Home Forums Star Wars Fan Fiction Dark Artefact By J L Fish

1 voice
0 replies
  • Author
  • #7172
    Points: 83
    Rank: Jedi Knight


    Roughly 15 years after the end of the Empire, at a time after the Galactic Concordance had been signed, it was clear that a faction of those who were losers of the agreement were far from happy with the arrangement. Where once powerful regional governors held swathes of the Galaxy through fear and terror, after the dissolution of the Empire, some were left with their rule limited to their home planets. It would take many years of struggle before total independence from a bygone age of tyranny was achieved for those who wished it.

    One such former Governor was Obis Chal, ruler of a planet near the Outer Rim known as Charn. A man who enjoyed dominion over several systems under the rule of the Empire but all he was left with was rule of a relatively backwater planet. He pined for the days of Empire and secretly sent a small team of relic hunters out for artefacts, items sold on the black market which were relics of the days of Empire. Many ‘keepsakes’ of the Empire had been banned under the laws of the New Republic. In his large but remote estate, he lived with his teams of advisers, ministers, security and other staff. However, one room remained off limits to them. This is where he stored his collection.

    While Obis had largely resigned to his fate, in fact he was stripped of his once glorious military, he could, however, dream. When he was in this room, decked out with all the pomp and circumstance of a Grand Moffs personal Office, he could truly believe he was still this powerful governor. But it was just a dream. He no longer had the stomach or the resources to claw back all he once had. He could not even go off-world without the express permission of the New Republic and no ships with hyper-space capability were permitted on the planet. Orbiting Charn, rows of hyperspace rings were locked down and could not be used without an override code issued by the Republic.

    Day to day running of his planet was still his main priority but it was also his greatest frustration. In the swathes of laws which had replaced those of the Empire, the people were given far too many freedoms to make demands of the government. Backed up by the New Republic, they had the rights to be granted almost anything. Obis was little more than a figurehead, a servitor of a system he despised. It left him with little for himself, save for his ‘small’ estate. It was, however, better than a life behind bars for crimes against the species of the Republic. The truth was they needed many of the established systems to remain in place because dismantlement of them would lead to anarchy and a possible return to what they feared most.

    Chapter 1 – A chance find
    As Obis looked out across the grounds of his estate, he wondered just how long he would be able to keep this. The people of Charn could be very volatile under weak rule. Before the days of Empire, there had been a great struggle for freedom by the people, a struggle that they won. Obis lead this struggle and came to power.

    Forty years previously, he had lead a popular rebellion to overthrow the previously established government. They were stooped in corruption, largely hidden from the Republic of old. Bounty hunters, gangsters and other assorted scum representing criminal syndicates all met with the Government of the time to sell the leaders all the fineries of the black market. The best food, drink, spices and of course guns for hire. They kept the people in ignorance, whilst many were being deprived of the most basic of needs. Many in-bound goods from the Republic were seized by bounty hunters and sold for weapons and services. The leaders benefitted from this whilst the majority of the people suffered.

    Charn had never historically been a wealthy planet. However, they only had one valuable commodity. This was a small weed which grew in much abundance across the network of marshes which largely made up the planet. The weed, slipweed, had not been particularly remarkable in itself but extracts of it could be made into powerful medications, capable of curing a variety of ailments. In the days of old the Republic would trade with Charn to harvest slipweed into medicine. The Banking Clan had financed large scale factories to be set up over Charn to harvest and process it. In turn, the Trade Federation had allowed shipments to be made to planets all over the Galaxy at very reasonable rates. The people of Charn provided the workforce and so Charn had a good economy and relatively happy people.

    Something however, went wrong. Something turned the tide of this period of prosperity. The Trade Federation had become corrupted and greedy and their increasing rates became a burden the Charnians slowly found intolerable. Things went from bad to worse when the Banking Clan had been deregulated by Chancellor Palpatine so that they offered him favourable terms in production of the Clone Army. When this happened the Banking Clan demanded a much higher return for future investments. The Economy of Charn just couldn’t take this burden. Many factories were closed and abandoned as a result and the people started to get desperate. There were calls from some quarters to join the Separatists but Obis was not one of them.

    Obis founded the Charnian New Way group who wanted loyalty to the Republic but promised the people that they could demand a lot more for their once valuable resource. It was needed. The Galaxy was at war and the Republic were suffering heavy casualties. Several systems on the edges of the far side outer rim suffered because of this conflict and many populations began to fall ill when supplies started to run scarce. The few supplies Charn did manufacture could not always get them to where they were needed without violating Separatist space where the shipments were seized or destroyed.

    The banner of what once seemed a promising new way on Charn was quickly taken up by a large swathe of the population. An uprising followed suit lead by Obis. By this time, he already had many of the criminal elements of the Galaxy in his pocket. He was a very persuasive man with a silver tongue and commanded a lot of respect. He also had a large personal fortune. Resources and hired guns were quick to follow. The Government on Charn at the time had been greatly weakened by the squeezes inflicted upon them. There came a crisis point when they simply could not afford the shipment fee for a large consignment of medications for the left outer rim. The consignments lay in cargo bays virtually unguarded. When gangs of pirates stole them and sold them for large quantities of a highly addictive spice known as Nalcotta from the Hutt Clans, the people were incensed. This is when Obis seized his chance.

    What followed in the ensuing chaos was a swift take over by Charnian New Way with Obis at the helm. Shipments resumed and to keep the people happy, he successfully negotiated with the Banking Clan to re-open some of the old factories in return for a slightly smaller fee for refined slipweed. This gave many of the people their old jobs back. Order was restored for a time and the people were generally becoming happier. All except Obis. Greed was his weakness and he wanted more.
    The tide soon turned in his favour when the Republic became reconfigured into the Galactic Empire to ensure that the Separatist threat could never return. Over the years an increased Imperial Military presence built up on Charn with Star Destroyers circling in the skies like vultures. The pretence that the Empire was carrying out its duties of catching traitors and rebels was partially true. However, unbeknown to many, Obis was in secret talks with Military Officers. The reason why would not become obvious for many more years. When the Emperor finally dissolved the Senate to be replaced with regional governors, Obis was given Governor Status and control of 20-star systems in his region of the Galaxy. He would be given governance of a large military, with the task of keeping order in his section. Section 3Z. It was all his.

    This was a glorious time for Obis but one which was relatively short lived a few years later after the Battle of Endor when the Empire was crushed by the rebellion. After the final battle of Jakku, and the subsequent signing of the Galactic Concordance Which Obis reluctantly had no choice but to sign up to, all he was left with an Estate and rule of a backwater planet pending democratic elections. With so much of the Galaxy to reform, the New Republic had a mammoth task of organising properly monitored elections and there would be a long wait before this could be finally set in motion. Obis was hanging on by a thread, he was seen as a traitor, a lackey to the Empire by many of his people who had begun to once again suffer under its rule as the rebuilding of industry had again stalled. It was only a matter of time before he was replaced by a more organised change in Government. He had fallen a long way.

    Dwelling on these thoughts Obis found himself inexorably drawn back to his room. As he entered through the large ray-shielded door to this large underground chamber, he couldn’t even remember getting through the many corridors and concealed doorways to get to his heavily secured secret. Only a few in his inner circle knew of this room. They equally shared his love for Empire as they reaped many benefits during those times. He would spend many hours in here watching old holo-projections of official Imperial announcements he had recorded, of Palpatine announcing changes ‘for the good of the people’ and old military updates. It reminded him of his finest days.

    He sat in a chair facing a plush desk draped in a red cloth and the symbol of Empire. A bottle of the finest beverage from Theed on the table. He pulled a silver vessel toward him and filled it up from the bottle. He pressed a button on the table and a small wooden case rose to the top. Obis opened this to reveal it was full of Nalcotta, a shining red powder that twinkled like precious stones. If he only had a little time left to enjoy his power, he would enjoy it in style. He put a pinch of it into his drink and watched as it fizzed and bubbled, turning the colour from clear to a mild red. He shook it a little and took a swig. ‘Ah, the deep rich taste of comfort!’ he mused as it lavishly slipped down his throat. It didn’t take long for the effects to hit. A deep euphoria with a twinkling of small coloured lights were just the first stages. Then followed a deep feeling of relaxation, almost a dreamy sense of floating and a distant echoing of sound. He pressed another button on his main console and the sounds of Empire filled the room. This was the imperial marching music that used to pump through the streets of Charn when they celebrated Empire Day to military parades and ‘cheering’ crowds that were ‘persuaded to celebrate’ at blaster point by trigger happy Stormtroopers. Obis could almost feel he was there as it all came flooding back in spectacular glory. An interruption caused by his personal comlink beeping snapped him out of his dream. It would only be someone who knew of this room. ‘They better have a good reason for this or they will face imperial justice’ he muttered as he scrambled for it.

    ‘Yes!’, he barked as he answered it. ‘This better be good!’. ‘Sir, I think we have found a vintage piece here’ answered back an aged voice. It was his trusted and most knowledgeable relic hunter, Triss. An aged and learned man and expert on Imperial artefacts. He pressed a button on his desk and the door swung open. Through it walked a small man with long flowing white hair, back curved and walking with a small stick. He looked excited but Obis was less than happy with the intrusion. ‘What junk are you trying to offload onto me today Triss?’ ‘That last set of Goblets were only used in private senate chambers and not at Imperial banquets’. ‘Sir I have a possible lead on those. I have a meeting with a client wanting to sell at Mos Eisley on Tatooine in two weeks’ time. But I think you’ll find what I have to show you today will surely be the prize of this fine collection. Trust me when I say it was a steal at 30,000 New republic credits.’ He held something wrapped in fine cream cloth. Obis spat a mouthful of his drink out and looked horrified. ‘How much?! I’ll have to sell the East Wing to raise that and let half of my security go!’ ‘For that I’d expect Emperor Palpatines Dworti statues!’ ‘What could possibly be worth that much in that folded cloth you hold?!’. ‘This Sir’, Triss said as he began to slowly unravel the cloth to reveal a polished black crooked cane and placed it on the desk for Obis to examine.
    ‘What’s this?! Another stick for you old man?’ Obis barked as he looked unimpressed. ‘You spent 30,000 New Republic credits for this?!’ ‘No Sir’, Triss retorted, with a slightly aggrieved sigh. ‘My client was willing to take 5000 on trust and the regular payments to cover the rest to be exchanged by me’. ‘Believe me Sir when I say it’s a steal’. ‘My seller is the best and she doesn’t want to be identified.’ ‘In fact, this item is so sought after that she was eager to get rid of it with all the attention having it would receive.’ Collectors kill for this stuff you know’. Now he had Obis’s attention. The man may be a fool but he was unrivalled when it came to Imperial artefacts and he trusted his judgement. He was once one of Emperor Palpatines personal scouts and used to scour the Galaxy looking for ancient relics for him. ‘But it’s just a cane, I’ve never heard of an old walking cane being so valuable. Who did it belong to?’ he asked Triss. But before he had finished his sentence, he knew, somehow, he just knew the answer and his jaw began to drop. ‘Why this was the cane of Emperor Palpatine himself’, replied Triss with a triumphant grin. The cane seemed to twinkle at him in acknowledgement.

    Chapter 2: – Voice in the night
    Obis stood dumbstruck for a moment. This revelation had completely pierced through the haze of his earlier fix and his arrogant dismissiveness relaxed a little. But it couldn’t be. Surely. . .? He stared for a moment and tried to think logically. ‘But we know that the Emperor was on the Death Star when it was destroyed by those rebel scum’. ‘Towards his later years he always appeared with his cane. If it was on the Death Star when that thing blew, it must’ve been atomised?’ Triss picked up the cane and studied it for a moment. He looked across the table at Obis with his studious eyes that he usually adopted when he was about to give an imperial history lesson. ‘Most canes yes’, he replied, ‘but the material in this wood is extremely resilient. It comes from trees growing on a remote area on Mustafar’. ‘It is amongst the hardest known wood in the whole Republic’. Obis grimaced. He hated it when people used that word in here. ‘The ‘Mer trees have their roots in and feed on the molten magma. They can withstand thousands of degrees of heat and pressure.’ Triss continued. ‘According to my source, after the battle of Endor and the destruction of the Death Star, thousands of Junkers and pirates descended on Endorian space scouring the wreckage for anything valuable. It had formed a ring around Endor. This cane was eventually found amidst some wreckage and immediately sold on the black market.’ ‘It’s how my seller came to acquire it’. Obis considered this. ‘There could have been thousands of these made!’, he retorted. Triss smiled. ‘No this is truly one of a kind. I met Emperor Palpatine on several occasions and can testify for certain that this was his’. Furthermore Sir, if you look on the handle there’s a small insignia carved. It’s the Emperors personal insignia.’ ‘Thank you Triss this is indeed a find. The prize of my collection’. ‘I think I’m going to retire now Sir. Is there anything further you want?’, Triss asked, making to leave. ‘No that’ll be all thank-you. I want to sit here for a while and enjoy my latest prize’, Obis replied with a wave.

    He must have been staring at it for hours. It was heavy and glossy, it felt more like a kind of marble than wood. A true find. Obis got up and placed it on the chair, before exiting his imperial room. He made his way along the corridors to his private bed chamber. One would love to have had longer with his prize but the duties of Government had to come first and he had a long day ahead of him tomorrow. He retired to bed to dream sweet dreams of his latest find and days of past glory.

    ‘Obissss’, a voice hissed, snakelike. It suddenly cut through his slumber like a knife through butter. He jerked upright with a gasp and turned the light on, his eyes slowly adjusted from dark to light. His bed chamber came into view, but it was empty save for himself. He definitely heard it though. It was loud enough for him not to know he’d been dreaming. Maybe it was the Nalcotta. It could sometimes have after effects like that. He relaxed a bit. Suddenly, there it was again. ‘Obisss’. It kind of echoed, like a voice might do in a corridor. It was coming from outside the door. Obis got up and put his gown on. He grabbed his blaster from a drawer by his bed. One couldn’t take chances, he had many enemies, both inside and outside of his estate.

    He stepped out into the corridor, gingerly at first, blaster concealed in his gown pocket, tightly gripped. It was well lit and there were no hiding places, except for a few statues of past leaders, too small to hide behind. There were plenty to guard the estate, however, after midnight, they were on outdoor patrol duty. Nobody could get in or out without a special pass signed by himself. Being the fastidious man Obis was, the place was more secure than an Imperial prison. He looked around from right to left. It was empty. ‘Obissss’, to his left this time. The corridors of Obis’s estate were vast and numerous. It would have been easy to lose oneself within its walls, but Obis knew the place like the back of his hand. Nobody could hide from him here, he knew every inch of the place. Obis made his way along the corridor. Whoever it was must have been well ahead, as to be just out of sight.

