The Allied leaders met up on the Hearthfire a few hours later. The Indrexu confederation fleet had suffered heavy losses, but the mandalorian ships had filled in the gaps where possible. The decision now was to hit the Scourge at there very nerve centre, without Darth Taivus, the driving force behind the scourge would be gone and the war would eventually end in favour of the allies. The data Rebeka had retrieved from Porfrana I and Nantuker was useless on it’s own, but together it pointed the way.
Queen Mother Alasunin, Stebe, Davik, Cyare, Captain Starfire and Admiral Krin were in attendance along with the Dawnstar crew.
“…We believe Taivus can be found in the northern sector of the interior region. Our probes we sent to investigate detected a great deal of fleet movement in the barren system of Terina, the majority of which was blockading the fifth planet of the system.”
“It sounds too much like a trap, the world is barren, there’s no atmosphere, no life, no technology.” Said Alasunin.
“Sounds a perfect place for a Sith to hide.” Said Jace.
“Taivus is in the cluster looking for something. If he is on this planet, then what he seeks is also there.” Said Stebe. “The planet is incredibly exposed, Taivus would not hide in such a place unless he had no choice.”
“There are several fleets in that sector of space, even with the mandalorians a full scale assault would cost thousands of lives. We couldn’t defeat them.”
“We don’t need to take out the fleet, just Terrn.” Said Jace.
Stebe nodded, “without Taivus the Scourge would lose it’s figurehead and force the scourge to retreat, perhaps even cripple them enough that they wouldn’t recover.”
“We’re ready for him.” said Rak, Rebeka agreeing.
“It won’t be easy, you will need to find him in the midst of a battle.” Said Stebe.
“Finding him won’t be a problem.” Said Rebeka.
“Transmit information on his location as soon as you find him, if you should fail I will be leading the next strike team.” Said Stebe.
“We’ll do our best.” Said Rebeka, “I hope we won’t need you.”
“I hope so too, get some rest, and we’ll head out when the fleet is mobilised. May the force be with us all.”
The Battle of Terina V begun, The Dawnstar flying and spinning about the battle as they scanned the barren planet. It was just so.
“Jace, Can Sith disguise themselves from scanners?”
“If he’s down there, it’s by technology, not the force. He must be down there, it’s where he needs to be surely.”
“Try looking for any Subterranean tunnels.” Suggested Rak. Lanyef did so, getting Rebeka to fly over a chasm. The scans proved Rak to be right, the Chasm led into the very core of the planet, that if read correctly was completely hollow. After evading some fighters, Rebeka plunged the Dawnstar into the Chasm. The Chasm was dark, and after a minutes flying, light could be seen at the other end.
“There’s an Atmosphere within the planets core, likely artificial.” Said Lanyef.
When they emerged from the other side of the chasm, they beheld the entire interior of the planet, covered in crystals that glowed brightly. At the centre of the core, on a huge mesa stood a Tower of Obsidian, channeling what looked like power from the crystals into it’s structure.
They could all tell it was Rakatan in design.
“Where’s the power coming from?” asked Rebeka.
“The Planet is probably one giant Solar collector, Rakatan’s used a lot of Solar collectors to strip suns to power machines.” Said Lanyef
“But it’s dark in here.”
“The crust is probably one giant solar collector, and the crystals are the storage units for that power. Powering that fortress more than likely.”
“It’s weird is what it is,” muttered Rak.
“Whatever it is, Terrn’s not getting it.” Said Jace. They agreed, heading towards the fortress. There seemed to be a figure waiting for them on the landing platform. They flew close enough to determine who it was and became caught in the trap.
“It’s Terrn!” said Lanyef as the Dawnstar suddenly paused in flight, held in place. Rak and Jace opened fire on the figure, but the huge turrets were too big to hit a target that small. Taivus stood, hand out stretched as huge chunks were blasted out of the landing pad. He made no movement, then raised his other hand and spun the Dawnstar in place, Rebeka tried to maintain control but the Sith Lords power was too strong. He cast the Dawnstar onto the Mesa to his right, the ship smashing crystals and skimming across the ground. He threw his hands in the air, flipping the Dawnstar over end on end until finally the crystals slowed it’s momentum and the Dawnstar came to a halt.
