The Clone Wars
The temple’s halls echoed with clatters of armor, whirring of Jedi sabers, thunderous bursts of explosions, and the pounding thuds of both boot and body. The 501st spread through the temple like waves upon a beach. Had their initial breach of the temple been halted the trooper’s lives would have paid a higher price, but Lord Vader enabled them to strike deep into the heart of the sacred building. The Jedi: isolated and alone.
Vader quickly walked from the balcony leaving padawan Keto’s body behind. Troopers clad in blue and white armor hurried about him collecting data from the temple’s library which had only then been secured. The fallen Jedi’s face was void of expression. His thoughts only of rage…doing what must be done. A glimmer caught the knight’s eye as he neared a bronzium statue. The familiar countenance of Count Dooku’s was easily identifiable among the Jedi busts of the Fallen Twenty. Undeserving of more time of his, Vader barely flexed his pointer and middle finger to topple the heavy bust to the floor with a resounding crash. A bellowing metallic thud rang off the granite surfaces. A slight exhale of satisfaction left Vader’s nostrils.
Passing beneath a towering archway, Vader, shortly issued orders to a squad of troopers approaching the gate, “Keep those records intact and guard the beacon by any means! Do not let anyone reach those records or the beacon.” The sergeant snapped to attention, quickly nodding his head before shortly replying, “Yes sir!” Their boots quickly pattered against the shiny floor; spanning out to cover several firing lines. The Sith lord’s cloak waved as he walked; his blade whirred by his side, the blue reflecting off the shinning marble.
Vader’s eyes needn’t see what surrounded him in the all too familiar halls. Each step clicked while he meditated, eyes closed. His mind and muscles actively sought out powerful presences of other Jedi leading the struggle within the temple grounds. As he thought, Vader could feel a large swath of clone troopers being cut down. The button of his comlink snapped, “Commander Appo, where are the troops meeting the highest resistance?” The clone’s voice was hardened from orchestrating the attack, “General, We’ve secured the hangers, power station, access gates, towers one and three! The meditation quarters are nearly cleared as well! We are engaged in the great halls, but are making steady progress. We’ve been halted in atrium nearest the Training Hall. Battle-master Drallig and a padawan pack were seen near recorder TR4-121. Squads are taking substantial casualties!”
Vader began to jog towards his old training grounds, “On the way. Have a fresh battalion prepped for the Inner Sanctum, but DO NOT progress. We only need to prevent their escape…” The clone trooper’s voice remained urgent, “It will be done General Skywalker!” Had the commotion of battle not been so prevalent, the rogue Jedi knight gone dark acolyte would have had a thought about Appo’s title.
Turning right, the hall became an immediate expanse. Beneath Vader’s boots the smooth click began to crackle. Small and large pieces of rubble were scattered surface. Clone troopers and Jedi lay strewn across the floor. Troopers toppled over one another, their armor sliced or bludgeoned by large chunks of rock. The walls decorated with blaster specks accompanied by pockets of dark explosive craters. Pillars of all sizes; cracked or blown from their perch, then used as cover on the floor. In contrast to the identical clones, Jedi of all species and colors slumped against the wall, some with blast points still smoldering. Vader looked at several pairs of Jedi while passing them. Their hands interlaced in a last attempt to share a final exchange of compassion.
Down an adjacent hall, an adolescent Nautolan lay on his chest. Burning sensations in his leg roused him from the shock that had brought him to the floor. Green finger tips sprawled, his arm extended towards a knight who had been fighting alongside him. The female lay contorted on her back, hair messily scattered across the floor. Nudging her shoulder, the young Nautolan saw she was badly singed and cut by shrapnel. That end did not spare her being shot additional times by the troopers. A tear trickled down his cheek. Ripples through the force overwhelmed his senses. A click echoed.
The Nautolan’s head snapped up with abrupt alertness, but relaxed at the sight of another padawan who was raising up from beneath a pile of dead clones. A third climbed over the railing. He was a tall headed Cerean, similar to that of the famed master, Ki Adi Mundi. The Nautolan gasped, “Thank the force for both of you!” The Cerean retorted in pragmatic skepticism, “This is only the start of our trial…just because we’re alive now does not mean we’ve won.” ---“Or that we’re even close…” said the padawan who shoved the clones from his body.
