Coruscant Knights

Acknowledgments


Coruscant Knights
A Darth Jar Jar Tale

by Brennan McMahon

© Copyright 2016 by Brennan McMahon

This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise – without prior written permission of the author, except as provided by United States of America copyright law.

Star Wars characters, planets and vehicles are protected trademarks of Disney and Lucasfilm.

Prologue

Kal Orn was raised a traveling merchant’s son on the Mid Rim planet of Cyphar. He spent his youth helping his father peddle reclaimed ship and droid parts to locals and off-worlders alike. Although the business never satisfied Kal’s thirst for adventure, he never complained and worked alongside his father until he was killed during a dispute over the ownership of a ship engine. The man claimed Kal’s father stole it and shot him, but it’s what happened after this tragedy that would forever change the young Cypharian’s life.

Overcome with emotion, an intense feeling washed over Kal as he knelt by his father. As he watched the man walk away, a great energy began to swirl inside of him and when it could no longer be contained, it burst outwards through his hands, lifting the killer off his feet and forcing him through the stone wall of an outpost ten feet away. The impact crushed the man, killing him instantly.

Scared and confused, Kal ran. Using the few credits he had on him, he managed to catch a freighter headed off-planet. He never asked where it was headed. He didn’t care.

The next few years were rough for young Kal. Even though he found gainful employment with a shipping company at the age of 20 and had already gotten to see much of the galaxy, fear was his constant companion. A day didn’t go by that he wasn’t looking over his shoulder for either someone’s revenge or for justice to catch up to him.

He’d heard stories of bounty hunters and even met a few while waiting on transfers throughout the star systems. Was he wanted for murder on Cyphar? Was the next bounty hunter looking for him? Questions constantly plagued him. He never got a good night’s sleep. He never forgot about that strange energy that came out of him. Was it the Force he’d heard the old spacers talk about?

While waiting to take delivery of several hyperdrive engines on Moorja, Kal had some down time and visited a local cantina where he overheard some men discussing a missing child from their sector. Since he had time to waste, Kal grabbed a drink and asked to join the conversation. They told him that certain, special children seemed to vanish all the time – and not just from their sector either. They told Kal about reports of missing children with the same “special” distinctions who have been going missing for decades all across the galaxy. And if ever too big of a fuss was raised about a child, mysterious people showed up in the middle of the night and the next day it’s as if there never was a child in the first place.

Kal took their story with a grain of salt and simply enjoyed the ability to get his mind off of the event in Cyphar. In order to oblige the men, Kal asked what “special” meant. His sheltered life under the protective wing of his father who had a distaste for interplanetary goings-on didn’t prepare Kal for the answer. They told him that most people thought “special” meant the children were Force sensitives and that they could do powerful things with their minds and they were taken because of it. The mention of this made Kal’s blood run cold. Powerful things with their minds? Did he use the Force to kill the man who killed his father?

Nervous, Kal swallowed the rest of his drink and began to excuse himself from the table, but he stopped short with another question: “How do you know if you’re a… Force sensitive?”

The men laughed. They told him that if he can either convince them to pay for his drink or push them off the docking platform without touching them, he was a “Jedi in the making.” They also mockingly assured him that even if was a Force user, he’s too old to be kidnapped at this point.

The news of this mysterious Force disturbed Kal for the rest of the day and well into the following weeks as he traveled on the freighter. He couldn’t shake the feeling that he was somehow connecting to it and he feared that whatever is was may strike again and he wouldn’t be able to control it. As fate would have it, that is precisely what happened.

Kal was operating a warehouse lift loading up a crate of steel beams onto a transport ship when a neighboring lift operator lost control of his rig and a crate of nitrogen canisters was flung in his direction. With no time to get out of the way, he yelled out and held up his hands. The last thing that he remembered was a bright flash and loud bang.

He woke up a day later in the sick bay of the freighter, battered and bruised, handcuffed to the bed. When he asked what happened, a station nurse told him “the official story was” that he swung his steel beams into the oncoming lift carrying nitrogen canisters for a bulk sublight engine transfer and an explosion rocked the entire warehouse, nearly causing an emergency freighter landing. Off the record, one witness swears he saw Kal “will” the entire crate of nitrogen canisters and the other lift into the air and across the room.

Although no one was killed, the accident cost the company millions of credits and put them far behind schedule. Upon Kal’s awakening, he was to be put in an escape pod and jettisoned to the nearest planet. He asked the nurse what planet they were closest to and she replied that yesterday that were flying over Malastare and that he would’ve been “ZIllo Beast” food, but today he got lucky and he’s being rocketed to the “rolling green hills of Naboo.”

Part I: It's a Trap

The Outlaunder sat on a secondary docking bay of Jar Jar’s Sith Temple covered by the towering trees of the vast Naboo swamps as Kal approached the platform through the murky waters.

“Rolling green hills, huh?” Kal thought to himself as he brushed the weeds and swamp debris from his jacket before looking up to see the sleek cruiser ahead.

“A modified Republic Sienar Systems Star Courier? Here in the middle of nowhere?” Kal asked aloud as he ran his hand alongside the underbelly of the hull. “Maybe I did get lucky after all.”

Kal made his way to the rear of the ship to see that the ramp was lowered. He looked around to make sure the coast was clear before making his way up the ramp when an invisible hand suddenly grabbed him, tossing him off the ramp and onto the hard ground below.

“Mesa hep yousa, hisen?”

Confused, Kal scrambled to his feet ready to fight as Jar Jar stepped out of the shadows onto the platform, partially obscuring his face under a hooded cloak.

“What?” Kal asked. “I don’t understand what you’re saying.”

“Disa mesa skeebeetle dat yousa tryin to steal,” Jar Jar replied with a casual smile.

“Steal? Me? Oh, no I wasn’t-,” Kal replied as he saw several B1 battle droids step onto the platform from inside the stone temple. “Hey, wait!”

“Get ready to fire,” a battle droid commanded as they surrounded Kal at gunpoint.

“Roger, Roger.”

Kal looked for a way to escape, but the droids offered none.

“Destroy the target in three…”

Kal frantically looked around for a weapon or anything to balance the odds. The security team took all of his belongings and cast him off into space with nothing. He thought about the blaster he kept in his duffle bag back in his bunk room on the freighter floating high above Naboo.

“Two…”

Kal looked over at the hooded alien in the robe who was just smiling, staring at his impending doom with no inclination of interfering. Fear crept in.

“One…”

Time slowed down. Kal saw the trigger fingers of each and every one of the battle droids begin to squeeze and suddenly that rush of power came back to him. The same one he’s been thinking about for years. The same one that filled him moments before he killed the man who murdered his father.

As if some great cosmic something was controlling him, the familiar energy began to violently swirl inside him, and then inexplicably and spontaneously burst out of him in all directions as he cried out in a primal roar. Every battle droid was knocked back into the air and off the platform.

