconds quicker then the man and leaped into the air fifteen feet and landed just behind him. She then swung her green saber around and struck the man at the midsection which should have lobed him in half but her saber simply stopped at the surface of his body armor. She looked directly into the assassins helmet with a puzzled look before she was struck across the face with the butt of his concussion rifle.
Roan and Seth formed up beside each other, sabers at the ready. The assassin then calmly standing in one place aimed his concussion rifle but not at the two Jedi, but to the side of them and Seth looked behind him at the Fearless Jade far behind them. “Oh crap!” was the only thing Seth got out before the man fired off three shots at the ship. The rounds from the large rifle blasted into the side of the ship ripping apart chunks of her armor. “Roan you get Prayse and I’ll distract the assassin, I’ll meet you back at the ship.” The two Jedi then parted and Seth made a direct line for the assassin as Roan began swinging around to meet up with Prayse. Seth’s speed began improving with each step as he began directing the force towards his legs. With his force speed the assassin could barely see the Jedi coming before the two struck with massive force. On moment the man was standing the next he’d virtually disappeared as Seth ran into him with full force. The two men came to a stop against a large sand dune and the assassin grabbed Seths arms after realizing his rifle had been dropped due to the strike. Seth clenched his teeth as he held back the man from impaling him with his own saber. Seth gathered back strength then let it out in a yell as he pushed the man back and the two began rolling down the side of the dune raising sand everywhere.
Meanwhile Roan had reached the unconscious Prayse and began carrying her back to the ship. He looked back quickly as he ran and saw Seth still battling with the assassin. As he reached the ship he heard the engines revving up, he ran up the ramp and placed Prayse down on the floor then yelled up to the cockpit. “Where do you think your going Zazz! Seth is still out there!”
Zavier yelled back in earnest “We have to get outta here! The Engines have been damaged and could give out at any moment, if we don’t get into space now then we might never be able to get off this rock! We’ll be back for Seth but we have to get out of here now and get Prayse some help!”
The Fearless Jade’s rose from the sandy ground and turned pointed straight for the sky as her engines blasted energy rocketing her towards orbit. Jailyn pressed her hand against the few port as she saw a brief glimpse of Seth’s blue saber and a tear ran down her face.
Seth rose to his feet and angled his saber towards the assassin keeping him at a distance. “Who the hell are you!”
The other man did not speak a word, he only took a step forward at Seth, the lightsaber sparking against his armor and deflected away from it. He brought a fist up at Seth but was too late, Seth had rolled with the strike and swung his saber up and impacted with the mans neck, the only place Seth could see that wasn’t covered in armor and in a split second disconnected the mans head with his body. The lifeless corpse collapsed on the ground and the head rolled down the last few feet of the dune.
Seth looked up towards his friends and noticed that he was now the only one left. In a brief moment of panic he reached for his communicator…but it wasn’t there. He realized it must have fallen out during his bout with the assassin. He looked around quickly but soon figured that it could be anywhere seeing as how he was surrounded by millions of megatons of sand. Seth deactivated his lightsaber and began making his way for the town. His only chance to get in contact with his friends was in there.
The Sith woman opened the double doors to the large chamber in which sat her Master. She made her way up the stairs and across the room where she then kneeled infront of the robed figure. “My master, the hunter was unsuccessful in his mission to stop the Jedi.”
“How many where there?” replied the Sith Master.
“There were three but two retreated back to their ship before it took off. It appeared to have been heavily damaged in the assault.” The Sith apprentice said, her head bowed to her master.
“Ah yes, the lone jedi that is left…indeed I can feel him. He is unsure, almost worried. His training is not yet complete. A padawan.” The raspy voiced figure said.
“Would you have me dispatch him my master?” requested the sith woman.
“Not yet, we have much larger events happening as we speak. The united colonies are amassing what forces they have scrounged together and are beginning an assault on this fortress. We must not let them succeed. I am too close to finding the Yioryan Crystals to be stopped now.” Said the Sith master.
“Shall gather those we have and them before they even start their uprising?” asked the woman.
“Yes my child, I foresee your success and my wielding of the Yioryan Crystals powers very soon.” Said the Sith lord.
The Sith apprentice rose and said. “And what of the Jedi?”