Lanyef and Rebeka pushed aside the debris covering them, nearly banging there heads on the large shard of crystal that pierced the cockpit.
“My ship.” Rebeka Whimpered, trying to get something functioning.
“Is everyone alright?” asked Lanyef on the comm.
“Still in one piece.” Said Jace.
“Yeah.” Said Rak, “It’ll take me a while to get to you though.” He said, the lower gun turret was several hundred metres away.
“Jurl.” Said Rebeka as she realised the greater concern. She pulled away the Navicomputer that had crumpled against the droid, he was terrible, one repulsor was parts on the floor, battery acid dripped from his compartments and none of his lights were on. Rebeka opened him up and desperately rerouted power where she could, and eventually the droid turned back on, it’s cracked receptor turning to face her.
“Am I a hero?” asked Jurl.
Rebeka held back her tears, but her eyes shone obviously in the dim light of the wrecked cockpit.
“I am happy.” He said, and his lights went out again. Rebeka stroked his dented head and grieved her friend, Lanyef comforting her as best he could.
Jace arrived, saw Jurl and Rebeka’s state, and said the only thing he could.
“We’re not done here.”
Rebeka rubbed the tears from her eyes and looked angrily up at Jace. “You’re right, we’re not.” She said.
Rak caught up to them along the plateau, Everyone had gathered what they could, but planned to return when they were done here. They reached the tower without a welcoming party, Taivus’ arrogance showing that he assumed they’d been killed. The power being drawn into the tower seemed to be harmless to them, and wasn’t any less for the destruction of several thousand crystals. They entered the structure, moving down the corridors lit dimly by the passing energy. Bodies littered the corridors, alien in nature, and certainly dead for thousands of years.
“Who do you think they are?” asked Rebeka.
“Rakatans.” Said Rak. They looked surprised at him. “I guess? We are in a Rakatan structure, in a piece of Rakatan technology found on pots made by the Rakatans.”
He had a point.
Lanyef and Rak spotted a door up ahead closing.
“Scourge droid.” Hissed Lanyef, who had just seen it going in. it hadn’t noticed them. They readied there weapons, creeping up to the obsidian door and opening it, guns ready. A berserker and four Banshees were in the room along with what appeared to be Terrn strapped to one of the Entechment units. Lanyef fired on the Berserker, dropping it’s shields with Ion damage as well as a banshee, The Berserker swinging at Rebeka with a lightsaber, injuring her as she blasted the droid several times. Jace shot the Berserker with his carbine, damaging it a few times. Rak hit the entechment unit with his ion pistol, disrupting any processes that it might be undergoing, then took down two more banshee’s shields. Lanyef took down the last Banshee’s shields as Rebeka took another grazing swing from the Berserkers lightsaber, returning the favour with several blasts from her blaster. Jace finished the Berserker off, letting his shots carry to the banshee behind it, wrecking the droid. Rak fired on another Banshee, destroying it in a hail of fire and damaging a third. Lanyef damaged it further as the droids fired on them with Flechette, peppering them with needles. Rebeka returned fire, destroying another droid, Jace taking out the last one. Rebeka blasted Terrn in the chest, the last of Terrns breath escaping and he died instantly. This seemed too easy, Rak restarted the controls and checked the log. Apparently the entechment process had completed, so Terrn should be a droid now, and given those droids that were just destroyed, it wasn’t his nature to become one of the rank and file, more had to be going on here.
They followed the energy to it’s source, a large door blocking the way. It appeared to be unlocked, the Key they’d liberated on Chandrila was in the door itself, and with a deep breath they pushed the door open. It opened into a large chamber, Rebeka storming inside, the others following after her impatience. A large mirrored spherical device oscillated upon the raised platform on the other side of the room, a figure standing before it. He turned, Taivus looking at them.
“Your disobedience continues I see.” He said, his altered voice hadn’t changed.
“I’ve never been one for obedience.”
“Really, shall we test it then.” He said, waving his hand slightly, “Drop your weapons.”