    He progressed along the corridor, slowly. The voice continued at intervals, enticing him further along. He must get to the source of this voice. As he neared a corner, he felt more and more trance like. The voice was hypnotic, seductive. He’d heard it somewhere before but he just couldn’t place it. He turned a bend and continued down another corridor. As he was walking, the light seemed to dim. The further Obis went, the darker it got. The shadows of the statues seemed to elongate along the walls of the corridor like dark fingers pulling him forward. It was almost pitch dark by now. A palpable darkness, one which seemed to creep across the walls. Almost as though the energy of the lighting was being slowly drained in the direction of the voice and pulling him along with it. The owner of the voice, however, remained frustratingly out of reach. He seemed to be being lead back to his imperial room. As he descended further into the lower floors of his estate, a twinkling blue light appeared just on the wall by the entrance to his secret door. It pulsed and broke up into arcs. Obis was transfixed. Surely this must be a dream, but it felt so real. He was so close now he could reach out and touch the light.

    As Obis placed a hand on the false wall in front of the door, the light abruptly vanished. ‘Obissss’, the voice was inside his private chamber. This time the voice was followed by a guttural, evil sounding laugh. This snapped Obis back into focus. He felt for the button and the wall slid open to reveal the door to his imperial chamber. He hastily punched in the code and burst through. As he did so, he tripped on something by the foot of the door and stumbled to the floor. He activated the light and as his eyes adjusted to the light, he stared, horrified. It was the cane he had tripped over. ‘But I left that on the chair’, he said aloud. He lifted the heavy object and placed it on his desk. None of this made sense, it had to be someone faking it all, trying to drive him out of his mind. Nobody knew of this room, save for a few of his closest aides, and only he knew the code to enter. Someone had managed to get into his Imperial room and try to take the prize of his collection. That must be it! He would find the traitor and deal with him in the harshest way. Nobody had a right to enter his most private room, Nobody! He could not let anyone else get their hands on this cane! He instructed the rooms’ computer to throw a ray shield round the cane and a red force-field suddenly surrounded it. ‘Computer, record this desk from now until I come back!’, he shouted before exiting the room and making his way back to his quarters. Somebody was out to play games with him. He began to seethe with anger. ‘Well’, he mused, as he walked back, ‘I will trap him like a swamp rat!’ In his stomach though, he felt the sick feeling of fear because the alternative was terrifying. The experience had been far too eerie for his liking. Nobody was in the room when he entered, that cane had moved by itself!

    Chapter 3 – Tremors in the Force
    Several parsecs across the other side of the galaxy, on a large white/blue planet known as Vaga Prime, in a remote mountainous area there sat a large plateau with a vast ancient temple set at its heart, surrounded by fruit bearing trees and lush fauna.

    A cloaked man with 3 youngsters walked amongst the ancient grounds. The man had youthful looks but showed the strains of a recent times. His slightly bearded face had the beginnings of great wisdom.

    He was picking the fruit, small rounded black fruits known as Jaga to the locals. They were roughly around the size of a thermal detonator. The younglings followed closely behind in a tight group.

    The group reached a clearing and the man gestured for them to stop. The younglings formed a wide circle around him. They lifted their hoods to reveal a young boy around 10 with dark hair named Ben, the man’s nephew, a Twilek girl named Hisha and another humanoid boy named Solom. The man was Luke Skywalker, last of the Jedi and founder of the new Jedi order, such as there was of it.

    With 3 younglings by his side and around 6 others back at a Temple on Yavin 4, he had a long way to go to establish the same numbers of Jedi there had been before the dark times. He had to continue as this was his life now, his mission. The Sith were dead and balance had been restored, but he had to work hard and fast to maintain that balance as it was very delicate.

    Luke had brought the trio to Vaga Prime as they had showed great promise during the few short years he had been teaching them. The area they were in, known locally as the Mishra ranges were strong in the light side of the Force and Luke was hoping to hone their skills in meditation and focus. The Jedi Temple here was ancient, stretching back 10000 years. It had been long abandoned millennia ago and the locals had no records of its history. There was no known way in, locals had been searching for centuries. Maybe Luke could learn something here about the early Jedi practices as he had very little to go on when it came to training and growth of the order. He had not discovered much on Coruscant as the Jedi Temple lay in ruins, forever scarred by the days of Empire. He had the force to guide him and his instinct had lead him to this place. He could sense that the temple may hold texts and other remnants of the Jedi Order who had once been here.

    ‘Okay, now I want you to focus. Remember it will determine who you are as a person’. ‘I’m going to throw the Jaga in the air and Ben, I want you to take it, pass it onto Hisha and than to Solom. Focus on the force to keep the momentum going around me.’ ‘Is that all?’ Ben piped up. ‘Not quite’, replied Luke, a twinkle to his tone. I’m going to throw more Jaga up, one at a time. I want to see how many we can get to.’ He held around 10 in the pockets of his large cloak. ‘Just for good measure, I’m throwing 2 Jedi remotes up with them, so you may need your sabers!’. ‘Great!’, said Ben.

    The trio ignited their lightsabers in a flurry. Two green and one blue. Luke threw the Jedi remotes up, which hovered, not yet fully activated and then threw the first Jaga into the air. Ben steadied it with the force. ‘And go!’, Luke finished.

    They kept up the fruit in a steady momentum around Luke whilst warding off shots with the remotes. As they were amongst Luke’s best initiates with lightsabers, the remotes were set to mid setting. Luke threw more and more fruits into the air until they were all in motion and amazingly they weaved around him in a steady moving circle, slow at first but they started to suddenly pick up speed. Luke closed his eyes and opened his mind and body to the Force in steadily deepening meditation.

    A strong cold wind suddenly got up which Luke felt was no natural force. The fruit was moving round him at a disturbing speed now as the trio continued to reach out. This place was incredibly strong in the force and it seemed to feed the power into the younglings, Luke could sense Ben in particular, seemed to be feeding off of it the strongest. The blaster fire from the remotes suddenly got fiercer and seemed to be getting larger. Suddenly Luke was back on Tatooine during the rescue of Han on Jabbas sail barge. Luke had ignited his new lightsaber and was deflecting fierce blaster fire, determined to get onto the main barge where Leia was being held. He leapt onto the side of the barge using the force and crawled up the side to a small opening, where he pulled out one of Jabbas henchmen who fell to the tender mercies of the Sarlac Pit in the sands below before entering himself. There he stood dead in his tracks, a cold and very dark familiarity falling on him, chilling him to the bone.

    He was on the second Death Star face to face with Emperor Palpatine himself. He saw the fallen figure of his father lying away to his side. Palpatine raised his hands and with pure evil and hate dripping from his every vestige, shot a bolt of Sith lightening directly at him. It burned with a searing hot pain within him. ‘Now young Skywalker, you will die’ came the evil crackle of the Emperor. Another bolt of blinding hot lightening fell over him. This had happened before, but why was he experiencing it again in such horrendous detail? Palpatine spoke again, but this time it was different. ‘This time there will be no errors boy. I’ll destroy you and your pathetic new order!’ the voice gravelled. Another bolt shot toward Luke who was engulfed in blinding light and suddenly finding himself back in the trio of youngsters, the pain gone but the shock remaining raw.

    Luke fell to his knees The Jaga flew in all directions. Ben quickly deactivated the remotes and ran to his uncle as they closed off their lightsabers. ‘Uncle are you okay, what happened?’. ‘A minor disturbance in the force that’s all. Stay vigilant and be mindful.’ Luke downplayed it. He didn’t want to cause worry amongst his young group, but he realised with a feeling of dread that it had not been the past he had just seen. It had been the future, dressed up in the trappings of the past. ‘I have a bad feeling about this’, he muttered under his breath. He stood up and turned to the others. ‘Come, let us find a way into the temple’, he said as he started towards the large ancient structure, his mind quickly switching to the living force.

    Chapter 4: Demonstration of Power

    The meeting had dragged on for nearly half a Charnian day. Hosted in his ministerial rooms within the Estate, Obis was listening to a delegation from the Eastern Sector. There was not much wealth there and there were high demands for Obis’s government to provide more food vouchers for the people. These constant demands were whittling away the wealth of his personal Estate, but he knew he had to keep the eastern ministers happy. Obis and his Government needed to try and preserve the little time he had left and so they were to be ‘Guests of Honour’ for the evening. A large banquet and social gathering was to be hosted afterwards.

    The vast grounds outside his estate hosted large Ship hangers and a multitude of ships were landed there refuelling and given maintenance by the host of engineers working on the site. All the delegates and their staff were to be put up in pre-prepared rooms within the North wing of his estate.

    Obis didn’t like this arrangement. It made him nervous. Too many people could lead to too much curiosity. There was much he didn’t want to get out about his personal fortunes, dodged taxes and other nefarious deals. When exotic drinks flowed, it lead to too much talking. The wrong information in the wrong hands was never a good idea.

    Obis sometimes wondered why he put up with his chief adviser, Grenshall. He had been pushing Obis for this for a long time now. Whose side was he on anyway? Obis sometimes wondered. Grenshall had only survived so long in the job because he was very good at gaining ground for the Government and delaying the inevitable free elections. Obis knew this would be the end of his power when this happened.

    Claunus, the chief negotiation for the eastern regions sat opposite him at the large table. A fastidious man, who wanted everything in triplicate! Obis couldn’t stand him. He was a shrewd negotiator and his eye for detail usually meant he got what he wanted. ‘I’m going to require a signed holo-declaration of your commitment for another 5 million food vouchers’. ‘Of course, I’ll get my holo-transcriber to prepare it for you before you end your stay with us.’ Obis almost spoke the words through gritted teeth. He’d love to put a blaster bolt in him. He went in not being prepared to pay more than 3 million on food vouchers but he knew he was treading a fine line with holding onto power and he could do no more other than concede to it eventually. He couldn’t help but get the feeling he had been betrayed. Obis had gone into the deal on two million not willing to go beyond 3 but Claunus had gone straight in at three. It was as if he’d known his limit. There would be time to find out if any of his personal staff had betrayed him later, but for now he was eager to bring this meeting to a close before any other demands could be levelled at him.

    Claunus seemed to be satisfied for the time being. Obis stood up. ‘Now ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to bring this meeting to a close.’ If you’d like to make your way to the corridor, my staff will show you to your rooms.’ Claunus, I trust you and your delegation will be happy to join us for refreshments and celebrations later. We have a live Mon Calamari opera, which I’m sure you will enjoy.’ Claunus looked down his nose at him as he stood up. He had a tall stature and towered over Obis. ‘We can ill afford ostentatiousness at a time of need Obis.’ He continued, ‘But still I should like to put myself about tonight, as there are many of your ministers I should like to speak to. For now, I will retire to construct my reports.’ With this, Claunus left the meeting room. Obis felt humiliated, but he couldn’t show it. He exited the room with the other delegates and made his way somewhat dejected back to his quarters. He felt tired. He would catch up on his sleep.

    Obis must have been asleep for 4 to 5 hours when he awoke with a jolt. He had been dreaming of someone breaking into his secret room and stealing his prize cane. It had felt real as he had gone to it only to find the door wide open and things missing from his imperial collection. He had scrambled around the room for the cane but it had gone! He steadied himself on the bed and quickly put on his clothes. There were 3 hours to go before the evening’s festivities which was plenty of time for Obis to dress and go to his room, just to be sure!

    As he emerged from his private quarters, the corridors were filled with the bustle of his personal staff getting the main banqueting hall ready for the evening meal and celebrations. It was in complete contrast to the evening when only Obis and some of his inner staff could leave their quarters. Security had to be absolute and so the doors to personal quarters would lock after midnight. He quietly slipped along the corridors to his private room and slowly but surely entered the room. He ordered the computer to turn the lights on and close the door. As he looked around, he was paralysed with fear but at the same time, transfixed. The cane was hovering in mid-air, rotating. The light of the room twinkled off of the kinks in its dark and crooked surface. The lights began to dim and fluctuate in pulses between a normal and dim state. A voice spoke.

    ‘Obiss’, it hissed. ‘Do not fear me. I can help you’. ‘Yes, but how? Who, what are you?’ Obis pleaded. The voice spoke again, this time with more clarity. ‘I am but a remnant of my former bearer’. Now Obis knew who this voice from beyond the grave belonged to. ‘My Lord, is it really you?’ ‘Not quite’, it spoke. ‘I am an echo of my former self speaking to you from my final resting place’. Was this really the spirit of Palpatine speaking to him from beyond the grave through this cane? How was this possible? The evidence seemed undeniable, but elaborate forgeries like this were possible.

    The voice continued. ‘We need each other. I can sense a strong desire in you to regain your former power. I can help you achieve this. You could be the new head of a resurgent imperial army which could sweep the New Republic aside. I can give you everything you need. You have great skills as a leader and I have a power undreamed of. It could be yours if we work together. My former bearer had many powers in life he had to keep a secret from all but the top of his organisation. He used the ancient powers of the Jedi in his own way for protection and to promote stability to the Empire.” Obis was bursting with the possibility that this could all be true but he would need some demonstration to prove that this was not all being faked.

    ‘How do I know this is not all just a hoax orchestrated by my enemies to bring me down?’ ‘I see you are a man of great wisdom’, the disembodied voice went on. Although having a cold and razor-sharp edge to it, it was in its own way soothing. Enticing. ‘You are to hold festivities this evening for a delegation from the east of your planet are you not?’ ‘Yes, that’s correct, my Lord’, Obis answered, getting more and more into his imperial role. ‘You fear for the sacrifices and concessions you made in your meeting earlier and you want to gain some of these back.’ It was as though this voice, if it was truly Palpatine, seemed to know of his darkest fears. Obis nodded in agreement to the predicament which had been laid out before him. ‘I understand your need to establish trust so I offer you a demonstration of my power’. ‘Hold out your hand and take what is yours. All that you desire tonight shall be yours. Embrace your destiny. It is your first step on the way to true glory.’

    Obis instinctively reached out for the cane, still rotating in the air. The cane smoothly glided towards his right hand. He held the top of it and felt a surge of power flow through him. He felt strong and confident, able to achieve anything. He liked this. ‘Now leave this room and regain what is rightfully yours’. Obis let go of the cane, its power still reverberating within him. He left the room and walked back to his quarters with the confident stride of a man in control, a man 10 years his junior. He hadn’t felt like this in a long time, not since the height of his power.

    The evening started well with everyone enjoying the opera and in good spirits. Even Claunus seemed to be more relaxed and appreciative of the proceedings. Things couldn’t seem better. Obis strode towards him. ‘I trust everything is to your liking Claunus’, he said with a confident gait. Claunus looked up as though he hadn’t seen him coming and looked at him, half smiling. ‘A fine turnout indeed. We’d quite forgotten what it is like to live, what with all the suffering in the eastern sector.’ Obis adopted a sympathetic pose. ‘I cannot imagine how dreadful this must be for you and the peoples of the Eastern sector.’ I’d very much like to visit and show my support’. Claunus looked surprised. He’d never dreamed Obis would make such a gesture. ‘That would indeed be welcomed leader’.