Through heaving breaths and with fists still tightly clinched, Kal looked over to see the hooded alien was somehow unmoved by this immense blast. Exhausted and physically drained, he dropped to his knees. It was then that Jar Jar walked over and placed a hand on the young Force-wielder’s shoulder.

“Yousa has potential, Kal,” Jar Jar told him. “Mesa no deny dat.”

“You know me or something?” Kal asked as he attempted to catch his breath.

“Yousa maken messen of them-sa machineeks,” Jar Jar said, ignoring Kal’s question. “Yousa should be proud.”

“Proud? I don’t know what just happened. I can’t even control it.”

“Mesa goen to hep yousa,” Jar Jar told him.

“Help? Help me what?” Kal fired back.

“Control da power to crunchen yousa enemies.”

“No thanks,” Kal replied. “I already have a guilty conscience as it is.”

Jar Jar removed his hood and revealed his Sith holocron from underneath his robe. The ancient artifact pulsated red and Kal couldn’t take his eyes off of it.

“Mesa palo spake yousa would come,” Jar Jar said to Kal. “Yousa goen to learn them-sa dark arts.”

“Dark arts?” Kal asked as he pulled his gaze from the holocron and stood up. “I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.”

“Yousa will.”

“Look, I just want to be left alone,” Kal demanded. “You may be able to conjure magic, but you can’t force me to stay.”

As Kal brushed passed Jar Jar on his way back into the swamps, the Dark Gungan reached out through the Force and lifted the young Cypharian into the air, flinging him back across the platform and crashing to the ground near the Outlaunder.

“You saw what I did to the droids,” Kal yelled out as he slowly got to his feet. “You don’t know what I’m capable of! I nearly downed an entire freighter in the skies above Malastare. Don’t challenge me!”

Jar Jar put the holocron back inside his robe and began to walk towards Kal.

“Stop!” Kal warned Jar Jar. “This won’t end well for you.”

“Nutsen hisen,” Jar Jar said to himself with a smile.

Kal began to get agitated and held out his hands, palms upwards, in an unsuccessful attempt to bring back that mysterious power that he channeled before. Concerned about Jar Jar’s swift approach and needing a backup plan, he looked around for something to fight with and spotted a blaster rifle dropped by one of the battle droids.

He quickly ran over, grabbed the gun and turned back to fire at Jar Jar, but the Gungan waved one hand and the gun was ripped from him as it sailed end over end into the swamp. Stunned, Kal could only watch as bolts of lightning emerged from his opponent’s fingertips knocking him to the ground in agonizing pain.

“Yousa will comply,” Jar Jar demanded as he continued to torture Kal with lightning. “Der is no other way.”

Part II: Republic Remnant

“Query: When can we expect a fully operational clone army to be ready?”

Meatbag stood on the terrace of his suite in the Kamino capital city of Tipoca City overlooking the vast ocean as he spoke to Nam Se, the Kamino scientist charged with birthing Palo’s future clone army.

“We accelerate the growth to double the normal speed,” Nam Se replied. “We should expect battle ready specimens in just ten years instead of decades.”

“Agitated Reply: Doubling the speed will not give my master the army in time. You will need to multiply your efforts dramatically or we will find an alternative clone resource.”

“Cloning at untested rates may give you your army faster,” Nam Se politely told him, “But the results may be less than suitable to your needs.”

“Acknowledgment: I was under the impression your species was a capable one, but this conversation has me questioning my sources. I must caution you that Palo, nor I, look kindly upon failure.”

“May I remind you, my friend,” Nam Se said with a gentle smile, “We Kaminoans excel in cloning and this is not our first attempt, nor is it our biggest order.”

An alarm chimed and the hologram of a B1 battle droid appeared on a platform in the room.

“Commander Meatbag, Master Palo has arrived.”

“Statement: Inform him that Nam Se and I will meet him inside the facility.”

“Roger, Roger.”

The hologram disappeared as Nam Se smiled. “Battle droids. Fascinating bunch.”

Down on the landing platform the Outlaunder loading ramp lowered and Jar Jar, guised as Palo, emerged as a battle droid approached the ship.

“Master Palo,” the battle droid reported. “Commander Meatbag and the Kamino scientist are awaiting your presence in the cloning center.”

Jar Jar nodded as the battle droid walked away while Kal stepped off the ramp. His clothes were tattered and burned from the Force lightning torture he endured earlier. He hadn’t fully recovered yet, so each step was a painful one.

“What makes you think I won’t run?” Kal asked.

Jar Jar smiled and noticed Kal’s appearance. “Can yousa run?”

Dejected, Kal looked at the vast, endless sea and asked, “Where are we?”

“Dis Kamino,” Jar Jar told him. “Bombad cloners.”

“Clones?”

Inside the cloning facility, Nam Se was showing Meatbag the sequence of Tech’s DNA on a large screen as Jar Jar and Kal walked into the lab.

“Statement: Welcome, Master. There may be an issue with the cloning-“

“May I say what an honor it is to finally meet you, Master Palo,” Nam Se said as he cut of Meatbag mid-sentence.

Jar Jar knowingly smiled and look over at Tech’s DNA sequence on the screen as Meatbag stared at Kal.

“Query: Who are you supposed to be?”

Kal looked at Meatbag and shrugged. “Trapped.”

“Additional query: A prisoner?”

“Apparently.”

“Acknowledgment: Your lack of restraints is puzzling.”

Meatbag grabbed Kal’s wrist and lifted him off the ground as he headed towards a stasis chamber on the far end of the room. Kal struggled to break free, but the grip of the HK droid was too strong.

“Statement: Let’s put you in stasis until we decide a proper means of termination.”

“Hey… Palo? Palo!” Kal yelled out to Jar Jar. “A little help!”

As they approached the stasis chamber, it appeared that someone was already inside. The glass enclosure was dimmed, but Meatbag could see a man inside the unit in suspended animation.

“Query: There already appears to be a meatbag occupying this chamber, is there another?”

“Oh, he’s a remnant from our last large batch,” Nam Se replied as he walked over to the stasis chamber. “He was a… special case.”

“Special yousa spake?” Jar Jar asked as he walked over and stood by the stasis chamber. “Disa Republic clone?”

“Can this tin can put me down now?” Kal asked Jar Jar who simply gave Meatbag a brief look. The HK droid immediately released his prisoner, dropping him to the floor.

“Spake more about disa special clone,” Jar Jar demanded.

“He is our last specimen from the original order from Jedi Master Syfo-Dias,” Nam Se told them. “This particular clone was saved for additional experiments that never came to pass.”

“Experiments?”

“After the first wave of clone soldiers were shipped, a messenger from the Chancellor brought an Artusian crystal that was to be liquefied and introduced into the subject’s bloodstream,” Nam Se replied. “It was said that the Artusian artifact contained certain… properties that would enhance his abilities beyond that which the bounty hunter passed on to the others.”

“Dat crystal,” Jar Jar asked. “Can wesa sees it?”

“Certainly,” Nam Se told him as he walked over to a storage locker and retrieved a large vial containing a green liquid. “We liquefied the crystal per instruction, but were never told to complete the experiment.”

