For someone who had born into nobility, Dontaine had shown no traces of needing luxury as he was smuggled inside a crate onto Antrixies. It was cramped and uncomfortable, but he didn’t complain. The supply shuttle had to go through customs and a security checkpoint but was still able to get down to the starport in Kaldra.
The problem when civil wars happened was that both sides often employed the same equipment. Supply shuttles were easy to come by, even on the planets that were trying to stay neutral. So securing a shuttle and making sure it was bound for Antrixies was easy. Getting hidden in a crate was easier. Using the Force to bypass the security checkpoints made it seem like child’s play.
Once on Antrixies, Dontaine hid himself well while waiting for the signals from the others. He’d practically grown up here. He knew the back alleyways and boulevards leading towards the High Lord’s palace like the back of his hand. As long as he kept his face obscured, he was just another citizen.
Dontaine withdrew himself from the Force as much as he could. He knew that his plan would be for not if his mother sensed him. He’d have the whole planet coming down on him if Marissa was tipped off by his presence. His plan would be in ruin. His life might even come to an end. Closing himself off to the Force was like taking one of his senses away though. He felt empty without it being right there, ready for his use.
Closed off, Dontaine hid himself in an access hatch near a utility junction. It wasn’t that far away from the square that led to the House of Lords or the High Lord’s Palace. Within ten minutes, he could be walking up the stairs to either facility. While hiding, he tried to fall into a meditative state. Calmness eluded him though. His mind swirled with too many thoughts of what he had to do.
He waited as patiently as he could.
The signal on his comlink from Kurzon finally came. Kurzon Xingus had turned into one of his most trusted comrades during his rebellion against his father. Kurzon was tasked with tapping into the main sensor system at Kaldra’s main starport and getting the system to power down suddenly. The system only had to be off for a few minutes. Kurzon’s signal meant he had succeeded.
Dontaine left his hiding spot. The next signal came when he was halfway to the palace. It was like clockwork. It was just as he had planned.
Mere seconds after the second signal came through, a series of explosions went off kilometers away from where he was. The shape charges that had been set by Tria days previously when she had snuck onto Antrixies went off. It wasn’t meant to be anything more than a distraction.
The last signal came in that a squadron of his loyal ships was exiting hyperspace near Martrixies, the fourth planet in the Antrix system. This was also a distraction. That was meant to draw parts of the Homeguard fleet away from Antrixies.
Alarms across Kaldra were sounding. It was a warning to all citizens to take cover. It may have been preventative for the most part but it didn’t concern Dontaine. He didn’t want to harm the general populace. He had his targets. He wanted the people of Antrixies to be safe. His father and brother, on the other hand…
He had counted on the guardians of the palace to be at their posts near the entrance as he made his approach. The small force was a mix of ADF troops, two Jinsai warriors, and two members of the Grey Guard. They were alert and aware of his approach as he started mounting the stairs.
Dontaine’s blood boiled as he neared his destination. He wanted to reach out and use the Force to crush the resistance that was waiting for him. He wanted to show them that he had real power. He also knew that the time was coming when he could do that. It just wasn’t time yet.
The Grey Guard, Master Halden, was flanked by his fellow Jinsai and four armed troops. They assumed a position between the palace entrance and Dontaine. Their weapons were out and at the ready. There was no traditional use of Warblades and melee weapons of the Jinsai. No. They all held potent energy weapons and they were ready to use them.
“Boy, you have a lot of gall coming here.” Halden said loudly, addressing Dontaine. “By order of your father, you are to be arrested. Place any weapons you might have on the ground.”
“Master Halden-” Dontaine returned. “You act as if I’m here to surrender.”
“If you had sense, you would.”
“No.” Dontaine stopped and stared down the man who had once guarded him, along with the rest of his family. “I’m here to accept your surrender. Stand down.”
His words had the desired effect. The small group all fell quiet and looked at each other, finding it hard to believe the words they had just heard. Dontaine couldn’t tell if their faces carried shock, amusement, or confusion. He didn’t care.
“Stand down, Halden.” Dontaine stated again. “Stand down or die.”
“You may get one or two of us, but you’re not that good boy.” Halden responded. “Stop this madness.”
Dontaine stood his ground. He didn’t move. He knew that he needed to stay right where he was. Behind him, Dontaine could hear the sounds of engines echoing off the buildings. The echoes were getting louder by the second.
“Master Halden, I don’t need to get any of you.” Dontaine said casually.
He watched as Halden’s confidence waned. The looks on the faces of everyone in the small group, trying to bar his approach, changed from stern assurance to utter surprise. The engine noise was quite audible for anyone to hear now. It was the visual that accompanied the sound that changed their demeanor.
When the sensors went down, even for the brief moment, a small shuttle that was in orbit made a fast descent towards the surface. The ship just needed to be fast to serve Dontaine’s purpose. It didn’t even have to have weaponry. The weapons he needed were on the inside of the shuttle.
Once the shuttle neared Kaldra, it leveled out and came in low. The pilot had to have nerves of durasteel. The explosions on the opposite side of Kaldra served to distract away from the shuttle skirting between buildings and spires, streaking towards the center of Antrixian government.
It came in low over the square. Too low. Some would say that the landing was more of a controlled crash. Others would have called it a ramming maneuver.
The shuttle passed mere meters above Dontaine’s head and literally skidded down onto the duracrete in front of the palace. The guards didn’t have time to move clear. Bodies were tossed about like a child’s toys as the shuttle slid through the guards and crashed through the entrance to the palace.
With calm and resolve, Dontaine followed after the shuttle. He knew he would have been locked out of the palace if he tried to storm the front door. The solution was finding the right key.
“Execute Order 66.” The holo immediately disappeared from the handheld transmitter of the Clone Trooper, Lieutenant Cakara. Nodding, Cakara motioned to his fellow clones, all dressed in red-trimmed white armor of the Grand Army of the Republic, to begin fanning out across the bridge of the Intrepid.
“Captain. The command for Order 66 has been given. The Jedi are traitors to the Republic.” Cakara said as he snapped to attention in front of Captain Harkness. At the same time, blaster rifles were raised by flanking troopers, centering on the Captain’s daughter, dressed in makeshift armor and remnants of her former Jedi robes. If it hadn’t been for Cakara’s fierce dedication to Captain Harkness and the clone’s knowledge that Syanne was no longer operating with the Jedi, she would have been shot down already. Dead, just like other Jedi across the galaxy.
‘Wait!” Captain Terrel Harkness was quick to interrupt, turning to Cakara. “Order 68 is in effect here. My daughter is an ally. She was never part of the Jedi to begin with.Have your clones stand down, Lieutenant!”
The troops looked to their squad leader and on his nod, lowered their weapons. Harkness’ daughter visibly sighed as the weapons were lowered. She walked to her father’s side, head held high, once she had regained her composure. There was a degree of fear and uncertainty in her still, however. This much the Captain could see.