“Leave him to me.” The sith master said before quietly letting out an eerily evil laugh.
The large wooden door slowly opened as Seth pushed with everything he had. Once it was open enough for him to slip through the sight in front of him was a horrid one. The streets were laden with bodies and gore, blood soaked market carts and pieces of people lay everywhere. A few building were engulfed in flames and smoke rose from a pile of burned bodies in the center of the market area. Whatever Seth was supposed to stop here had already happened, obviously. Down the street Seth saw some movement of one maybe two people and he began to run down the war-torn street but when he reached the end of it there was nobody to be seen, then from behind him. “Halt! Don’t move!” Seth slowely raised his hands in the air and turned around to see two men with blaster rifles and emissions masks. “Who the hell are you, and what are you doing here?”
“My name is Seth Cloudrider and I’m a Jedi sent here to end the disputes between the colonies…though it looks as though I’m too late.” Said Seth his eyes directing to the scenes of prior acts of violence.
“Well your too late to help this place but most of the colonies have been uniting due to the new threat.” Said the soldier.
Lowering his hands as the soldier lowered their rifles Seth spoke. “What new threat?”
“It seems the eastern colonies are rallying behind this a new leader, and an off worlder at that! Our forces are gathering together a few hundred kilometers from here. Our only choice is to attack this stranger’s fortress so that the colonies don’t have a voice to lead. Hopefully that will end the fighting.” Said the soldier, though he didn’t sound as though he truly believed it would work.
“If its not a problem I would much appreciate a lift to where ever your forces leaders are. I need to speak to them and try make some sense of all this.” Said Seth.
“Yes sir, our speeders just on the other side of town.”
The Fealess Jade hung there in space, its engines off line, and its life support quickly following. The normally gorgeous chrome finishing of the ship had been ruined by the three large gashes in the side of the ship. Inside its crew felt helpless and alone.
“Even though I sent the message to the Academy, I have no idea of whether or not they even received it. Everything onboard is so messed up, we’re lucky the life support is holding out…because nothing else is!” said Zavier in a highly angered voice.
“We don’t even know if Seth is okay. Sithspit! How could we have left him down there all alone!” Yelled Jailyn her hands curled up in fists and slammed against the bulkhead.
Roan placed a hand on her shoulder and squeezed gently. “Jailyn we need to have faith in Seth. I know his skills and abilities, he can handle anything that comes up down there. We also need to have faith that the academy has received our message and is coming to rescue us. Seth is okay I can feel it.”
“As can I Jailyn.” Prayse said “Both me and Roan can still feel him down on the planet…he’s alive Jailyn, you will see him again.” Prayse reassured her.
“I hope your right, I pray your right.”
The speeder containing the two soldiers and Seth came to a halt outside of a makeshift building that was no bigger then Seth’s ship. Their were no windows, only a single door guarded by two rag-tag soldiers. Seth and the two men he accompanied walked up and one gave the other a security clearance code and after a few seconds the three of them were waved through to enter the building.
Inside it was a hustle of activity with maps laid out on tables and men and women running around making sure all was ready for the coming fight. In the center of this activity was a rather large and graying man commanding people with what seemed to be a great level of competence and confidence. The two soldiers that Seth had come in with signaled Seth to come with them. The three of them made their way through the crowded room and the first soldier introduced Seth to the commander. “Sir, this is Seth Cloudrider a Jedi that has come to help out with our situation.”
The large man looked Seth up and down and then raised an eyelid “Well its good to see we’ve got one of them on our side now…levels the playing field finally.”
Seth gave the man a curious look. “What do you mean level the playing field sir?”
“Well the enemy has one of you saber wielding freaks, so having you means that you can take care of that problem for us.” Said the Commander with a look of hatred in his eyes. Not directed toward Seth but at the enemy who could only imagine at this point.
“Commander are you telling me your enemy has the sith on its side?” asked Seth with a look of utter disbelief.
The Commander crossed his arms and sighed. “Well they sure as hell aren’t your people that’s for damn sure! They seem hell bent on getting our mining operations, though I have no idea why. They’ve single handedly over the past year turned the eastern colonies against us, put a bloodthirsty rage into them. They just started attacking our out lying colonies and have been trying to wipe us out ever since.”