    Obis adopted tact slightly. ‘How are your family coping in all of this?’ Claunus looked down, suddenly saddened. ‘My daughter is suffering from Holopocks disease’. It’s destroying the family.’ Obis thought for a moment. ‘Is there nowhere you could treat her in the Eastern sector?’ ‘No. All of the best medical facilities closed down many years ago. We just cannot afford to get her to this sector where the treatment is available’. Obis thought for a moment. ‘Well there’s a facility around 20 miles from here. Why not have her transferred? Bill it through to my secretary. Holopocks can be debilitating if not treated quickly enough.’ Claunus looked stunned. ‘Look we’ve had our differences and you’re not known for your generosity in the Eastern sector.’ ‘What has brought about this transformation, this sudden change of heart?’

    Obis replied. ‘It may not have escaped your notice that I’m past my prime by many years. I have done a lot of things and it has left me with many regrets.’ ‘Maybe after all these years it’s time for a re-think. For a change of direction. A way to reach out to the whole of Charn and unite our people. Rebuild our once prosperous society’. Claunus was by now clearly beginning to warm to Obis. ‘Well I don’t know what to say. I can’t thank you enough for your kind offer. We will of course get her transported to this sector.’

    Claunus thought for a moment. ‘Listen, maybe I came in a little too strong with the negotiations earlier for food vouchers. I’m happy to take 3 million. I’ll brief my team tomorrow before we leave’. ‘That’s very kind but I couldn’t go back on my original offer’, Obis countered. ‘No, I insist leader. I misjudged you and I now realise that you will make good on the rest when the next financial period comes.’ Obis raised his glass. ‘To a bright and prosperous future then’. Their glasses clinked in acknowledgement.

    The rest of the evening went like a dream. Obis was brimming with the power passed to him from the cane, but he felt tired now and it was beginning to wane a little. After exchanging pleasantries with many of the guests, Obis made his excuses and retired for the evening. Great things were coming to him He could feel it.

    Chapter 5: A bond of loyalty

    The next morning Obis awoke groggy, disorientated and ill tempered. He had a sharp headache and felt none of the confidence of the previous evening. All the power had drained from him. Oh, how he had enjoyed that feeling, the feeling of being in control again after the events of recent years.

    He stood up and donned his gown. As he stood he felt a surge of dizziness and a hot flush seemed to flow through him. He stumbled a little and nearly fell back down on the bed. Steadying himself, he made his way to his washroom. When he saw himself in the mirror, he got a fright. It was as though he had aged 10 years! The lines on his face had become much more pronounced, his hair seemed to double the amount of greyness and his front teeth were showing signs of yellowing. It seems last night took more out of him than it gave him. He’d probably need some laser treatment to sort that out!

    Obis quickly got washed and dressed and went out to bid farewell to the other delegates. He didn’t like others seeing him look so rough, it was a sign of weakness. The fresh air should do him some good. He’d take Grenshall with him.

    A short while later, Obis and Grenshall reached the landing pad. It was full of the hustle and bustle of robotic baggage handlers and other members of the Estates staff who were busy escorting the other delegates to their ships. Obis went over to Claunus and his personal delegation, who were already at their ship, but not attempting to board.

    There seemed to be a problem with his ship. Engineers were still busy looking over it. “Claunus, I trust everything is ok? Is there a problem?’, asked Obis, pretending to care. Claunus looked resplendent in his large cloak of office. A fine fabric rich in purple and red silks. He also carried a large white rod with his Eastern Offices emblem on it. It was a heavy and cumbersome object to carry and seemed a pointless piece of theatre in this day and age, but Claunus held onto it. It was a reminder of a once prouder time for himself and the peoples of the Eastern regions.

    “The fuel line has completely burnt out according to your engineers. It will take most of the day to fix. I’m afraid we must be incumbent on you for another day.” Claunus sighed. “Nonsense, it would be a pleasure to have you stay with us for another day. I will have my staff re-open the main hall. Feel free to make the most of our facilities”, Obis countered, almost through gritted teeth. He didn’t want this fool and his delegation here any longer than they had to be. “That’s very generous of you, Obis”, Claunus said, smiling.

    “Grenshall can take your items of Office and store them for you”, Obis countered. He was getting the hang of this diplomatic stuff! “Grenshall I must ask you to assume the position of first minister for the day. Last night took a lot out of me and I need to attend to some personal things. Please take Claunus’s cloak and staff to my Office. He can collect them when my engineers have finished working on the ship.” “Of course, Sir”, Grenshall replied, with a relish that implied he loved it when he got to be in charge. “Claunus, if I don’t see you before you go, I trust you and your delegation have a relaxing and pleasant day and a safe trip back.”, Obis finished. “Thank-you leader, I trust you make a speedy recovery”, Claunus replied.

    Obis finished his exchanges and quickly left. Putting Grenshall in charge for the day was something Obis did not trust. He didn’t trust Grenshall. It seemed that he was far too pally with the New Republic. He had cost Obis a great deal, but he had gained a great deal from him also.

    Grenshall was a native of Charn. They were humanoid like Obis, but had pale green skin and dark green hair tied in corns at the back in a pattern representing their tribal clan. Originally there had only been the native Charnians who enjoyed a simple way of life. Human settlers such as Obis’s ancestors had come to Charn centuries ago and drove them to the northern swamps, where they lived in small colonies until the human settlers had forcibly integrated them into their society at the behest of the Old Republic. The idea was adopted to give the Charnians the same benefits and the same comfortable way of life as the human settlers. It was a time of great integration, but it destroyed their way of life.

    Grenshall had kept relics of his culture and still practiced many of the old traditions and ceremonies. He despised the Imperial period as it made many of his fellow Charnians slaves. This was why Obis didn’t trust him, because there was always that tension between them due to the differences in their preferred historical periods. For now though it was necessary to keep him happy. With the help of his newly found power and a reason to believe he was re-claiming his heritage, it was only a matter of time before things would turn in his favour.

    Obis slept most of the day and when it got to early evening, he slipped out to go to his special room. Oh how he wanted that power and now! He grew impatient for that fix of self-confidence. All he had to do was take hold of the cane to feel that exhilaration again, to be master of all once again!

    Once he got in, he instructed the computer to turn on the lights and pressed a button to reveal a hidden compartment in his desk where he now kept the cane. He carefully picked it up, stood lofty and held the cane as he had done when his benefactor had granted him with that surge of power and confidence. Nothing. Simply the empty feel of a cold heavy cane. This wasn’t right. ‘Hello, can you hear me?’ he called out, unsure at first at what to expect. There was no reply only the echo of his voice in this large vaulted room.

    A sudden rush of realisation came over him and it made him very angry. Had someone taken the real one and replaced it with a duplicate? “Hello!” he barked, “Answer me!” Still nothing. Heads would roll for sure for this, the anger was welling up into a rage he could not control. With a scream, he took the cane and lunged with it at the imperial artefacts on the shelves beside him. This sent them crashing into the wall and floor below, some smashing. Many were priceless.

    Obis yelled again and hurled the cane the far wall. It crashed into some gold metallic goblets and sent them clanging to the floor. The cane settled on the far table. Obis was breathing heavily. How could he let someone steal so much from under his nose? He was surely finished now!

    His comlink suddenly went off. It was his private bodyguard, Cano. A tall horned blue-skinned humanoid. A Chagrian. He opened the door and let him in. He was one of Obis few trusted individuals who knew of this room. “What is it?!” “Sir, I was passing and heard you cry out, is everything okay?” “Well of course it is! Why shouldn’t it be? Now get out!” Obis barked.

    Cano went as to leave but Obis abruptly changed his mind. “No, wait. Have you seen anyone straying too close to this room?” “Something was taken from here!” Cano looked confused. “Surely only you have the combination to this room sir. With respect, how could anyone else get in here and take something?” “I don’t know” Obis barked. “But when I find out who, I will have them locked up! They will suffer imperial justice for this!” Cano slightly frowned as if somewhat confused. “Well I’ll put some feelers out if that’s what you want?” “No, that’s NOT what I want”, Obis barked again. “I will find this treacherous rat and make them pay myself. Dismissed Cano!” Cano left the room quietly.

    As the door closed, Obis felt a sudden chill in the room. The lights dimmed and the large chamber was filled with a guttural laugh, the same one he heard when this all started. “Gooood, Goood” a voice echoed. The cane rose off of the table and rotated in mid-air the way it had done when it gave him the power. At last, he would get more power!

    Palpatines voice emanated from the cane again. ‘I had to be sure you had the stomach for what lies ahead. I sense the anger in you. You have fire in your soul, it will help me to give you more power’. Obis was gleaming. “Then, I’m ready”, he stated, holding out his hand and expecting the cane to glide over to him the way it had done last night.

    That guttural laugh echoed again. “I will decide when you are ready!” it barked, more icy and malevolent than before. “You are a pathetic worm in my presence and you must grow before I can grant you any more power”, the disembodied voice of the former Emperor echoed. “But my Lord. . “, Obis protested but he was cut off. “Silence!”

    The emperors voice continued, “We spoke of trust did we not?”, “Yes, but I thought?” That laugh again followed, softer this time. “Just as I did something for you, I need you to prove your loyalty to me. To demonstrate that, I need two things from you.” “Yes, anything?”, Obis pleaded, desperate not to lose the chance of power. “Firstly, I need to sample your blood. It will give me strength and allow a link for the power to be transferred between us. Find something sharp, cut yourself. Use your hate to make the cut deep across your right hand!”

    Obis felt very uncomfortable all of a sudden. “Do not worry,” Palpatines voice continued, “you will come to no physical harm. I have the power to heal the wound it creates.” Shakily, Obis got up and looked around the room for something to do the deed. He went over to where some glass had broken in his rage earlier and picked a large shard. He held it to his right hand. He was shaking now. “DO IT!” The voice barked, “Do it now!” Gritting his teeth and almost silently yelling with rage, he slashed his right hand as ordered and felt a sharp intense pain as it cut deep. Blood poured from the self-inflicted wound splattering the floor and hitting some of his prize items on the shelves next to him. Obis was trying desperately to control the pain, using his rage to blunt it out.

    “Goood”, the voice echoed with mild laughter following. “Now hold out your hand”. Flinching, Obis nervously held out his hand, not knowing what to expect. The cane glided towards him.

    As he took it in the palm of its hand, he felt it press hard against his deep cut. He then cried out in agony as the cane began to ‘drink’ from him, absorbing his blood. More and more of it left his body and flowed into the cane. The pain was unimaginable now. Obis fell to one knee and cried out again. A searing hot feeling shot up his arm and made him scream, like pure fire going into him. He nearly passed out, unable to let go of the cane.

    As he began to drift into unconsciousness, he heard that laugh again followed by a satisfied cry of joy as though a long dormant appetite had suddenly been sated. The pain stopped almost as abruptly as it started and the cane released its grip, rolling across the floor. Obis breathed heavily with relief as he began to slowly regain consciousness. He took another look at his wound to realise it had gone. As he pulled himself up using the edge of his desk, Obis looked at his right arm in horror. The skin had emaciated from the other side of his hand and all the way up to his elbow. It was hideous, all white and veiny. Obis pulled down his sleeve in disgust. Had the cane infected him?

    The voice spoke again. “Do not worry, the physical defect on your arm is simply a way of strengthening the link between us.” “It will be restored when I pass my power over to you”. Obis felt no surge of power though, like he had before. “But my lord, I feel nothing”. Palpatines voice went on. “Have you forgotten what I said in your haste to regain power?” “I said I want TWO things from you before I can trust you”. “W- what is the other thing?”, Obis asked, slightly fearful now. “You must kill for me with all of your hatred”. Kill? Oh great God this was getting too much!

    Obis had never personally killed anyone. When he was governor, that burden had been taken from him by his troops. They were always the ones to carry out justice. He’d never thought about whether he was actually capable of killing himself. He was however, so hungry for the power promised to him, that he found himself blindly agreeing.

    “Okay, then. Who must I kill?” Obis asked. The voice carried on. “You have a personal adviser by the name of Grenshall. He is working against you, secretly making deals with your enemies in the New Republic to have you arrested after elections take place on your planet. They have promised him a position of power in return for his aid. I foresee you slowly dying, trapped in the confines of a Republic prison, while he takes the power you deserve.”

    This revelation made Obis mad. Very mad! That treacherous rat was selling him out! His suspicions had been correct all along. “This time you must take the cane with you. Use it to strike him down!”
    Obis stepped out into the corridors, cane in hand. As he made his way through the mazes of passageways towards his Office and Grenshall, he felt a darkening realization come over him as to what he was about to do, but necessary. He was about to remove the main obstacle to regaining his power.

    There was a secret way into his Office which would avoid security guarding the front entrance. He would use it to silently slip in and take Grenshall by surprise. Most of the staff were by now retiring from the main offices of the Estate and making their way back to their private quarters. Obis was seemingly able to slip last them without them noticing he was there. It was as though the cane had shrouded him in a cloak of darkness.

    Obis turned a corner and stopped by a small tapestry hanging on the wall. Sat hidden behind it was a sliding door, perfectly aligned to the wall as though not there. He reached behind the tapestry and placed his right hand on the top of the hidden door to a small Holo receiver. It was aligned to his palm print. The door smoothly slid open to reveal a hidden passageway and Obis quietly slipped in and closed the door using another Holo receiver on the other side. He slipped along a small bleak and dimly lit passageway and stopped by another sliding door. Obis hesitated.

    The disembodied voice of the former Emperor spoke again. ‘Do not hesitate! You must do it now!’. It was angry this time. ‘But my Lord, killing? Is there no other way?’, Obis protested. The voice spoke up again. “Why should I hand my power over to a spineless cretin with no stomach for seizing and making use of the power? Do you so wish to abandon this goal?” “No, but killing my lord? Would it not be better to just have him imprisoned?”

    The voice spoke to Obis with malice now. “Do you suppose I would give you a chance like this if I didn’t think you were capable of carrying it out?. Maybe I have made a bad choice in you. Grenshall has shown real leadership and displayed an ability which has outsmarted yours. Perhaps I should offer my powers to him instead?” This made Obis mad with a jealous rage. At this moment, he wanted nothing more than to see this traitor dead and to regain his glorious destiny! “No my Lord. Ok, I’m ready”, Obis finished.

    Obis realised that he would need a distraction. No guards could be witness to this and those at the front of his Office would hear something. He picked up his comlink and called up his chief of security. “Pelo, I want all security to meet at the front Gates for a full security exercise. This is to include my Office security, is that understood.” “Fine leader, right away”, a somewhat dejected sounding officer replied. Obis had been relentless in making his security staff undergo these exercises in his paranoia to have perfect protection for his estate. Obis could hear the wail of an alarm through the corridors. This was sent out to summon his security staff to the front gate. He waited a moment longer and then opened the secret door which lead to his personal Office.

    A bookcase silently slid open in his office and he stepped through. Grenshall was on the comlink to someone and abruptly cancelled the transmission as he spun round like someone caught in an act. Obis stared at him with blank cold eyes. “Leader, how..?” Grenshall hurriedly said. “Oh it’s a useful way to check on my most valued staff”, Obis said, his tone acidy and cold. “Step away from the comlink and face me”. Grenshall quickly complied. Obis continued. “You have betrayed me Grenshall, and now it is time to pay for your crimes. Did you really think I didn’t know what you were up to?” “I.. I didn’t…, what crimes?” asked Grenshall, but he knew the game was up.