“Your orders, father?” Syanne had only posed as part of the Jedi Order so she could gain access to the inner workings of the Republic operating within the Maridis Sector.
As Tria Zalt, Syanne had had access to Bronn Holcom’s Jedi detachment. She’d also had access to Dontaine Strykia. She was able to coerce the latter into the actions he was performing now. Her deviousness and deception was all part of the grander plan. It was a plan that was all coming together now. The Jedi had rebelled against the Republic and soon the major powers within the Antrixian Commonwealth would be no more. It was just what her master had willed.
“First we disrupt communications.” As the Captain spoke, another Clone nodded and went to the control pit of the command vessel to initiate the Captain’s order. Terrel Harkness was one of the few Republic officer’s privy to what Order 66 meant. It was part of why he had been stationed in the Antrixian Commonwealth, especially when Chancellor Palpatine considered that the Commonwealth very well may ally heavily with the Jedi and any dissension that may arise against him. “Then, I believe the upstart Strykia has a plan. You, my dear daughter, will assist him in taking control of the surface. Once that is achieved, you will proceed as planned.”
“Yes, father.” Syanne bowed her head, a smile spreading across her face. “At last we will have our revenge on the scum that allowed mother to die. I will make them pay for their inaction!”
“The Jinsai, along with the Jedi, will be gone and we will take our rightful place in the New Order, bringing peace to the galaxy. Those beings beneath the Humans will find out just how worthy they truly are!” Terrel touched his daughter’s chin, lifting her face to look at him. “Lieutenant Cakara and his men, along with 3 other squads, are under your supervision. Do not fail me. Do not fail your mother’s memory! Do not fail the Chancellor!”
“Of course, father.”
Alarms blared loudly and lights flashed. Personnel from all over the High Lord’s Palace ran one way or another. Reports were sketchy but it appeared that Dontaine’s rebels had managed to attack the palace. Forces loyal to House Strykia were now scrambling to repel any invaders.
It was chaos and Graydon was confined to his chambers. Master Atllin had strict orders to maintain a guard on Graydon’s door, not allowing anyone in or out until the all clear was given. He knew he’d hear no end of it if he tried to leave the room, having Atllin barring the way.
The feeling and need to act weighed on him heavily. Graydon felt helpless and like a prisoner, trapped in his room. Even if he was just helping with possible wounded, it would be better than being stuck in the room. For the first time in his life, Graydon contemplated not following the rules.
He looked over at the table near the window. Aside from a datapad, the only other thing on the table was the silver cylinder of his Lightsaber. When he didn’t have it clipped to his belt or in his hands, the table was where it rested.
Graydon was sure that he would need it if he did leave his room. Walking over and picking up his weapon, he clipped it onto his belt. That was the first step in being defiant. The second step was walking to the closet and keying the door open.
In the back of the closet was a little known access hatch that had existed there for countless years. Dontaine had shown him where it was years ago. All of the chambers had them. It was more for escape than for sneaking out. Or for sneaking in.
Graydon had never used it. He had always tried to stay on the right side of the rules. It was part of his sense of honor. It was part of his duty as Marissa’s apprentice and son. For the first time in his life, Graydon was going to disobey the orders of his superiors.
He stepped inside the closet, closed the door, and removed the panel covering the access hatch. He then crawled into the narrow corridor. Within moments, Graydon was moving away from his room.
“My Lord, the Republic has just jumped ships into orbit around Antrixies.” Kurzon Xingus said as he stepped next to Dontaine. “Reports are saying that Republic LAATs are on their way down from the Intrepid.”
Dontaine took a deep breath, closing his eyes and centering himself. Through the Force, he felt the disturbances. Ripples were emanating heavily through the Force. There were deaths occurring all over, some close, some across the galaxy. Something said that the time was right. The Jedi must have tried to put their misguided plot into action and were now being struck down.
This was his time. His destiny was now laid out ahead of him.
“Make sure I’m not interrupted, Kurzon.” Dontaine said in response. “The hour is ours and we cannot fail!”
“Of course.” Kurzon responded.
Kurzon motioned to the other troops and Jinsai, spreading them out across the room and down the various corridors and halls. The small force of twenty-some had disgorged themselves from the crashed shuttle after it had slammed through the wall of the palace, creating a breech in which Dontaine could enter. Kurzon arrived soon afterwards to aid his lord.
Dontaine advanced towards the door of what was called the High Seat, the audience chamber of the High Lord of the Commonwealth. The only thing barring his way was the family protocol droid, T-3R1. All the guards had already been dispatched by Dontaine’s men.
“Master Dontaine.” Tee-three said as Dontaine approached. “Should I inform your father that you are here?”
“No.” Dontaine responded, his voice low and serious. “I’ll do that myself.”
With a quick swipe of his hand, Dontaine sent the T-series droid crashing into the far wall.
Growing up in the High Lord’s Palace gave Graydon one advantage: He knew all the service corridors and the back way to the High Seat. It was where he felt he needed to go. Several times, he had to double back or hide to avoid being seen by guards. He’d spotted his mother and two of the Grey Guard running down another passageway once already. Regardless, there was a sense of urgency starting to build within him.
Keying the final door, Graydon stepped into the audience chamber that was known as the High Seat. It was a long and wide room, used more for ceremony than for the actual political running of the Commonwealth. Stepping in to that room set Graydon on a path that there was no returning from.
He was immediately met by loud voices.
“Have you gone mad?” Came the voice of Artur Strykia, Graydon’s father and the High Lord of the Commonwealth.
“No, father.” Dontaine responded loudly. “I’m here to ensure that your farce of a plan doesn’t go through. The Jedi’s deceit has already been uncovered. Now I’m here to uncover yours!”
Graydon recognized Dontaine’s voice. There wasn’t something right with it, though. There was malice. There was hate. And through the Force, he felt the Dark side.
“Plan?” Artur was advancing towards his son. “What plan?”
“You’ve bargained away the twins to the Jedi so that the Commonwealth will be spared when the traitors take over the Republic! You’ve started to eliminate the Jinsai who will stand up against your plans! You made sure I would act against you so I’d be branded a traitor! You had my own brother marry the woman I was supposed to marry!”
“Dontaine-” Artur began. “No. None of that is true. Those are all twists on the-”
“This is foolish!” Artur tried to remain calm. “Listen to yourself, son!”
“For too long have you sat upon the high seat and schemed with enemies! You have plotted with the enemy! You’d sacrifice your own children rather than standing for what’s right!” The anger and rage in Dontaine’s voice stabbed at Graydon’s heart as he watched the exchange between his brother and father.
He could feel the final crossing of his brother, his one-time hero and idol, into the blackness of the Dark side. Outside, the sounds of battle began to grow louder as the forces of the House Strykia scrambled to repel the sudden onslaught of what they once thought were their own brethren.
