Location: Deep within the underwater temple
Time: One hour later...
"...and that was where I saw you," Naaja explained to the two Republic leaders as they all sat on makeshift chairs. "At first, I wasn't entirely sure who you were or why I saw you, but something told me that it wouldn't just reveal these visions to me without reason."
"I will admit, I was skeptical at first," the older man said, walking towards the group with multiple small objects in his hands. The group were sitting around a small campfire, sitting upon multiple odd, shaped rocks. Kydan and Calena sat next to each other, facing the opposite side of Naaja. "But over the course of my life, I've learned that it is unwise not to take visions such as those lightly."
"And because you followed through with your...vision," Calena spoke as she was given a small, man-made clay cup filled with fresh water by the older gentleman. "It brought us right where we needed to be, correct?"
"Well, if you look at it from a certain point of view," Naaja replied thinking about it more, "then yes."
Kydan choked a little from his water as he fought back a small chuckle. Coughing and clearing his throat, he looked over to Naaja who looked somewhat confused. "Sorry, it's just...a friend of ours says that a lot. In fact, that would have been his exact words."
"Really? Do I know him?"
"Not sure...does an Obi-Wan Kenobi ring a bell?"
He pondered on the name for a few, his eyes closed as he tried to wrack his brain around. But after a few moments passed, he shook his head. "Can't say that I have. Though, he sounds like a very wise man."
"Truthfully, he really is," Calena replied. "Other than Master Yoda, Obi-Wan is one of the wisest Jedi alive. You can learn a lot from him."
"Not to interrupt this friendly conversation," the older man interrupted, "but there is still the matter of your friends, those mechanized objects and some bizarre machine with a cape roaming about the temple."
"Yeah, you guys never told us why you're here either,' Naaja remembered, he and the older man staring at the other two curiously. 'What exactly brought you here?"
Thinking of the right words to say, Kydan put his cup down on the stone ground before speaking up. "Well, for two reasons. One, we received a distress signal coming from this planet. We first thought it was some sort of signal calling for help, but..."
"But that was when we found this temple, then you two," Calena finished, ushering to the two of them.
"Well, that's all well and good, but that doesn't explain your intentions," the older teacher said. Not that he didn't believe what they were saying, but he couldn't be too careless either.
Kydan looked to Calena, hesitant to make a reply. However, she assured him with a small, encouraging smile, silently telling him to do it. He takes a silent deep breath before speaking. "The second reason we're here is...well, like Naaja, I also had a vision that was quite similar to his."
Naaja's eyes widened in disbelief. "Wait, you had a similar vision like mine?!"
Kydan nodded his head in reply. "Yes, but unlike yours, my vision showed me other things that I don't fully understand. When I told Calena about it, she told me that the vision I had wasn't an accident. And now...now I'm certain it wasn't."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that, with it being that the two of us had similar visions, this definitely wasn't a coincidence. This was the work of the Force."
Naaja simply stared at Kydan for a moment before blinking and asking, "the Force? You mean the Han'Shi right?"
Now it was Kydan and Calena's turn to do the same. Calena spoke up, "Han'Shi? What's that?"
Before Naaja could reply, the older man placed his hand on Naaja's right shoulder, causing some confusion in the young man. "I apologize for the confusion. From where we come from, we call the invisible power the Han'Shi. The Force, which you mentioned, must be the same but with different wording."
"Can't say I'm surprised," Kydan replied with a small nod of agreement. "We've had others across the galaxy call the Force in other ways. Though, 'Han'Shi' is definitely a first for me."
"I guess there's more to this galaxy than you had let on, master," Naaja said to the older teacher beside him, an amused smirk forming on his lips. His master couldn't help but comply with the same expression as his. "Would be great to see more than just this planet."
"What do you mean?" Calena questioned, obviously confused by Naaja's statement. Kydan, too, looked at him with a dumbfounded face.
Before Naaja nor the older man could even make a reply, a loud but soft tone of some sort of siren began to go off across the entire temple, causing all of them to jump in surprise. Naaja and his teacher looked at one another briefly before standing and quickly rushing over to their spread about equipment. Both Kydan and Calena were even more confused than ever, deciding to follow behind the other two.