    Obis walked closer to him, raising the cane. “You Poisonous rat! Now, you will die!”, he shrieked as he lifted the cane with both hands now and with a rage he didn’t know he was capable of, he smashed it down on Grenshall’s skull. Grenshall screamed with pain and rolled around on the floor. Obis stared blankly before continuing. “I am going to end your life like the worm you have become.” He brought the cane up to full height and with another scream brought it crashing down across Grenshall’s head for a second time.

    Grenshall was feebly crawling across the floor toward the main door now in a futile attempt to escape. “Please leader, have mercy”, Grenshall rasped, unable to get the words out now. “Door lock!” Obis commanded and a clicking sound was heard across the door. The voice spoke to Obis again. “Now, you must strike the finishing blow now!”, it ordered impatiently. Only Obis could hear the voice as Grenshall in his weakened state seemed not to acknowledge it.

    The voice spoke again. “Point the cane at him and channel all of your hatred into it!” Obis complied and pointed the cane at the now feeble Grenshall who was cowering on the floor. Obis screamed out with all the hate he had for Grenshall and a power seemed to vibrate through the cane. A bolt of force lightening shot from the cane and engulfed Grenshall who screamed in agony. He then lifted into the air and shot at super speed into the far end of the room, where his head crashed against Claunus’s white staff and his gown propped up in the corner, covering them in blood. His limp body fell to the floor with a cold clump. The deed had been done.

    Obis stared at the scene blankly for a moment, the rage in him fading somewhat. Had he just done this? He remembered but could scarcely acknowledge the deed. He needed to leave his office before he was discovered here. Pushing a concealed switch, the bookcase through which he had entered the room slid open again. Obis left after instructing the computer to unlock the main door in a cold tone and slipped along the now darkening passageways, back to his secret room to conceal the cane, lest it fall into unwanted hands. He then left the room and returned to his private quarters.

    A short while later, Claunus travelled up the main corridor towards Obis’s private office, eager to retrieve his items of office and go home to the Eastern sector. He’d had word that the repairs to his ship were now completed. As he reached the main door, he was surprised to see no security. He pressed the bell and an electronic whine sounded, but there was no response. Claunus pushed slightly on the door and it slid open. He walked inside and was greeted by a scene of horror.

    Items were shewn around the room, there was splatters of blood over the desk and some of the books on the shelf. To his right-hand side lay Grenshall twisted up on the floor. His face was contorted with a look of sheer terror and agony. Claunus felt dizzy and nauseous. He saw his Cloak hanging up next to his staff, the top of it covered in blood and fragments of skull. He reached for the staff to examine it closer and felt his stomach churn. He threw up just as Obis’s chief of security came running in through the door.

    Pelo stood shocked, surveying the scene. “I think you better tell me what’s been going on!” He spoke with authority, regaining his composure. Claunus looked up at him, still shocked. “I don’t know, I just came in and found him like this. Why were there no security on this door?” Pelo turned defensive. “We’ve been on a top-level training exercise of the complex, but we keep our comms open all the time. It registered someone entering this room uninvited and I found you here!” Do you realize the penalty for killing a senior member of Government? Even for someone like you, in your exalted position, can face a life in our prison camps. We’re going to have to ask you and your delegation to stay with us a little longer, only this time not as our guests, but as our prisoners!”

    Claunus had really been put on the spot. He was now panicking. “I came in and found him like this!” he protested, raising his voice now. “I had nothing to do with this I swear!” Pelo retorted. “If anyone comes through this door without a registered pass-code, which only the personal security of this office can authorise, then it sets off an alarm. The evidence is clear. Nobody unauthorised can enter this room without me being personally aware of it. There is a DIRECT signal to my comms unit. My staff left 30 clicks ago and the signal has only registered once. I’m afraid this puts you very much in the picture.” With that said, he called Obis up on the comms unit.

    A short while later Obis arrived with a multitude of security officers and medical staff. Claunus who was by now a nervous wreck, looked up at Obis as though he was the only ray of hope he had left. He spoke up. “Obis, please, you’ve got to help me. Your security officer here, is accusing me of murder. I didn’t commit this I swear! You have to tell them! I have to get back to my family!” His family. A wife falling apart at the seams and a daughter dying from Holopocks. His daughter!
    Obis had promised to let her receive treatment. Desperate now, Claunus spoke up again. “Look, please! Do what you will with me but honour your promise to my daughter!”

    Obis raised his hand and cut him off. He looked coldly at Claunus. “This administration does not negotiate with murderers. Take him away!”, he ordered. “No, pleasssse!” Claunus wailed as he was dragged away and taken to the security offices for formal questioning before a trial and undoubtedly, imprisonment.

    Obis left the medical and security staff to remove Grenshall’s body for examination and to conduct an investigation of Obis’s Office to gather evidence. He strode confidently back to his Quarters, a smug grin on his face. He had removed that parasite Grenshall from having him impeached and put that grovelling insect Claunus in his place. He was a man in charge again. A man on a mission. He got through the door and threw his cloak cockily on the bed and went to wash before retiring. Upon looking in the mirror, he got a sharp shock. Staring back at him was a face he could scarcely believe was his. His facial skin was a pale white. The lines across his face had doubled in their intensity and his eyes were a fiery yellow.

    Chapter 6: Inside the Temple.

    Luke and his young entourage arrived at the vast structure of the old temple. Before them stood a massive bulk of stone and pale rock, stretching up several hundred feet. It was ancient in its appearance with crumbling masonry. The place looked as though it was slowly being consumed by the ground. Much of the outside of it was covered in plant life, a sorry testament to a once ancient wisdom.

    Crumbling archways lined some of the upper levels but there appeared to be no way inside. Luke turned to the youngsters. “I think we should split up and search for a possible way in. Ben come with me and Hisha and Solom, go around that way. Be mindful and take note of anything unusual which you see or feel. Use the force to guide you.” “Very good, master”, Hisha replied. Hisha was incredibly gifted in picking up on feelings and emotions, her force powers seemed attuned empathetically. Solon was good at physical prowess. He had already shown great promise in his saber skills and he was capable at lifting heavy objects. Ben on the other hand, was the best all-rounder he had. Luke had the gut instinct that they would all need to display their finest strengths to enter this structure.

    Hisha and Solom made their way slowly around one side of this vast, ancient temple as per Master Lukes instructions. They made their way slowly across to the far side. Solom turned to Hisha. “How come Master Luke always wants Ben with him? Why couldn’t he have taken one of us instead?” He asked, slightly irritated by this. Hisha studied Solom. “I sense that you have misgivings towards Ben. Master Luke warned us about the dangers of that”. The Twilek girl was vastly ahead of her years and often spoke with the wisdom of an adult, much to the annoyance of Solom. “It’s just that I feel he gives Ben more than he gives us sometimes. I know they’re related and all but I think he protects him too much”, Solom protested. Hisha sighed. “He has been through a lot. He hardly got to know his parents, they were always too busy for him. Master Luke is just being a father figure to him, that’s all”. “Well I never knew my parents, why can’t he be a father figure to us too?”, Solom retorted. It had fallen on deaf ears though. Hisha was staring at a section of the wall covered in a mass of tangled thorns.

    “There is something behind these thorns, the force is strong here”, Hisha said. Hisha and Solom made to part some of the Thorns and saw the hand of a statue behind them. As they parted more of the thorns, they uncovered the statue of a young girl. Although time had weathered the look on her face, it was an obvious expression of sadness. “She lost something here, I can feel it”, Hisha said. “It’s just an old statue, not a real person!”, Solom protested, but Hisha continued to reach out with her feelings. “The feeling of loss is very strong here”, Hisha continued as she lightly gripped the hand of the statue.

    Soloms usually dull senses snapped into action. “No Hisha, don’t!”, he cried but it was too late. A loud crashing sound was heard above the two and as Solom looked up, half a ton of heavy rocks was falling onto them from the top of the temple. Hisha looked up with a cry. Solom stretched out with the force. The falling rocks suddenly halted in mid-air just inches above them. Solom was holding them but it was taking a terrible strain and effort of the young Jedi’s power. “Hisha, quickly!”, he shouted and made a grab for Hisha’s hand. As he touched her, something very strange happened. The rocks disappeared as though they had never been there. Then, with a flash of blue light, both Hisha and Solom vanished.

    Around the other side of the Temple, Luke and Ben continued to scout round it. Luke stopped suddenly as though picking up a mild disturbance in the force. “Uncle what is it this time?”, Ben questioned. “For a moment, I couldn’t sense Hisha or Solom. It was as though they vanished”, replied Luke, slightly worriedly. “We must go back Uncle. If they’re in danger, they are going to need us”, Ben replied, getting worried himself now.

    “There’s no need for concern. They are in no danger. I think they’re being tested, as will come our time to be tested soon. Be patient Ben and keep focussing on the Force,” finished Luke. As they rounded a corner, Ben saw that a large part of the side of the temple had smoothed and was a marble white. They followed it along some way before noticing a ray shield around a palm print plate. There were four robotic eye sticks in the corners of the ray shield which seemed to be following them.

    Bens senses suddenly surged with a feeling of danger and without thinking, he ignited his lightsaber just as the four eye sticks began firing laser bolts at him. Ben skilfully deflected the first few but they began to get fiercer and Ben began to struggle with the sheer ferocity of them. “Ben stop!”, Luke suddenly shouted. “Use the force, focus on the blasts. Stretch out”. Ben began to understand. He lowered his saber and stretched out, closing his eyes and raising his hand at the bolts, focussing the energy of the force onto them. They suddenly froze in mid-air.

    Luke studied the ray-shielded palm print plate. Almost without hesitation, he confidently stretched his hand towards the palm print and put his hand straight through the ray shield, which vanished. He placed his palm on the plate. It was, uncannily, almost a perfect fit. The whole plate came alive with a blue light. Almost at once, the laser bolts vanished. Luke took Bens hand and the blue light engulfed them both. Then, they were gone too.

    All four of them appeared in a large central chamber, dimly lit, with several doorways leading off to the sides. The floor on which they were standing was patterned with ancient writing covering a large circular shape. “Master, where are we and how did we get here?”, Solom asked.” We are inside the temple,” Luke announced, proud of his students. They had all worked very hard to make this possible. Now, hopefully, it would yield rewards.

    “At last, we can explore!”, Ben said excitedly, making to go through the nearest doorway, but Luke stopped him abruptly. “Not so fast Ben. This temple may have many dangers if not treated with the right respect.” Ben looked slightly disappointed. “He’s right Ben”, Hisha piped up, “I can feel it”.

    “Proceed cautiously. We’ll all take a doorway and use the force as our guide. Beware of false temptations and don’t touch anything until we’ve all had a chance to re-convene. I suggest we meet back here to discuss what we have all found. Let us go where the force commands.” “Do you mean we all have to go alone?”, Solom protested. Luke calmly replied. “No. You three must keep together, I can sense the force has a different path for me.”

    With this, they parted company and took adjacent doorways, each leading to a different part of the temple, and, who knew what.

    As the trio ventured out, they wandered through dimly lit corridors with crumbling statues about them. Maybe they were of the Jedi affiliate what once governed this temple. They went past several doors, each leading to different rooms. Hisha stopped by one, her senses telling her that something important lay here. “Why have we stopped?”, Solom asked. “I sense we will find great knowledge here”, Hisha replied, sure of her senses. “I feel something here too”, Ben added. Solom looked disgruntled. He had wanted to continue. He wanted to find the Jedi training rooms, which logically must be here somewhere. However, he didn’t want to be separated from the others, so reluctantly, he went into the room with them, before adding a note of caution. “remember what Master Luke said. Don’t touch anything!”

    Inside the room were several Holo-projectors around the exterior. It seemed to be a library of sorts. The store house of knowledge they had been searching for. A circle was carved in the centre of the floor, similar to the one that they found themselves standing inside when they first got into the temple. “What do you suppose this room is?”, Ben asked. “I sense we have to stand in that circle to activate the holo projectors”, Hisha replied.

    Meanwhile, Luke had followed his instincts along another path inside the temple. He needed time to meditate on the earlier disturbance he had felt. He needed answers. He sensed they were all in danger from some imminent threat.

    As Luke calmly passed along the corridors, he stopped by a large archway. The force was strong here. He passed through it. The room appeared to be a large meditation chamber, with a similar circle carved into the centre of the floor. Luke sensed that he had to sit within the circle. Despite telling the others not to tamper with anything, Luke felt an overwhelming sense of calmness emanating from the centre of the circle and knew what he must do. He sat within its centre, closed his eyes and stretched out with the force.

    At once he felt himself falling through air. He opened his eyes to find that he was high up in the sky, slowly falling into a forest. As the forest canopy got nearer a large clearing emerged with what looked to be a lake sat at its centre. The place seemed vaguely familiar, as though he had been here before.

    He gently floated down and came to rest on the bank of a lake. Its waters were pure and an overwhelming sense of peace came over him. Fish were jumping the water. Around him was lush fauna, much like the wilderness outside of the temple but it had a richer feel to it. Maybe now he could get some answers.

    Luke must have been sat down by the lake for no more than 5 minutes when he observed a bigger fish jumping the waters and swallowing up some of the smaller ones. This must mean something but what? A light wind got up, non-threatening and a familiar presence came to his senses before he saw anything. He heard the noise of twigs snapping through the undergrowth and the cloaked handsome figure of a taller, younger man came into view. “Hello Son”, the voice, said, calmly. It was the man who had once been his father, Anakin Skywalker.

    Chapter 7: Isolation

    Obis stood in the washroom for a moment, stunned. This face, looking back at him was so unlike his own. What was happening to him? He doused himself in water and looked again. The image had faded and it was his own face looking back at him again. Had he imagined it? He knew he hadn’t. It was the effect of the cane. He knew this as he remembered Palpatines voice telling him that the defect on his arm was a way of strengthening the link between them. His arm was still just as bad and his fingernails had blackened and looked more like claws. It was a necessary defect, he told himself. He would soon have more power than he had ever dreamed of.

    Maybe sleep would improve things. He left the washroom and lay down on the bed thinking of the events of recent days. Surely soon it would be time to take the next step. He could feel this to be true. He had seemed to have an uncanny knack of predicting events lately. He just had to wait. His enemies, the New Republic, and all who opposed him would soon be grovelling before him. Soon he would hold all the cards. Very soon.

    Later that evening, Obis was seated around a fine table in a large dining area with all the fineries of Empire surrounding him. The goblets on the table, the finest dishes from all corners of the Empire and the best Wine. He could hear 3 distinct voices but he couldn’t see anybody. The voices sounded mocking and unfriendly. He took a swig of his wine and looked up. Sat around the table were the top brass of the New Republic. Senator Mothma and Leia were present. Sat between them was Grenshall. This didn’t seem right. It was something he should be remembering but it eluded him.