“You dare to accuse me of these things, Dontaine?” Artur Strykia, High Lord of the Antrixian Commonwealth, stared his eldest son down from a short distance away. “You are about to embark down a path you cannot turn back from!”
Insane laughter escaped from Dontaine’s mouth as he threw his head back. “Oh father… Father, father. If you only knew. This is my attack, my rebellion! Once you are gone, no one will stand in my way. NO ONE! The Jedi plot and everyone involved will be dealt with and I’ll make sure everyone knows that I led the charge that saved them!” Dontaine began to pace in an ever tightening circle around his father.
Dontaine felt Artur getting ready to attack him. His father’s emotions were running high and the red glow of his eyes was a telltale sign. Graydon could sense it too. The room felt awash in the warring tides of the Force. The Light and the Dark were crashing together in an epic clash.
Artur leaped with a grace and speed that Graydon had never seen from his father. It was true Jinsai prowess. Even if Dontaine had known that Artur was going to attack, he did nothing to react at first. Artur’s leap turned into a kick that landed squarely in the younger Strykia’s chest.
Dontaine was knocked back by the force of the blow. While he was knocked off of his feet, Dontaine was able to turn his fall into a roll. His training and agility allowed him to tuck and finish the roll on his feet. He was poised like a true predator, ready to strike, after that.
The snap-hiss of Dontaine’s silver Lightsaber coming to life was instantaneous as he launched himself back towards Artur. Within a breath, Dontaine landed, arching his saber blade down where Artur had been standing. The older Strykia had rolled himself away from the attack, narrowly avoiding his son’s deadly intent.
Quickly, Dontaine slashed out sideways, attempting to cut Artur. The elder ducked low, again narrowly avoiding the attack. Dontaine was quick to swing again. Artur barely got out of the way for the third time. The son was chasing after the father then, repeatedly attacking.
The heat of battle filled Graydon for the first time. Yes, he’d done combat before. He’d helped to take down the Aqualish on Coruscant. This was different. There was a passion there. Graydon knew he had to come to his father’s aid. If he didn’t, Dontaine would win and kill Artur.
Snatching his Lightsaber free from his belt, Graydon sprinted towards the melee. As he ran, Graydon thumbed the switch, bringing his green blade to life. The green glow surrounded him as he tried to desperately reach the continuing fight.
Dontaine, wrapped in the Force, sensed his brother’s approach. He had heard the activation of the other Lightsaber in addition to sensing Graydon. Something deep and dark pushed him to finish the task he’d set out to do. It seemed that destiny was upon him and he was going to achieve his desire.
As Artur dodged away from another slash, Dontaine seized the moment to bring the Force into play. He extended a hand and stopped Artur from moving any further. Lowering his head, Dontaine thrust his saber forward, easily piercing his father’s chest.
Graydon watched in horror as the silver bar of light and plasma bloomed from his father’s back. Dontaine had struck him and dealt a blow that would surely kill Artur. Through the Force, he could feel his father’s presence begin to dim immediately. It was only his dedication to his training that prevented Graydon from stopping or collapsing right there.
Instead, Graydon felt the Force surge into him as he launched himself into the air, easily covering the twenty meters left between he and his brother and father. The Force aided jump put him into the perfect position to perform a modified strike, using the Ataru form he’d learned from Master Atllin.
Dontaine barely pulled his blade free in time to deflect Graydon’s incoming attack. The aerial attack was directed right at his head. Suddenly Dontaine felt a sense of concern growing within. This wasn’t the same little brother who had once ridden his shoulders at the Calhazar. Graydon was showing a degree of ability that the elder brother had never really considered him having.
Graydon landed and immediately launched into a forward somersault, meaning to keep himself clear of a reprisal from his elder brother. Landing on his feet, Graydon quickly dropped into a ready stance, swinging his saber around behind him for yet another parry if needed. He pivoted on the balls of his feet, turning to face his stunned brother.
“Graydon!” Dontaine shouted. “Stop!”
Dontaine was shocked by his brother’s initial attack. Part of him was also impressed by the display of Lightsaber prowess Graydon had just shown. This wasn’t a fight he wanted, though. The objective he’d set out to accomplish was done, even if there was a huge, black pit in his stomach then. The guilt surged through him even if he’d just brought about justice.
“Why? Why would you do this?” Came a choked plea from Graydon as he squared up against his brother, lightsaber poised. Tears welled up in his intensely glowing blue eyes. “Why would you kill him? HE WAS OUR FATHER!”
“I had to do it!” Dontaine desperately wanted to make his brother understand. “He was going to change everything for the opportunity to grab power. You and Allie were going to be pawns in all of that!”
While Graydon had assumed a fighting pose, Dontaine had not. His Lightsaber might have still been ignited, but he wasn’t moving into any type of guard position. He didn’t want this fight. If anything, Dontaine thought that he’d just saved his brother and sister from a terrible fate.
“No.” Graydon responded back with heavy emotion in his voice. “He wasn’t after power! He wanted everyone to have peace and safety. You ruined that!”
“I saved you!”
“You betrayed everything that was important.” Graydon countered. “You dishonored yourself and the whole House. You’re not even my brother anymore!”
Before he could say anything more, Graydon interrupted Dontaine by charging at him. Dropping into a Shii-cho form, Graydon advanced on his brother. Dontaine had to parry the initial thrust and dropped back. Graydon was intent on his attack and wouldn’t relent.
It was obvious that if he didn’t start taking his brother seriously, Dontaine was going to be in trouble. He finally started to take action that would keep Graydon at bay. His parries began to become more focused. He was switching over into the mindset that this was an actual duel. The stakes in this duel could be injury or death.
He knew that he had to slow Graydon down. He defended himself and waited for an opening. He didn’t want to harm his brother but it was obvious that Graydon wanted to harm him. Dontaine finally had an opening and feigned a strike that would have hit Graydon easily if the younger Strykia hadn’t been as skilled as he was.
Graydon saw the attack coming and switched forms, something that Dontaine didn’t expect. Using Ataru again, Graydon somersaulted up and over Dontaine, attempting an overhead strike as he flipped above him. Dontaine was quicker though and parried that attack. The clash of their Lightsabers filled the room, which was also echoing with the sound of battle from outside as well.
Dontaine wheeled around, meeting Graydon’s continued attacks with a Djem So parry. Dontaine was still bigger than his brother and his parry/strike actually sent the younger Strykia back a couple steps. Frustration welled up in Dontaine. He had to subdue Graydon.
It was one of his typical moves. Dontaine stepped back, extended his hand, and sent a wall of Force energy out at his brother. While Graydon might have some skill, he wasn’t ready for Dontaine’s move. The wave of the Force hit him and knocked him back.
Graydon skidded along the floor and slammed into the wall of the hall. The collision knocked the wind out of him and sent his saber sliding across the floor. As he shook off the stun of his brother’s attack, he saw that Dontaine was now charging towards him. It appeared that Dontaine was going to run him through.
