This is another excerpt from "Of Blood and Honor." This one was the very first one that I declare canon in the overall context of the story. In this one, we get to see the full-on dilemma that takes place for Graydon and Allyson, not to mention Marissa, which gets the ball rolling for the entire Antrixian storyline throughout the classic, original trilogy era. This is the turning point when Dontaine goes over to the Dark side, forsaking everything in a bid for power. The deck is stacked in the Strykia's favor, however. All hope does not rest on Graydon and Allyson's shoulders. As Yoda said, "There is another." Marissa's sister may be part of that, whereas we'll find out that there may be a secret lurking in the Strykia bloodline that's a key also. With everything going on, we see plans that Marissa, Moraine, and others have laid out, coming into action. This takes place when Darth Sidious/The Emperor initiates Order 66.
One End, One Beginning
Voren finished reading the data file just as he felt the deckplates of the cockpit vibrate slightly. Looking up, he saw that they were beginning to move.
“Gentle beings, this is your captain speaking.” CJ casually said as she fed power into the repulsors and engines. “At this time I’d like to have you all secure any possessions and make sure your crash webbing is secured firmly. I hope you enjoy your flight.”
Voren gave a nervous laugh as CJ turned her head to smile at him.
The YT-2400 freighter lifted off and, despite it’s looks, gracefully left the hanger of the High Lord’s Palace in the city of Kaldra on the world of Antrixies. The Lightning’s Ride, once a smuggler vessel and then later the personal transport for CJ Morgan and her friends, began to speed up and climb up and out of the planet’s atmosphere.
“I have to say, Antrixies looks remarkable compared to what I initially pictured after reading reports in the Republic’s archives.” Voren said as he looked out the wrap-around cockpit windows. There are worlds still recovering after all the conflicts of the last 40 years.”
“We’re lucky to have the Lutrins as neighbors.” CJ Morgan responded. Glancing at Voren, she gave the historian a proud smile. “They’ve managed to restore almost every world of the Commonwealth back to a balanced, healthy state.”
“Yes. The Lutrin are very adept at terraforming now.” Willa added in from the seat behind Voren. “Some of the eco damage caused by the Imperials during the Battle of the Commonwealth took years to reverse and repair. The Lutrin care a great deal about keeping the worlds as they should be.”
“That’s fascinating.” Voren commented. “So, Captain Morgan or Captain Synklair… Care to go on record with any additions to Willa’s story?”
“Well, let’s see… What would you like to know?”
“I have detailed the bloodlines of the Strykia family up to the generation of adults current within the family.” Willa interrupted before Voren could ask his question.
“Thanks, Willa. Let me add to that.” CJ said to cut Willa off. “There’s quite a few of us to take into account when you start talking about bloodlines and the big guy’s family. Did Willa add that the current High Lady, my aunt, was the third choice for the wife of the High Lord?”
“Uh, no.” Voren replied.
“If you are going to begin this drabble again, Cassandra, I would like to remind you…” Willa interrupted.
“I’m kidding!” CJ cut Willa off once again. “Becca Gellar, or High Lady Becca Strykia is my aunt from my mother’s side. There was a time, back around the height of the Civil War that I was pining for Graydon’s attention. But, I thankfully came to my senses and turned down the opportunity.”
“I believe Master Strykia was the one who decided against pursuing the relationship any farther.” Willa interrupted.
“Okay, fine. It was mutual.” CJ stated with a laugh. “Becca had been in hiding for a few years when she gave birth Anna. We later rescued Anna from a ship full of alien bugs. A nasty thing, there. A couple years later, before Becca returned to the light, Graydon adopted Anna as his own. A twist of fate put Becca and Graydon on the path where they would eventually be together and starting a family.”
“Anna was captured by Jedi hunters on Draven and rescued by General Synklair’s crew prior to the Battle of Yavin.” Willa expanded on CJ’s comment. “Of course, none of that would have occurred had Lady Marissa not had her plan in place.”
“Plan?” Voren asked.
“Yes. Lady Marissa Strykia had studied and prepared for the eventuality of the event known as the Desmora Prophecy, which we have talked about, for years prior to the end of the Clone Wars.” Willa answered. “The Desmora Prophecy was an old Jinsai prophecy stating that the Antrixian Commonwealth would come under dark times and that a set of twins would be instrumental in restoring the Commonwealth. Those twins were to be the Strykia Twins, Lady Allyson and Lord Graydon.”
“When Dontaine Strykia rebelled against Lord Artur and fell to the Dark side of the Force, Lady Marissa set in motion the plan to place the twins, along with a few others into hiding. Please allow me to give you a detailed recount…”
“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 has renounced the Jedi!”
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 renounced the Jedi Order and now considered herself only loyal to the man she had always knew as her father, the man who had secretly remained in contact with her throughout her years at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Her staying in contact with her father was mostly due to one man, Chancellor Palpatine.