    Grenshall was deep in conversation with the other two and what they said made him mad. “As I have said Grenshall”, Senator Mothma said, “Once you have helped us rid Charn of that selfish slug, you will be able to rule with our blessing”. Leia piped up, “Fine dining such as this will become routine and we will give you an army to protect all of Charn.” “Thank you Senators”, Grenshall replied. “I shall be made for life. I will have a table just like this and I would be happy to stick that pigs head on a spike as the prize of my collection, once his life has expired in a Republic prison!” They all laughed. “Won’t be long now Grenshall”, Senator Mothma added with a wink. “We’re very close to proving our case in a full Senate meeting to decide Charns future, with you as the leader.” They all raised their glasses in acknowledgement. “To Grenshall, Charns new leader”, Leia said with glee. The glasses all clinked.

    Obis was incensed. How dare they? It’s bad enough that they have to stuff their faces at my table, let alone insult me at the same time! Obis grew mad. He could feel his eyes burning. As he stared at the parasites across the table, he could feel his stomach bulging and unimaginable pain. Obis screamed. The delegation seemed oblivious of this as they continued to toast his downfall. His stomach bulged some more and, as he was screaming in agony, a shape burst through his stomach. It was a gigantic snake. It had deep, sharp fangs and burning yellow eyes. It hissed malevolently.

    Suddenly, it thrust itself onto the table, knocking plates and glasses everywhere as it lunged at the delegates on the far side. Mon Mothma was first, she screamed as it opened its jaws wide and forced itself onto her neck, clenching its jaws around her throat. So powerful was the bite that it severed her head, which rolled onto the floor with blood spurting from her torso still seated at the table. Leia got up in horror and reached for her blaster. She fired straight between the eyes, but it had no effect except to make it even more mad. It lunged at her blaster arm and bit hard, severing it from her body. Blood was pouring out of the wound as she collapsed to the floor crying out in pain. Grenshall, who by now was a quivering nervous wreck, made a run for the door and tugged at it but it refused to open. Grenshall slipped on all the blood and fell to the floor crying for mercy. The snake, which was appearing to grow in size with each kill, lunged at his feet, opening its massive mouth, engulfed both of Grenshall’s legs right up to his stomach. Grenshall was screaming but he got weaker as the snake slowly devoured him whole. The other delegates around the table met with similar fates to this entity.

    Obis was unable to move and watching the scene with fascination. The miserable swamp rats were all dead and this was only the beginning of true power for him. The snake, which by now was half the size of the room stretched up to full height and turned to him, hissing. “Jussst the beginning Obisss, just the beginning! Exxxxpect me back, for now I have to incapaccccitate more of our enemiesss.” The snake turned and with tremendous force, smashed through the far wall and into the Estate beyond. Masonry fell from the gaping hole in the wall and part of the ceiling above onto the limp and lifeless bodies strewn around the base of the table and all that Obis could hear was that diabolical laughter, fading as the snake got further away.

    Obis awoke with a start, still hearing the fading cackling. Had this just been a dream, it had seemed so real. He didn’t really know what was real anymore. He felt mean inside, unable to tolerate anybody any more. With the power promised to him, all who opposed him would perish. The dream had given him an appetite for power and killing. He mused that he would start with some of the less malleable members of his staff. Once they were gone, he could hold together a team worthy of his leadership.

    It was morning, but he felt no desire to get up and run the offices. He rang through to his secretary to tell her that he would be taking a few days off as the violent death of Grenshall had disturbed him. Why should he work when his staff were paid to do it for him? Another thing he would end was this ridiculous practice of rewarding his staff in terms of payment and other benefits for their services. Charn would become the centre of a gigantic slave labour camp. He would make Charn great again, paid for with the blood, sweat and tears of his ministers, other staff and the population at large. Obis got up and this time, without washing, made his way back to his secret room, telling his bodyguard Cano that he did not wish to be disturbed under any circumstances.

    Three days and nights passed without Obis leaving his secret room. Cano brought him food and drink but didn’t openly question what was happening to Obis. He fed like an animal, leaving remnants of the meals over the floor and table. Obis just sat there, cane in hand, wishing for the day that everything would be his for the taking. He pleaded with the cane to give him guidance but it remained silent for what seemed like an eternity, but finally it spoke to him.

    “Obis, the time has come. However, we have an obstacle that we must crush before we can enjoy complete power again.” “Who is this dog, my master?”, Obis questioned. “A Jedi, by the name of Luke Skywalker. He is the heir to a powerful bloodline. Him and three brats he hopes to use to start a new Jedi order are holed up in a temple on Vaga Prime. I attempted to trap him within its walls for eternity, but he has powerful allies from beyond the grave.” This made Obis think for a minute. Powers just like the former Emperor would be a foe unlike any he had encountered thus far.

    Palpatines voice continued. “I sense you fear this threat. But his allies cannot harm the living, it would be against their pathetic code. I however, am weakened from the confrontation. I need more blood from you to gain back my strength.” Obis complied, this time without fear as he picked up a knife and slashed his hand. He felt no pain this time, only pleasure as the knife cut deeply into him. Another bloodletting session followed, leaving Obis feeling incredibly weak, but determined to see this through.

    The voice of the former Emperor made a satisfied gurgle. “Good, Good, my strength is returning.” “Master, what is your bidding for this Jedi dog?” Obis asked. Palpatines voice carried on. “In a remote area of Mustafar, I have a ship. A Carrion Spike. I gifted one of my Grand Moffs with one but I had another made for myself. It is a stealth ship equipped with enough armaments to crush the temple to dust. You must retrieve it for me and fulfil your destiny. Do this and all the power I promised you will then be yours.” Obis smiled. At last, he was approaching the end game and a gateway to true glory.

    Chapter 8: Discovering lost truths

    “F – father, somehow I had sensed you would come”, Luke said as he looked at his father in awe. As he studied the figure of his father, Luke could see that he was solid and possessed none of the ghostly blue hue of previous encounters. Anakin looked at Luke with immense pride and sat down by the lake with him. “You have truly excelled in every way, my son. As your Father, I could not be prouder.” “Father, you seem, well, real. What is this place?”. “Luke, you should recognise it. It is where everything changed. In the skies above us, you brought me back from an evil that I’d been a prisoner to for many years. It is also where you won your victory against the Empire.” Luke knew exactly where they were. Every bone in his body was telling him. This was the forest moon of Endor.

    Anakin continued. “You have made this place in your mind as a gateway where we can both cross-over and exist not as the deceased communing with the living, but where we can both exist in true spiritual equality. The chamber of the temple you sit in has allowed this.” Luke nodded in understanding. It made sense to him now. To be here, with the true version of his father and not as the giant hulk of Vader was truly an honour and a moment that they should both cherish. Luke sensed that they may not have long together in this realm.

    Luke pondered for a moment and shot his father a sly glance. “How is it that you manage to remain so youthful as to appear younger than me?” Anakin laughed softly and smiled. “Son, I lived trapped inside the repression that was Vader until you freed me. You freed the true me and not the age that followed my fall from Grace. In the realm I inhabit, time has no meaning. So, you could say that I cannot age, only grow in wisdom”.

    Luke still couldn’t take it all in. To be here with his father was a true miracle. There was so much he wanted to ask him but he wasn’t sure he wanted to go there. Their previous encounters since the end of the Empire had been so brief as to only allow them to speak of the dangers of the current situation. They both remained silent for a moment. Anakin spoke first. “So, what made you choose this place and not your home?” Luke thought for a moment. He didn’t really know. Tatooine was once both of their homes. Surely it would have made sense for them to find themselves there. “I guess I hate sand!”, Luke piped up. They both laughed.

    “I like this place.”, Anakin followed “It’s calm and peaceful. It reminds me of Naboo. Where I first fell in love with your mother.” “What was she like?”, Luke asked. Sure, he had seen holo images of her speaking in the Senate but never knew what she was like as a person. “She was one of the finest Senators in the Republic and always fought for what was right. She had a bravery most, including myself, did not possess”, Anakin replied. “She would have been so proud of you and your sister.” This brought warm feelings to Lukes heart. Anakin continued. “I would have given anything to save her, to have you all as a family by my side. It would have made me the happiest man in the whole Republic but the dogmatic doctrine of the Jedi would never have allowed such a bond. You see, they held ideas against all material attachment. I became so frustrated that when my former Master offered me the chance to save her, like the young and arrogant fool I was, I took it without a second thought. I betrayed my friends, committed unspeakable crimes, helped to destroy the Jedi Order and with it the hope of the entire Galaxy. Most of all my regrets was that I lost you all. He lied to me. He prayed on my fears and made me his puppet. It brought me nothing but pain and misery, which is why I’m here now.”

    “Father, I had an awful vision. Sidious returned to torment me. He threatened to destroy my attempts to re-build a Jedi order. What does it all mean?”, Luke asked. “I know Son, I felt it too. At all costs, you must not let him achieve this”, Anakin replied. Luke was confused. “But Sidious is long dead. How can he come back? Does he have the same powers to return as you, Ben and Yoda? I sensed him returning, like a growing storm on the horizon. I knew it was the future I felt and not the past. Can he truly come back as you have?” Anakin replied. “No, we only achieve this state through pure compassion. We help life to grow, renew it. Sidious had none of this, only pure hate and malice. There is no way that someone could return to life when all he did was to destroy it. Observe my son.” Anakin waved his hand at a patch of lifeless ground and at once a host of beautiful flowers sprung up on the forest canopy and flowed down to the edge of the lake. Luke was truly amazed and enlightened by this.

    “Well then how can he possibly return? Was it just a manifestation of my fears?”, Luke quizzed. Anakin at once looked very serious. “No. He had truly frightening powers. The Sith, once dead, are trapped within a purgatory of their own making for eternity. Like being surrounded by the walls of an impenetrable dark womb. However, they can leave remnants of their power within objects once close to them. When these fall into the hands of the weak and gullible, the Sith may return through that individual. Possess them. Slowly take over their body until the original host is no more than an empty shell. It provides a gateway from their purgatory and back to the land of the living. He has found such a pathway. It created a rift in the realm I inhabit. We all felt it. That’s why I came back to warn you. When this storm hits, you must be prepared.”

    “I know what I have to do Father. If I die in the attempt, then at least I can save the fledgling order from total oblivion.” Luke said, somewhat defiantly. “Son, that’s not something I would wish for you any time soon. Besides, you have to teach my Grandson right from . . .” He was cut off suddenly and looked around the place with an ominous look on his face. “Father, what is it?”, Luke said, but he felt it too. The sudden coldness in the air. The wind suddenly got up making their cloaks billow about them. Both stood up and looked towards the centre of the lake, which was now bubbling violently, sending waves crashing onto its banks. Out of the centre arose a huge black snake, as though made from the darkness itself. It rose to a terrifying height and opened its eyes, which were malevolent and Sith like. It spoke.

    “So, the great betrayer and his pathetic, powerless son.” They both knew who it was. The voice was unmistakable. It continued. “How fortunate to find you here. I can now dispose of you both!” Anakin stared fiercely at the Snake. “I don’t think so Sidious! I finished you once before and I can do so again.” The snake hissed a long hiss with dark venom dripping from its mouth. It laughed an evil cackle. “Such melodramatics boy! I am invincible. Your pathetic powers are nothing!” With that a yellow kind of force lightening shot from its eyes straight at the two Jedi.

    Anakin force-pushed Luke aside and stretched out his hand to take the full force of the blast. He fell back, exhausted and drained. “Father, NO!”, screamed Luke. He took Anakin in his arms and cradled him. Anakin looked at him cunningly and whispered “Don’t worry Son, I’m not finished yet” he said with a wink. “You need to wake up from this. Get back to your reality otherwise he will trap you here forever!” “But Father, I can’t leave you here, not again”, Luke protested. “I will be with you always”, Anakin replied. “Now Son, you must go and may the force be with you.”

    The Sidious snake cackled an evil guttural cackle. “Fool, you think you can truly save your worthless son?” This was a straw too far. “How dare you insult us with your poisonous tongue!”, Anakin shouted. All at once the body of Anakin transformed, growing in light to become a creature equal and opposite to Sidious. They engaged in a deadly battle of light and darkness. A wave of pure light hit Luke and all of a sudden, he found himself back in the meditation chamber.

    Chapter 9: Finding the lost ship

    Across the grounds of Obis’s Estate, hidden by the darkness, a loan cloaked figure holding a black walking cane slipped silently towards the ship hangers unseen by the security patrols. He reached the hanger and walked towards a small shuttle. With a wave of his hand, a ramp lowered and he slowly climbed it.

    He reached the top but was approached by a security droid, guarding the hangers. Its voice grated. ‘Please identify yourself’. The lone figure raised the black cane at it and a small bolt of force lightning shot from it, engulfing the droid, which fizzed and crackled, disrupting its circuits and causing it to fall, motionless to the ground.

    The lone figure entered the ship and raised the ramp. He walked to the small cockpit, sat down in the pilot’s seat and activated the controls with another wave of his hand. They lit up with a hum. He pulled a lever and the engines started up. The ship slowly raised off the ground, the landing feet lifting into the bulk of the ship.

    Pelo, who was nearby on patrol was approached by one of his fellow Guards. “Sir, we have an unauthorised launch in hanger 16. Pelo and a handful of guards ran towards the hanger, blasters in hand, but it was too late. The ship flew at the hanger entrance with great speed, scattering the guards, injuring two of them, before ascending skyward.

    The lone cloaked figure unrobed at the controls. It was Obis, except it wasn’t. His face was hideously scarred and his eyes were a Sith yellow. Some of his teeth had fallen out. This was no longer Obis. He was more like a wild creature now, scary and malevolent.

    Once in orbit, he flew toward a cluster of hyperspace rings and linked up. He opened a comms channel on the dashboard and spoke with a guttural voice. “Unlock, code 7Z, override”. Around the giant ring, lights sprung up. The Obis creature tapped in some co-ordinates and the stars stretched out in a familiar fashion. He was gone.

    A while later, his ship emerged from hyperspace. It came into orbit around a reddened, scarred planet. Mustafar. The shuttle unhooked from the hyperspace ring and began its descent into the planet’s atmosphere.

    As it lowered and sped across the volcanic landscape, the gigantic bulk of a black temple came into view. It seemed to be powered by the lava. The Obis creature spoke into the controls again and punched in a clearance code. “Open lower landing platform”. At the base of the giant temple a landing platform appeared stretched out, but this had not happened on his orders. He saw a ship on the lower platform. Somebody had got there before him. Pirates by the look of the ship. It was no co-incidence. The dark side of the force had willed it.

    The shuttle lowered and landed next to the Pirate ship. The ramp stretched out and the Obis creature re-cloaked, took hold of the cane and slowly descended. He walked across the landing platform and pointed his cane at the pirate ship. With some effort, the ship lifted and was flung off platform, to meet a sorry end in the boiling lava below. The Obis creature laughed with a satisfied smirk.

    Before him was a giant archway that lead into catacombs beneath the main structure. They were dimly lit but the Obis creature did not need eyes to see his way through, he simply felt his way into the darkness. The darkness was now his friend.