Almost by reflex, Graydon summoned the Force and called his Lightsaber back to his hand. The weapon ignited again as it met his palm and Graydon’s hand wrapped around the hilt. He managed to begin a roll and a parry to the side as Dontaine came at him, narrowly avoiding the elder’s strike.
It was apparent that Dontaine was filled with darkness. His eyes were almost pulsing with the red glow, showing his heightened emotional state. He’d had enough of this. If Graydon was so bent on attacking him, trying to harm him, then perhaps Graydon was in league with his father’s plans.
Graydon rolled and avoided his strike, but Dontaine pursued him. The oldest Strykia child was on the offensive now. He hurled attacks at his little brother which Graydon was now desperately parrying. Graydon retreated, trying to open some distance between them so he could switch the duel back to his favor.
Finally, the pair broke apart. Both of them were winded from their efforts. Dontaine wasn’t going to quit, though. Graydon wasn’t either. Graydon knew that his brother’s offensive skills were better and that he needed to press him in order to keep some advantage.
Graydon leaped forward, sending a swarm of saber strikes towards Dontaine. The older Strykia parried them away and then struck with his own attack. Dontaine used the Force again, this time stopping Graydon and holding him in place, much the same way he’d held Artur in place. The addition of keeping Graydon’s arm outstretched was his solution to quelling the younger’s attacks. Dontaine had to remove the threat of Graydon’s saber. To do this, he meant to sever his brother’s hand.
Just as Dontaine moved to strike his brother’s wrist, his silver Lightsaber blade was met with a glowing blue blade. Shock immediately went through Dontaine. He was sure that he’d just ended the duel.
Jedi Knight Atllin stood, parrying Dontaine with a look of disapproval. His blade sizzled against Dontaine’s but he didn’t relent. He was protecting his Padawan. Dontaine’s hold on Graydon faltered and Graydon was released. The younger apprentice backed up a couple of steps and he began to drop into a ready stance again.
“No.” Atllin said in a very serious tone, never taking his eyes away from Dontaine. “You will leave now, Graydon. Allyson needs your help more than I do. GO!”
Part of him wanted to stay. Part of him needed to stay and see this through. As he quickly debated following his master’s instructions or defying them once more, Graydon felt a familiar tug in the back of his mind. It was Allyson. Their connection through the Force was stronger than most. Graydon knew that he needed to go to her.
He turned and ran back the way he’d originally entered. Behind him the sound of sabers clashing together intensified. Dontaine had shifted his attention to the Jedi that had saved his brother. The Jedi were his enemy now. Just like his father, the Jedi had to have justice served upon them.
Allyson peeked around the corner of the alcove she’d taken cover in. Just as quickly as she’d looked around, a blaster bolt flew into the wall just above her head. The Clone Trooper that had fired the shot was just one of the trio that were slowly advancing towards her.
Only by her Force-imbued reflexes did Allyson avoid getting shot. She may have avoided the blaster fire but she was trapped. The calmness that her Jedi master, Knight Kyla Tillo, had constantly drilled into her was quickly fading as panic began to take hold.
At her feet lay the bodies of three Antrixians and one Human. Kyla was among the dead, along with three of House Metheyr’s guard. Two had taken Master Tillo down as Allyson fought the other. Once she had dispatched her opponent, Allyson turned on the other two who had followed her oldest brother there in an assault on the High Lord’s palace.
She tried to stop them from slaying Kyla, but she wasn’t fast enough. She hacked into them with both of her blue-green Lightsaber blades, but not fast enough. Her Jedi master still crumpled to the ground as the attackers were vanquished. Allyson didn’t have time to grieve either. Almost immediately, she felt the hostile intent of three attackers behind her. She’d barely dodged into the alcove when the Clones opened fire on her.
Allyson closed her eyes and tried to center herself. She had to prepare to fight in order to save herself. She felt the Force pulse within her, growing stronger. Suddenly, she felt her resolve return.
Just as quickly, a stray blaster shot exploded into the ceiling above her. As sparks fell, she heard the sound of a Lightsaber blade thrumming, two more blaster shots, and the death screams of the Clones as they were summarily dispatched. She looked around the edge of the alcove cautiously, not knowing what to expect.
There stood Graydon. At his feet lay the bodies of Allyson’s would-be murderers. He had his saber ignited still, looking down upon the bodies. There was sadness in his face. As soon as he saw Allyson, relief washed over him, though.
“Graydon!” Allyson rushed out towards her brother.
Her brother quickly extinguished his saber and grabbed Allyson in a tight hug. As she made contact with him, she could feel the sadness in him, despite being thrilled to see her. It was their connection through the Force. He was relieved to see that his sister was alright but underneath that there was a pit of sadness.
Her relief was wearing thin, sensing the turmoil in Graydon. Allyson had been thankful that her brother had come to her aid. She had been thrilled that he was alive and unharmed. But whatever had him so weary was transferring to her also.
“What’s wrong?” She asked as she broke from the sibling embrace.
“Nothing.” Graydon quickly answered. “We need to get to safety.”
“No. I’m not leaving until you tell me.”
“Fine.” Graydon didn’t want to argue. “Dontaine’s gone and so is father.”
“Wha-” Graydon’s words stunned Allyson.
So much had been lost already. Her Jinsai Master had perished right away during the initial incursion. Master Tillo had been next. Allyson had seen so much loss of life by then that she had walled her emotions off. Graydon’s words destroyed that wall however.
A single tear trailed down Graydon’s cheek as Allyson felt the tears well up in her own eyes. She had known that her father would pass on someday. This wasn’t the day that she was expecting though. And she’d always viewed her eldest brother in a light of immortality of sorts. Dontaine was young, strong, and a true warrior. She didn’t think that he would die.
“We’ll grieve later.” Graydon said. “We need to leave now. It’s not safe here.”
His tone was somber but his point was made. Regardless of what she felt, Allyson knew Graydon was right. Something terrible had happened. Something terrible was happening. The fact that the Republic troops were here and were attacking them meant that the situation was serious and that the twins needed to get to safety.
Without another spoken word, the twins fled down the corridor, opposite from the way Graydon had come. The sounds of battles between three forces raged behind them. Eventually, though, the sounds dimmed to a distant cacophony as they went.
On the eastern hemisphere of the planet Caprishia, the calm, cool grasp of night had just settled upon it. A light breeze had started to blow in from the teal-blue sea of Tercamthi, drifting in-land over the lush green forests and plains of the main continent, Terr. Set on the western coast of Terr, the expansive marvel of the city, Lakun, lay in its quiet, nightly slumber. The breeze gently swept down the boulevards of the city, barely stirring the leaves of the large Mas’mut trees, growing in the open park areas, or the young saplings, springing up from the ground below the larger trees. The breeze also picked up the sweet scent of the flowers, with their florescent yellows and purples, also growing in the park, carrying their aroma deep into the city. Occasionally, an airspeeder would whisper its way across the sky above the sleeping city. Although the walkways and boulevards were well lit by soft, yet powerful glow-lamps, the twin moons of Caprishia provided bright luminescence to the planet’s surface, adding a reflective glow to the structures of the city.