“Wesa maken da experiment now,” Jar Jar instructed him.

“Now?” Nam Se asked.

“Yousa no can give mesa grand clone army sooner,” Jar Jar said as he took the vial from Nam Se’s hand, “So wesa must improvise.”

Nam Se remained speechless as Jar Jar turned to Meatbag.

“Dispatch them-sa machineeks. Wesa now in control of Kamino,” Jar Jar said with a sinister grin. “And bringen dat E3 droid. Wesa goen to experiment.”

“Why are you taking over our city,” Nam Se asked. “We are a peaceful people.”

“Mesa need yousa technology,” Jar Jar replied. “Mesa no more need yousa.”

“I can still be an invaluable resource to you,” Nam Se plead.

“Okee day. Wesa seein,” Jar Jar mused. “Disa clone know them-sa 150 orders?”

Surprised Jar Jar was aware of this, Nam Se hesitantly replied, “Yes… This clone is programmed to carry out any of the Grand Army’s 150 contingency plans.”

“And order seeks fife?”

“Order 65?” Nam Se asked with a gulp. “Yes, but that’s only if-“

Jar Jar turned to Kal, who had been listening the whole time, and tossed him a black lightsaber hilt. “No maken bombad messen with the Kaminoan.”

“What?” Kal asked as he stared back and forth between the lightsaber, Jar Jar and Nam Se.

“Make a mess? But I answered your question,” Nam Se said as he tried to back away. “I proved my worth!”

“And mesa tank u,” Jar Jar told him as he turned to Kal. “Use dat!”

“To do what?” Kal asked as he held it out. “What is this thing?”

Jar Jar motioned towards the lightsaber and a bright purple blade emerged as Kal held the hilt. The sound startled both Kal and Nam Se, the latter of which was trying to edge his way to the exit.

“Yousa lightsaber,” Jar Jar yelled out. “Yousa do mesa bidding. Kill dat scientist now!”

“No!” Kal said as he lowered the lightsaber and shook his head. “I’m not some emotionless droid who you can-

Before he could finish, Jar Jar held out his hand and grabbed Kal’s throat through the Force and dragged him across the room towards Nam Se who stumbled backwards and fell to the floor.

“You’re a Sith!” Nam Se yelled as he pointed at Jar Jar. “Palo is a-“

A blaster bolt sailed through Nam Se’s chest and stopped his dialogue short. As he slumped over, Jar Jar turned to see Meatbag still holding up his rifle. Disgusted with Kal, Jar Jar continued to Force choke him until he passed out. Once he did, Jar Jar flung him across the room into a grouping of metal shelves.

“Statement: Perhaps the meatbag wasn’t the best choice for apprentice, Master.”

“Hesa no goen besa apprentice,” Jar Jar replied. “Hesa something else.”

“Pardon, Master Palo,” the E3 medical droid said as he walked in. “Where is the patient?”

Jar Jar motioned for Meatbag to release the airlock on the stasis chamber housing the clone as he held out the liquefied Artusian crystal vial.

Part III: The End of an Era

“The distress signal was received from Tipoca City about six hours ago. It wasn’t sent via the HoloNet so we didn’t get a visual, but the older channel it came through is one that the Kaminoans have used in the past when they’re in trouble. All we could hear was ‘battle droids taking hostages’ and subsequent blaster fire.”

The clone trooper sergeant relayed the situation report to his men as the newly redesigned Imperial gunship entered the Kamino atmosphere.

“I thought the clankers were all decommissioned, Sarge,” replied a trooper.

“Yea, well count yourself lucky you may still get to fight something,” the sergeant replied. “We ain’t getting any younger.”

“Rumors about the new Empire instituting a draft is just rumors, right?” Another trooper asked.

“It’s all rumors until we hear it from the top, boys, so focus on the task at hand,” commanded the sergeant. “You got me?”

“Yes, sergeant!”

The sergeant placed his finger to his earpiece and nodded.

“Pilot tells me we’re in position to jump,” the sergeant informed the men. “Who’s got their wings on?”

The clone troopers smiled and nodded at one another as each checked the parachute of the man to the left. “All good, sir!”

The ramp suddenly lowered on the back of the ship to reveal a major storm brewing as rain whipped inside the cabin.

“Good jumping weather, Parjai Squad!” The sergeant yelled out. “Let’s show the brass we still got what it takes!”

As the paratroopers filed out of the ship into the darkening sky, they could see Tipoca City rise out the violently raging waters of an endless ocean below.

A B1 battle droid stationed as a lookout spotted the clone paratroopers as they descended from the sky and began to land on the fringes of the city.

“Clone troopers have landed and are preparing to attack,” the battle droid said into its wrist communicator.

Suddenly a small hologram of Jar Jar emanated from his wrist and spoke. “Da clone will handle dis.”

“Roger, Roger.”

As the clone paratroopers landed, they converged on a singular meeting spot to plan their attack as the rain beat down on them.

“Sarge, I don’t see any battle droids on patrol,” a trooper mentioned. “What gives?”

“Yea, well I don’t see any Kaminoans either,” another trooper added. “Something’s up.”

The sergeant pointed to a nearby door that lead into a large facility.

“We go in there and start to sweep the place,” the sergeant ordered. “We play it by ear from there.”

The clone troopers all nodded and began to run single file to the door when it flung open and the men could see someone standing at the threshold. They immediately stopped and trained the weapons on the mysterious robed person who held up their hands and slowly walked towards the group.

“Easy, son,” the sergeant told the man as neared them. “Come out nice and slow.”

“Don’t shoot,” the man said. “I’m a clone… like you.”

“Like us?” The sergeant peered at the man through the rain as he got closer until he could recognize him. “What the… you are a clone…”

The man walked up and the others could see he was much younger, and very pale.

“There’s more of us?” A clone trooper asked. “So much for phasing us out, huh?”

As the clone troopers surrounded the younger clone, he looked around at all of them.

“My brothers,” the young clone said. “We’re brothers.”

The sergeant smiled and patted the man on his shoulder. “Brothers is right. We’re cut from the same cloth.”

“Same cloth?” The young clone mused as his eyes suddenly flashed red and he smiled. “Well, I wouldn’t say that exactly.”

The sergeant jumped back and reached for his gun, but was too slow and with one swing of the young clone’s hand flung half of the men several feet back to the ground. And before the others could react, he Force shoved them off the walkway into the ocean below.

As the remaining clone troopers got to their feet, the younger clone tore off his robe and revealed that he was carrying two steel swords on his back. He pulled them both out and stood still as the troopers inched closer towards him.

“What did they do to you, trooper?” The sergeant yelled out as he aimed his blaster rifle on the young clone.

“I’ve been given the power to complete a task,” the young clone announced as he started walking towards the soldiers. “And you will not stop me from fulfilling my mission.”

“My blaster says otherwise!” The sergeant shouted as he fired at the young clone who easily blocked the blaster bolts with his blades as he ran forward, dodged the last shot, and impaled the clone trooper with both swords.