They slowly drew there weapons, firing on Taivus. He drew his lightsabers quickly from concealed compartments in his arms, deflecting the bolts away, one regrettably reflecting towards the console close by, which sparked. The strange device seemed to draw more power.
Taivus Growled in Rage, “Enough! I will put an end to your disobedience myself!”
Rebeka drew her slugthrower and fired on him, the bullet grazing his arm, sending sparks up, Taivus grunting as he leapt at Rebeka, two lightsabers swinging violently at her, burning her side. Jace blasted at him, tearing up his robe and exposing his droid body, he moved much faster than any droid they had encountered. Lanyef and Rak completely missed him as Rebeka dodged away and loaded another clip into her slugthrower. Taivus whirled across the Chamber, his lightsaber cutting across Jaces side as he spun past towards Lanyef. The Mandalorian staggering as he fired on him, Taivus deflecting Jace and Raks combined fire where he could. Lanyef fled from Taivus with the distraction, Rebeka covering him with her shots. Taivus spun into Jace once more, swinging violently at the mandalorian, surpassing Jaces own skill and injuring him a few times. Jace backed off and shot him in the chest heavily.
“IMPOSSIBLE!” he roared, as his body started shutting down, Jace didn’t relent, bringing the carbine up swiftly and destroying Taivus’ Head.
“Noo!!!” the Sith roared as his body was decimated with blaster fire and he collapsed in a sparking heap. Rebeka ran to the controls with Lanyef as Jace blew Taivus to pieces to be sure. Taivus’ Death cry still echoed in the room, then realised it had gone on long after he should have been able to. The defiance in the cry tapered out into a chuckle and then into a full blown manic laugh that reverberated across the chamber. Jace and Rak were thrown from there feet. A spirit appeared, a bald human, eyes burning with dark side corruption, floated before them. Despite his ethereal appearance, his flesh seemed to be transparent, his bones visible under his pallid skin.
“Did you truly think you could defeat Taivus so easily!! I have already died once! I cannot die again!!”
“Phage said that!” said Rebeka.
“But Phage was not truly dead!!!” he cackled.
Rak got to his feet, firing on Taivus, the bolt going straight through him. The Spirit laughed maniacally at him.
Lanyef observed the device, and it dawned on him what it was. “This is an infinity gate. A transportation device that allowed travel through hyperspace without use of a ship.”
“Yes! And on the other side are my allies, the Ssi Ruuvi, The beings who created the vessel of perfection that are my droids, and when there armies join with mine we will strike out at the galaxy from this position of strength!!!” Taivus laughed.
“Close it!” said Rebeka, she knew destroying the gate while it was drawing so much power was a bad idea, but if she could shut it down…
The damage was done, regardless of Taivus’ dreams, despite how much Rebeka wanted to save everyone, the readouts had sealed there fate.
Rebeka was startled out of the horror she’d uncovered by Taivus’ screeching.
“Behold my UNLIMITED POWER!!!!” he cackled, lightening springing from his ghostly hands to strike Rak, who managed to stay on his feet despite the agony he was being subjected to.
“We can’t do anything to a spirit!” said Jace, “We’d need a force user!” he said staggering to his feet.
“Do you see Mandalorian, you are nothing compared to the power of the Dark Side!” he cackled.
“So powerful, you’re a ghost, what can you do.” Said Jace.
“I can create more bodies, I can die a thousand times and return again, you can only die once!”
“It’s a life time dedicated to stopping you!” grunted Rak, aiming at the infinity gate as he was electrocuted.
“Rak stop!” shouted Rebeka, Rak firing wide in time. “Don’t do anything to it!” she warned.
“You’ll destroy the planet and the Allied fleet with it if you disrupt it now.” Said Lanyef.
Rebeka fired on Taivus, disrupting his attack on Rak and clutching his ethereal arm. “No! What have you done! How can this be?! What have you got?!!” he screeched.
Rebeka opened her shirt collar to reveal the Amulet Legacy had given to them.
“That is my Amulet!!” he roared striking her with lightening, Rebeka couldn’t hold against the pain and collapsed as she was electrocuted.
“Take the Amulet!” Rebeka managed through the pain, “Take it!”