On the edge of Lakun, perched on the edge of the sea, the sparkling Antrixian Embassy sat quietly, awaiting the bustle of the next day that would begin in the morning. On the seaward side of the embassy, near the upper level, a set of balcony doors were casually open to the outside world. Silken curtains drifted softly inward on the breeze. The material whispered softly as it moved on the air flow. Even with a breeze coming off the sea, the temperature was warm and comforting, like the tender embrace of a loved one. Moonlight spilled into the room, providing the only illumination inside, filling the room with a deep blue light. Near a set of double doors with their frosted glass bodies, leading deeper inside, stood two figures, bathed in slowly drifting shadows. Only the faint glow from their eyes seemed to pierce through the darkness and shadows. They spoke in soft tones, words meant only for each other’s ear.
“Anise, I do enjoy these meetings.” Came a deep masculine voice, yet it was warm and passionate. “But I do wish you would reconsider.” The male figure stood nearly a head taller than the other. He cradled the other in his strong arms, holding her between his broad shoulders. The soft white shirt stretched across his chest, doing little to hide his hardened muscles. His eyes gave off a soft red glow, symbolic of the fire in his heart for his mate.
“And what would my near sisters say?” Was her response. The voice was as soft and smooth as the breeze sweeping in from the open balcony doors. Very delicate also. “They would say that I am getting soft. Besides, Taless, you know you will always be first in my heart.” The soft blue glow from her eyes warmed with her words, adding comfort to her lover. Anise’s small, taunt frame was dwarfed by Taless, yet she seemed more his equal, despite her size.
“I know. I would just rather that we make our relationship proper.” His callused hands slowly caressed her back through the soft, silky material of her low-cut gown. His touch could only be described as that of a true love’s. “Must you always be so stubborn and follow through with this quest to join the Grey Guard? You could remain an ambassador and ignore traditions of appointment.”
“Proper? Traditions are what have held our people together through the ages. Besides, as a pledge to the Grey Guard, I am pledged not to marry. You have always known that.” Anise responded, looking up and giving Taless a gentle smile. “I do enjoy our rendezvous so. Perhaps we can find a middle ground.”
“I do hope so. I feel your absence every time we are apart.”
“As do I, my heart.” They both fell silent, wrapping their arms tighter around each other in a lovers’ embrace, sharing their passion for one and other through their touch. But the silence was soon cut short by the chime of the main, door, in the next room.
Taless’ eyes briefly flared a brilliant red before returning to a lesser glow, indicating a slight emotional surge. Quite possibly it was a sign of annoyance at being interrupted. He allowed himself to trail off from Anise’s comforting embrace as he moved towards the next room. “This better be good.” He muttered in a soft, barely audible growl. The command “Enter” was spoken with more force.
The door slid smoothly open with a slight gust of air exiting the room as it opened. A light at the entry way began to brighten, giving a better view of the young man stepping in, through the door. Dressed in a dark, navy blue uniform with gold trim, the young man had a false sense of maturity, yet his face shown a childhood not far gone. The young man spoke with confidence and strength, but a sense of urgency lay just under the surface. Taless stepped toward the young man, quick to inquire why he had been interrupted.
“What is it, Lieutenant?”
“I’m sorry to have bothered you at this hour, Captain.” The young officer spoke. “But it’s urgent. Commander Lessal ask me to retrieve you immediately.” A trembling began to rise in his voice as he spoke. This alerted Anise, who was quietly walking into the room behind Taless. She reached out through the Force, sensing worry and urgency within Taless’ officer. With that, she found thoughts that sent an icy shiver down her spine.
“Alright Lieutenant, you took the time to come up here. Is there a problem with the ship?”
Letting a heavy breath go, the young officer nearly responded in panic. “It’s Antrixies, sir.” His composure nearly broke. “She’s under attack by the revolutionaries, Captain. At least that’s the report that’s coming in. It’s all very confusing right now.”
“What?” Came the surprised response from Taless. “Are you certain?” A calm, careful posture was already being replaced by a stiff, militaristic stance that spoke of years of training.
“Yes, sir. The report has been confirmed over the holonet, although the reports are confusing. They are stating that the Grand Army forces have also engaged the ADF.”
Taless started for the door. “Inform Commander Lessal to begin preparations for our departure immediately.” He stopped, hanging his head low briefly. “Lieutenant, go ahead of me. I’ll be along in a moment.”
His voice has a sad quality to it. Without the Force, Anise could sense the frustration and grief he was feeling. She too felt the burden of duty begin to weigh down upon her. She knew, as did Taless, that they must put personal feelings aside for a moment and do what must be done.
As the officer turned and began to trot down the corridor, the door slid shut, leaving the room dark again, except for moonlight seeping in. Taless slowly turned back towards Anise. “I have to go.”
“I know you must.”
“A ship will be sent for you as soon as it’s safe.” I’m sure the High Lord will recall everyone until we are sure the situation has eased.”
Anise stood quietly, her delicate hands clasp in front of her. Then she spoke with a longing and pain that welled up within her heart. “Go and give aid. You must, before it’s too late. The hour grows darker with each passing minute.”
“Stay here. You’ll be safest here at the embassy.”
“Nowhere is safe anymore. Be true and let the light guide you.”
“I’ll be back for you… regardless.’ Taless said softly as the door opened in front of him. “My heart…” was the last thing spoken between Anise Damodred and Taless Bashere for many years to come. The door closed after he stepped out and then he was gone. A tear trailed off down Anise’s cheek. Although she fought the very core of her being, telling herself it was a lie, she thought it would be the last time she ever saw her lover. The shadow over the Force had grown darker.
From the corner of the room, a quiet voice seemed to come out of nowhere. “It would appear that our work is cut out for us, sister.”
“Yes, and we know what we must do. Anise responded softly. “Ready the others.”
“As you wish. Do not fret, Ocean, my near-sister. By hope and honor, Taless will come home to your heart.” The voice now took shape as a tall, lean woman with cropped, white-blonde hair, contrasting her dark skin. Her eyes burned with a fierce red glow, showing the intensity of her emotions over the recent news.
“We cannot be sure of that, Myth.” Anise stood straight and proud in front of her fellow Jinsai as she spoke to her, her voice was returning to a calm tone. “As Wynd has foreseen, this could be the prophecy at hand. And with that, I’m afraid we will know no comfort from the light for many years to come.”