“They? There’s more then one? Sithspit!” Seth said looking down at the vidmap though not really concentrating on it. Just then the door slammed opened and a young man in a scouts uniform came running in.
“Commander! It’s the enemy, there on the move!” said the man trying to catch his breath.
“Well that’s it then we move out right this second, Lieutenant get your men together and have them meet me in the rally area we’re moving the army out.” Ordered the Commander to his subordinates.
Seth’s mind came back into focus. “Commander, an all out war is not the answer, let me go find the sith and take care of them. It may just end the entire dispute right there!” demanded Seth.
The Commander simply walked right past him. “Listen here Jedi, the enemy has slaughtered to many of our families and loved ones. War isn’t my first choice either but its gonna happen whether or not you or I want it too. So we might as well do it right.”
Seth let out a long sigh then followed the Commander out the building and into the officers speeder.
Though the army that the united colonies had put together was large in numbers it wasn’t very well equipped at all. From what Seth could make out maybe one out of three soldiers were carrying a firearm, and not all of them were blasters, some were old-fashioned projectile weapons loaded with slugs. The battle that was going to take place from the talking he heard was going to be gory one. Seeing as how many people were armed with only vibroblades or pole arms. Seth sat in one of the speeders that were armed with large blaster canons and of those there were only a hand full of. Beside him was the commander of this rag-tag army spewing out orders through his communicator to his officers. The army had been marching now for about three hours and they were coming up over a huge desert sand dune.
The front speeder units reached the top of the hill to see what thousands of men and women had been waiting for. The terrain slopped down to a long plain of sand then rose up another huge sand dune where the beginnings of the eastern colonies forces were beginning to show. “This is it.” Said the Commander to Seth with a mixed look of anticipation and fear. Seth looked out over the area were too many people were going to die and he took a deep breath, left the confines of the speeder and walked out to the middle of the front line of battle was forming. The few moments it took for the army to gather itself and get ready for the call of battle seemed like an eternity for Seth. The whole time he was watching the other side of the battlefield as the enemy’s army gathered. They seemed to have just as much soldiers if not a little more but were just as ill-equipped as the united colonies. Then it happened, the first wave of the enemy force began charging down their hill, the yells of bloodthirsty individuals began to fill the air. Then their order was given as the Commanders voice said only one word… “charge”. Seth began to run forward as thousands of men and women followed behind him. The dune was steep but level enough to run down and sand began to bellow everywhere soon to create a brown fog over the ever impending slaughter.
The first of the blaster shots came barreling down on each side, Seth ignited his saber and immediately began deflecting dozens of shots. The two armies were now storming the level plain between the two dunes and the blaster fire became denser and denser. Shots ripped through dozens of soldiers leaving countless bodies in the wake of the armies movements, speeders screamed forwards firing their heavy canons, their blasts smashing into each sides endless waves of bodies. Explosions filled with sand towered over the two sides as the armies collided into one another killing hundreds within seconds. Seth began moving into fluid movements as his lightsaber deflected blaster shots and sliced through enemy melee weapons, being careful the whole time never to kill any of the enemy but to simply put them down with painful but non lethal strikes with his saber.
Through the fighting and the blaster fire and the fog Seth saw out of the corner of his eye a flash of a red lightsaber ripping through one of the united soldiers. He turned his full body towards the sight to make sure, and there she was. A Sith warrior tearing her way through anything that moved and loving every minute of it until she caught wind of him. The two though dozens of yards away from each other stared at one another. The battle going on around them did not matter anymore it was merely the two of them now. Seth did not leave another moment at rest, he sprang from where he was in the confusing melee and rose above the fight, for a few fleeting moments a war took place beneath him then came rushing back as he came down on his foe. Their sabers struck one another with blinding light, and both pushed the fight forward with speed and deadly accuracy, the blue of his lightsaber and red of hers clashed against each other again and again and again followed by long practiced movements of strikes and counter strikes. A blaster shot came ringing through and the sith deflected it directly towards Seth. The blue of his saber came up and batted the blaster shot away and directly into the leg of one of the eastern soldiers.
