Of Blood and Honor, Part 1: Suspicions
“One of three times I was able to have a conversation with the former High Lady of the Commonwealth, Marissa Damodred-Strykia, she shared with me what she considered to be the start of the Desmora Prophecy. While I recorded the interview, I was also able to retrieve some security footage along with audio files from various sources some years ago.” Willa casually said as she led Voren from the conference room to the hallway.
“How old are these files?” Voren ask.
“I estimate that the data, while not whole or officially time-stamped, comes from a time approximately mere months before the staged attack on Coruscant by the Confederacy of Independent Systems.” Willa responded. “I was able to liberate some of the security files from Admiral Terrel Harkness’ personal computer station that was left here on planet. They were files that he had apparently appropriated from the ransacked computers in the Jedi Temple. I have never been able to conclude why he had the files, though.”
“Were there any others? I mean, are there other files that concerned the Jedi of the Old Republic?”
“Yes, but none that were deemed of serious importance. Copies were created and distributed to the appropriate parties.” Pausing, Willa interacted with a computer station in the hallway. “What I have is a combination of graphics and audio reproduction mixed with actual security footage and files from my predecessor’s memory banks.”
The screen lit up to offer Voren a look back into the past at the beginning of a truly moving tale…
The door slid open, making only the slightest whisper of sound as it did, to reveal the grand reception room of the Chancellor’s suite in 500 Republica. While luxurious, it was quaint compared to some of the other senatorial housing located on Coruscant. The view of the ecumenopolis through the large, arching windows was spectacular. The first individuals through the door were a pair of senate guards dressed in their long, flowing, blue robes with blue plasteel helmets with opened t’s across the eyes and nose. They turned and stood each to one side of the doors. The next to enter were a pair of guards dressed in grey colored armor with gilded silver and gold trim. Long silver cloaks hung from one shoulder and draped down to the floor. Jutting from their other shoulder, slung across their back, were long-handled swords. One guard, the male, was just starting to show the first signs of grey in the temples of his hair while the other, the female, wore her long brown hair pulled tightly back to cascade down her neck and back. They were the Grey Guard of the Antrixian Commonwealth and their duty was to protect the High Lord of the Commonwealth. The male, Ser Barestan Semly, quickly looked over the room while his counterpart and his commander, Lady Moraine Strykia, did the same. She nodded to Barestan before proceeding forward and motioning to the others following her. She had the signs of a youth not long gone with a maturity in the set of her jaw that spoke of years of training. There was elegance in Moraine while there was also an air of deadly purpose to her too.
The next to come through the doors were the rest of the party, numbering five in all. The youngest of the group, the twin children Graydon and Allyson, began to stare wide-eyed at the view of the buildings that rose up from the city to nearly reach the edges of the atmosphere it’s self. They followed the steady stream of airspeeders coursing along their routes while starships descended or ascended to landing platforms across the scene. Both Graydon and Allyson immediately ran to the windows for a better view of the cityscape. The adult female of the five and the mother of the twins, Marissa, dressed in her light blue shimmersilk dress and robes, looked at the twins with a smile on her face as both children began to whisper back and forth to each other about the sights they found before them. Marissa’s husband, Artur, stood stoically next to her, dressed in dark blue armor with gold and silver gilding, not much different than the armor of the second set of guards. Behind the elder Strykias was the High Lady’s personal protocol droid, T-3R1. T-3 stood silently behind his mistress, simply observing until called upon. Just as Marissa was about to go to the children and usher them back towards Artur and the Grey Guard, Artur gentling put his hand on Marissa’s arm, halting her.
Artur gave his wife a loving smile and subtlety shook his head. Marissa relaxed a bit, but still looked after the twins with motherly concern. Moraine looked towards the High Lord, her eldest brother, and smiled. She casually walked over to stand by the children and watch over them as they pressed against the windows, attempting to see everything and anything. Artur watched his youngest children with a broad smile blooming on his face, enjoying their youthful innocence that neither of the twins had been able to partake in as of late.
"High Lord Strykia and Lady Strykia. Welcome to Coruscant." Came a regal voice. Stepping into view from a side hallway was a man dressed in blue and purple robes, trimmed in gold embroidery. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. The head of the Galactic Senate for the Galactic Republic and the head of the Republic during one of it’s most troubling times, the Clone Wars.