“Your blaster lied.”

Angered at the defeat of their squad leader, but horrified at the abilities of the young clone, the other troopers turned to retreat down a narrow walkway into the lower depths of Tipoca City as sniper shots took each of them out before they could escape.

The young clone heard clapping behind him and quickly spun around to see Jar Jar standing there congratulating him on an excellent performance as Meatbag lowered his blaster rifle.

“Berry good crunchen, Agent Fortem,” Jar Jar told him.

“Thank you, Master,” Fortem replied. “I am only sorry it took our mechanical friend to finish the job.”

“Statement: Finishing what others have started is what I do for a living, meat sack.”

A faint beeping was heard as the three of them turned to see the clone trooper sergeant crawling towards them.

“You may have got me,” the sergeant winced. “But I got you, too…”

Sensing danger, Jar Jar immediately threw up a Force shield in front of himself as a thermal detonator was released from the hand of the trooper and exploded on the walkway.

The force of the impact was intense, but Jar Jar withstood the barrage of debris and waited for the dust to settle. As he lowered his defenses, he saw the destruction the detonator left in its wake. The walkway was destroyed, with only a narrow outcropping still remaining that Jar Jar was standing on that was protected by the Force shield.

Meatbag and Fortem were nowhere to be found. Jar Jar suddenly felt a sting in his ribs and noticed that a piece from the metal railing had somehow impaled him during the explosion. He touched the wound and winced in pain, an overwhelming sensation that would’ve dropped him had he not summoned the power of the Dark Side to sustain himself.

Moments later he walked inside the cloning facility and over to the stasis chamber where Kal was being held in suspended animation.

“Yousa still mesa servant,” Jar Jar said aloud.

“So am I, Master Palo.”

Jar Jar knowingly smiled without turning to acknowledge that Fortem had entered the lab.

“Yousa seein Meatbag?” Jar Jar asked.

Fortem shook his head. “The blast knocked me off the walkway and I dropped to the lower level. At least I had the Dark Side to rely on. The droid wouldn’t be so lucky.”

“Hesa berry resourceful,” Jar Jar informed him. “Hesa no die easy.”

“And you?” Fortem asked as he noticed Jar Jar’s injury. “That doesn’t look good.”

“Da Dark Side mesa ally. Mesa okee day.”

“They’re gonna keep coming for us, aren’t they?” Fortem said. “If the paratrooper clones came here, others won’t be too far behind.”

“Daysa always chasin,” Jar Jar lamented. “Dis Empire no leave mesa in peace.”

“Perhaps peace is something we must make them give us,” Fortem suggested.

Jar Jar turned to a few battle droids standing at the entrance of the lab and waved them over.

“Maken dis stasis chamber ready for transport on da Outlaunder,” Jar Jar commanded. “Taken berry good care of da hisen inside.”

Part IV: Transcendence

Jar Jar meditated in front of the Sith holocron in his private quarters inside the Outlaunder as the familiar streaks of hyperspace zoomed by in the porthole windows and reflected off the glass of Kal Orn’s stasis chamber. As Jar Jar sat silently, the holocron began to glow red and levitated into the air. A voice began to emanate from it.

“You seek dark answers, my student,” the voice told Jar Jar. “Be careful how far you venture lest you forget your way back.”

Jar Jar nodded as he slowly pulled the steel pipe out of his ribs and dropped it to the floor. Almost immediately blood began to pour out of the wounds as he revealed his lightsaber and ignited it. Using the edge of the plasma blade, Jar Jar cauterized the entry and exit wounds enduring blinding pain in the process, but the powerful Gungan did not collapse.

When he was finished, he tossed his lightsaber hilt to the floor and through heaving breathes told the spirit of the holocron, “Mesa ready.”

“The Cypharian’s body is rare,” the voice said. “His raw, latent Force attunement allows for easier transference of your spirit than a vessel already aligned one way or the other. I must advise you that it is best to always transfer to a body with unrealized Force sensitivity. While the knowledge of your abilities and how to access them are in your spirit, it is the vessel that needs to be strong. If you select a powerless body, you will be powerless in it.”

“After da transfer,” Jar Jar asked. “Dis body get da crunchen?”

“It could be spared… or destroyed,” the voice said. “To transfer into to vessel already inhabited by a spirit can prove costly to both your mind and body.”

“What happen to da hisen mind in der now?” Jar Jar asked the voice.

“Your conscious, being more powerful, will expel his over time,” the voice replied. “Though you may want to be aware that if this process fails, you will be lost in Chaos forever.”

“Mesa no worry,” Jar Jar said with a sinister grin. “Mesa Chaos incarnate.”

“Well then, let us begin.”

Strange chants and pulsating lights from underneath the sealed door of Jar Jar’s chambers had gotten the attention of Agent Fortem as he paced around the Outlaunder awaiting their drop out of hyperspace and into the Deep Core worlds.

After a moment of listening intently, he heard Jar Jar cry out in pain and immediately drew his sword, slicing through the reinforced metal door and breaching the room.

As he ran into the room, he saw the spirit of an ancient Sith Lord evaporate into smoke that funneled back into the rotating holocron that stopped spinning and dropped to the floor. He looked over at Jar Jar’s body on the ground and rushed over.

“Palo!”

As soon as he kneeled over the Gungan’s body, he felt the presence of someone behind him and spun around, sword drawn, and clashed blades with Kal Orn’s purple lightsaber. The Songsteel that formed the blades of Fortem’s dual silver swords had long been a formidable weapon against a Jedi or Sith lightsaber, successful at blocking plasma saber attacks time and again.

“You killed Palo?” Fortem asked. “How is that even possible?”

“Calm yourself, agent,” Kal replied. “Put your weapons down.”

Defiantly, Fortem instead pulled his second blade and unleashed a flurry of swings that Kal was easily able to parry.

“Impossible!” Fortem screamed out as he attempted to Force push Kal who retaliated back with his own Force push that sent the clone crashing through the metal doors of the chambers and into the hall.

Kal put away his lightsaber and called both of Fortem’s swords to his hands as he walked towards the door.

“Lighter than I imagined,” Kal said as he felt the weight of the Songsteel swords in his hands before dropping them in front of Fortem who still lay in a heap on the floor.

“Get up, Agent Fortem,” Kal commanded. “We must get my Gungan vessel in the bacta tank.”

“Wait…what?” Fortem asked as he slowly got up. “What is going on? Are you not Kal Orn?”

“Yousa fool, mesa Jar Jar Binks,” Kal replied with a smile. “I have mastered essence transfer and discovered immortality in the process. I can be anyone. If I chose, I could become you. However, for the moment I will use this powerful Cypharian vessel, once belonging to Kal Orn, to house my spirit. The name Jar Jar will be lost to time, but Palo will reign forever.”

“What happens to the real Kal Orn now?” Fortem asked.

“Only the strong survive, agent,” Palo replied. “But nevermind that. We need to get my original body into the tank to heal.”