The two began circling each other, Seth centering himself and the Sith woman looking for a weakness in Seth’s technique. Everything seemed to fade for Seth as he became more and more focused. The war around him faded to nothingness and the safety of his friends were no longer a thought. Seth spun his saber vertically and then came in at the woman. Their sabers locked directly in front of each other the two closed in on each other, a white blinding light between them. The lock seemed to hold forever until Seth centered the force within him and pushed her backwards breaking the saber lock and sending her dozens of feet back smashing her way through soldier after soldier. She crashed into the side of a moving speeder then fell flat on the sandy terrain. She rose her head quickly to find her bearings but did so in vain as the Jedi she hunted now stood above her, his saber embedded in her back. Blood trickled from her mouth and her eyes spoke words of disbelief before closing.
Seth pulled his lightsaber from her back and stared at the sith he’d just killed, hoping that her soul would find its way back the light. Mere moments though were all that he spent grieving for the sith woman as he looked up to see the Commander’s speeder rearing towards him. Seth ran to it and jumped. “Commander the sith leading the army into battle is dead! You need to get me to that fortress, her master is there and he’s the one orchestrating this whole war, I can promise you that!”
The ship shook as a loud noise came from the engine room. Roan and Jailyn raced down from the command deck to see what had happened. When the doors opened smoke came billowing out and Zavier stumbled out of the room coughing. “What happened Zazz?” demanded Jailyn.
Zavier walked right past them and up to the command deck “Hold on let me see if it worked or not!” Jailyn looked over at Roan with a questioning look and the Jedi Knight merely shrugged his shoulders in puzzlement. The two followed the carbon covered pilot up to the command deck and watched as he worked furiously at his console.
After a few moments of work and an equal amount of confusion with the rest of the group the sound of the engines firing up filled the room and Zazz looked back at his friends. “What can I say? I’m that good.”
Seth looked back at the speeder taking off back towards the battle that was still going on hundreds of kilometers away. Seth had sensed that their were not to many obstacles in his way within the large looming fortress towering before him. He felt that it wasn’t due to lack of planning but that it was set up for him. The Sith master wanted him intact and unharmed though for what was the question he was about to find out. The double doors in front of him opened without introduction or request and Seth walked through. It was dark and extremely quite but Seth could sense everything that was going on in each room and hallway he walked through, which wasn’t much fortunately.
After but a few moments Seth came upon a large door, but before opening it he heard a voice. Enter my child, all will be well. You’ve come far lone Jedi. Seth looked behind him and saw nothing, he placed a hand on the door and seemed like the door to the opening of the fortress, to open by itself.
Seth walked through, saber in hand and saw nothing but a set of stairs and a single hooded figure standing at the top of them. The figure then spoke in a raspy voice. “I see my apprentice was not match for you, Jedi.”
Seth began walking up the stairs slowly, gripping his lightsaber tighter as he moved forward. “She would have made a great Jedi, had it not been for your poisoning Sith!” said Seth with a hint of spit in his voice.
“Perhaps but she was always so impatient, unfortunately she would have found the ways of the Jedi far to boring.” Replied the sith master.
“My day has been anything but boring.” Seth answered as he ignited his lightsaber.
The Sith pulled on of his hands out from beneath his large robes. A reddish clear crystal was all that he presented. “Not another step Jedi.”
Seth stopped moving for a moment. “That crystal…the mines…that’s what you wanted! What’s so special about them?”
The sith master pulled back his hood to reveal a face so skinny that his skull was virtually visible. His eyes sunken deep into his head, his lips so much without muscle that his teeth were all but totally revealed. The true face of the dark side. “I’m so glad you asked that young Jedi, care for a demonstration?” The crystal began to glow and just before Seth could do anything he had collapsed to his knees, the wind felt as though it had been knocked out of him, then it became something more like part of him was leaving him, being drawn towards the crystal.
“You see Jedi these crystals in the hands of the sith have a very unique feature. They can steal a Jedi’s life force, becoming more powerful with every one of you it takes down, then when the time is right I will imbue myself with all its power. Then I will be able to destroy the rest of you pathetic vermin and the galaxy will be mine for the taking, just as it was Palpatines.” The sith master began to laugh aloud at the sight of Seth curled up on the stairs, his life force being taken from him, destroy him from the inside out. “And now Jedi…” The Sith Lord squeezed harder and Seth let out a scream as his body was enveloped in pain. “you die.”