"It is an honor to be here, Chancellor." Artur responded as he began to step forward. He held a regal air that spoke of a proper upbringing, but his eyes told that if needed, he could be ready for combat at any time. Artur offered a bow to the Chancellor.
"Chancellor Palpatine. We are honored to be here." Marissa added after Artur. She presented the Chancellor with a regal curtsy. By now, Moraine had herded the twins away from the window and back over to their parents. "Children. This is Supreme Chancellor Palpatine." Marissa said as she moved the two children to the front.
"Sir." Both children spoke as they offered their own bow and curtsy.
"This is delightful." The Chancellor spoke, a wide, almost endearing smile blooming across his face. "The Strykia twins are everything that I've heard rumored. What do you think of Coruscant, young ones?"
"It's big, sir." Allyson answered. Her eyes darted back to the windows as a smile of curiosity and wonder began to creep across her face.
Laughing, the Chancellor patted Allyson lightly on the head. "Yes it is, my dear. I suppose it's not quite as open and wondrous as your world of Antrixies, now is it?"
"No sir." Graydon added. "But it is very different and wondrous from what we've seen."
"I'm glad you think so, young master Strykia." The Chancellor directed to Graydon. As he moved to also pat Graydon's head, Graydon pulled slightly away before allowing the touch. Marissa and the Chancellor took notice.
"Blade.” Marissa immediately addressed Graydon by his given Jinsai honor name. “Where are your manners?"
Graydon lowered his head. Turning towards his mother, he offered a quiet apology. "I am sorry and ask for forgiveness, Kyudan." He addressed Marissa not as his mother, but as his Jinsai master.
“Don’t ask me for forgiveness, young Shodan Blade. It’s the Chancellor you need to address.” Marissa scolded.
"That is alright, Lady Strykia. He meant no dishonor. It was just a reaction children have at times when they meet someone new." The Chancellor quickly said before moving on, dismissing the event as nothing. "Lord Strykia. Your visit does surprise me. Especially with the way things have been going in the war. Travel isn’t safe anymore."
"I felt it was very necessary to make this trip, Chancellor. We need to make sure we present a unified front to those who still may try to secede from the Republic." Artur stated. "As members of the Republic, the Antrixians and our Commonwealth have an obligation to assist in this time of need. Republic forces took a pounding on Tauber and I used the opportunity to escort them back as an excuse to come." Artur gave the Chancellor a quick smile. "I doubt highly that the Separatists would attack the Battle Group that escorted us here."
"I do suppose you are right, Lord Strykia. But we must use caution these days. The Separatist forces have their targets and agendas, but I fear they may look on an opportunity such as your visit as an open invitation to bring you or your family harm."
"Lady Marissa insisted on coming also." Artur smiled as he motioned towards his beautiful wife. "She has business at the Jedi temple, concerning the twins and herself."
"Are both of your children going to join the glorious ranks of the Jedi Order?" The Chancellor asked.
"For our people, Allyson and Graydon will be the first fully trained Jinsai and Jedi. When that time is right, of course." Marissa answered.
"That is a good thing for everyone in the galaxy. Now come. You must be hungry and I would like to talk to the High Lord about the Commonwealth's assistance with the conflict." The Chancellor motioned to a table adorned with platters of food as he beckoned the group to follow him and be seated.
As the group sat down and servants brought in drinks and trays of hors d'oeuvres, Graydon couldn’t help but feel the Chancellor look at him from time to time. Graydon sat quietly next to his mother and sister, trying to be as polite as he could. But each time he left the Chancellor look in his direction icy chills ran up his spine.
Three figures walked inside the open bay of one of the industrial towers of the section of Coruscant known as the Works. The tallest Human had gray hair and a gray beard, dressed in fine-tailored browns with a silver-clasped cloak. The other two, shorter, wore concealing cloaks. This was the only time there were three, instead of two.
“Lord Tyranus, what news do you bring?” Asked one of the Humans, dressed in the dark robes that concealed all his features. His voice was old, but one full of malice despite how well spoken he might be. There was darkness within him.
“My master, our plan is moving accordingly.” Count Dooku, also known as the Sith Lord, Darth Tyranus said, answering his master. His well-tailored clothes and cloak spoke of fortune, power, and etiquette.
“Good.” Darth Sidious responded. His words, despite his pleasure in the report, still were laced with a darkness that was foreboding.