Jace snapped into action, dashing to Rebeka’s aid, snatching the amulet from her neck, ignoring the pain of the electrocution enough to throw it to Rak. Rak fumbled the catch, grabbing it up and firing, damaging Taivus further.
“I’m getting tired of your games!” hissed Taivus. Concentrating on Rak with his lightening once more.
Lanyef looked at the readouts and came to the same conclusion as Rebeka. Jace used an Adrenal as Rak continued to fire on Taivus, weakening the spirits energy. Rak threw the amulet to Jace, snatching it out of the air as Lanyef helped Rebeka to recover. There eyes met, both knowing the realisation looking at the readouts had given them.
“Don’t do anything.” She warned, “We’ll decide it together.”
Lanyef nodded, she stood up, and drew the lightsaber given to her by jace, wielding the orange lightsaber, and like many times before, called upon the force. Taivus spun on Jace, throwing lightening at the Mandalorian, but unable to cause enough pain to halt the mandalorians rage, he opened fire in retaliation, his carbine ripping holes in the spirit.
“NOOOOOOO!!!!” he screeched as his manifestation imploded and Taivus exploded in energy, knocking them all down.
When it seemed the only sound was the infinity gates increasing hum, Rebeka bit the bullet, switching off the lightsaber and standing.
“We have a problem.” Said Rebeka.
“What is it?” asked Jace. “What is this thing?”
Rebeka’s tone grew heavy, “One of us needs to stay behind to keep this going while the others escape.”
“What do you mean keep it going?”
There comms sprung to life. “Stebe to the Dawnstar Crew, Rebeka, anyone, can you hear me?”
“Yes,” said Rebeka, “Taivus… might be dead, but we have a problem.”
“Hurry out if you can, I brought the Harmony to pick you up. There’s a lot happening out here, we need to get out of here as soon as possible.”
“It’s not a problem.” Said Rak.
Jace handed the Amulet back to Rebeka.
“It’s an easy decision.” Continued Rak, “I’ll stay.”
“What’s going on, why do we need to keep it going, what is this?”
“We haven’t discussed this.” Said Rebeka, “The Infinity gates power regulator was hit, this things drawing power until it explodes, it needs to be manually maintained for us and the fleet to escape, without it, everyone dies, along with the best chance for the cluster.”
“What about BMO could he do it.”
“No… it would take too long to set up. We all get out or none of us do, surely.”
“It’s been said enough times, I’m the expendable one-“
“No one is expendable!” snapped Rebeka.
“You said it yourself, none of us will escape if someone isn’t here to make sure they do.”
“Not that this is a silver lining, but that is still a gateway.” Said Lanyef, “If someone stays behind to regulate it, they could use it to escape.”
“Do we know where it even goes?” asked Rak.
“Taivus’ allies right?” said Jace.
“It beats dying here, as I said it’s not a great option, but we don’t have a choice.”
“I’d rather die than be one of those things.” Said Rak.
“We don’t know that will happen, you will die here, you may have a chance through there.”
“All four of us could go.” Said Lanyef.
“We could all stay, get the fleet away.” Said Rebeka.
“What’s the point in that.” Said Rak.
“We’d be alive, start fresh, get a new ship.” Said Lanyef.
A sudden rock suggested the discussion was over, the gate was getting more volatile.
“You need to start hustling.” Said Rak, moving to the console.
“I’ll leave only if you promise to try the doorway.” Said Rebeka.
He started the process and looked at her. “I’ll try.” He said, Rebeka studied him for a hnt of deception, but Raks face was blank.
“Lanyef can you make it go elsewhere?” asked Jace.
“The gates are part of a network, they can only connect to another gate, the reason no one knows about them is because the technology was lost. I wouldn’t think there’s any other gate if Taivus was looking for this one.” Said Lanyef.
“Where will we end up?” said Jace.
“Anywhere,” said Lanyef gravely.
“Well, we’ve seen his allies before, they likely aren’t too far away.”
“We’ll find you.” Promised Rebeka.
“That’s good, now get moving.” Said Rak Harshly, regulating the power as best he could. “Before it’s too late for everyone.”
There were sounds coming from down the hall, things were beginning to get worse.