Part V: Iron Knights

Palo and Fortem stepped out of the Outlaunder as it docked inside the private hangar of the Dark Lord’s hidden palatial estate on the outskirts of Galactic City on the city-planet of Coruscant.

“Here my Gungan vessel will be safe,” Palo told Fortem as he pointed to countless weapons defense systems.

Just then a large detachment of B1 battle droids and B2 super battle droids marched passed.

“The droids,” Fortem inquired. “How do they know who you really are?”

“My HK droid,” Palo said with a smile. “I told you he was resourceful.”

“You’ve quite the fortress here, Master Palo.” Fortem remarked as he looked at the beautiful sculptures that lined the outer courtyards juxtaposed to proton canons and missile silos. “May I ask why?”

“Foresight, my young clone friend,” Palo replied. “I have seen many things that came to pass, and others that did not. I can see the future, but sometimes only how it could be, not always as it will be.”

“People will still come for you?” Fortem asked. “Even with your new ability?”

“People will always hunt me,” Palo told him. “It’s now my job to convince them I’m a myth as I continue to pull strings from the shadows.”

“And what of me,” Fortem asked.

Palo turned to the clone assassin and smiled. “You have quite the task ahead of you.”

Meatbag approached the men.

“Greeting and Statement: Hello, Master. I am sure you are pleased to see me alive despite leaving me on Kamino to die alone.”

“I was just telling our friend how resourceful you were,” Palo replied. “I never doubted your abilities for a moment, even if you did.”

“Acknowledgement: Thank you, master. Your confidence in my survival skills is duly noted.”

Palo smiled. “Are the droid blanks ready?”

Palo, Meatbag and Fortem walked over to an elevator and descended into the depths of the estate to an expansive underground facility where a large storage area had rows and rows of Holowan Laboratories IG-100 MagnaGuards standing at attention. These superior battle droids were leftovers from General Grievous’ personal bodyguard army that happened to find their way into Palo’s possession after the Confederate commander was killed.

“Have they been memory wiped?” Palo asked as he inspected three MagnaGuards that had been separated from the others. “I don’t want to be forced to destroy them because they still serve a dead cyborg.”

“Statement: All clean slates, ready to serve you, Master Palo.”

“Good,” Palo smiled as he motioned to a battle droid carrying a metal tray with three Shard pieces on it. “Introduce the Shard pieces now.”

As the Shard was placed in each MagnaGuard, the eyes immediately lit up red and it appeared the Shard was trying to understand the nuances of its new mechanical body.

Palo watched as his powerful droids came to life. One became disoriented and, in a moment of rage, activated his electrostaff and came at Fortem who easily blocked the attacked, and was stopped by Palo just before impaling the Shard implanted on the MagnaGuard’s chest with his Songsteel blade.

“They will need training, Agent Fortem,” Palo reminded him. “They are but children for the moment. They did not have the benefit of being borne of a powerful Force crystal as you were.”

Fortem sheathed his sword and stood down as the MagnaGuard stepped back into line. Palo walked up to the MagnaGuards and smiled.

“I am Palo, and you are my Iron Knights. My personal bodyguards.”

“We Shard are thankful for the opportunity. We have been tucked away from the events of the galaxy for too long,” one of the Iron Knights replied.

“You will find these host bodies, called MagnaGuards, are far superior to what your counterparts used long ago,” Palo told them. “You will have no problem securing our continued safety.”

Fortem leaned over to Palo and asked, “Who will be training them to hone the Force?”

Palo continued looking forward and replied, “The same one who taught me.”

Part VI: The Sarlacc Pit

The Coruscant underworld was so gritty and dark that Senator Palpatine once mused that the sun was a myth down there. The dense urban blocks had buildings and apartments that were squeezed together, making personal space a rare commodity and perpetuated the passing of disease and illness. Night clubs and bars lined the streets while merchants and con artists manned the corners. The world down here was literally night and day from that which the Senators in the sky called home.

A sleek black airspeeder piloted by one of the Iron Knights flew down and landed as Palo and Fortem jumped out, stepping onto the busy thoroughfare. Some drunks and onlookers began to crowd them as they tried to gawk at the speeder, but the Iron Knight jumped out and brandished his electrostaff and they quickly scattered back into the shadows.

“What is this place?” Fortem asked Palo as they walked.

“The underbelly of a modern marvel,” he replied. “This is the part of a beautiful work of art that you rarely get to see.”

“These are slums,” Fortem remarked.

“These are the discarded bits of the sculpted clay that is Galactic City,” Palo informed him. “This is where deals are done because the people are willing and eager.”

“And cheap,” Fortem added.

“Naturally,” Palo said with a smile as he motioned for Fortem to follow him into a local cantina. “Our contacts are in here.”

Fortem looked up at a blinking neon sign that read: “The Sarlacc Pit.”

Inside the crowded bar full of spacers and aliens from the farthest reaches of the galaxy, Palo and Fortem made their way through the congestion to a back table where two men, Dannl Faytonni and Achk Med-Beq, dressed as Republic Security officers, were already sitting.

“Hasn’t the Republic Security Force been disbanned?” Palo asked. “Who are you guys trying to fool?”

Dannl Faytonni, the older of the two officers, stood up and got in Palo’s face. “We’re not RSF, we’re with the… Imperial Police now, so I suggest you move along.”

“Your uniforms say otherwise,” Palo continued.

“Look,” Achk Med-Beq said as he stood up and pointed a blaster at Palo. “If you came to Coruscant looking for trouble, then you’ve just found it.”

Unmoved, Palo smiled and peered into Med-Beq’s eyes who instantly became unnerved and dropped his gun to the ground as he fell back into his seat.

“I need to access the former Jedi Temple and you are going to help me,” Palo said calmly.

“Don’t be stupid,” Faytonni replied. “That’s Palpatine’s personal palace now. No one gets in there.”

“We’re old friends,” Palo told them calmly. “I assure you he’ll be glad to see me.”

“If you’re such good pals,” Faytonni spouted, “Why don’t you just show up at the gate and walk right in?”

Disturbed by the lack of cooperation, Palo cleared the officers’ table of their drinks, shattering the glasses against a nearby wall, and sat down with them as they flinched back.

“I’ll arrest you right now if you don’t-“

Palo held out his hand and Force choked Faytonni, cutting him off. Med-Beq tried to get up, but Fortem slammed the tip of his sword through the table, narrowly missing the officer’s foot.

“Let’s stop pretending you two are more than common criminals,” Palo demanded. “Con artists scraping the depths of Galactic City for a few credits at a time.”

Palo released Faytonni from the choke hold who began frantically gasping for air.

“You each possess one single talent,” Palo said. “And that’s temporarily making people believe you’re better than you are. Today you will use that to get us inside the Temple.”

The two officers were stunned and speechless as Palo continued.

“If you do so, I can pay you more than you’ll make in a lifetime grifting strangers. Don’t ask me what happens if you refuse – or fail me.”

“Who are you?” Med-Beq asked nervously.

“Palo.”