“The seeds of doubt are sown in the rogue Antrixian. Dontaine Strykia could become a valuable acolyte.” Dooku stated.
“No.” Sidious responded, turning to address his apprentice, Tyranus. “The Strykia boy is too reckless, too narrow-minded to join our plans. But perhaps his younger siblings could be of more interest to us. Yes. The twins are powerful in the Force. They would make powerful allies.”
“The future of these two children you speak of is clouded.” The man in the concealing red robe finally said, stopping beside Sidious. “The first one you spoke of, his path has been set. But these two, I’m not certain.”
“Rhakyhl, can they be made my servants?” Sidious asked, turning away from Dooku.
“I shall have to meditate on the matter. I will find out, my Lord Sidious.”
Rhakyhl had seen the twins in the Force. There were two of each of the twins, however. One set would die in service to the plans of Darth Sidious. The other set would be enemies of Dark Lord of the Sith. Was it the possible destinies that Rhakyhl had envisioned? Two different paths set before these twins? The interesting thing with his brief vision was that the twins killed each other in one fashion or another. From different paths, they would kill each other.
Only time and the Force would make clear what this meant.
"I don't like this, my dear." Marissa said as she paced the floor in front of the windows of the private apartment of the Antrixian senatorial complex. "This isn't right."
"Why all of the sudden are you so disturbed?” Artur, sitting in an over-stuffed chair, asked his wife.
"There's a shadow hanging over this place. It’s shrouding this planet and especially the Force here. It’s even worse than it is at home. There is a darkness hanging over the entire galaxy now, dimming the Force." Marissa answered as she turned towards the windows.
"In a time of war, feelings are bound to be darker than in a time of peace. Marissa, I don't want you to fret over nothing. Coruscant is not Antrixies and I'm sure that you are sensing that the senate is overtly concerned with the Separatists and how wrong this war is." Artur rose from his chair and moved behind his wife, hugging her, resting his chin on her shoulder and pressing his head to hers. The glow of her blue within blue eyes subsided some, but still was there.
"I feel ripples in the Force, surging out from here. I'm afraid that there is a huge shift in the Force." Marissa's toned dropped to a hushed tone. "I can not sense the direct source, but my gut tells me that these ripples have something to do with the Chancellor." Marissa reached up and put a hand on Artur's face, gently and lovingly pressing his face against her head even more. "The last time Dontaine came home to the palace, I sensed almost the same thing. It was like an oil slick on water. The surface was somehow polluted. But this is stronger. Here. Before the reception with the Chancellor, Graydon's unconscious thoughts said the same thing. Especially when he came in contact with the Chancellor. He's sensing the wrongness in everything, even if he's not aware of it."
“Tensions are high, especially on Coruscant.” Artur said softly. “The people who are in charge of defending our way of life are under a huge amount of pressure. I’m sure that has to influence the Force.”
“It’s not just that.” Marissa responded. “Did you notice how withdrawn Graydon was while we ate? It’s the same way he acts around Dontaine over the last year. Graydon wants nothing to do with him.”
“And here I thought it was more of a jealousy thing between them.” Artur said back. “I thought that that’s what had occurred. Especially when they use to be so close, despite their age difference.”
“No. It’s more than that. Graydon may still act a boy, but he is the most responsible Jinsai initiate I’ve seen.” Marissa smiled. “Thankfully Allyson and Therryn follow his lead during lessons. Dontaine and Graydon were close, but now Graydon treats Dontaine as if he’s an outcast. It’s almost as if Dontaine is Gai’shan to him and that has me concerned. All that aside, he’s too young to be feeling this heavy of a burden.”
"Does this have to do with the visions you've been having? Are his behaviors and your dreams linked? Do you think this has to do with the prophecy?" Artur asked softly.
"If it does and they are, then we are all in danger." Marissa moved to turn and face Artur. "I don't want Allyson or Graydon here. Not on this world. Not at the Jedi temple. Not now." Her eyes began to glow brightly again. "But I feel that none of us will be safe, anywhere."
"Your eyes tell me that a mother's concern is just as fierce as a mother Sai-tooth Felyx's protection of her cubs."
"I must speak to Master Windu. And then I want to be gone from here, tomorrow."
"You are not just my first-wife. You are my most trusted advisor. I've learned to never doubt you." Artur leaned in and kissed his wife softly. "You attend to your business. I can have Moraine and Barestan go with me to help with the twins. They have to see the sights here, before we leave. It’s my fatherly duty to make sure they see something of the galactic capital."