"What's going on?! What's up with that loud noise?!" Kydan shouted over the blaring siren, standing beside the two as they started to mess with the machines and computers before them.
"It's the intruder detectors! Someone, or something, has trespassed the entrance of the temple!" Naaja replied loudly, trying to shut off the alarm. Finally finding the alarm controls, he hit a couple of buttons as the ear blasting noise ceased making him sigh in relief.
"Intruders? It must be Degree and the others!" Calena realized, remembering that they had recently split up to save more time.
The older man began scanning through the computer screen in front of him before turning his head to them, however keeping his eyes on the screen. "Your friends wouldn't happen to be a couple dozen of mechanical robots marching in, would they?"
"What?!" Kydan replied in shock, as he and the other two looked at the screen the old teacher was looking at. Sure enough, there were dozens of droids marching through the entrance and into the temple. However, leading them in wasn't the Droid General nor a commanding officer, but a black silhouette that none of them could recognize from the camera's viewpoint.
"Who is that?" Calena asked out loud.
"...I don't know, but I don't like it," Kydan replied in a much more serious tone, his eyes narrowed directly at the strange silhouette. Pondering for a moment longer, he looked to Calena silently communicating with her. Not surprised, she knew exactly what he was thinking as the two began to run towards that area.
"Wha-wait a minute!" Naaja shouted at them, slightly surprised that they just started running off. "What's going on? Who is that?!"
"Trouble," Kydan simply replied as they stopped for a moment. "Me and Calena will take care of him, you guys stay here and protect this place!" Just like that, they both were on the move once again, leaving Naaja and his teacher alone to process what had happened.
Naaja looked to his master with a determined look. "Master, we should go! Who knows what they'll be facing. We need to help them!"
"...As much as I hate to admit it, Kydan's right. If any of them get near the Grand Chambers..." The older man sighed, not wanting to think about what could happen if they fail in this battle.
"Good point..." Naaja replied, thinking of the same thing too. As much as he didn't want to admit it, they had no idea who or what they were dealing with, let alone unsure if they could succeed. “Hopefully, if they can keep whoever these guys are out, we should be fine.”
“My thoughts exactly…huh?” Naaja’s master glanced over to the computer once again, seeing a blinking green light go off constantly. Knowing who it was, he pressed a button to answer. “Go ahead, Zeteira.”
”Guys, we’ve got trouble! The other entrance of the temple is being invaded with more of those robotic figures!”
“What?!” Naaja replied surprised, quickly looking at another set of cameras where Zeteira was located at. Sure enough, a few dozen more battle droids were on the march, but were being preoccupied by a group of white armored soldiers who were defending the entrance. They must be the soldiers that Kydan and Calena were talking about. “She’s right, the droids are coming this way. But it looks like those soldiers are trying their best to keep them out.”
”Soldiers? What are you talking about?” she questioned him.
“We’ll explain later,” her master replied. “For now, keep yourself hidden until the fighting dies down. We don’t know what we are up against.”
”But if those droids make it past the entrance, then we’ll have just as much a harder time getting them out!”
“Let those soldiers handle them. These ones know what they are doing, they can handle it themselves.”
”But…” she started to say before going silent for a few moments. That was then she spoke again, but with determination in her voice. ”I'm sorry master, but I’m going to help them!”
“Zeteira, no, you can’t just—”
”If these soldiers are risking their lives to protect a place unknown to them, then I have no reason to not help! Master, you taught us about helping those in need, and that’s what I’m doing now! I’ll contact you soon after!”
“Zeteira, wait!” He spoke loudly through the comm but got no response. He slammed his fist on the computer with a smack, causing some of the computers to shake and static. “Un’reo Zeteira!”
Naaja just stood there silently, gazing at the live video before him as he saw countless droids and soldiers alike fall. He knew why his master was so concerned, especially with everything happening all at once. Having their presence now discovered was already dangerous enough, so fighting an unknown enemy and being captured by them was very risky. But he also knew that Zeteira was right; they were taught to help those who were in need. Since these clones were putting their lives on the line for them, not even knowing what it really is, it was enough to want to help them.