“Wait, crime boss Palo? Rumor is that he’s a Gungan,” Faytonni managed to reply as he got his voice back. “You don’t look Gungan to me.”

“There are some things your eyes can’t see,” Palo told them. “I was once bound to a Gungan form, but now I’m an endless vapor.”

“You’re a shapeshifter?” Faytonni asked.

“A mere Clawdite? Hardly. I am much more than that,” Palo responded.

“No, he’s definitely more,” Med-Beq added motioning to Faytonni’s throat. “He’s a Jedi or something.”

“I’m no Jedi.”

“Well, if you can weave magic,” Faytonni asked. “Why do you need us?”

“Misdirection,” Palo replied. “This plan is multi-faceted.”

“And this plan will get you what you need from the Supreme Chancellor?” Med-Beq asked. “Without him expecting anything?”

“He has a new mantle now. That of Galactic Emperor,” Palo said with a disgusted look. “And he is much wiser than you give him credit for.”

Part VII: Fox in the Hen House

“Halt!” The detachment commander yelled as he and a specialized clone trooper rushed over with blasters drawn. “Drop the weapons and hit the deck!”

The detachment commander and clone trooper held Achk Med-Beq, Dannl Faytonni and Palo at gunpoint just beyond the gateway that led to the outer courtyard of the Imperial Palace.

“Hit the deck? I never!” Achk Med-Beq shouted. “I’m Renard Kolvo with Kolvo Weapons Manufacturing. My party and I are expected inside now to negotiate a major arms deal. Is His Highness aware of your incompetence?”

“Arms deal, huh? Stay put. We’ll see if your story checks out.”

The commander sent the trooper to check the logs as he looked Med-Beq and his entourage up and down, especially at the two swords and multiple gun totes they carried. Med-Beq and Daytonni were dressed as businessmen, while Palo was dressed as an armor and weapons demonstrator. After a tense moment, the trooper returned.

“Kolvo Weapons, sir,” the clone trooper reported. “They’re here to see Moff Sereen. Last minute meeting. No doubt he’ll be unhappy we’ve held up his guests this long already.”

The clone commander turned back to Med-Beq. “My apologies. The transition has been tough on us all. Please pass through.”

“May be a good idea for me to escort them in, sir,” the clone trooper recommended to his commander. “Show the Moff we were just doing our jobs.”

“Right, soldier,” the commander replied. “Get back on the double once they’re inside.”

“Yes, commander.”

The gates opened and Palo and his two conmen walked through, followed closely by the clone trooper escort. After they made it far enough out of earshot, Palo turned to the clone trooper and placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Luckily the Emperor has such obliging troopers,” Palo said with a smile as the trooper removed his helmet to reveal himself to be Fortem.

“Being a clone does have its advantages,” Fortem remarked.

Palo removed Fortem’s scabbard carrying his dual Songsteel swords and handed them to the Dark Side clone assassin. “You’ll be needing these.”

“I will not fail you, Master,” Fortem told Palo as he donned his scabbard and pulled the swords from their sheaths.

“See that you don’t,” Palo warned him as Fortem nodded and ran towards a staircase and soon disappeared.

“Where’s he going?” Daytonni asked.

“Focus on the role you’re playing,” Palo replied. “Moff Sereen will suspect something if we are late.”

“Has he ever met the real Renard Kolvo?” Med-Beq asked. “We could be setting our own traps if he has.”

The trio didn’t have time to ponder that thought as they ascended a wide staircase and entered into the palace. Inside, Imperial Guards escorted them towards a large meeting hall to await their host.

As they sat at the table awaiting the appearance of the Moff and his assistants, Palo leaned over to Faytonni and Med-Beq.

“Moff Sereen is the first of what will be a virtual spider web of planetary and regional governors to hold sway across this galaxy. He takes this power very seriously and it has quickly gone to his head that the Emperor has personally hand-selected him to be the first to hold this title. Coruscant is not his home and he is only here to help smooth over the transition from Republic to Empire. He is rarely without several armed bodyguards. The timing of our meeting could not have been better.”

“So I guess we got lucky, huh?” Med-Beq replied.

Palo smiled as Moff Sereen entered the room. “Only a fool relies on luck.”

As Daytonni and Med-Beq cast a glance at Palo, he motioned for them to acknowledge the Moff’s entrance instead.

“Ah, Moff Sareen,” Med-Beq said as he greeted the dignitary. “Sorry for the rush to get this meeting. We at Kolvo Weapons are very grateful for the Empire’s interest in a collaboration of-“

“Collaboration?” Moff Sareen grunted as he cut Med-Beq off. “You are misinformed. The Emperor does not wish to work with Kolvo, he wishes to assimilate your company into the greater Imperial rank and file.”

“Yes, of course, my mistake,” Med-Beq backpedaled. “I only meant to say we are happy to work with… I mean, for you.”

Moff Sareen hesitated and stared at Med-Beq and Daytonni, before locking eyes with Palo and clearing his throat. He turned to his assistants and motioned for them to sit with him.

“Well, you got me here. What have you brought to show me?” Moff Sareen asked. “The Emperor is interested in seeing what the Empire’s new weapons manufacturing department will be making for our soldiers.”

“May I?” Asked Palo who stood up and placed one of the cases on the table.

“Proceed,” Moff Sareen granted him.

Palo nodded and opened the first case revealing a modified DC-17 blaster pistol.

“This is a prototype of a modified DC-17 from our friends at BlasTech,” Palo told them. “Except our model can fire three times as rapidly and doesn’t suffer from the occasional trigger jam that the troopers complain about. Production can begin immediately and there is no conflict with BlasTech since we acquired the company earlier this week.”

“BlasTech is now a part of Kolvo?” Moff Sareen scoffed. “I was not made aware of this. In the future I will demand a better grasp of communication from my subordinates in the weapons sector. For now you may continue.”

Palo lifted up another gun case and opened it, revealing a DL-44 heavy blaster pistol.

“A favorite of bounty hunters, mercs and smugglers, this DL-44 heavy blaster pistol is a step up from the DC-17,” Palo said as he handled the blaster. “We’ve since modified this model to increase range capacity and accuracy, as well as the option to increase the blaster bolt impact to cut through your typical armor like a knife through butter. Of course, this is an add-on for Imperial purposes only.”

Moff Sareen laughed and stood up to inspect the blaster further. “Of course… Now this I like. Strong. Powerful. A true representation of our new Empire. What else have you got to show me?”

“Now this one I believe will really wow you,” teased Palo as he placed a smaller case on the table.

“You’ve finally gotten my full attention,” Moff Sareen told him.

Palo reached inside the case as he continued looking at Moff Sareen and his assistants. Suddenly the lights exploded in the room and everything went dark until a sharp hum ignited in a green glow that swooshed about the room.

An emergency light came on that bathed the room in a yellow hue and Daytonni and Med-Beq saw Palo standing on the table with a green lightsaber stabbed through the heart of Moff Sareen. His assistants lay slumped in their chairs with smoking wounds across each of their chests.