    As he made his way along the tunnels taking several twists and turns, the catacombs began to open out into a larger chamber. There were voices up ahead, who spoke with all the scum and villainy of common criminals. He could sense that there were around 10 pirates, standing ahead by the foot of a giant rock wall.

    “Leader, how do we get in? If our information is correct, the ship should be behind this wall”. The leader responded. “Place the explosives along the base of the wall! We’ll blast through it and the ship will be ours! We’ll be invincible with this! Unlimited treasure, boys!” They all laughed. They began to carefully place explosive charges by the base of the wall, which began a countdown sequence.

    Once done, their leader ordered them to retreat to the passages. As they turned, the Obis creature stood between them and the passages beyond. “What the hell is this? Who are you?”, the leader spoke with malice. “Someone else has come for our treasure boys! He’s old and crippled! Blast him!” The others raised their blasters and launched a maelstrom of blaster bolts at the intruder.

    With a guttural laugh, the Obis creature raised his cane and stared spinning it round with ferocious speed. The blaster bolts were concentrated into the cane and deflected in all directions, making the pirates scatter for shelter. The leader fronted it out to the Obis creature. “Whatever trickery you’ve got in that wand of yours old man, I will still kill you. Then we will add it to our treasure” He unsheathed a large knife and made for the Obis creature, lunging at him. The Obis creature countered the attack and raised his cane, sending a violent burst of force lightening toward him that hit with such power, it threw him into the air and sent him smashing into the large wall, where he fell to the floor and instant death.

    With their leader dead, the others began panicking, running toward the passageway. About five of them managed to get past him but the others were not so lucky. The creature raised his cane again and sent the remaining pirates into the wall just as the detonators reached critical level. A giant explosion took place and at once the chamber was filled with rubble and dust. A section of the ceiling collapsed behind those who had made it past the Obis creature, making escape impossible.

    After a while the dust cleared revealing that the wall had not been damaged, not even scratched. The remaining pirates, now covered in dust and somewhat disorientated, started coughing and shaking the dust off their clothing, but the Obis creature stood there motionless and un-phased. He turned to the pirates.

    “Your leader and your comrades are now dead. If you wish to save your pathetic skins, you will join me and help me to get what I came here for. I have need of a crew to pilot this ship. Help me and you will be greatly rewarded. Refuse and you will swiftly join your colleagues.”, he spoke with a guttural evil.

    One pirate, Chub, slowly stood up and stepped forward. “We are, <cough>, <cough>, at your service”. The others did not raise an argument. Pirates were easy to win over in the face of superior power. “Gooood, goood!”, laughed the Obis creature. “Then come this way”. They made their way over to the wall. Chub spoke up. “How do we get inside? Our explosives didn’t even scratch it!” The Obis creature replied. “Your crude methods cannot affect the defences of this temple. I have the means to enter. Observe!” he lifted his cane and pointed it at a section of the wall. The creature closed his eyes in deep meditation and a blue light appeared on the centre of the wall, slowly expanding until it formed the shape of an archway.

    The light went from blue to purple and then red. The pirates stared, in awe of this. The red light intensified and then faded to reveal an entranceway which lead to a large hanger. Expecting to see what they came for but not finding it behind the archway, Chub turned to the Obis creature. “But it’s empty, there’s nothing there!” He protested. The Obis creature laughed again. “Fool, it is a stealth ship, its cloaked!” He made his way to the centre of the hanger and appeared to touch thin air. At once a shimmering took place and a large elongated ship came into view. “Wooow, it’s amazing! How do you know so much about it?” Chub asked. “I know many things and am a gateway to powers most would consider un-natural”, the creature replied, cryptically.

    Chapter 10: Knowledge lights the way

    Luke sat there, stunned for a moment. Had what he just witnessed been real? If so, was his Father ok? He hoped so. He knew he had to move fast to prevent this vile creature from tracking him and the younglings down in this reality.

    He stood slowly and felt out with the force. Stepping through a doorway into the corridor, he sensed which direction the trio of younglings had gone in. He could feel that they were safe. For now.

    In the chamber the youngsters had ventured into, Ben immediately made for the centre of the circle and sat in it. Hisha looked worried. “Master Luke said we weren’t to touch anything”, she shouted but it was too late. Ben sat within the large circle, closed his eyes and stretched out with the force.

    All at once the holo-projectors sprang to life and beams of light sprang from them to form a figure. It was a small creature with dark skin, an elongated neck and large eyes. It’s feet and fingers were thin tendrils. The creature looked around the room at the trio and spoke.
    ‘Welcome my friends to the temple of the mind. You have been the first Jedi to visit our temple since the decline of our race. No doubt you have been allowed to enter because you have skills and abilities which matched our own.’ Hisha and Solom looked at each other. Ben was still in the middle of the circle in deep concentration.

    The creature continued. ‘We have an extensive set of records here chronicling our rise on this planet. We have studied you since you have arrived and your records will be added to our database. Hisha spoke. “We have come here seeking information about lost Jedi orders. We need to rebuild our Order.” The creature studied her. ‘Do you not have records within your own temple?’ “Some”, Hisha admitted. “But the Jedi are all but extinct save for Master Luke and we lack guidance.”

    The creature looked puzzled. ‘When we had active numbers in this temple, the Jedi were vast and stretched across many orders in all parts of the Galaxy. How is it that they are no more?’ this time Solom spoke up. “They were wiped out when the Sith took control of the Galaxy.” The creature looked somewhat taken aback. It continued. “These Sith must have been extremely powerful to purge an entire Galaxy of Jedi. Or perhaps the Jedi became weak?” Hisha and Solom didn’t know what to say. Master Luke knew far more about the situation than they did. Suddenly, another voice spoke at the entrance of the room.

    “Ben, get out of the circle!” It was Luke. Ben who looked as though powering this hologram from the past was weakening him, opened his eyes and looked up. “I’m sorry Uncle. I felt it was the right thing to do. We needed information.” He stood up, a bit shakily and stepped outside of the circle. The hologram switched off. “You certainly have a knack for trouble. I suspect it’s your Father in you.” Ben smiled. He had great admiration for his father and all the adventures he’d heard about. If only he’d had more time for him. Most of what he’d learned about his father had come from Luke. Luke adopted a more serious stance. It was time these younglings learnt the truth about the dangers they were facing.

    “I want you all to listen because what I have to say is of vital importance.” The trio faced him, looking slightly worried. “What is it Uncle?”, Ben asked. “An old foe has found a way back from the dead and at this moment is heading here to face us. He won’t be satisfied until he lives and we’re all dead. I think I have a way to stop him but I will need all of you to be at your sharpest. And I think a little guidance from your friend here will be needed.” Luke stepped into the circle himself and adopted a meditative posture. The creature the trio had been speaking to came back into view.

    “Welcome to the Temple of the Mind”, it began before pausing as though realising that it had already said that. It turned to the trio and then to Luke. “Ah, I see your master has joined us.” Luke spoke. “We seek guidance from you. We are about to face a threat which could ravage this temple for every ounce of information you hold and use it for evil purposes.”

    The creature looked puzzled. “Please elaborate, I do not understand.” Luke replied. “You will find all the information you need inside my mind.” With that, his meditation deepened. The creature adopted a blue glow around it as though absorbing something. It lasted for a few moments and then Luke opened his eyes. ” I see the situation now.” It spoke gravely. “It seems the Jedi faced a grave threat indeed. Sith Possession is a tricky situation. Only once did we encounter it but we found a way to combat it.” “Please, any help you can give us would be of great value to the future of the Jedi.” Luke countered.

    The creature paused for a moment, as though deep in thought. It then spoke. “ Sith possession targets the mind of the weak. Only through the power of the mind can it be broken. To defeat this threat, one must face it physically whilst the others must face it with their minds.” Luke understood but he did not want to put his crew in any danger. “I must face this threat alone as the youngsters are not yet powerful enough for this task. Will they be safe?”

    Ben interjected, somewhat annoyed by this assertion. “Uncle, I can face this! I feel the force, how can you say I don’t have the power? Surely we need to face this threat together!” Luke responded. “Ben please now is not the time.” The creature interrupted. “You will all face this threat in your own way, but the three of you will remain in this temple while your master challenges this threat face to face. You have shown great mental strength to be able to get within these walls. You must now help your master with the power of your minds. But be warned. You will all face your greatest fears.” Ben seemed a little more satisfied. At last he was going to get some action.

    The creature continued. “Your master will now be freed from within these walls while you must descend to the lower levels of this temple. There is a special meditation chamber down there which will allow you to mind-link with the powers of this temple and aid your Master. Hisha spoke. “How do we get down there?” The creature responded. “Follow the light. Your Master must go back to the central chamber where you first entered and stand within the circle.” The trio looked at Luke, who was still meditating a little uncertainly. “It’s ok, I sense we can trust this being.”

    The creature looked around at the four of them with compassion. “You have made a wise choice. Go now and may the force be with you all.” With that, the hologram flickered and vanished. Luke stood up. A shimmering white light appeared at the entrance to the room. “Follow the light my three padawans. We will be safe so long as we stick to the plan.” “May the force be with us all”, he said as they left the chamber and went their separate ways.

    Chapter 11: Destination Vaga Prime
    The pirates looked in awe at the sleek shape of the ship that came into view. It was a specially designed Corvette class ship, used towards the end of the Galactic Republic and during the days of the Empire. It sported twin Ion engines, boasted class 1 hyperspace capability and had a multitude of weapons at its disposal including Turbo Lasers and Proton Torpedoes. The design was based off a Stealth Ship prototype used during the Clone Wars.

    The Obis creature signalled for them to go inside as a small ramp lowered at the rear of the ship. They stepped aboard. As they made their way through the vast hull (just under 150 meters ln length), it was even more impressive. Amongst other things it boasted a command cabin and a conference room. At the back of the ship there was a vehicle pool and repair bay for landspeeders, of which there was one.

    Whilst there was the capacity for a crew of 18 including the pilot, it only needed 5 to pilot the ship, a pilot, two weapons personnel and 2 communications officers. They followed the Obis creature and took their respective places, whilst the creature took the helm.

    He turned to the crew and spoke. “The mission upon which we are about to embark will present us with danger but if we co-ordinate our attack, we will have access to a powerhouse of information and treasure which will make us the richest and most powerful men in the Galaxy.”

    The pirates looked around at each other frowning. Wasn’t this a little melodramatic – the richest and most powerful men in the Galaxy? The Obis creature looked at them sternly and spoke. “I can sense doubt in your minds, but what I say is true. I would hope that this doubt doesn’t cloud your vision for the task ahead.” Chub and the others snapped out of it. They knew well what this being was capable of should he sense mistrust in them. “Whatever you say Boss, just direct us to the treasure.” “Then prepare for lift-off. Destination Vaga Prime.” The pirates swiftly obeyed.

    With a great roar, the engines started up. The Obis creature waved another hand and above their location, a rock ceiling opened up to form a long shaft stretching up to the surface, wide enough for the ship to fit through. The ship sleekly lifted off the ground and ascended the shaft until they reached the surface.

    Once safely in orbit, the Obis creature punched in co-ordinates and pushed a button on the control panel. With a whizz, the stars formed lines in Space and they were shot into hyperspace.
    “You have served me well for now. Our destination is several parsecs from here. There are some crew’s quarters toward the rear of the ship. Use them to get some rest. When we are close to arrival, I shall summon you all back. I want complete focus and loyalty from you all when we arrive.” The Obis creature ordered them. The pirates left their posts and retired to the rather plush quarters where they found some refreshments.

    Once they were out of earshot, Chub ordered the others to look for bugs in the room they were in. After some searching, they were satisfied that there were none and closed and sealed the door. Sendool, a tall, thin skinned pirate, looked at Chub worriedly. “We can’t trust this creature! I say once we have earned his trust and this knowledge he speaks of, we should kill him and keep it for ourselves.” The others nodded in agreement.

    Chub looked sternly at the others. “You saw what he is capable of. Do you really think it would be that easy?” Sendool retorted. “He may have killed San and some of the boys but I have a trick up my sleeve which he won’t see coming!” Sendool reached into his jacket and produced a toxic dart and small gun capable of firing it at close quarters. “Never leave home without one!” He said, cockily.

    A smile brimmed across Chubs face. “Good thinking Sendool! We play along for now. Then we just need to get close enough. We can do it when we land and then, Pow!” He gestured, rather cheesily with a clap of his hands, laughing. “We don’t need him to lead us to this treasure, we’ll kill him and take the treasure and this ship for ourselves!”, he finished, satisfied with the plan. The others nodded in agreement.

    A short while later a gravelly voice came over the comms channel outside of the room. “Take your posts, we are about to come out of hyperspace.” The pirates got up and left the room and made their way to the front of the ship to take their positions.

    The stars re-formed dots in space and the blue hue of hyperspace subsided. Ahead they could see their destination, the blue-white planet of Vaga Prime but it was still a long way off in space. This was because there was a slight problem. Three Republic cruisers were in the vicinity and they had been spotted. The comms channel started beeping. “They are wishing to make contact”, Sendool said. “Shall I open a channel?”

    The Obis creature turned around and scowled at him. “I will not negotiate with Republic scum, they must be destroyed! Launch a barrage of Turbo Lasers!” Sendool pressed a button on his dashboard and fired a battery of lasers at the nearest Republic cruiser. It was too fast for the ship to avoid and it hit with full force, destroying the shields. The others took evasive manoeuvres. “What now Sir?” Sendool asked. “Fool, destroy it! Fire at will men!”, was the response. Another barrage of lasers were fired and the ship blew to pieces. The other cruisers turned toward the ship, preparing to open fire.

    The Obis creature gave another order. “On my mark, prepare to engage the cloaking device. We will slip past these fools and finish them from behind!” Sendool and Chub prepared to engage. “Do it!”, the Obis creature ordered. They both pressed buttons on their dashboard and the ship shimmered and vanished from the cruisers’ view. It was fast and sleek and was easily able to slip between them and reposition itself to face them from behind.

    “Disengage cloak and fire Ion Cannons. We will disable their shields and then finish them!” The pirates swiftly obeyed and the ship re-emerged from its cloak and fired a few white bolts at the cruisers. They hit their mark, causing the cruisers to fizz and crackle as all power was drained from them. “Now!”, he barked and on his orders, another barrage or Turbo Lasers hit both ships, causing two massive explosions. Now they were ready. “Re-engage cloak and make toward the planet.” The Obis creature barked as he tapped the Temples exact co-ordinates into the ships navi-computer. At last it was time for the final showdown. At last it was time for revenge.

    Chapter 12: – Showdown

    On his way to the main chamber, Luke stopped and looked somewhat nervous. He felt the disturbance in the force. This creature had finally tracked him down. It was now time and they needed all their strength to face this coming evil. It would be a battle of wits and will.

    The three youngsters were following the shimmering white orb through the corridors of the temple, its calm light reflecting off the dark stone walls, guiding them. “This place is amazing!” Solom remarked in awe of the powers of this place.