Thinking to himself a little longer, Naaja's expression quickly returned determined. Somewhere in the back of his mind, something told him this was the way. "Master, you have to go..."
"Naaja, we cannot just--"
"I know this temple better than any of us, inside and out," he interrupted, his voice full of determination. "Zeteira needs our help, and you're the best one among us to do it."
Naaja's older teacher looked at him worriedly, hesitant to consider what his apprentice was saying. He was conflicted between protecting both his students and the temple, but much so was his concern for Zeteira's life. Pondering for a moment, he looked back to Naaja. "Are you sure?"
"That's what you trained us for," Naaja slightly joked with a small grin forming on his lips.
The older man gave him a small smile before placing his hand on his right shoulder and said to him, "alright then, I trust you. Protect this place with your life."
"I will, master."
"May the Han'Shi guide your way," he said before he sprinted towards the opposite direction from where Kydan and Calena had sprinted to.
As he disappeared through the corridors, Naaja looked around their campsite, trying to devise a plan for himself while cracking his knuckles and neck. "Okay, time to get ready..."
Location: Main entrance of the temple...
"Take cover!" The sound of a loud explosion emerged just a few feet from where the clone soldier was just recently standing before being blown away by the blast.
Breona rushed towards the man, but only to find him dead with shrapnel punctured through his armor. A few red lasers flew past his head before he raised his head and saw Battle Droids marching towards them by the numbers, each one with their weapons pointed at them. "Fall back to the main gates!" He shouted, whipping his pistols from both sides, taking out a few droids in the process as he rushed back towards his men.
Dodging the incoming spray of lasers, Breona and the remainder of his team run back to the broken entrance that still held its old, rusty damaged iron gates, hiding behind them for cover. The moment they got into cover was when they had their chance of firing back at the clanking droids, doing their best to hold them back. However, with only so few men left around them, their odds of surviving were quickly beginning to slim.
Breona takes a few more pod shots before ducking behind the gate as a blaster shot past a few centimeters from his helmet. He looks over to the other troops, watching as a couple more fell from the droids as they advanced even closer. He looks over to Burner who was also witnessing the tragedy before them. "Never thought this would be how we go out..."
"Could be worse," Burner replied as another shot flew past them. "Always thought we would go out in a blaze of glory anyways!"
Breona chuckles dryly, amused that his clone brother can joke at a time like this. "You're not entirely wrong! So... ready to take one last stand?"
Burner readies his weapon, looking at his commander with determination underneath his helmet. "For the Republic?"
He looks at him for a moment before looking to the others on the opposite side who have all heard their officers speaking through the comms. Each one of them looked ready to fight to the very end, whether they won or not. Understanding that, and with a single nod, Breona moves out of cover with his pistols at hand and shouts one last command. "For the Republ--"
Before Breona was able to finish his sentence, a silhouette sped past him with great speed, catching not only him but everyone else off guard. Even the droids looked confused as the stranger rushed towards them.
"Uh...do we shoot it?" one of the droids up front asked no one in particular but wasn't able to get an answer before seeing a double golden blade swinging towards it. "Oh come on--AH!"
Immediately the battle droid fell without its head as the stranger began swinging their blades at the rest of them, cutting down multiple droids quickly with ease. The droids started to realize that the stranger was indeed their enemy, and thus began to fire. However, the stranger was too quick for them and was dodging their shots without breaking a sweat.
Breona and the others looked at the mysterious stranger still stunned and confused. Not entirely sure what was happening, Breona wasn't going to question the outcome. He looks to the rest of his team. "Well, don't just stand there, let's give her a hand! Come on!"
Not even going to question it any further, the rest of the men charged out from their hiding spots and into the firefight before them, each of them firing back at the enemy. Before Burner went to join them, he stopped Breona for a moment, still slightly confused. "Hang on, how do you know it's a woman?"
"...Tell you later," he hesitantly replied, running out of their spot and into the fight. Burner looked at his brother even more confused, but just shook it off and ran out to join them.