"Be on your guard, Guardian. Please, for your sake as well as for the children’s." Marissa leaned closer and hugged her husband tightly. "As soon as I am done, I will come to wherever you are. The sooner we are done, the better."
Moraine quickly glanced around the rounding pillar she stood behind. It offered decent cover, but also obscured her view of the would-be attacker. Glancing the other way, she noted that Barestan had his Warblade sword drawn and that Halden Storme had his Lightsaber in hand, but not activated. They had just landed in their airspeeder when a blaster shot exploded into an arch over their heads as they made their way towards the awaiting Phoenix shuttle. Everyone had immediately rushed for cover.
Who knows what fate might have met them had they remained at the docking terminal at the Senate Complex. Graydon had immediately voiced his concern when they landed. Two of the Jinsai that were assisting the Grey Guard had ventured ahead while everyone else waited in the speeder. Those two unfortunate souls met their demise at the hands of droids that were apparently sent for an assassination attempt. It was Graydon’s sense in the force that saved the rest of the party.
Moraine looked back to her brother, seeing that he too had his weapon drawn and was shielding the twins as he waited for Moraine to motion them forward. Her eyes narrowed as she began to feel overconfident. Whoever had chosen to attack them didn't realize that they were dealing with a party of Jinsai. It would be a deadly mistake for whoever their assailant turned out to be. Moraine glanced out again and saw no sign of where the blaster shot had come from.
With a quick motion of her free hand, Moraine sent Barestan and the Jinsai Gai’in, Halden, sprinting out from their cover to attack any hidden attackers. After a second, she followed suit. What surprised her most was that Halden had stopped quickly in his tracks and was now turning around to face the direction that Artur and the twins were in. There was a look on Halden’s face that turned Moraine’s innards to cold water. She quickly assumed the guard position with her own Warblade as she spun around.
The sound of Artur’s own Warblade clattering to the ground registered before the sight of her brother being knocked back against the wall did in her mind. A hulking Aqualish stood between Artur and the twins with three of the remaining Jinsai Gray Guards some distance away. In the Aqualish’s hand was an immense vibroaxe and he began to raise it, preparing to strike at Artur.
Without thought, Moraine sprinted forward. She knew that there was no way to reach the monster before his blow fell. She didn’t care. She had to try. Her vision tunneled in on the scene in front of her as she began to run. She wished she had her blaster in hand rather than her Warblade.
Allyson and Graydon, even though they were just about to turn eight, weren't helpless, though. Even as Moraine picked up speed to attempt to intervene with her brother’s assailant, she saw the twins act. They acted as true Jinsai. It was as Marissa always said, together, the twins could do great things. Greater than when they were apart.
Allyson was the first to attack the monster in front of her. The Aqualish never knew her attack was coming. She jumped up with a nimble grace that only a child possessed and placed a determined kick right in the rear side of the alien. It was enough to hurt him. The Aqualish paused in his attack on Artur and turned, swinging blindly at where he thought his assailer would be. Allyson had ducked down, almost as if she knew the intended blow was coming.
While Allyson was acting, so was Graydon. He rolled into a tight somersault across the floor towards his father. As Graydon came up, so to did his father’s Warblade. The crimson metal of the unique sword flashed in the light as Graydon raised it, pointing it at the Aqualish. It was mere inches away from the exposed lower torso of the alien.
Between Allyson’s first kick and the Aqualish’s wild swing, the alien was off balance. Allyson, already in a crouch, used the opportunity to kick out at the back of the alien’s opposite knee. It was almost perfect teamwork for the twins. The Aqualish buckled, sending him down on the aimed tip of Artur’s sword, held ever so steady by Graydon.
The alien’s weight finished what the twins had started. The Warblade sunk into his vulnerable flesh, piercing vital organs and severing blood vessels. Graydon let go of the grip, allowing the Aqualish to fall onto the sword and letting gravity finish the job. Graydon quickly backed up against the wall next to his father.
The Aqualish let out a howl of pain and anguish as the melee weapon fell from his hand and his valuable life blood spilled out. He rolled onto his back, clutching at the weapon now embedded in him. Within a mere second, the alien jerked once and then was dead.