“The Force is strong with Wynd, but I do hope she was wrong in her vision.” Leanne Ravyncore, or Myth as she was named by the Jinsai, met Anise’s eyes, sharing the pain, yet standing ready to face whatever trials lay ahead of them. “None the less, I know that your true-sister will make sure that the events fall to favor us in the end. I will go now and ready the other sisters.”
“Thank you, Leanne.” Anise returned softly.
As the tall woman left, Anise turned and walked to the doors leading out to the balcony. Taking in the fresh air, she let her mind rest at ease. While the galaxy was in peril, she knew that she must be strong. Too much could come down to depending on her if things did not work in the favor of her people. If Marissa could not do as she planned, then Anise would need to ensure that events unfolded in place of her sister’s failed attempt. If she failed…
“Only the Force can guide us now. It will be up to us to make the most out of what we face.” Anise spoke softly. “I only hope that you will be born to live in brighter days, little one.” As she spoke, Anise ran her hand over her stomach, a glint of hopefulness in her eyes.
Lights flickered and dimmed before returning to full power in the stark passageway. This hall was sterile compared to the others within the palace. Its purpose was simple: Passage to the corridor that led to one of the private shuttle pads at the palace. It was a secure hallway that only the palace guards and members of the High Lord’s entourage could access.
A light screen of smoke hung in the air, drifting slowly across the ceiling. The scent of burnt ozone, charred fabrics, burning wood, and hot metal was carried along with the smoke. Sounding faint in the passageway, alarm klaxons could be heard from deeper in the palace. And with them, sounds of fighting could still be heard. Blaster fire and screams created a cacophony of background mayhem.
As one of the onyx armored guards began to advance down the hall, Moraine Strykia, head of the Grey Guard cautiously followed. Both she and the guard were weary from the fighting that they’d already encountered. First it was members of Dontaine’s followers which were more than likely loyal to House Metheyr. Then it had been a handful of Republic Clone Troopers. The small band of security forces Moraine had commanded at the start had dwindled to just her and the other.
Ahead of them, an access panel popped free from the wall. Immediately, both Moraine and the guard dropped into crouches, bringing their blaster rifles up. A hand emerged first, followed by a voice.
“Wait!” Came the voice. “It’s Graydon and Allyson!”
Moraine recognized the voice as her nephew immediately. Dropping her weapon, she sprinted to the access shaft, helping her niece and nephew crawl out. When they were both standing in the hallway, she grasped them in a tight hug.
“By all that is!” Moraine started to cry. “You two are safe! You don’t know how worried I was.”
“We’re okay, Aunt Moraine.” Allyson whimpered as she hugged her aunt in return.
Just as Allyson finished her statement, the door at the other end of the hall slid open. The bright light from next corridor poured in, briefly obscuring the view of the two individuals standing in the doorway. Moraine quickly pushed the twins behind her, using her body as a shield from a possible attack. She knew that whoever was up ahead, was using the brighter lights to give some cover.
No attack came.
When her eyes adjusted, she saw Marissa standing there. Beside her were another black-armored guard and two other children. Moraine felt the sorrow lessen a bit more. The two other children belonged to her other brother, Edric.
Marissa’s plan immediately came to mind. For years, she had talked about the ancient Desmora Prophecy and what it could mean to the Commonwealth. The start of the mythical prediction was the fall of the Commonwealth to dark and sinister forces. Only the combined might of “seven stars” could free the Commonwealth and restore it to what it had once been. Marissa had put in motion a plan to ensure that if the prophecy began to come true, she would be ready to ensure that it ran its full course. That meant that the twins and possibly others had to be secreted away and protected.
The mechanically-aided voice of the guard with Marissa spoke as he surveyed the passageway. “The way is clear, M’lady.”
The small group of four quickly ran up the hall to join the others in the corridor leading to the landing pad. The reunion and hugs were short lived though. Marissa quickly began hurrying the group along towards the exit.
“There is no more time!” She spoke excitedly. “Moraine, you know of the plan.”
“Yes, of course.” Moraine answered.
“I need you to go with the twins. There is no other option.”
“But-” Moraine started until Marissa cut her off.
“As much as it breaks my heart, you have to.” Marissa said quickly. “You are still a Grey Guard and you are still obligated to serve the High Lord’s family.”
Moraine stopped and grabbed Marissa’s arm. “You are their mother! I know you’ve planned for this but they need you now more than ever!”
“I trust you like you are my own sister. You are my sister in so many ways.” The conviction in Marissa’s face and words was strong. “I need you to be more than just their guardian now. You need to be their family!”
“Marissa…” Moraine could barely get the words out.
“Trust in the Force.” Marissa said, hugging her now dead husband’s sister. “We have to have faith that this will all turn out how it’s supposed to.”
Moraine could only nod. She knew what Marissa was asking of her. Not three months before, Marissa had asked her to become the guardian and foster of the twins, if anything should ever happen to the High Lord and Lady. While she had agreed, she had also thought that that possibility would never come to pass. It had come to pass and now she was being asked to fulfill that pledge.
The pair of older Antrixian ladies saw that everyone else had stopped also. Moraine knew that they all had to move. Time was important.
“Come now, everyone. Once we are through the doors and outside, you all run as fast as you can to the shuttles.” Marissa said with words full of the concern only a mother could have.
With every step, Marissa “Wynd” Strykia knew that she was about to give up all that she had left. Her family and her home. She was losing everything that she’d known for years. She was losing everything that she’d worked to build. She tried to steel herself and calm her emotions as she walked, but her heart grew heavy. She was going from being a protector of life to being one of the hunted. Even if she was hunted, she would also be the hunter.
Moraine, along with Marissa, knew that Artur was dead. While Marissa knew that it was by Dontaine’s hand, Moraine only knew that Dontaine had led the attack and that the fighting had also resulted in her brother, her Lord, being slain. First it had been the forces of the opposing Houses. Then the Republic forces had entered the battle and were killing every Commonwealth person they came across. As far as either of them knew, the Commonwealth was just as gone as Artur was.
While Moraine's mandate was changing, so was Marissa's. Marissa would attempt to finish what Graydon had started. She would have to confront Dontaine. She'd either be able to redeem him or she'd have to destroy him.
The doors opened to allow the guards, women and children out into the open air. The roar of engines blocked all other sounds as the group stepped out onto the platform. Normally, the view would be breathtaking, but clouds of smoke hung heavy everywhere and the shattered forms of once great buildings filled the landscape. Two Phoenix-class shuttles also obscured the view, their long, dragon-like bodies hiding some of the sights of destruction.
Marissa spoke calmly, hiding her grief deep inside her heart. “We know what must come next. Moraine, take them and watch them as your own. Everything we have prepared for must happen!”
Although she had lost much, she still held onto hope that she could prevent the loss of any more. From under her robes, Marissa took a small bundle and handed it to Moraine. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to give Moraine some guidance and financial stability in order to get the twins somewhere safe.