Location: Within the temple...
“This way!” Kydan ran, turning to the right of the large, ruined corridor as Calena followed closely behind him. They had been running for a few minutes already, taking multiple stops and turns along the way.
“Are you sure you know where we’re going, Kyie?!” Calena asked, confused already while running from one hallway to the next. She could have even sworn they had passed that same carving on the right side of the wall more than two times already. “It feels like we’ve been through here multiple times!”
“Honestly, no! All I’m going off from is my feelings! It’s like the Force is guiding my sense of direction!”
“Well, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me whatsoever,” she replied turning to the left side, still staying close behind him. “As long as your not getting us lost, I think I’ll be fine!”
Kydan turned his head a little, grinning at her response before looking up. That was when he noticed some sort of light luminating at the end of the hall they were running through. “I see light! This must be it!”
The two duos picked up the pace as they passed through the entrance, entering a large room. The room they entered was very large, a bit smaller than a regular colosseum. Square in shape, it was at least three stories high, much to their surprise considering they were underwater in an old, ancient temple. Just like the rest of the temple, it was built in stone and brick, many of the areas covered in moss or cracked and chipped over the years.
But when they looked towards the center, they saw a figure sitting in meditation. The figure was covered in pure black, besides a couple areas that were colored dark red. He had a long, black cape that dropped down to the ends of his heels while sporting a strange, cybernetic armor chest plate that covered half his upper body and mouth. The left side of his face was plated with a single bright yellow eye socket that shined brightly. But unlike the other acolytes they’d seen, he didn’t have any hair. Plugged into both sides of his upper arms were a multitude of small tubes that ran through his upper arms and shoulders, looking very discomforting. Gripped within his right hand was a very strange, customized lightsaber hilt. At the end of the hilt was some sort of red glass container attached to it.
Not even lifting his head, he spoke out loud to the two while they approached him slowly and cautiously. “Kydan Witress and Calena Irune, I wondered when you would show up. Not to say that I wasn’t expecting you.”
Kydan raised his hand, gesturing to Calena to halt. “Let me guess, you’re one of Nedoura’s lackeys?”
“Such a distasteful word to use,” the acolyte replied, slowly rising to his feet with his one eye still closed. “Unlike Gualo or Quiese, I am Nedoura’s strongest apprentice. I am much stronger than those two put together.”
“What is it that you want?”
“Simple really,” he pointed past them and towards the door behind them. “I’m here for the temple’s secrets. My lord is eager to learn what this temple holds from within.”
“Hate to burst your bubble,” Calena spoke up as she activated her double-bladed blue lightsaber. Kydan followed suit as he ignited his purple lightsaber, taking his position to fight. “But you’re not getting anywhere near there.”
The acolyte chuckled darkly, finally opening his eye revealing a color red pupil. “I wasn’t asking, master Jedi. I will take it, one way or another.”
He then ignited his red crimson saber, the blade crackling at the start. However, unlike their lightsabers, the blade looked unstable as it vibrated uncontrollable. Whatever he had done to it, it was obviously not a good sign.
“My name is Felgrus,” he declared raising his red blade to them. “And today, I will be the one to defeat you once and for all!”
With tremendous speed, he was already upon the two of them as they were almost too slow to block his attack. Up close in person, his blade and his figure was a bit larger than they seemed to appear. The duo was having a hard time fighting against Felgrus’ brute strength that he was applying onto them, pushing them back little by little. Wanting to break free from their dead lock, Kydan signaled to Calena with a single nod as they both deactivated their lightsabers which caught Felgrus’ off guard, causing him to fall forward a little bit. They took their chance and the two reactivated their weapons, going for the strike from behind.
However, Felgrus was already one step ahead of them. Having anticipated their move, he quickly used the Force to push them, sending them flying away from him and each other. They each landed on the ground with a thud, groaning from the minor pain they received from the crash.
“How did he…?” Kydan wondered out loud to no one in particular.
“It was as if he—” Calena began to speak out before being interrupted by the acolyte.