Halden stopped just behind Moraine as she stopped next to her niece, looking at the scene in disbelief. Halden appeared just as shocked as she was. Artur straightened and stepped next to the corpse of the Aqualish. He carefully reached down and took hold of his weapon, pulling it free. The Aqualish didn’t move.
“If I wasn’t here, I wouldn’t believe it.” Halden quietly said.
Artur quickly looked at Graydon and then Allyson. “Are you two alright?”
“Yes, daddy.” Allyson responded.
“Yes, sir.” Graydon added.
Moraine, finally being able to break her shock, looked at her brother. “Artur… I’m sorry. I was bold. I should have-”
“No apology is necessary my dear sister.” Artur calmly interrupted his sister, wiping his blade clean on the tunic of the Aqualish. “How were any of us to know that this was an ambush. We all thought we had avoided the attack at the Senate.”
“We shouldn't have been spread so-”
Moraine was once again interrupted, this time by the clang of metal on metal and the sound of sizzling. The group turned towards the sound as one. Barestan Semly stepped around one of the pillars the Jinsai had earlier used as cover, holding a droid head in one hand and his Warblade in the other.
“I think that takes care of the threat.” Artur said, sheathing his own blade. “Let’s not tell your mother about this.”
The twins looked at each other and smiled.
Three chairs were occupied in the council room at the top of the Jedi temple. A short, green creature with wispy hair and pointy ears sat to the right of a dark skinned human, bald and dressed in the brown and tan robes of the Jedi. Another, younger than the other human, with short brown hair and a full beard and mustache, sat to the center's left. Marissa stood in the center of the chamber, facing the three, with full composure and all of her regalia. Slightly behind her stood her ever present and faithful droid, T-3. Addressing the Jedi Council was nothing new to her, but addressing some of the most important members of the Jedi Order with concerning matters such as what she was feeling was troubling to her.
"Master Strykia. All of the council senses the same ripples that you do." Mace Windu, leader of the Jedi Council, addressed Marissa with confidence and respect. "But you are leveling some very harsh concerns towards the Chancellor of the Republic. A Republic that the Jedi and the Jinsai have all pledged to protect."
"Yes, Master Windu. I know full well the weight of my words." Marissa responded without hesitation. "I would not bring this before you, if I had not thought it was of the utmost importance or that this did not warrant your attention."
"Your son, strong is he." Master Yoda, the oldest of the Jedi Masters on the council spoke. "Sense more than anyone is aware, he does. A shadow, he sees, falling upon everything."
"The council is aware that there are, issues, let us say, concerning the Chancellor. There is darkness near him that we are investigating. With that darkness comes danger. To the Republic and to the Chancellor. Your padawan may be seeing through this mask on the Force that everyone appears to be covered in. And he may not even know that he is doing so." Master Kenobi added after Yoda finished.
"Graydon is Shodan, Master Kenobi, not a padawan learner. At least not yet." Marissa chuckled softly. "But he instinctually sees through the Force as if he has trained in it for all his life. I want him to fulfill my wish to be a Jedi, but not now. Not until this war is over and these dark times are past."
"The Jedi will always count on the Jinsai as our allies and our equals, Master Strykia." Mace Windu said when Marissa paused. "While I cannot say that your daughter will be Jedi, having met her only the one time, your son possesses much potential and we will trust that you will train him just like a Jedi would a padawan.” Mace paused, reflecting on the first meetings with Graydon and the shatterpoints that he had seen surrounding the boy. After focusing himself, he then continued. “I sense that there is importance in him, which I can only assume carries on to his sister also. The council will discuss what you have brought before us."
"Dark times, these are." Yoda said as he slowly moved from his chair to walk to Marissa's position. Both Windu and Kenobi followed. "Your son, when I met him for the first time, has a hard destiny to fulfill. Not of the Jedi, is his road. But Jedi, he will be. This I see for him. Hope that your daughter is there to travel that road also, I do. By his side, with her, these twins can accomplish much."
"Master Yoda and Master Windu." Kenobi said as he moved to Marissa's side, addressing the other masters. "I will see Master Strykia off, with your permission."
"Of course, Master Kenobi." Windu responded.
After offering bows, both Marissa and Obi-wan turned and walked to the turbolift in silence with T-3 following closely behind. Obi-wan keyed the lift controls to take them to the ground level of the temple. Marissa was the first to break the silence.
"Obi-Wan? What did Master Yoda mean by that? Not a Jedi, but a Jedi?"