“You two should go, I’ll stay and look after this old man.” Said Jace, “We’ll meet up on the other side.”
“No.” said Rebeka, it was bad enough parting with Rak. “I can’t leave people behind.”
“You need to get here now, this whole place is starting to collapse!” warned Stebe on the comm.
“This isn’t leaving us behind, it’s taking a different path.”
“We should all go then. Least we’d be together.” Said Lanyef.
“We can’t risk it. Least this way someone is getting out.”
“Someone needs to get out there.” Rak said. “If we don’t make it and Taivus isn’t dead, someone needs to be out there who can stop him.”
“That’s true.” Said Jace.
“Then you need to come with us.” Managed Rebeka.
“This is no longer a debate.” Said Rak.
“Right, you two need to get out of here, you need to take your piece of Bantha Poodoo ship and you need to take that magic amulet of yours.” Said Jace.
“That piece of Bantha Poodoo ship is going to come for you.” Said Lanyef.
“Good, I’ll look out for it.”said Jace.
Rebeka ran and hugged Rak, Then Jace, trembling slightly, then ran, and didn’t look back, Lanyef gave him a slight salute, Jace returning it, and hurried after her.
Power leaked from the walls, The obsidian tower cracking in places as the sheer amount of energy leaked out and feedbacked against itself. Rebeka and Lanyef reached the landing pad, the whole planet core was exploding in crystals, The harmony waited for them, Stebe at the bottom of the ramp, yelling for them to get aboard. They hurried aboard, Jace talking them through it as Stebe powered the ship up. Rebeka and Lan let them know where they were at, Stebe ordering the fleet to move away as they instructed her. The Harmony was pushed to her limits to escape, Rak and Jace stayed within the crumbling tower until the regulation no longer worked, the console exploding in sparks, Jace grabbing Rak up and both of them running into the gate, vanishing as the tower collapsed. The Harmony moved at untested speeds, escaping the planet just as the chasm collapsed on itself, the crystals exploding and collapsing until the energy collector exploded, the whole planet annihilated and with it a confused portion of the imperial fleet. Cheers went up among the allies as the remnant of the scourge fleet retreated into Hyperspace.
The mood on the Harmony was Sombre. Rebeka tried desperately to reach Jace or Rak, but the comm was silent. Rebeka broke down after a few more attempts and Lanyef held her. Even Stebe shed a few tears before regaining her composure and bringing in the harmony to land on the Hearthfire.
Rebeka and Lanyef were rarely seen again. They did not attend the memorial, nor the victory celebrations on Hapes. Stebe knew why, Rebeka couldn’t let go. As a Jedi, Stebe had trained for loss and grief, and despite her misgivings about Rak and Jace, they had sacrificed themselves to save the galaxy. She grieved for them in her own way. But embraced there becoming one with the force, in time she knew Rebeka would to. But before then, she would need to accept it. She knew Rebeka had learned to use the force, even if she was not aware of it. and during this time she would be vulnerable to the Dark Side, be tempted by the unnatural practices of the sith. Stebe knew she needed a guide, someone she could talk to, and was why she went to the hangar where the Harmony was docked.
They were loading up as she approached.
“We’ve missed you the last few weeks.” She said kindly.
“I didn’t really feel like celebrating.” She said, handing a crate to a dock worker to put aboard, then looked hard at Stebe, “Didn’t feel like a victory.”
“Looks like your leaving for somewhere.” Said Stebe.
“Yeah,” she said, she paused before carrying on. “We have a lead on another infinity gate.”
The thing about grief is that even a glimmer of hope can make you believe even the impossible is possible.
“I would like to come with you.”
Rebeka seemed to smile slightly, “We could always do with the company.”
“I… have more or less ended my career with the Jedi creating this war. There’s nothing for me to go back to now.”
“I’m sorry.” Said Rebeka, “It was the right thing to do, I’m sorry your council can’t see that.”
“If my career is the only thing lost because of this war, it was the right thing, only time will tell, time I can spend helping you. If your friends are out there, I want to help bring them back to the galaxy they saved.”
Rebeka genuinely smiled, “welcome aboard.”