“We need to get to the Sanctum!” the Cerean hushly whispered. The human male began lifting the Nautolan; wrapping the green arm over his neck, “Yes yes! The Sanctum is where the guardians will be! Shakkra Kien will save us! Do you think the blue wolf is still down there?” The Cerean moved to the entrance briskly, then looked down the hall, “Does that even matter? He’s great with that spear! Let’s go you two..” The tall headed Jedi peaked around the corner cautiously. His head turned right then abruptly turned left, noticing Anakin Skywalker as he ran down the hall. His eyes widened in both surprise and relief. “Fi Nik, what do you see?!” the human padawan loudly whispered, his breath heavy while the pair worked hard to make their way towards the tall figure.
Fi Nik took a step into the hall way. Vader’s jog did not slow…his arm curled before unfurling…the saber spiraled rapidly when leaving his hand. With no time to act the Cerean’s body tensed up for an instant prior to the blue blade burning its way through his neck; instantly cauterizing the split flesh. The spinning blade continued on its path down the hall. The duo of padawans paused in confusion when the blade was recalled. Their eyes bulged in horror! Fi Nik’s neck glowed orange, separating from his body while it collapsed to the floor where it rolled into a severed clone helmet.
Vader ran passed the hall where the two wounded padawan’s were standing, completely befuddled by what they witnessed. The green skinned Nautolan turned asking ghastly, “Wa..was that Skywalker?” The human paused in denial, “No way.. I mean..it was probably Skywalker, but that couldn’t have been his blade.”
Seemingly in reply to their bewilderment, the cloaked figured returned to the hallway, saber ignited. “Skywalker…?” uttered the human padawan. Vader slowly approached his prey. “Skywalker?”
Falling to his knees uncontrollably, the Nautolan clutched his throat and lungs, gasping, “GUrk…ahg….I…ca..’t..”
The other padawan ignited his saber, striking a defense posture. He took a step forward, gripping his saber tighter with both hands for added strength. Vader raised his lightsaber, also holding the hilt with both hands. “You dare?” he challenged. The illuminated blade swung upwards, making contact. In the same motion Vader swirled his glowing saber in a blue flourish before again swinging down, anticipating the padawan’s blade bouncing off his…and it did. The Nautolan deeply inhaled after Vader released his grip over the youngling’s respiratory system! This however, was in vane: the human’s rebounding blade struck his Nautolan comrade. Green eyes faded lifelessly, rolling back into his head.
Vader’s heart not only darkened, but took a degree of dark pleasure varying the methods used to dispatch his foes. The young man let out a scream of rage cracking his voice. The small framed boy swung diagonally upwards in a blind frenzy. When his arms reached their pinnacle, Vader’s blade briskly hummed thrusting its way through the boy’s sternum and collar. He too fell to the hardened marble. Hope dashed in a matter of moments.
Vader again turned toward the atrium to continue the dark deeds of the night. He reached a large bastion of clone troopers who sought refuge while others continued to reign down blaster and rocket fire. Vader walked amongst his men’s scattered ranks. Discipline remained hardened and tight. Approaching the front ranks, the troopers under Hotsh’s squad, Vader began to raise his hand into a fist, “Hold here, I’ll take care of this.”
“You’ll do no such thing darksider!” a voice echoed from before Vader. A man with long grey-hazel hair stood above the rubble. Behind him a small contingent of padawans whom he had been training during the initial stages of the onslaught. “To be honest, I’m surprised it took you this long to arrive.” Vader passed the barricades, “My apologies old battle-master.. I was teaching Padawan Keto how flawed her technique was…too crushing a lesson it seemed.” The wise Cin Drallig sighed, an air of sorrow lingered, ”I saw what you did Skywalker. Your snide remarks don’t cover your self-loathing…” Igniting his saber, Vader began to scale the debris. “Spare me the philosophy and stick to what you know..the sword. Your defense has failed thus far…”
Behind Drallig, a tremendous gate way was illuminated with natural greens, the sound of trickling water over smooth stones prevailed over the chaos. The battle master had been leading a sparring session several of his students prior to the attack. The sword instructor took in a deep breath of the fauna behind him.