The crystal grew bright red taking every last ounce that was Seth, suddenly the crystal leapt from the Sith’s hand to the ground bursting into a thousand pieces and returning Seth’s life force to him. “How can this be!” yelled the dark lord. Two lightsabers ignited from just beyond the door to the room and Roan and Prayse entered, ready to strike down this Sith. Seth slowly rose from his position on the floor and retrieved his saber.
“It looks as though the tables have turned, your apprentice is dead your plans for the mine have been uncovered and there is no possible way your getting past three Jedi and making it out of this room alive.” Seth said regaining his composure.
The sith master simply smiled and cocked his head to the side. “Dear poor boy, you think the crystal was the only trick up my sleeve?” The room exploded with light as Seth went flying backwards, his body convulsing with electricity. The sith master aimed his direction at the other Jedi but Roan and Prayse were already in the air coming at the sith. Roan landed to his right and Prayse to his left but both instantly began coughing and reaching for their throats as the sith lord had ensnared them both with his force grip. He began to laugh again maniacally at the sight of all three Jedi being subdued so quickly.
Seth’s eyes opened from the easing of his pain and saw the sight in front of him. He reached his hand out and concentrated on his saber laying only a few feet away from him. It started to twitch but instead of moving towards him it rocketed away from him and ignited in flight spinning vertically toward the sith. The sound of the saber cutting the air caught the sith lords attention and his focus was broken just long enough to put his hands out in the air in front of him and pushed the saber back with the force. It was all for not as the two Jedi he had let go of thrust their sabers into him. Both lightsabers deactivated and the sith lord fell to his knees, then rolled down the stairs.
The Fearless Jade’s thrusters activated and the cruiser came down to a slow and soft landing in the hanger bay in the Academy. The exit ramp lowered and the five occupants walked down to be greeted by Luke Skywalker and Kyle Katarn. “Hey you lot, good to see you’ve returned in one piece.” Kyle said with a raised eyebrow.
“Its good to be back Master Katarn.” Said Prayse.
“I don’t think the Academy has ever looked as good as it does now.” Said Seth with a slight smile.
Luke stepped forward and placed a hand on Seth’s shoulder. “Seth what you did could not have been easy, the report Roan sent us on the way back here was very detailed. You went through a lot down there and even after your fight with the Sith, you managed to destroy the mines and restore piece to the warring factions.”
“Well it wasn’t that hard Master Skywalker. Once both the Sith were dead both sides seemed to calm down, especially the Eastern colonies. When the sith master had been taken care of they almost instantly lost the will to fight. I seems that particular sith had a lot more power then we realized at the time. As for the mines we did manage to save one sample for our people here to study. It’s a nasty rock and one I hope never to see pointed at me ever again.” Said Seth with a look of relief now that the mission had been completed. “My only regret is that I wish I could have gotten to the sith master before those people had to die.”
Luke gave him a reassuring smile. “You did well Seth as well as I’d expect from any of the Jedi Knights here. Which is why myself and Kyle have come to meet you here, though the celebrations won’t be until later, I’d like to officially promote you to the rank of Jedi Knight.”
Seth looked at his master for a few quite moments then spoke but one word. “Thanks.”
Jailyn poked Seth in the back. “The man just made you a Jedi Knight and all you can say is thanks!” she said laughing.
“Uhh I won’t let you down Master Skywalker!” Seth said swallowing hard.
Luke let out a small laugh and said. “I’m sure you won’t Jedi Knight Seth Cloudrider. I’m sure you won’t.”
Hours later the Seth’s congratulation’s party was still well underway but Prayse had politely accused herself for a moment and had began wandering down the hallways of the academy. Her hands folded behind her back she walked with much composure and dignity. She quietly said hello to whomever she met in the corridors and gave them a small smile. She walked for quite sometime until she reached a plain door near the lower levels of the academy. The only word written on it was “Storage”.
She opened the door and walked inside, many relics from missions past that had been collected were stored here and in a few other rooms just like it. In this one though there was one item in particular she was very interested in. Sitting on podium in the far corner or the room sat a reddish crystal. The stone uncovered on the Demon planet and used to sap the force from the Jedi. That power would be hers and hers alone, she looked down that the small crystal and smiled as her eyes glowed red. She would be the most powerful of them all…