"I wish I knew, Marissa." Obi-Wan replied. "Master Yoda has the strongest gift for foresight out of the whole Jedi order. But there are times when he sees only what he tells. I remember how he spoke of his visions shortly after we first met the boy. Do you have another, younger child?"
“No. No other children. Why?”
“Yoda spoke of three children sharing a path together.” Obi-Wan stroked his beard as he thought on the conversation for a moment. “Either way, when we can get rid of Dooku, Grevious, and the rest of the Separatists, the war will be over and we can continue as planned. If all goes well, my next mission to Cato Neimoidia will be our first step towards victory. I’m here to re-arm before we attempt to capture Gunray on his homeworld.”
"I wish this war was not happening. Things were so much easier before the Separatists started this mess. I wish that Graydon could be here, studying with the likes of you and Master Yoda. I wish Allyson could be here to temper her impulsiveness. But I will not put either of them so far away and in harm's way. Not now. Not after what I've sensed and obviously what Graydon sensed."
"We all have trust that you will train both of your children in the same manner as we would. When the time is right, the Jedi will always accept them into our ranks." Obi-Wan said as he placed a re-assuring hand on Marissa's shoulder.
"I know." Marissa said with a sigh. "On another matter, how goes the training of your padawan?"
"Anakin?" Obi-Wan asked as Marissa nodded in response. "That boy will be the death of me. He's been granted knighthood, but he still has a lot to learn. He's as headstrong as ever and at times very careless and selfish. I’ll be rendezvousing with him at Cato Neimoidia."
"He sounds like my oldest son, Dontaine." Marissa said, a look of remembrance coming to her eyes. “He was my first apprentice.”
"You aren't instructing your other son?"
"He's moved on in his instruction. The other Jinsai masters say the same as I do, though. He's trying to move through his training too fast." Marissa responded.
"That is a problem and a reason for concern."
"Master Jevan Harkonna is observing him for the time. This pairing should heal the rift between House Strykia and House Harkonna. They are out amongst the sectors, giving aid where they can and assisting the Republic with our troops."
The lift stopped and opened to the main hall of the Jedi temple where the pair exited the lift and began walking towards the main entrance. Their conversation continued as they walked, mostly concerning the movement of Republic forces and how they both felt that the Republic was barely making headway in the war against the Separatists. As they came out on to the main walkway leading up to the temple, the pair stopped, simultaneously. T-3 had to stop and take a step back, nearly bumping into Marissa.
"Do you sense that?" Obi-Wan ask as he began to search the stairs from his position.
"Yes." Marissa's hand swept her lightsaber from her belt in a fluid swipe as Obi-Wan did the same. Her years of training in the Force allowed her to feel the slight vibrations emanating outward, casting a dark shadow on the moment. The snap-hiss of their blades igniting was also almost simultaneous. From behind a statue, a small, black sphere darted quickly into view and fired two quick blaster shots from it's center. Obi-Wan deftly deflected one while Marissa did the same with the second bolt. As soon as the second bolt was deflected, Marissa fell into a rolling ball and dodged another pair of shots fired from a second droid sphere that appeared behind them.
Mastering the Force, Obi-Wan stretched out his hand and made a downward motion, sending the first droid crashing into the pavement. The telekinetic push through the Force did exactly what Obi-Wan had intended. The resulting explosion from the droid's crash was loud and could be felt through the stairs. Marissa was just as quick, throwing her lightsaber at the second droid, as she came out of her roll. The droid exploded in a loud shower of sparks and debris as the lightsaber made contact. Marissa guided the blade back to her hand through the Force, finding it surprisingly unscathed from the explosion.
"Dooku has gone too far." Obi-Wan said before extinguishing his lightsaber. Marissa did the same and clipped her's to her belt as her free hand pulled a comlink free.
"That was no attempt on my life. It was too easy and I don’t think Dooku was solely responsible." She said as she raised the comlink towards her face. "It was a distraction." She quickly keyed the comlink on. "Artur! Are you there?"
A brief moment passed before a response came back through the comlink. By this time, several clone troopers had moved from the temple entrance and were taking up defensive positions around Obi-Wan and Marissa.
"Yes Marissa. I am here with Moraine and the twins." Artur responded.
"Are you safe?"