“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. 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.”
On the eastern hemisphere of the planet Drauron, 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 Drauron 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 the traditions of the Daughters so closely?”
“Proper? Traditions are what have held our people together through the ages. Besides, as a Daughter of the Blade, 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 CIS and Dominion, 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 hyper-net. 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 Daughter of the Blade as she spoke to her, her voice was returning to a calm tone. “As Wynd has fore-seen, 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.
“My Lord, the starport reports that Republic LAATs are on their way down from the Intrepid.” Kurzon Xingus said as he stepped next to Dontaine.
Dontaine took a deep breath, closing his eyes and centering himself. Through the Force, he felt the disturbances in 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, Steelheart.” Dontaine said in response, addressing Kurzon by his honor name. “The hour is ours and we cannot fail!”
“As you wish.” Kurzon responded. He motioned to the other Shiado, spreading them out across the room.
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.
“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.
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 onto a rooftop landing platform. 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.
A smooth set of doors silently opened into the passageway. Two armored warriors stepped through, securing the passage to ensure the safety of their wards. The plating of the plastine armor was a deep red, covering their upper arms, chest and thighs, providing protection but allowing freedom of movement. One of the warriors still wore his insect-like helmet, hiding his features, while his companion had given up his. The eyes of the helmet-less guard shown brightly with a red glow. His hair was in a state of disarray, drying blood matting it down in spots on the sides of his head. Blood streaked down his neck and onto the black bodyglove he wore under his armor.
The mechanically-aided voice of the helmeted guard spoke as the two surveyed the passageway. “The way is clear, M’lady.” The woman that stepped into the hallway seemed to brighten the surroundings. She carried a regal air about her, despite her disordered hair and robes. Her eyes glowed with a bright blue, giving a clue to the feelings she held inside. Urgency and sorrow filled her heart and mind, yet she knew the path before her must be followed. From behind her, three children appeared into the corridor. The oldest children, boy and girl, carried similar features and shared the same eyes as their mother, standing in front of them. The youngest of the three, a boy with eyes glowing red, matched the older boy’s height, even being younger than the other. Together, the group began to move down the corridor towards a set of heavy, chrome-like doors.
“Come now children. Once we are through the doors and outside, you all run as fast as you can to the shuttles.” The concern and care she voiced could only come from a mother. And with every step, Marissa “Wynd” Strykia knew that she was about to give up all that she had left. Her family. She tried to steel herself and calm her emotions as she walked, but her heart grew heavy.
Just prior to rescuing the young children, she had witnessed the most terrifying event she should ever face. The loss of her husband was one thing. But to watch as the father of her children was struck down by his own blood and the descent into darkness that her eldest son had so boldly embraced after he murdered the High Lord… Standing over his father’s body, proud and triumphant… That would leave a scar on her heart for a very long time to come.
- “This is foolish!” Artur tried to remain calm. “Listen to yourself, son!”
- “For too long have you sat upon the high seat and kept our people from their rightful place in the galaxy! 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 Marissa’s heart. She could feel the final crossing of her son, her one-time student, into the blackness of the Dark side. Outside, the sounds of battle began to grow louder as the forces of the Antrixian Commonwealth scrambled to repel the sudden onslaught of what they once thought were their allies, the Republic, and their own brethren, the Shiado Jinsai.
- “You dare to accuse me of these things, my son?” Artur Strykia, High Lord of the Antrixian Commonwealth, stared his eldest son down from a short distance away. “You are about to embark on a journey that you cannot return from. This is not what we want for you.”
- 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. Sensing the High Lord starting to move towards his weapon, Dontaine prepared his strike. “My journey starts where yours ends! I’m going to finish what I started on Coruscant!”
- “It was you!” Marissa exclaimed, in shock and surprise as realization dawned on her. The attacks on Coruscant four days earlier now made sense.
- “No, but I sanctioned them.” Dontaine wheeled towards his mother. “It would have been a cleaner way of making sure I stopped your plans before this escalated. Now we have to do this the hard way!”
- The sudden snap-hiss of lightsabers coming to life was the only warning Artur had of his impending doom. Unlike his wife, Artur didn’t have the Force to warn him of his son’s treachery. As he moved to draw his Warblade, the one weapon in which he could defend himself with, he knew it was too late. With one fatal swoop, Dontaine deftly slashed at his father and at the same time, brought his saber around to deflect his mother’s green blade from striking him. Dontaine’s first strike had found it’s mark, penetrating Artur’s chest, before coming up into a parry. Artur fell to the tiles of the room, his last breath escaping as he closed his eyes one last time.
- “Why? Why would you do this?” Came a choked plea from Marissa as she squared up against her son, lightsaber poised. Tears welled up in her glowing blue eyes. “Why would you slay your own blood? Your own father? Why, Dontaine?”