“How did I know what you would do?” He laughed menacingly. “Thanks to my master, I was able to study each one of you for years, learning every strength and weaknesses you have.”
Calena cringed a little bit in response. “Not sure if that’s called creepy, stalking…or all the above.”
Kydan didn’t really seem to care as his eyes turned to a crimson red rose color, showing that he was getting serious. “No matter how much time you put into learning about us will help you. Like always, we’ll always come out on top!”
Felgrus responded with a twisted grin, much to his enjoyment. “Then come, show me what you have under those sleeves of yours. My experiments will lay waist to both of you…”
"Why can't we hit this guy?!" One of the remaining battle droids cried out to the other one as they each continued shooting at Naaja, who was easily dodging or deflecting their shots with the Force.
"Maybe because we're fighting a Jedi?" The other one replied with some confusion, but also a hint of sarcasm.
"He doesn't look like a Jedi to me--AHH!" Before the other droid could finish its sentence as Naaja's golden blade sliced through the metal arm and chest plate. The droid fell backwards to the ground with a loud clang as half its arm was decapitated.
"Hey! That was my friend!" The last droid said to him, sounding like it was trying to be mad at the swordsman.
Not necessarily caring, Naaja swung around and made a small jump at the last battle droid, leaping into the air with his sword raised. The droid was too slow to put up a counterattack as he swung the blade at it, decapitating both its head and arm, even cutting its waist off. The droid crumbled before him as pieces of both its limbs and smaller objects fell across the stone floor.
Naaja sighs in relief as he sheathes his golden blade, looking around him at the lifeless droids that he had just cut down. Almost a dozen of them were wiped out by him using his sword while some of them crumbled by his Force abilities. "Man, these droids didn't even make me sweat. I was hoping for some kind of challenge."
"Perhaps I can assist with that," a low cybernetic voice echoed around Naaja, who began to look around him cautiously. Clawed to the rocky ceiling above him, a large metallic cyborg alien dropped to the ground about ten feet away from where he was standing. The general himself, Grievous, rose to his metal claw feet as he stared down at Naaja with his yellow alienated eyes. "Hello there..."
"Whoa, ugly!" Naaja jumped as he pulled his blade from its sheath, positioning himself in a battle stance. "Who gave you a makeover?"
"Incompetent fool," Grievous growled, his cybernetic arms placed behind his back. "You have no idea who you are dealing with. I am General Grievous, and this temple is now under control of the Separatist Alliance. And you are trespassing, Jedi."
"Jedi? Me?" Naaja pointed to himself in confusion, not sure what that was. "Look, I'm not sure who or what a 'Jedi' is, but that isn’t me. But what I am is the protector of this place, and it's you who has trespassed sacred grounds. So, I suggest you leave."
"I don't think so, protector," Grievous chuckled sinisterly as he motioned with his robotic hand some kind of signal. From behind, a few Super Battle Droids approached their leader with the addition of a single IG unit, known as a Magnaguard, each one aiming their wrist guns at the young man. As for the IG unit, rather than using a blaster, it whipped out its electro staff with each end lighting up in purple electricity.
Naaja slightly gulped, looking just a bit worried as he stared down the droids before him. "Oh boy..."
Grievous laughed menacingly as he backed up and gave his droids the orders, "kill him, make sure he suffers..."
The droids slowly approached him with their weapons raised and drawn while Naaja stood his ground. Between him and his opponents was a large, circular structure made of stone and weird markings carved into it. He knew the importance of this structure and what it did, so protecting it from these robotic things was his priority before anything else.
Raising his own gold, metallic blade, he took his stance and prepared for his attack. Within just a couple seconds, the first shots fired, and the guard made a dash at him, its weapon raised with the intention of striking him. He stood his ground, his eyes closed while listening to his entire surroundings. A few seconds after, he opened his eyes to see that time had almost frozen in place. However, he was using his ability to help make it seem like everything slowed down. Technically, he was just very fast. To use this to his advantage, he made quick work of the droids as his blade slashed at them, cutting them all up into multiple pieces. When he got to the Magnaguard, however, his ability quickly depleted as time went back to normal. Forcing himself to stop, he was able to use his sword to block the droid’s attack as its staff collided into his blade, electricity noise emitting from both ends of it.