Wide-eyed and shaking, the last words Moff Sareen ever heard were Palo telling him, “Now begins the quest that will consume you all.”

Palo shut off the lightsaber and tossed it in Moff Sareen’s lap. Daytonni and Med-Beq were stunned at the display they just witnessed.

“This was the plan?” Med-Beq asked. “To assassinate the Moff?”

“Our portion, yes,” Palo said as he jumped off the table and headed for the door.

“To accomplish what?” Daytonni asked.

“Create fear and misdirection.”

“And implicate us in a murder,” Med-Beq said.

“Not to mention high treason,” Daytonni added. “We’ll be wanted men in every system.”

“At least your lives won’t be boring,” Palo told them as he walked. “All I did was give you a better reason to call yourselves criminals.”

“How do you know we won’t rat you out?” Daytonni asked. “Just to save our own necks.”

Palo stopped and turned to the men. “Because you’ll never know if I’m behind the eyes of the person you’re talking to. Unending fear will make you take your own lives just to be free from the constant torment of what may happen if I show up. You can spend the rest of your existence running from the Empire, or hiding from me.”

Daytonni and Med-Beq didn’t say a word, but instead cast quick glances at one another and nodded.

“May I suggest you book passage off-world tonight,” Palo told them as he turned back around and walked away.

Part VIII: Dark Side Surprises

Fortem quietly entered the private chambers of Emperor Palpatine through a side entrance he found blocked by two unsuspecting Imperial Guards who had little time to put up a fight. Once inside, he immediately saw the Emperor in typical hooded garb standing on the terrace without a security detail as he spoke to an Imperial protocol droid.

A bit concerned the attempt would be out in the open, the clone assassin had been given Order 65 and he would not be stopped. He was going to take this opportunity despite it being far from ideal.

As he crept towards doorway leading out onto the terrace, the Emperor walked to the edge of the terrace to take in the wondrous view of Galactic City. Fortem stepped out into the crisp wind and readied his Songsteel swords as he approached his target.

The protocol droid turned around first and was startled to see someone else on the terrace, but before he could make a fuss he was sliced in two pieces, with his torso crashing down at the Emperor’s feet causing him to turn around and face his potential assassin.

“You’re far outmatched, boy,” the Emperor snidely commented. “But it is too late for you to go back now!”

The Emperor lunged at Fortem with the red plasma blade of his golden-hilted lightsaber, but was mildly surprised to see how easily Fortem was able to parry the attacks with his own blades.

“Funny thing about Songsteel,” the Emperor mused as he locked blades with Fortem and pressed forward. “It cannot repel the heat from a lightsaber forever!”

The Emperor hurled Fortem across the terrace with a mere flick of his wrist, causing him to drop his swords.

“Strange that I did not foresee this pathetic attempt sooner,” the Emperor laughed. “However I am rather enjoying myself nonetheless.”

The Emperor called one of the Songsteel swords to his free hand and held it’s blade up to the red plasma beam of his own. As they remained connected, the Songsteel began to melt.

“See!” The Emperor called out with a grin. “If you must lower yourself to using primitive weapons, why settle for anything but the best?”

Fortem picked up a ceramic sculpture through the Force and hurled it at the Emperor who was busy watching the Songsteel sword melt in half. The pot crashed into the Dark Lord making him drop both the destroyed Songsteel sword and his own lightsaber as he stumbled to the terrace floor. Fortem used this moment to retrieve his other sword and lunged towards his opponent.

The tip of the Songsteel blade nearly reached its target as the Emperor held out his hand and caught Fortem mid-air through the Force, hurling him backwards through a large window and inside the Emperor’s chambers.

The Emperor stood up and stepped through the broken window of his private chambers as he walked towards the clone assassin. As he neared Fortem, he used the Force to grab his throat and lift him off the ground.

“Tell me,” the Emperor asked. “Who activated you? Your purpose here is… hidden from me. The Council has been destroyed, yet…”

Fortem remained silent and instead spit a mouthful of blood next to the Emperor’s feet.

“No matter,” the Emperor continued with a growing smile. “I will find root out the source soon enough. I’m more impressed that the Artusian crystal introduced into a clone’s body can produce such interesting results.”

The Emperor looked back the damage done to his quarters during the fight when he suddenly heard the familiar sound of a lightsaber ignition and felt an intense heat in his chest.

“Order 65. It has declared that the Supreme Chancellor is unfit for duty and is to be captured,” Fortem recited as he impaled the Emperor with his own lightsaber. “Or killed.”

Fortem was released from the hold and dropped to his feet as his grip remained on the Emperor’s lightsaber hilt.

“Impressive,” the Emperor muttered before Fortem jerked the lightsaber to the right nearly cutting his opponent in half.

As the Emperor’s body dropped, Fortem leaned in to confirm his kill, only to throw back the hood and reveal it wasn’t Emperor Palpatine at all, but instead a nameless Darksider posing as the Galactic leader.

“A decoy,” Fortem said to himself. “He knew I was coming…”

Part IX: Power Struggle

Back at his palace on the outskirts of Galactic City, Palo looked at his Gungan body floating in the Bacta tank and waved over the E3 medical droid.

“How is the body?” Palo asked the droid.

“All vitals are stable,” the E3 droid replied. “The body is reacting well to the bacta submersion.”

Palo nodded and turned to walk out of the lab when Meatbag approached.

“Statement: The clone has bypassed security and entered the estate. I have dispatched the Iron Knights to grind him into meat chunks.”

“Very good, Commander,” Palo told him.

Fortem rushed through the courtyard of the palace with his Songsteel sword in hand, but was soon greeted by the three Iron Knights.

“We cannot let you go further,” an Iron Knight told him. “This is where you fall.”

Fortem attempted to Force push the middle Iron Knight, but it repelled the attack with a Force push of its own, followed by a second Force push by another Iron Knight that threw Fortem off the path into a marble sculpture that nearly crashed down on him before he rolled away.

The three Iron Knights then surrounded the clone and began to spin their electrostaffs as they inched closer and closer. Just as the wind from the spinning staffs reached his face, Fortem ducked and swung his sword at the legs of one of the Knights, separating them from its body and making it crash into the others.

Fortem used this moment to gain a better position as the two remaining Iron Knights shoved the damaged third one to the side and hurried towards him. As they approached, the Dark Side clone turned back and squared off against his pursuers.

“Quit now and we will ask Palo to offer you leniency on our behalf,” an Iron Knight commanded. “We Shard seek a mutually beneficial resolution.”

“You Shard talk too much,” Fortem shouted. “There will be no backing down.”

Fortem immediately rushed the Iron Knights as they began to spin their electrostaffs setting off an impressive battle of man versus machine for a moment before the electric end of a staff hit Fortem in the side as he impaled the Shard of one Iron Knight, sending him flying back into the air and crashing to the ground.

The remaining Iron Knight looked down at the destroyed Shard in the deactivated MagnaGuard and became angry. He rushed towards Fortem who was still laying on the ground and raised his staff high into the air before nearly smashing it down on the clone’s head when he was stopped mere inches from exacting his revenge.