    The orb lead them through several corridors and down a large flight of steps to lower levels, where they continued along a path. Eventually it opened out into another large room, which held small statues round the perimeter of the creature they had seen in the holo-room. In front of the statues were smaller circles carved into the floor, like the one Ben and then Luke had sat in.

    “I guess we have to step inside them”, Hisha remarked. Ben looked nervous. “is all this really needed, why can’t we just join Uncle Luke and fight this thing?” Hisha responded to this. “We need to face our fears to somehow help Master Luke.” They were all uncertain as to what would happen when they stepped inside these circles, but they knew what they had to do. They could feel it. Each chose 3 adjacent circles and stepped somewhat gingerly inside of them.

    They sat in meditative postures and closed their eyes, opening their minds to the Force. Bright white light filled the outlines of the circles. For a while nothing seemed to be happening, only darkness. Solom opened his eyes to find that he was sitting half way up a great mountain.

    He stood, observing that he was no longer in the circle, but a large patch of rocky ground. As he looked around he could here cracking sounds which sounded like they were coming from above him. Suddenly, large rocks started to fall toward him, just as they had done when they were trying to enter the Temple.

    Solom stretched out with the force and diverted their fall, sending him crashing onto the rocky patch around him. However more began to fall. Solom deflected the path of these too. Something suddenly began happening to them. With more cracking sounds the rocks began to form into large creatures with red glowing eyes.

    They surrounded him now and started to close in, raising their giant hands to smash down on him. He tried to use the force to send them flying back but they were simply too heavy to shift in this way. Just as one of the creatures lowered its arm to smash down on Solom, he quickly used to force to skirt under the legs of the one in front of him and slid across the ground. The Gigantic creature smashed its hand down onto one of the other creatures, smashing straight through it. The others turned and started walking in Soloms direction.

    Solom realised that strength alone would not beat these creatures, rather cunning and swift movement. He ran at the remaining creatures and leapt, somersaulting over their heads, just as the one at the rear brought another thundering hammer-like blow onto the one in front, again crumbling it to dust. Solom kept this up until there was just one remaining creature.

    He allowed this creature to follow him, straying dangerously close to the edge of the cliff face he was stood on. The creature raised an arm. Swiftly, Solom darted to one side and force-pulled a nearby rock to land at the foot of the creature. As the creature lowered its arm, it tilted forward, tripped over the rock and plummeted down to the foot of the mountain.

    Solom took a breath, relieved that this was over. The landscape around him started shimmering and fading from view. Suddenly, he was back in the chamber in his meditative stance within the circle he had chosen. The light around the circle suddenly stretched upward and rose toward the ceiling, enclosing him in a tube of light.

    Hisha was next to feel the strange power of this temple. As she opened her eyes she found herself to be in the centre of what seemed to be a large coastal town. However, all was not well. People were running and panicking, clearly eager to leave this place.

    Hisha caught the arm of a man who was running with a wife and two children. “What’s happening here?”, she asked worriedly. The man looked at her confused as to why she did not know. “A great wave is coming inland from the sea, we have to be out of here, it’ll be on us soon! You must leave too, save yourself!” “Please, let me help”, Hisha protested but the man was too impatient. “If you want to help, let us go so we can get away. It’s bad enough that it will destroy and crush our properties, but I’ll not let it take my family!” With that, the man wrenched free of Hisha’s grip and hurried along with his family.

    Hisha felt desperately sad. Usually she could reach out to those in distress and heal their pain but this was totally different and would require great physical strength to beat and save these people and their properties. ‘If only the others were here’ she mused. Together she was sure that they could divert the wave to fall over a barren patch of land, but they were not here and Hisha found herself with a dilemma. Should she try it alone or run with the townsfolk and try and save as many as she could after the disaster had struck?

    In the end the choice was not difficult. Hisha ran with a strength she did not realise she possessed toward the end of the road where it met the coast. In the distance, a colossal wave was looming, getting ever nearer to the coast to meet its destiny of total oblivion.

    Hisha stretched out with her feelings, focussing on all the suffering of the people. It fed into her strength. She outstretched her hands toward the wave and with a colossal effort pushed toward an uninhabited part of the town to her right, where the coast stretched round. Something remarkable happened.

    The wave bulged up and stopped, before slowly changing direction. It then gathered speed and headed toward the barren coastline to her right, crashing onto its banks with a tremendous force. She had done it. People who had still been leaving, turned in astonishment. When they saw how the wave had been diverted and looked towards Hisha, still with her arms outstretched, they began clapping at first and then cheering. More and more people turned back and did likewise forming a great, cheering crowd.

    As Hisha looked, the scene became further and further away, the cheering fading to echoes in her mind. She looked on, smiling. The sun was above her. Suddenly it glowed with a blinding flash of light and Hisha was back in the temple. The light around her circle similarly rose to the ceiling.

    Finally, Ben had tapped into the powers of the temple. As he opened his eyes, he found himself sitting in Lukes Jedi training academy on Yavin 4, a little younger than he currently was. Luke was giving a talk to him and a small group of younglings, including a younger Solom and Hisha.

    “The mysteries of the Force are vast. You must stretch out with your feelings to feel its power.” He took 3 heavy wooden blocks and placed them on the centre of the floor. He continued to instruct the younglings. “Now I want you take it in turns to reach out. Feel the blocks with the force and lift them into the air for a few seconds before lowering them again.”

    Hisha was first. She reached out and two of the blocks momentarily lifted before lowering again. She opened her eyes, looking a little fatigued. “Not bad,” said Luke. “Keep working on that.” Solom was next. He reached out and had no problem lifting all three and keeping them in the air before gently lowering them back to the floor. “Excellent!”, said Luke, very happy at the boys progression.

    Now it was Ben’s turn. A couple of the younglings smirked and this made him angry. He would show them! He stretched out with the force and the blocks began to vibrate slightly but none lifted. The others laughed in derision at him, making him feel slightly humiliated. Adding to his humiliation was Luke’s unusually uncharacteristic remark. ‘Humph! Well, moving on.’ It was so lacking in detail but it said everything. Luke didn’t want him here, none of them did.

    Luke stopped as he noticed an adult couple at the entrance to the room. They stepped into the light and Ben could make out that it was his parents, Han and Leia.

    Luke greeted them and Ben stood up. “Mum, Dad!” It was met with more derisive laughter from the others which hurt Ben even more. It had been so long since he last saw them. He got up and ran over to them, but they didn’t seem to notice him. “Mum, Dad, it’s me, Ben!” Ben spoke up, getting a little desperate in his tone now.

    They seemed to be having a heated discussion. As Ben listened, he recoiled with horror and shock at what he had heard. They were arguing about him. Leia was speaking. “I’m too busy for him, what with Senate meetings and helping to run the Republic!” She shot Han an accusing look. Han spoke up next. “Well don’t look at me, I’m training pilots. He would be useless at it. We discussed this.”
    Leia spoke again. “Luke, I thought you said he was strong in the force, that you could make something of him!” “I thought so too but he’s been a let-down. I can’t make use of him here, none of the others have taken to him.” Luke retorted.

    This was it, he would finish them all here and now! He looked around the room at them all and with burning eyes, ignited his lightsaber. He stared for a moment and then he remembered something Luke had taught them. It was about how the Jedi of old had banned attachment. Luke had been less keen to preach this to the younglings but he did stress that in his mind attachment was okay, as long as you didn’t view it obsessively and put it before their duties as Jedi. Ben realised that this was the key. It was just a test. He switched off his lightsaber, the fury dissipating from him and became calm. He closed his eyes, stretched out to the force and reached out with his arms, feeling the growing calmness.

    As he did so, he heard gasps coming from all corners of the room. He opened his eyes to see that the blocks and all of the furniture in the room had risen from the floor and was suspended in mid-air. Luke and his parents were smiling at him now. Ben smiled back. He had found a new strength of character and it felt good. He closed his eyes in relief and when he opened them again, he was back in the chamber with the others. The light around his circle similarly raised to the ceiling.

    The Obis creature and his Rag tag crew, meanwhile had arrived at their destination. The Obis creature set the ship to hover above the temple, still cloaked to all who needed eyes to see it. It hung there ominously, like a vulture, waiting for its prey to expire.

    Luke sat in the main chamber meditating in the large circle which had provided their entry. He did not need eyes to know that his adversary was close now, just waiting for him. He needed to get outside the temple and he could feel power slowly building in the circle but his young students were not yet ready.

    Chub turned to the Obis creature. “What do you want us to do now master?”. The Obis creature looked at him and retorted. “Our enemies are inside the structure. Since they will not come out willingly, I think a demonstration of power is in order to smoke them out! Let us test the resilience of this Temple. Uncloak and fire two proton Torpedoes!” “At Once Master!” Chub replied and pressed a large button on his dashboard. Two torpedoes fired from the ship and slammed straight into the Temple sending large pieces of rock exploding outwards.

    Inside the chamber Luke sat in, a deep rumbling occurred and the whole room shook from the power. Stones and rock dust fell to the floor of the chamber, littering it. The attack had started! Luke looked up with a worried expression on his face. He hoped it could hold out until his students were ready. Suddenly, a third of the perimeter of the circle Luke was sitting in lit up and a hum could be heard. ‘One down, two to go’, Luke murmured to himself.

    The Obis creature now became enraged. “This temple is made of stronger stuff than we realised. Launch another two torpedoes at it!” At once Chub obliged, becoming frustrated at their apparent lack of progress. Two more torpedoes slammed into the Temple, sending boulder sized pieces of rock cracking and falling off the main structure.

    The rumble this created inside the chamber became worse, and this time several large pieces of rock detached from the ceiling and came thundering down onto the floor. Luke was slightly worried now. If his younglings did not hurry, they would all be buried inside! The humming increased as another third of the circle lit up. ‘Almost there’, said Luke to himself, hoping that this would not take much longer.

    From the point of view of the ships crew, the temple had not nearly sustained enough damage. Much of the structure remained intact. The Obis creature became incensed now. “Fire at will commander”, he said, turning to Chub, who was only too happy to oblige. Chub slammed down on the button on his dashboard several times and a multitude of Torpedoes slammed into the fortress, causing more devastation.

    Inside, the shaking and booming sounds of the explosions caused by the torpedoes got worse and more sustained, nearly rocking the chamber to pieces. Several Large lumps of rock hurtled down and crashing to the floor. Then a huge piece of the ceiling collapsed right over Lukes head. Luke knew that he couldn’t leave the circle and stretched up with the force, holding the pieces of rock ceiling suspended in mid-air.

    More and more torpedoes slammed into the temple causing further collapse. This was getting harder for Luke to sustain. All seemed lost when at the last moment, the final third of the circle lit up. Lukes body shimmered and vanished just as the remainder of the ceiling collapsed. The chamber was reduced to rubble. He found himself outside at the foot of the temple.

    The Obis creature was quick to spot Luke. “There he is, launch another two torpedoes!” he ordered, but Chub could not oblige this time. The missile banks had been emptied into the temple. “Master, we have none left!” he protested. “Then fire turbo lasers you fool!” The Obis creature barked. Chub took aim and fired a barrage of lasers towards Luke.

    Luke was quick to react and skilfully somersaulted out of the way, igniting his green lightsaber. More shots fired at him, but with the skill of a fully trained Jedi, Luke was fairly easily able to deflect them. He then stretched out with the force and attempted to pull the ship to the ground.

    As the strength of Lukes force power exerted itself onto the ship, it swayed off course and strayed dangerously close to the ground. Inside the crew became panicked as they were unable to control the ship but the Obis creature countered the move and used the force to steady the ship.

    Ben, Hisha and Solom meanwhile were still within the depths of the chamber, linked through the force to the powers of the temple. A voice spoke to them. It was the same being they had spoken to in the holo-room. ‘Your Master needs your strength now. Channel your energies into the defensive power of this Temple and use it to incapacitate the ship which is attempting to destroy him.” The three youngsters mind-linked through the power of the Temple. Their minds were one now. One with the force and one with the Temple. The power built.

    On the Outside, a great purple ray of light surged from the top of the temple and engulfed the ship. This sent It spinning off course sending multiple failures to all the instruments inside the ship. It landed with a great thud and broke up, coming to rest in the trees at the far end of the Plateau on which the temple stood with black smoke billowing from it.

    Inside, amid all the mangled instruments and twisted metal, it was clear that three of the pilots had died instantly. Only Chub and Sendool remained breathing, albeit badly injured. Remarkably, the Obis creature was unharmed, merely a little dishevelled and shaken. He rose from the cockpit seat and approached the two remaining pirates who were lying on the floor. He walked past Sendool to face Chub. Coughing and spluttering, Chub looked up to him. “Master, please help us. I think I’m dying” <cough> <cough>!

    The Obis creature looked coldly at him and spoke. “Pathetic feeble fool! I gave you a ship capable of controlling whole star systems and you couldn’t even destroy one man!” Chub was desperate now. “Please, Master, I tried but he has a power that made it impossible, <cough> <cough>. “He’s <cough>, like you”. The Obis creature looked enraged. “He’s nothing like me. He’s a man of mercy, weak and pathetic. You will find that I do not have mercy!” With that he lifted his arms and stretched out his fingers towards Chub and, no longer needing his cane to produce it, fired a torrent of force lightening at the defenceless pirate. Chub screamed in agony as it hit and coursed over his body in waves. It was his last scream, he was dead.

    While this was occurring, Sendool had managed to reach for his gun, already loaded with the toxic dart, and crawling close enough to the Obis creature, lifted the gun and fired. The Obis creature stretched a hand out behind him and the dart froze in mid-air. Now finished with Chub, he turned to face Sendool. “A clever choice of death, Pirate. It’s a pity it will now serve me and not you!” He barked as he stretched out with his fingers. The dart, still suspended, turned and fired straight into Sendools left eyeball, sending blood shooting outward, splattering some of the mangled wreckage. Sendool screamed as it penetrated, the poison instantly rushing to his brain. He died with a look of contorted agony. The Obis creature smiled an evil smile, took his cane and made his way through the twisted wreckage towards the back of the ship where the landspeeder was housed.

    Remarkably, it was unharmed in the crash. He got into it and started the engines up with a hum. Then, using the force to push the last of the wreckage away, he turned the speeder swiftly around, and headed towards his prey, still over by what was left of the temple watching, waiting.

    Luke saw the speeder in the distance. It was heading towards him and he felt sure it would be a final battle – for one of them. The speeder got closer and closer to him, travelling at full speed. It made no attempt to deviate from its path. It was trying to ram him! Luke waited, concentrating for the speeder to make contact with him, and, just as it seemed inevitable he was about to be crushed, leapt at incredible speed several feet into the air avoiding it as it flew under him.

    The Obis creature, so intent on killing Luke, didn’t prepare for the fact that he was heading straight towards a section of fallen rubble, too late to be avoided. With cane in hand, he leapt out of the speeder just as it crashed into the fallen rocks and exploded. He landed skilfully onto the ground a safe distance away, facing Luke.