"We are at the shuttle, waiting for you." Artur replied. "Graydon sensed another ripple and directed us to go to the shuttle just before we arrived at the Senate. We lost two guards to some type of assassins. One was a droid and the other was some creature that tried to ambush us when we landed at the pad. The other Jinsai took care of the threats, though."
Obi-Wan, overhearing this, interjected. "Tell him to come to the temple to pick you up. I fear that going to their location may be too dangerous. There may be other traps laid before us."
"Tell General Kenobi I heard that and we're on our way there." Artur said through his own comlink.
"Use caution, my heart." Marissa said before disengaging the comlink and putting it back on her belt. "I fear this is the end of my visit, Master Kenobi."
"I agree, Master Strykia." Obi-Wan said with a sigh. With that, the pair, flanked by clone troopers, made their way back inside the temple to await the Antrixian shuttle.
“Master? What’s happened?” Asked the young teenaged girl, standing among six other members of the Jedi Order. Not far from where they stood were Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and his guest, Marissa Strykia. Her green eyes darted from her master to the surroundings of the landing pad in which they were all standing. The wind tossed her blonde hair away from her face as she cautiously looked over the scene before her. Attempting to seem calm and at ease, Becca Gellar felt nervous. More and more, she was feeling unease while she was on Coruscant, even at the Jedi Temple.
“We believe that the Separatists attempted to send a special force here in order to carry out an assassination attempt.” Master Tatianna Zem, stood tall, next to Becca. She was slender and beautiful, even exotic with her dark skin and dark eyes. Tatianna’s hair also fluttered in the wind on the landing pad. Ever watchful, Master Zem stretched out with the Force into their surroundings, watching for any signs of danger.
“Who is that talking with Master Kenobi?” Becca asked.
“That is the High Lady of the Antrixian Commonwealth. She came to speak to the masters and was leaving when the attack occurred.”
Master Zem’s words were nearly cut off by the sounds of repulsors and ion engines from the approaching shuttle. It’s sleek lines spoke of speed, mixed with a lethality that hinted of wartime needs. Becca watched intently as the strange shuttle came to rest on the landing pad. Securely landed, the boarding ramp lowered, ushering out two armed guards, standing ready should another attack occur. Overhead, a pair of Antrixian Shoto starfighters rushed by, flanked by Republic ARC-130 fighters, flying cover around the temple.
Becca watched as an older gentleman, dressed in a dark blue armor with a cloak draped down his back stepped down the ramp. Another guard rushed down behind him, trying to get in front of this man. The man, whoever he was, stepped around the guard, offering possibly stern words that made the guard snap to attention and halt his attempted stall. Two smaller figures rushed down the ramp, however, bypassing the guards and running to the woman that stood with Master Kenobi.
Stretching out with the Force, Becca felt no disturbances in her vicinity. She was surprised that she could feel the warmth and light through the Force that came from the small group of newcomers. She watched intently as the smaller figures, children, ran to their mother, first offering a quick bow then hugging her tightly. It brought a smile to her face, watching that love. Becca wished, briefly, that she could be included in that feeling of belonging. The dream of having a family had started to become strong. Each night, she drifted to sleep thinking of the family she didn’t know and dreaming of a family that she might one day have.
As the Antrixian Phoenix-class shuttle landed, Obi-Wan reached out with the Force, scanning the surrounding for any lingering threats. Sensing none, he looked to Marissa and nodded.
“I sense nothing unusual.” Marissa nearly had to shout as the engines and repulsors of her husband’s shuttle threatened to drown her words out. She looked on as the shuttle landed and the boarding ramp opened. Two guards quickly came to guard the base of the ramp, which were followed by her own husband. Another guard, Rengan, she thought, tried to stop him from coming down to her, but Artur wasn’t easily dissuaded.
Behind Artur came the sense of boundless energy and brightness in the Force. Both Allyson and Graydon came rushing down the ramp, easily sliding past the guards with twists and spins, even as the guards tried to bar their way. From Marissa’s perspective, she could see Moraine standing atop the ramp, watching the twins, but smiling at their youthful defiance. The twins beat Artur to her, but not by much. The twins stopped just short of her, snapping off quick bows.
“Mother, Master Jedi.” Both said in unison. Standing straight again, they rushed Marissa in a combined hug, leaving Marissa little time to respond. A smile quickly spread across Obi-Wan’s face as he bowed in return and then stepped forward to greet Artur.