Graydon moved to his mother’s side, looking Marissa in the eyes. He didn’t appear to waver at her words. He stood calmly, next to his mother and twin sister, seemingly wrapped in distance from the surrounding events.
“Dontaine has fallen.” Graydon Strykia showed no signs of falling into grief again.
Marissa and Moraine both saw the shadow of the man he would become. Despite his air of maturity that came with the training that he took so seriously, Marissa still saw the young boy that needed to be care-free and childish. Perhaps the way of the Jinsai and Jedi had been forced upon the twins too soon.
“Father’s gone because of it.” His words were as steady and calm as any tried and tested Jinsai or Jedi.
Had Marissa known the truth, she would have felt Graydon’s loss, even more than her own. Having seen his own brother slowly change from a young, exuberant man into a hard, cold warrior that began the killing that would eventually take his father’s life had left a scar deep on Graydon’s heart. Little did anyone there know that Graydon had witnessed his brother’s grand betrayal and that Graydon had tried to stop his brother. Through it all, Graydon steadied himself with his own perseverance.
Standing to his right, his twin sister, Allyson, tried to hold her composure at the news. She was the only daughter born into this generation of Strykia blood at that time. Tears began to stream down her youthful cheeks again. Although she wanted to show her mother that she had a warrior’s heart, she felt the loss immediately. Her father had held her in such high regard, calling her his Far Sia Mording, Daughter Blade of the Morning. While Graydon had a special bond with Marissa, Allyson had always had a close bond with her father.
Through their connection in the Force, Allyson felt the scar that Dontaine’s betrayal had left on Graydon. When Graydon had told her that Dontaine was gone, she had thought him dead. She now knew that he wasn’t the same brother she had known. He was something else now. Dontaine was the Dark side now.
“Yes Graydon. And now to ensure your safety, you must go with Aunt Moraine.” Marissa spoke to him with love, yet also as a teacher. “You and Allyson will be safest with her for now.”
I know, mother. As your Shodan, I will do my duties in your honor. I’ll watch over Allie as well as I can and help Aunt Moraine. Do what you have to do.”
“Moraine is your Kyudan, now, Blade. You and your sister will learn from her now. She’ll make sure you are ready when the time comes.” The tears in Marissa’s eyes could not be held back any longer. She wrapped her arms around each of them and hugged her son and daughter close to her.
“I’m going to be so proud of you two. The Blade and Katana… You two are the pair of matched weapons and means of peace for our people.” She kissed each on the cheek before standing again. “Go! Quickly!
“Mother… You have to… Come with us! Please!” Allyson, able to break her silence, pleaded to her mother. “I don’t want to lose you too!”
“You won’t, Katana.” Marissa paused to look into her daughter’s brightly glowing, tear-filled eyes. “We will see each other again, I promise.”
Moraine allowed the twins to hug their mother one last time before guiding them up the ramp of one of the shuttles. At the top of the ramp, she entrusted the twins to an officer before turning to watch Marissa tend to her nephew and niece, Therryn and Torryn. Moraine let her thoughts turn to the loss of her eldest nephew, Dontaine, her brother Artur, and the possible loss of Marissa’s other son, Draygan. She wondered if her last surviving brother, Admiral Edric Strykia, Therryn and Torryn’s father, had escaped with his fleet or if he was preparing for a glorious fight with this new enemy. Along with Marissa, Moraine felt that she had lost everything. The world she had known and grown up in was coming to an end.
Moraine looked at Marissa, their eyes meeting one last time, before the ramp of her ship sealed off the view.
All over the Antrixian Commonwealth, ships were hastily departing from landing areas. Some were laden with troops and Jinsai warriors, bound for battles with a new enemy, the Clone Troopers that many had once thought of as allies. Others were leaving for parts unknown, to seek a safe haven, away from the coming war.
Standing near the edge of a landing zone stood a human, dressed in dark brown robes with the silver cylinder of a lightsaber hanging from his belt. His dark hair was just starting to show streaks of gray at his temples. Bronn Holcom felt the ripples of the Force streak across the galaxy, vibrating with sorrow with every death of every Jedi as they were struck down by the very Clone Troops they had led into battle against the Separatists. Now, what was left of the Jedi and the true supporters of the Republic would face a new enemy. He closed his eyes, calming himself to remain close to the Force, regardless of the pain he felt course through it.
A lithe female, her features obscured by the deep cowl of her hooded cloak, stepped lightly as she approached Bronn. The long haft of her weapon acting as a walking staff at the moment, although the lightsaber emitter at the top, coupled with the once gleaming, now bloody, blade at the other end spoke of the deadly potential she might have.
“What are we to do now, Myra?” Bronn spoke as he sensed her approaching. He slowly turned to regard her.
“We do want has been planned all along.” Her voice was cool and calm, almost melodious, given all that had occurred. Bronn could sense the deep calm within her and envied her at that moment. She was dimming her Force presence more and more, as the minutes went by. Muting her Presence was an ability that Bronn had come to envy since their first meeting. He was slowly learning the process, but he found if difficult due to the differences in the teaching and principles he was use to from the Jedi Order.
“Your plan?” He asked.
“Not mine. The one that has been prophesized since the departure centuries ago.” Myra nodded towards the northern sky. “The twins are safe and even now, the Force is in motion for the harbinger of the light to come into the world. With those three, the way is prepared for the return.”
“I don’t understand.”
“In the coming years, you may. Open your mind to the Force. The Unifying Force, the Living Force, and even the darkness. All speak that the threads of the pattern of the Force are falling into place. “
Myra laid her free hand on Bronn’s shoulder. He could make out the gentle smile deep within her hood. He felt the calm emanating from her as she stood before him.
“You know of Wynd’s plan. Follow it. I go to watch now.”
“You’re leaving now? This is our moment of greatest need.”
“Yes, Master Jedi, I am leaving. I will watch from afar. It is what I must do.” She turned, beginning to walk off. “Balance will be restored to the Force, fulfilling your prophecy. And my people will be reunited, fulfilling ours.” She turned her head towards him once again. “May the Force be with you, Jedi.”
Bronn stood and watched the cloaked form of the mysterious Myra disappear into the shadows. For a long time, he looked into the direction she had gone, trying to make sense of what the strange woman had said. He knew there were events in motion far greater than his meager presence in the universe. But what those events would turn out to be, he could not fathom.
Just over three weeks ago, Myra had appeared to Bronn, seemingly out of thin air. It was during a skirmish with the Separatists near Thyferra, warring over control of a part of the Rimma Trade Route that was essential to both sides in the war. Bronn had commanded a detachment of Clone Troopers alongside the handful of Jinsai and Antrixian forces that reinforced the Republic positions. On the world of Tauber, Bronn and the Republic troops had bravely defended the interests of what he considered to be the right side of the war. The good side of the war. When they were nearly overrun, Myra had mysteriously appeared, helping to save many lives on the side of the Republic. Perhaps it would have been better if she hadn’t shown up on that day. Perhaps if the Clones would have been defeated, some of the bloodshed that was occurring in the Antrixian Commonwealth would have been adverted.