    For what seemed like a long moment, the two of them stood facing each other as though mentally preparing for what was to come. The Obis creature spoke first. “So, boy, we meet again. I have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Now at last I can finish what I started!” That contorted face. So like Sidious and yet there was a hint of someone else in there. Just a hint, but it was there.

    Luke spoke next. “You’re dead Sidious and soon, you’ll be dead again. I can see what you’ve done. It won’t last. Soon, the mind of the man you have inhabited will reject you!” The Obis creature grimaced with an evil smile. “I think you will find you are wrong. This pathetic fool is too weak to challenge me. Soon, he will be no more – as will you!”

    The creature took a step back, pointed his cane at the rocks and sent them and the burning landspeeder flying into the air towards Luke. Luke darted to one side avoiding most of the wreckage and quickly ignited his saber, cutting through a rock about to hit him and sending it flying into two pieces either side of him. He looked at the creature and spoke. “Your show of power will not win this time Sidious. It will prove to be your greatest weakness.”

    “We will see boy!” the creature barked defiantly. Luke responded. “Don’t underestimate me. I have grown in power since we last met.” The creature laughed an evil laugh. “Your pathetic powers are nothing compared to the power of the dark side. Oh, and this time, your Father is not here to save you. Now, you WILL die, and then I will finish those brats in that temple!” He finished with a smile. His face suddenly contorted into the evil demeanour of burning rage, his Sith yellow eyes glowing fiercely as he dropped his cane and stretched his hands out in front of him.

    Luke knew exactly what was coming. All of his mental and physical strength had prepared for this moment. This was the moment he had to remember all his training. Yoda, Ben and his Father had taught Luke much in the ways of the force in their ghostly forms in the preceding years and he had now at last, completed his training. He ignited his lightsaber just as a torrent of force lightening flowed towards him.

    Calling up an incredible strength of will in the force, Luke concentrated the torrent into the blade of his green lightsaber, successfully allowing it to absorb the evil power. The first torrent fizzled out. The Obis creature looked enraged and this time, picking his cane up, pointed and aimed it at Luke sending a double strength blast of lightening at his saber arm. The saber was knocked out of Lukes hand, charring the fake skin off of his robotic hand, leaving just bare metal fingers. Luke instinctively reached out with his other hand and, summoning all the strength he had in him, closed his eyes in deep concentration as he absorbed the power of the bolt and transformed it into safe energy within him.

    It was just as Yoda had done, many years past when facing this powerful foe. The bolt kept coming and coming in a sustained and powerful attack. The strain on Lukes face was showing as he contorted, starting to lose the battle.

    Just as Luke began to lose control of this battle, the blast lessened in intensity and became steadily weaker, enabling Luke to regain control of it. Exhausted, the Obis creature fell to the floor, gurgling and clutching the cane.

    “Please! don’t kill me!”, it pleaded, pathetically. Luke moved forward until he was stood in front of this creature, his lightsaber still activated. “I can give you more power than you ever dreamed of!”, it continued desperately. Luke thought for a moment and then shut off his lightsaber. He spoke, still breathing heavily. “Sidious. I have felt your power thank-you! Now you have no power left to give. As long as I live, the Sith will never return! Already I sense the mind of this man you possess beginning to reject you. Yes, I sense a planet. Charn. And a ruler called . . . Obis”. That name, Obis. It sparked a distant memory. The creature looked confused as though trying to remember something.

    Luke continued. “Obis, can you hear me? You have been possessed by an evil, you must fight back and reject it! You can take control again!” The creature looked frightened. It started sweating profusely, crying out in defiance, but Luke continued to pile on the pressure. “He promised you power but all he wanted was to control your body, live again through you. You have to fight this! Yes, I can feel you getting stronger, keep going!”

    The sensory madness the creature now felt was too much for it to bear and it passed out with a sigh, its facial skin rippling. At first it was a thick foggy haze. What was this place, where was he? Who was he? That name, Obis. It was me. It is me! He looked down at his hands. Human hands, the mark of a planet tattooed on one of them. Charn. He remembered this much. The fog cleared somewhat and a cloaked figure came looming into view with burning yellow eyes and hideously distorted features. It spoke malevolently.

    ‘Pathetic weak fool, do you really think you can challenge me?’ it lifted one of its hands and sent a bolt of force lightening towards him. He screamed out and fell to the ground as it burned his skin violently. ‘W-who are you? What are you?’ He asked, gingerly and still in pain. It replied. “I am the one who inhabits this realm. I am the master and there can be only ONE here!”, it cackled, before sending another wave of force lightening crackling towards him.

    Deep within the crumbling structure of the Temple, the trio who were still in the circle and mind locked heard the voice of the holo-projection again. “Now is the time to end this. You will each need the full strength of your power and direct it towards one who needs it. The three stretched out with the force and the full power of Soloms newly found speed and agility, Hishas physical strength and Bens strength of character combined into a plasmic rotating sphere of white light. It formed in the centre of the room and shot towards the ceiling before disappearing.

    As Luke was watching this creature writhing and convulsing in what seemed like death throes, he was aware of a brilliant white ball of light emerging from the ruined temple. It felt good. It floated towards him and as Luke moved aside, it entered the creature at his feet, making it momentarily glow with light.

    Within the misty haze, the one who knew himself as Obis took the bolt of force energy just as a white light engulfed him. He was no longer in pain and stood up. The creature, still there, looked enraged. “Who are you to think you can gain the power to destroy me? You are mine and will be forever!” the creature said, dripping with venom. Screaming at him, it sent a ferocious bolt of force flowing at him.

    Obis now remembered everything. How this creature had skilfully manipulated him, promising him power until all that was left was a feeble-minded fool. Not anymore! This creature was about to get a taste of its own power. Obis spoke. “I don’t think so! There can be only ONE here!”, he added, cockily as he raised his hands and shot a blinding bolt of white light straight at the creature. The creature screamed, but it was too late for it. The white light engulfed it and grew in intensity. Strands of darkness began to bleed out from it and escape through gaps in the fog. The light grew smaller and smaller until it faded completely, the screaming quietened, reducing to a distant echo until he could no longer hear it. The fog lifted and Obis found himself on a rocky plateau in a mountainous area with a man he did not recognise looking down at him.

    Luke spoke softly. “Obis, I presume?” He looked down at this man, whose demeanour had now completely changed. Gone was the twisted and contorted face and in its place, was a relatively younger man, around 20 years his senior. Obis looked up at Luke, and spoke, shakily at first. “w-who are you? What is this place and how did I get here?” Luke responded. “What’s the last thing you remember?” Obis wasn’t sure how to respond to this. “I-I don’t know. He promised me power. A snake, something about a snake. I was in my quarters on Charn.”

    Luke spoke again. “You were the subject of Sith possession. He could be very manipulative. You found yourself here because he willed it.” Obis looked a little confused. “W-what are Sith? “Luke responded. “They had great powers in the dark side of the force. They used it for evil, to serve themselves, but with a little help, I stopped them. They are no more and now I have to rebuild the Jedi Order to make sure that they can never threaten the Galaxy again. I’m Luke Skywalker.”

    Luke Skywalker. It rang bells in Obis’s mind. What was at first trickles of memories now became floods. Luke Skywalker, famed Jedi Knight. It was said that he was the catalyst which brought down the Empire, his Empire and restored the Republic.

    Obis stood up with the help of the cane and looked Luke in the eye. “Of course, you were part of the Rebel scum that destroyed the Order of the Galaxy.” Luke wasn’t angered by this statement. He sensed this man had once served on the side of the Empire. He thought for a moment and responded. “Rebel scum, now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time!” Luke continued. “Yes, well I suppose you could look at it as ending Order, I prefer to see it as ending tyranny and restoring freedom.”

    This time though, Obis knew the game was up. The Empire must have had weaknesses too, to let a fledgling rebellion destroy it. Maybe he never gave himself a chance to see the bigger picture. Luke and Obis started to walk towards the temple.

    Obis turned to Luke. “You saved my life, saved me from that monstrosity I used to call my Emperor. Once I thought he was the key to everything, now, knowing what he was capable of, I’m not sure any more. “He came back, somehow, through this cane. He made me believe he would give me back my former glory as a regional governor, but it was all a lie!”

    Luke nodded. Sadly, this was true. Obis looked at the twisted cane he was holding, which, not so long ago, he revered as the prize of his collection. Now he viewed it with revulsion. Obis walked towards the mountains edge, on one side of the temple. “I had thought there was hope for me. Hope to carry on ruling Charn, even after the elections, but he destroyed everything. Obis lifted the cane and hurled it over the mountainside, where it fell for hundreds of feet. “Obis, no!”, Luke shouted but it was too late. The cane may still prove dangerous. Luke had needed to make sure it could never hurt anybody again.

    Luke appealed to Obis. “Let me come back to Charn with you, you’re going to need a ride off of this rock. I can plead your case to the Senate, make them see that you weren’t acting on your own whims. Obis thought for a moment and knew he could never go back there. Suddenly, he remembered Grenshall and how he had framed Claunus for his death and was hit with a wave of guilt.

    “You don’t understand. I can never go back there! I committed terrible crimes against my people.” Luke sensed what he had done, he could feel his guilt but still felt that there was hope for this feeble, aging man. “It wouldn’t have to be so bad. I’m sure whatever you did, you were acting out of a sense of misguided loyalty.”

    They were interrupted by a humming coming from the temple and with a wave of bright light, his three young students appeared in front of it. A circle carved itself into the rocky ground where they appeared. “Uncle!” Ben shouted, “You’re alright!” As Luke turned around to face them, Obis seized his chance. In the end, there was only one way out of this mess and only one way he could truly face his crimes and find redemption. He stepped closer to the mountains edge and with a scream, hurled himself off the side, plummeting to certain death.

    Luke whirled round. “NO!” he screamed after Obis, but he knew it was pointless. Obis was gone. He reflected on his failure to save Obis for a moment, but knew what had happened had done so for the greater good, ultimately. What counted was that he had saved his three young students and the fledgling Jedi Order. The force and the Galaxy at large could breathe easily again.

    Chapter 13 The Aftermath

    Using the powers of the force, the four of them skirted down the mountainside for several days. They were sustained by provisions from the Ship they had landed in and plenty of Jaga fruit. Luke eventually found the body of Obis lying twisted and broken on a rocky path half way down the mountain. As was traditional in the Jedi Order, they burned his body on a pyre they had made from large branches and twigs, much like he had cremated his Father and held a vigil for him. Afterwards, they let the wind carry his ashes over the growing forests around the mountainous area.

    The search for the cane took several more days. Luke had the four of them separate to try and find it. As Luke was searching along a tree-lined area, he heard some twigs snap and realised someone was in the vicinity. He could mildly feel darkness here, as he descended into the trees. He came to a clearing to find that Ben had got there first. He was holding the cane, looking almost obsessively at it and pondering about what amazing powers it might hold. Powers that he could use for good.

    “Ben, bring that to me now!”, Luke shouted, admonishing the boy. “We don’t know if that thing is still dangerous.” Ben snapped out of it and hastily obliged, rushing over and handing it to Luke. Luke took it with his still exposed robotic hand. He had no way to destroy this object, so he must keep it in the temple where it could be safely stored, out of reach from any inquisitive individuals who may stumble across it.

    A little later, the four of them made their way to the foot of the temple where the stone circle had carved itself. They knew that they could re-enter this way. They stood in the circle and a familiar humming sounded with a bright light flashing around its perimeter.

    Again, they found themselves inside the temple, but this time in a different part of it. This time, they emerged in a smaller room, which seemed to be a repository of sorts. It was as though the Temple knew what they wanted to do. Still stood in the circle in the centre of the room in which they had appeared, Luke meditated, calling out to the being that had guided them when they first arrived.

    A Holo-projector on the nearby wall sprang to life. A familiar creatures form took shape. The being spoke. “Ah, so you’re back. We knew you had unfinished business here.” Luke spoke up. “We need to store this object in here. This is the source of the power we have been fighting.” The creature responded. “Yes, a dark object indeed. We felt its power the moment you brought it in here. Place it in front of you on the floor.”

    Luke obliged and at once, a purple light glowed over the object. It faded to reveal that the object had vanished. “It will be kept here for eternity, never again able to threaten the living”, the creature said. Luke spoke up. “Now maybe we can talk to you about our original purpose, before all of this happened. We seek knowledge of the Jedi Order who once inhabited this place. We need it to build our own…” The creature cut him off.

    “This temple holds vast knowledge indeed, but I would say that you found it. You have all learned much since you came here. It was no accident that brought you to this planet and this Temple. The force willed it. It was always meant to happen.” Luke started to protest but knew it was futile. The creature continued. “Storing this object has made this temple into a weapon, which could destroy lives. If any should stray within its walls and discover it, they could use the powers here for great evil. The hopes of the Galaxy would be lost and with it, your order could end. When you leave here, this temple will destroy itself. Only the power which houses this artefact will remain. Now, you must leave us. Remember what you have learned here and may the Force be with you, always.” With that, the creature faded.

    The circle glowed again and with a flash of light, the four Jedi found themselves back outside, a safe distance from the temple, just as a terrific explosion occurred and lights of all colours danced into the darkening sky before settling. The temple then crumbled and fell into the ground it was built on. The event had brought a few of the locals out of the forest to see this spectacular sight.

    Luke turned, somewhat saddened by the events and lead his young entourage slowly back to the ship. But something made him stop and turn around. He sensed a presence by the ruins. As he looked over he saw the familiar ghostly blue hue of his Father, smiling at him. Luke smiled back. It gave him a renewed sense of determination to make a success of his fledgling Jedi order. There would be other temples housing knowledge valuable to their survival, and one day, he would find them. The Galaxy was vast and he couldn’t wait to get started. Hisha pulled on his arm and spoke. “Master Luke, who were you looking at just now. Luke thought for a moment and spoke, with a twinkle in his eye. “An old friend, long gone. One who will always watch over us.” Hisha responded. “Who’s that?”, She asked inquisitively. “Hope Hisha, the face of hope. Come on, let’s get back to the ship.”, Luke replied, with a smile.

    A new dawn rose on Charn. It had not been difficult for the investigators to piece what happened to Grenshall. The body of Cano, Obis’s bodyguard and arguably, his staunchest ally and friend, had been found dead deep within Obis’s Estate in front of a tapestry. Electrocuted by the look of him.

    The whole of his Estate was thoroughly searched by the investigative teams, it’s secret passages discovered and Obis’s most sacred retreat, his imperial room had been found through a door behind the tapestry, much to the consternation of his staff, who reviled the Empire. It was not that difficult to link Obis to the death of both men and Claunus was swiftly freed from his imprisonment.

    The New Republic swiftly visited Charn after these events and elections took place. In the end the choice for the Charnian people was obvious and Claunus had been duly elected. His family moved to the Estate and his daughter received swift treatment for her illness. She made a swift recovery. Many changes were made to the Estate after this and Charn became a much more open society under Claunus.

    For now, hope had been restored to this small but significant corner of the Galaxy, while balance remained under the protectorate of the new Jedi Order. For now, all was well. For now….
    — Finis–

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.