He then heard the activation of multiple objects from behind the guard, just catching sight of Grievous charging at them with two sabers in each hand, one blue and the other green. Before the guard could proceed with its attack, Naaja used the Force to push the guard backwards and into the cyborg general to hopefully stall him. But it was cut short when he sliced the droid down immediately as he rushed at him, ready to slam his blades into him. Naaja just missed the first strike before he began dodging the multiple swift attacks the general was throwing at him. He was surprised as to how agile and fast the half cyborg and alien was, especially since he didn’t have the Han’Shi.
Naaja was backing up step by step before he almost tripped backwards by a rock, just barely able to miss the next attack. Upon seeing this, Grievous took his chance and made a final strike in hopes of ending this foolish mockery of a fight. With little to no options left, he used his sword to try and stop the cyborg’s attack. But when the general sliced right through his sword and only leaving him with nothing but a handle in his hands, he was in utter shock as he saw his blade be destroyed before his eyes. He didn’t even realize it before feeling a sharp pain in his guts, the droid general taking the opportunity to kick the young man with his metal claw leg, sending him flying backwards and right into the stone ground.
Groaning in pain, Naaja slowly picked himself up while holding his stomach in pain. Never had he faced an opponent like this before, let alone someone who could easily break, or cut up, another man’s sword with another sword. He then heard the cackling laughter from the cyborg alien, his expression turning to annoyance.
“This was almost too easy,” Grievous mocked Naaja, slowly walking up to him with both his lightsabers ignited. “To think, I thought this would be a challenge. Perhaps I was wrong…”
Naaja wasn’t sure what to do at that moment. Without his sword, he was completely defenseless, even if he had the Han’Shi on his side. Grievous was a very strong enemy, and from the look of things, he wasn’t tired out at all. It was at that moment in time…he felt truly afraid.
But then, that was when he felt something. A strong presence reaching out to him. It wasn’t some person calling him, more like some sort of inanimate object.
As if time had suddenly stood still around him yet again, he searched his surroundings for whatever was calling out. The more he searched, the more he became confused. But when he looked at the other random hilts attached to the general’s robotic waist, the stronger he felt it. For reasons he couldn’t fully understand, he could sense it at that one single hilt at the front; the cylinder colored in a dark gray with silver stripes, the top part customized to look like four spikes. Just then, time resumed around him as Grievous was nearly on top of him, his lightsabers at the ready. As soon as he raised his blades and sliced down for the final blow, he was suddenly blocked by a particular orange colored lightsaber. What he saw utterly surprised him; his own lightsabers had somehow collided with one of the fallen Jedi’s blades that he had taken some time ago as a trophy. But rather than be in his possession, it was now in the hands of Naaja, who was equally shocked.
“What?! How did you—” Before Grievous could finish his sentence, Naaja used the opportunity to push upwards and giving the general a good Force kick to the chest, sending him back some ways. Regaining his composure, Grievous growled in frustration as he saw the young man wielding his stolen saber. “That lightsaber, it belongs to me!”
Naaja looked at the orange glowing blade before him, somehow feeling a strong connection to it. He couldn’t describe it very well, but what he could say at that moment was that it felt right. It was as if that lightsaber truly belonged to him, and it felt great wielding such an elegant weapon. With a smirk now plastered on his face, he took his fighting stance once more, but rather with his original sword, it was now with an orange laser sword.
He was now ready to fight the cyborg general. The smirk never left his lips. “Why don’t you come and take it then?”
At long last, after two years of hard work, IRL situations out of the way, as well as other non-noteworthy things to talk about, the next chapter of our series is here!
Not sure if you guys had any idea, but we have been so excited and impatient to give you guys this one! We hope you all enjoyed reading this, including the MOCs we worked so hard on.
Hope you all enjoyed, and look forward to sharing the next chapter of the series very soon. Have a fan-building-tastic day/night!
- Director KW