With a click, Drallig activated his green saber; bringing it to a defense ready pose, ”Prepare yourself to join the force old pupil! To all others…let this stand as your final lesson. How to become one with the force!” Raising his blade, Vader shook his head slightly, “To whom are you teaching? Ha, shouldn’t you have a class still standing by the end of your lesson?” Their blades swirled in a haze of vibrant blurs before flashing brightly upon impact. The strokes were made swiftly, steadily, and with keen accuracy.
Every stroke hissed!
One of Drallig’s Padawan’s, Whie Malreaux readied himself. He was thought to be a powerful addition to the order second only to Anakin. Many Jedi Masters remarked the contrast in their humble nature given their talent.
Two clone troopers readied their weapons to halt the young man’s approach. Springing from behind cover, their weapons clicked to the ready. “You are not my end!” he challenged with confidence. Cutting through one’s DC 15 with a stroke that tore through the other’s thigh. Continuing the same sweeping “U” motion, Whie pulled his saber back through the clone’s arm and chest then torqued his wrist thrusting the blade deep into the disarmed trooper’s side. The blade dove through the trooper’s right side, penetrating deep, reappearing again next to his helmet.
Withdrawing his blade, Whie made a valiant effort to aid his saber instructor. Using a sniping technique, he thrust the saber towards Vader. The slender padawan’s fingers released the grip then reformed into a straight palm; thrusting his sword through the air with a force-push! Vader had little time to react as the blade cut through his robe creating a perfect hole. “Nice Whie!” the other padawan, Bene, shouted! Anakin’s focus remained on Drallig though he was dismayed at the near encounter that recently unfurled. Whie and Bene ignited their sabers and charged forward towards the fray.
Their efforts to hinder Vader were short lived. Whie entered a window of exchanges between the two saber masters. Though true of heart, his saber stroke was quickly countered. Vader’s aim stood true, cutting Whie down with a precise slash across his chest. Whie’s momentum continued even after the death-stroke had been dealt; his body toppling down the debris mound. His last gaze was through Drallig and Vader’s rapid clashes into the Room of a Thousand Fountains. “The green.. tranquil..” his mind let go, joining the force.
Bene’s cheek glossed with streaming tears. The order crumbled around her. Jedi continued to fight temple wide, but sheer numbers had begun to tilt the favor against them. Drallig poured his might and years of teaching into combat with Vader. Bene’s confidence shattered; her self-doubt crept in, diminishing the years spent keeping it at bay. Towards the duel she bolted. Vader slammed his saber against the battle-master’s saber, forcing Drallig to stumble, his foot losing traction as the rubble gave way.
Vader’s face sharply turned towards the dark-haired pupil, his eyes flared as if on fire! The dark disciple’s hand throttled Bene’s throat through the force, lifting her from the ground. Her body was suspended inches off the ground drawing nearer to the dark knight. Bene’s feet kicked, veins began surging from beneath her skin, body writhing in agony. “NOO!” Drallig shouted trying to break Vader’s clutch over her attacking desperately! Her body began to wretch violently. Vader deflected blow after blow using the padwan’s suffering to weaken his opponent’s resolve.
Usually Vader ended a strangling struggle by cracking the victim’s neck or windpipe, but this time he carefully sapped every fiber of her being; even allowing partial breaths to prolong the painful process. All with the intent to ruin Drallig’s spirit!
Bene eventually succumbed to Vader’s torture, but this brought no reprieve to Cin Drallig. His concentration was cracked. The toll of his mind’s eye shattered the master’s fortitude after being subjected to a death of such incredible caliber. He engaged Vader again with a number of quick thrusts and counter parries.
Using a sharp sliding motion, Vader used a trick that he had once been chastised for by Master Drallig. The blue blade hissed down the green in a white flash compelling Drallig to open his hands to avoid losing them. As he disengaged his lightsaber to prepare a defense, Vader redirected and quickly thrust the blue glowing blade deep into Drallig’s heart then pulled the blade through his shoulder.
The battle master was dead before another breath could be taken. His death was delivered so swiftly that his hand continued in the direction of his initial movement, throwing the saber from his clutch. The master responsible for leading the defense of the Jedi Temple had fallen. Vader turned to his troops; all who watched the prowess of their leader in awe, “Hunt the rest of them down.. all of them! The rest of you; it’s time to finish this! Join me for the Sanctum...”