The Iron Knight looked up to see Palo and Meatbag walk into the courtyard. Palo held up his hand and shoved the Iron Knight away from Fortem through the Force.

“Enough!” Palo shouted. “If you Shard can so easily overpower him, then is he simply unworthy.”

“Unworthy for what?” Fortem asked as he made it to his feet.

“You failed to assassinate the Emperor. You failed to defeat my knights,” Palo told him. “The Artusian experiment has ultimately been a failure.”

“A failure?” Fortem raged. “I am the Dark Side. Infused with a Force crystal through Dark Side alchemy. Who are you to-?”

Before Fortem could finish, Palo grabbed him by the throat through the Force and lifted him up and slammed him back down to the ground. As he paced, he dragged Fortem across the ground, pressing him further into it.

“You claim the ultimate Dark Side mantle, yet here I am dragging you at my feet,” Palo bragged. “The monster will never be as strong as his maker.”

“Palpatine knew I was coming,” Fortem managed to say. “I killed who I thought was the Emperor.”

“Of course he knew. After I killed the Moff, he would be waiting for someone. You simply killed the dark puppet of a Mind Walker,” Palo scoffed. “Nothing more.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Darth Sidious is a master of many things. He can shroud the minds of millions. He can cover the eyes of legendary Jedi. He can essence transfer as I can. He can manipulate Force users across galaxies,” Palo told him. “He is the only true threat to my plans, yet I still need him alive for now.”

“So why send me?” Fortem asked.

“I needed to see if he was getting suspicious. Paranoid. It seems he was,” Palo replied. “There was no real hope for you to actually kill Sidious if he was there anyway.”

Palo released Fortem from his grip and the clone rolled over on his back exhausted.

“So I was a just a pawn,” Fortem said catching his breath. “Is that it?”

“Everyone is a pawn to me,” Palo replied.

“You never answered me,” Fortem called out. “What am I unworthy for?”

Palo looked around his courtyard and into the darkening sky above.

“To be the vessel,” Palo answered. “That allows my teacher back into this world.”

Suddenly a strange mist floated through the courtyard and swirled around Fortem.

“What is this?” Fortem asked as he could suddenly make out the same alien face he saw in Palo’s chambers. “What is happening?”

“I will be the judge of who is and is not worthy,” a deep voice said as it echoed across the courtyard.

“Teacher?” Palo asked as he turned around to see the spirit of his teacher enter Fortem’s body.

Fortem struggled as if fighting an invisible enemy on the ground and writhed in agony for a moment before he stopped and lay completely still. An eerie hush swept over the courtyard as Palo slowly walked towards the clone’s body.

As he neared Fortem, a sudden forceful blast emanated out of the clone’s body and knocked Palo, Meatbag and the Iron Knight to the ground. When he looked back up, Palo saw Fortem levitating on the walk with his eyes glowing bright red.

“The crystal flowing through these veins makes this body strong,” the clone remarked. “Much stronger than I anticipated.”

“So it worked then,” Palo asked. “You have returned to exact your revenge upon Sidious.”

The clone looked at Palo and smiled, “I did not spend decades in Chaos just to come back to crush my enemies. That would merely provide fleeting satisfaction. No, my student, I have returned to rule over all!”

“That is not the plan I’ve set forth,” Palo told him. “That is not what I have foreseen!”

“Perhaps you should look again,” the clone remarked.

Palo sensed an attack coming and blocked an onslaught of Force lightning with a Force shield for defense, but also unleashed his own attack of Force lightning that sent the clone crashing into a nearby ion cannon, sparking it to life.

As the ion cannon malfunctioned and began to wildly fire into the courtyard, Palo hurled the clone back and forth across the yard as he fried him with lightning until an ion cannon blast landed at his feet and sent him end-over-end down the elevator shaft that led to the facilities below.

With the Force lightning attack over, the badly damaged clone fell to the ground in a smoking heap. Though the body was mortally wounded, the Dark Lord’s spirit inside willed the body to get back up and make its way to the elevator shaft.

In the depths of the facility beneath the palace, Palo limped along a narrow catwalk that stretched above the rows of inactive MagnaGuards. There he crouched down and awaited his enemy.

Moments later, the clone made his way into the warehouse below the catwalk and stopped at the row of droids in front of him, before suddenly looking up and reaching out with the Force to rip the catwalk from the ceiling.

“I know you’re up there!”

The metal supports of the catwalk began to bend and break, causing it to twist sideways making Palo fall over the side, barely managing to hang on.

“I thought you’d be a worthy apprentice,” the clone called out as he continued to rip the catwalk down through the Force. “Perhaps I was wrong.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time,” Palo replied as he waved his hand towards the legion of MagnaGuards who were all suddenly activated.

Outnumbered from the start, the Dark Lord-possessed clone began to panic as the horde of droids attacked him all at once. While he was able to Force push many away, and even unleash a brief bit of Force lightning, the sheer number of MagnaGuards enveloping him in such close quarters proved to be too much and electrostaff hit after electrostaff hit, the clone’s body soon dropped lifeless to the ground.

As it did, a powerful wind knocked several droids down as Palo heard the voice of his old teacher cry out one last time.

Part X: There's No Place Like Home

Once again Palo found himself staring at his Gungan body, but this time it lay on a lab table next to him where the E3 medical droid had prepared it for the experiment. His current Cypharian body was damaged and it was time for him to return to the familiar.

Remembering the ritual and warnings from before, this time without the aid of his former teacher, Palo recited the ancient Dark Side chants to initiate the essence transfer. After a few moments of painful torture, he blacked out only to wake moments later back inside his Gungan frame.

As he slowly got up, he instructed the nearby battle droids to place the original body of Kal Orn into the Bacta tank to heal. Donning his robe, he walked into his courtyard once again as a Gungan when Meatbag approached.

“Acknowledgment: Hello, Master. It is good to see you back to normal. Did we make it back in one piece?”

Palo smiled, “Mesa okee day, Commander. Mesa home.”

“Statement: You will be pleased to know that the Jedi lightsaber you left at the scene of Moff Sareen’s demise inside the Emperor’s Palace has not gone unnoticed. A special inquisition team has been created to root out a rumored hive of Jedi within Galactic City. The HoloNet is buzzing with Jedi hate speech. Your witch hunt has begun.”

“Berry good,” Palo replied. “Mesa plan maken newsa messen for da Jedi and da Empire.”

Palo grinned as he watched several construction droids begin to repair the damage to his courtyard while his remaining Iron Knight patrolled the area.

“Query: I am curious. Where does the program, or so-called spirit, of these meatbags go if yours enters their body?”

“My no know,” Palo answered. “Daysa sayin da spirit gos to da gods or to Chaos, but mesa thinken da Force decide.”

Back inside the lab, the E3 droid was checking the controls on the Bacta tank that housed the Cypharian’s body when its eyes suddenly opened and the droid was hurled across the room.

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