She almost always kept herself concealed under her dark cloak, the cowl pulled up to obscure her features. Bronn always thought she was just another Antrixian Jinsai, one of the Gai’din, Force-sensitive Jinsai that were the counterparts to the Jedi. Myra’s eyes were different than the typical Antrixian, though. Instead of having a red or blue glow that emanated from the whites of her eyes, Myra’s seemed almost purple. Her unique weapon, a Pole-saber which she called a Lightlance, set her apart from the other Jinsai, even though her fighting style was almost exactly the same as a Jinsai Gai’din’s. Since then, she had come and gone, like a phantom. She was an enigma to everyone.
As Bronn pondered these things, he noted that a Lutrin was quickly approaching him. Bronn brought himself back to the present, trying to regain his inner peace and composure as the Lutrin addressed him.
“Master Jedi.” The Lutrin bowed as it stopped before him. “Captain Osgrey has requested your presence. He says it is of the utmost importance.”
“Very well.” Bronn responded. “Please lead the way.”
The Lutrin nodded and then turned to lead Bronn back in the direction in which it had come. The Lutrin led Bronn past two landing pads at a brisk pace, eventually arriving at a small bunker. Outside, two tall Herras in their armored bodysuits stood guard, the air about them was menacing. Their large size meant to be as imposing as the presence of the Lutrin troops. Bronn sensed the tension in the guards, even without the Force.
As he started to enter the bunker at the behest of the Lutrin, Bronn looked back in the direction they had come. A bright star seemed to be rising from the dusk shrouded hills, quickly racing up, into the sky. In his heart, he knew that it was Myra’s ship, carrying her away and denying him another ally in the new war campaign he was about to set out upon.
Entering the bunker, Bronn noted that there was a mix of the Commonwealth species inside. Two Antrixians stood with a Knyden, another of the large Herras, and a Lutrin that Bronn had come to know, the female Jinsai Gai’din known as Razzalle. Bronn had come to know Razzalle, called by her honor name of Longtooth, when he had been assigned to the Jaso Sector. Together with Jevan Metheyr, Marissa and Dontaine Strykia, his own Padawan Tria Zalt, and Razzalle, the group had made up a formidable team of warriors for the Light side of the Force. That was before Tria denounced the Jedi and had left the Jedi Order.
Was that what he had become? A warrior? The Jedi were not warriors, they were the protectors of justice and morals. They were the guardians of peace. They were the pillars of all that was good in the Republic. Had Bronn exceeded his mandate? Was that why Tria had felt the way she did and left the Order?
All inside the bunker greeted Bronn with grim hellos, spelling the general mood. It was one of tension and anxiety. But there was sadness in their moods also. Bronn could read it as much as sense it, especially in Razzalle.
“I am glad to see you, Bronn.” Razzalle said in her gruff, Lutrin voice. “It warms my heart to know you are yet with us.”
“You sent for me and I came as soon as I could.” Bronn said as he gave a casual bow towards Razzalle. “How can I aid the Commonwealth?”
“Admiral Strykia has sent out a message to all aligned forces.” Captain Varus Osgrey said, stepping to the forefront of the group. Bronn was familiar with the older Antrixian that led a force of commandos throughout four campaigns in the Clone Wars. “You need to see this, Master Jedi.”
Osgrey keyed a remote holo-projector sitting on the table in the center of the room. Immediately, the image of High Admiral Edric Strykia materialized. Even through the grainy quality of the projection, Bronn could see that the man was ragged, his uniform torn and burned in several places. Yet Edric’s eyes burned with a fierce glow.
“To all ADF forces and those that still ally with us, please listen. Our time to stand and fight has come to a close. The Clone Wars are over for the Commonwealth. I have received word through a transmission from Republic High Command that General Grievous has been defeated and the Separatist Council has surrendered. Unfortunately, the very Republic for which we have fought has turned against us. They state that the Jedi have attempted a coupe and are now enemies of the state. The Jinsai Gai’din, the Jinsai themselves, and due to our heavy integration with them, the Commonwealth, are also now enemies of the Republic. They have turned on us. I am ordering all military forces to follow the encrypted plans that the commanders possess. By the Force, we may yet survive to fight another day.”
The holo blanked out, leaving the room in silence. Osgrey and his subordinate had seen the message before, but the others had not. There was shock and sorrow in all of them as realization began to dawn on them.
“Wynd was right.” Razzalle stated. “The Jedi suspected Palpatine and she was right to suspect that something wasn’t right on Coruscant.”
“Wynd has been planning for this dark day, my friend.” Bronn said, placing a calming hand on Razzalle’s shoulder. “Even now, when everything looks dark, she has set in motion a plan to save your people.”
Almost everyone in the room looked to Bronn, knowing that he was speaking of High Lady Marissa Strykia, known as the Jinsai, Wynd. They were now in anticipation that there may be hope for all of their brethren.
“I know enough of her plan to say that the hope of the Commonwealth will rest in the hands of the young ones that she has sent into hiding. The Strykia twins have been heralded as important individuals for the Commonwealth. Graydon and Allyson have been sent away to be safe. I don’t know if there are others, but I do know that she has worked on this plan for many years. That much she told me, the rest I have gained from special intelligence sources.”
Bronn was referring to Marissa’s preparing for the Desmora Prophecy, an ancient Jinsai foretelling that she felt would come to pass during her life. She had told him just enough to make him aware that she was preparing for dark times. He didn’t know all the details, but Myra had helped fill in some information just a while ago.
“Master Bronn, forgive me, but our sources say that there is nothing ahead but darkness.” Came the voice of Osgrey’s subordinate, Commander Kenn Verwynn. The man was just starting show some age lines, but his hair was far from gray. His blue eyes had a very intense blue glow to them. “Intelligence from Antrixies says that Dontaine Strykia led his rebel forces against the High Lord. Artur Strykia is dead by his own son’s hand! Your own Padawan now leads the clones against us! Our forces are retreating!”
“Get a hold on yourself, Kenn!” Osgrey said. His voice was full of sorrow, yet compassion. “We are not done yet. There are traitors from the Commonwealth and the Republic, but that does not mean any of us are! While we have Jinsai and Jedi by our side, we will fight for our ideals. Maybe not today, but we will fight. What would you have us do, Master Jedi?”
“What are your encrypted orders?” Bronn asked.
“We are to proceed with all available supplies and forces to one of the rendezvous spots near the Maridis Nebula. From there we will join up with whatever forces have survived.”
“Then, we will convene the leaders there to figure out our next recourse.” Osgrey responded. “Then we make them pay for this betrayal!”
“Revenge isn’t always the option, Captain.” Bronn said sadly.