“Lord Strykia. I wish we were meeting under better conditions.”
“Likewise, Master Kenobi. Thank you for watching over my wife.” Artur responded.
“Watch over her? She did half the work all on her own.” Kenobi returned with a laugh. “Perhaps I should thank you for having her here to watch over me.”
“Still, thank you.”
“Don’t mention it. I’m glad everyone is safe. That is the important part.” Kenobi said as he turned to bid Marissa farwell. Seeing the twins looking at him, he addressed them. “These must be the rumored twins. Your reputation precedes you, young ones.”
“Thank you, Master Jedi.” Allyson said first. Graydon followed with an even deeper bow to honor Obi-wan.
“Children, this is Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi.” Marissa added.
“You’re the famous Jedi from the Holo-reports.” Graydon responded, a wide smile spreading across his face. Graydon’s eyes lit up with a sense of admiration for the man. “You and Jedi Knight Skywalker.”
“You have me there, young Master Strykia.”
“I’m Graydon, but my honor name is Blade. This is Katana, or Allyson. That’s her real name.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet both of you.” Obi-Wan smiled.
“Come children, we have to be off. Thank you again, Master Kenobi.” Artur chimed in.
“Until next time, Lord Strykia.” Obi-wan addressed Artur. “Master Strykia, children. May the Force be with you.”
“And may the Force be with you.” Marissa said as she guided the children back to the shuttle. Obi-wan watched as the Antrixians boarded the shuttle. At the top of the ramp, Graydon turned around and looking at Obi-wan, placed his closed fist into his other hand, bowing, giving the Jedi Master a respectful Jinsai farwell.
Willa deactivated the terminal as a older, red and white R2 unit made it’s way towards the pair. Stopping just short of Voren and Willa, the droid let out a series of tones addressing them.
“Yes, F3. I am aware of the schedule.” Willa responded to the small astromech droid. The R2, R2-F3, also known as Arfee, responded back with a series of chirps and beeps before turning to begin traveling back towards a set of doors not far from the computer terminal.
“Do not attempt your attitude or snide comments with me, R2-F3.” Willa said after the droid. “I am sorry, Master Na’al. General Synklair’s personal droid has a bit of attitude left over from the days of the Rebellion.”
“That’s alright, Willa. I’ve met a couple astro droids with the same personality traits.”
“Please, follow me.” Willa began to move in the direction that R2-F3 had gone. Stepping through the double blast doors, the trio entered the private hanger area where a lone ship sat, quietly idling. The ship was older than Voren expected to find at the palace. And honestly, it wasn’t the type of ship that he expected at all. The YT-2400 freighter looked like a museum piece, landed before him, but it did show signs of flight and quite possible fight by the various carbon marks on the hull. Still the ship either had to have been rebuilt, well-kept, or pulled from storage to be here. Standing by the ramp, talking to R2-F3 was a shorter, female dressed in black pants and a black flight jacket. Voren noted the red stripe running down the legs of the wearer’s pants. Corellian Blood Stripes. She looked familiar, but Voren couldn’t place it. Stopping in front of the woman, Willa offered introductions.
“Master Na’al, may I present General Cassandra Synklair.” Motioning towards the woman Voren was still trying to guess where he knew her from.
“Professor Na’al, it’s a pleasure.” CJ offered a quick handshake. “And it’s retired ‘General’. I’m not active anymore. Captain Synklair or Captain Morgan will work just fine.”
“Morgan… Ah! Cassandra Morgan, daughter of Cassi LaRue! You were Sable Skyez for a time, weren’t you?” Voren responded. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Shhh… not so loud, professor.” CJ said with a blush. “Everyone will want an autograph.”
“I didn’t know that the High Lord had celebrities in his entourage.”
“You record one slug of songs to help spark more support for the Rebellion and all the sudden you’re famous.” CJ said with a laugh as she blushed even deeper.
“You were a general?” Voren asked.
“I was for one battle on a faraway planet, a long time ago.” CJ answered. “It was Blade’s doing, uh, I mean the High Lord’s doing. Willa still insists on addressing me by the old title.”
“It is an honorific that you should be proud of, Cassandra.” Willa added.
“Right.” CJ said with an air of sarcasm. “Well, we need to meet the Glaive in orbit, so if I can have everyone please board at this time.” CJ said as she motioned up the ramp. “The Lightning’s Ride will get you to your next destination.”