- “Because you two betrayed everything that we hold dear! You wanted to use your children as pawns in a plot for power! The twins! Even me! I’ll clean everything away! I’ll repair the damage that you started! You’ll never call me by Dontaine or Stormfist again! Those name shall have no meaning for you or any of my blood again!” Mother and son slowly paralleled each other, blades and eyes glowing fiercely. “The power I’ll have is nothing compared to what you and father saw fit for me. I won’t be a pawn again! Let the world know that I am the ‘Reaper’ who has brought this great change and protected everything. Now stand down mother and I may spare your life for a time.”
- “You were to follow your father! You were to inherit the High Seat and our family. All of this! While you have given yourself over to this darkening madness, I will not allow you to hold more weight than you deserve. Not now! Not ever!” With blinding speed, Marissa swung her blade towards Dontaine, but only as a feint. Her leg swung faster, sweeping down across the floor to sending her son sprawling. She attempted to sweep her saber down upon him, but Dontaine still possessed enough sense to parry her attack away. Rather than attempting another attack, she spat cleanly onto her son’s face.
- “The light has not given in yet! You will see your justice returned upon you, Reaper! We will finish this at another time and place!” Marissa enhanced her speed through the Force and disappeared out of the room. While she sensed Dontaine’s fall to the dark side, she sensed a larger, darker presence blanketing the galaxy. She knew that the Sith Lord had finally revealed himself and that the galaxy would face dark times ahead. If the Sith had returned, then the Jedi weren’t safe. If the Jedi weren’t safe, then the Jinsai were on the same ground as their comrades in arms. It was time for her plans to take shape. Her fears had taken shape.
- Dontaine quickly sprang to his feet and considered pursuing her for a moment then stopped. Standing over his father’s lifeless body, he called out to Marissa. “I will find you, mother! Then we will finish this. Oh yes we will! MOTHER!”
- Fading, insane laughter followed Marissa as she ran.
The doors opened to allow the guards, woman 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. Beside the shuttles stood two figures, one dressed in robes similar to Marissa’s, with a long gleaming sword in hand. The other wore a blue armor similar to the guards that came with Marissa and the children. Sheathing the sword, Moraine Strykia started towards the group as the children ran to her. Normally, the children were use to seeing their aunt, Moraine, garbed in the ceremonial armor of the Grey Guard. Today, she dressed as a common Lady of the Antrixian noble houses.
The girl began to cry as she ran, partially for joy and partially for confusion as to what was happening. “Aunt Moraine! You’ve come to help!” Allyson Strykia said as her aunt caught her in a hug. Both of the boys received hugs too.
“I am so happy to see all three of you safe.” Moraine said through tears. “So, so happy!”
Moraine released the boys from their hugs and stood to approach Marissa. “The prophecy is upon us, it would seem. I did as you asked and the shuttles are ready!” Moraine spoke with an air of sorrow, yet confidence and steadfastness were there also. “Has the worst of our fears come to pass?”
“Artur is no more, Moraine.” Marissa spoke calmly, hiding her grief deep inside her heart. Although she had lost much, she still held onto hope that she could prevent the loss of any more. From under her robes, she took a small bundle and handed it to Moraine. “We know what must come next.”
The oldest boy moving to his mother’s side, looked up into Marissa’s eyes, but 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, hasn’t he, mother?” Graydon Strykia showed no signs of falling into grief yet. For a boy of eight years, he was just starting to shadow 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. “And father’s gone because of it.” Had Marissa known the truth, she would have felt Graydon’s loss, beside 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 know that Graydon had witnessed his brother’s grand betrayal too, hiding in the shadows when Dontaine struck Artur down. 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. 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. Although they weren’t the only children in the Stykia family, their parents loved them deeply and saw that they were always well looked after. Often, the twins were allowed to go with their mother and father to places that the two eldest boys had not been. Because of all this, Allyson felt the loss worst of all. She wanted to protest the words that Graydon had spoken, but when she tried to talk, her voice failed her.
“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 Ali 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 knelt closer 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! Moraine, take them and watch them as your own. Everything we have prepared for must happen!”
“They will never be far from your heart, my near-sister.” Moraine said as she took the twins’ hands, nodding to Marissa.
“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 run to their mother one last time and hug her 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 other nephew, Therryn. 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’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 will watch from afar.” 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.”
“Master Holcom was a great ally to the Commonwealth during the years of the Imperial Occupation. It is unfortunate that he could not remain with us longer than he did.” Willa stated as she finished with yet another part of her tale.
“With so many of these Jinsai being able to use the Force, why haven’t they joined the Jedi Order that Master Skywalker has started?” Voren ask.
“It’s kind of like the Queen Mother of Hapes, I suppose.” CJ responded. “Graydon and Becca, along with their family, feel that their responsibility is here, in the Commonwealth. The mission of the Jedi would distract from their overall purpose. Plus, the Strykia’s don’t want to set things up for a repeat of what happened all those years ago.”