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“Why is there always such a disturbance in you, Master?” young Padawan Dular asked Idnum-Ki.

“Because…I killed an old friend and ally years ago.”

The present…

The war on Dantooine continued. Trade Federation battle droids under the Kaleesh had overrun Khoonda, and those who remained defending Dantooine fought for their lives.

Meanwhile, in a cave far away, Raymus and Tarisian Drewton were being held captive.

“Why do you suppose we’re guarding a few corpses when we could be fighting?” a green-skinned Rodian asked a Trandoshan, both allied with the Kaleesh.

“They’re not corpses, fool,” the other replied.

“If they’re not dead, unconscious they must be, are they not? Then they won’t notice if their captors go away for a few hours, will they?”

“Maybe. But bad things happen to those who disobey the General, I’ve heard.”

“What things?”

“Death is preferable. For him, I mean.”

Before the Rodian could further comment, Tarisian Drewton, who was seemingly unconscious, took a blaster pistol from a dead Republic soldier and with it blasted the two guards.

Soon after, Idnum-Ki was separated from his apprentice and searched the same cave for Drewtons and the captured Khoonda Leader, Ludge Ganler.

But instead, he found a Pau’an.

The Pau’an, he suspected, was from Utapau, and he wore robes as red as the scarlet blade of the Sith. For whatever reason, Idnum-Ki sensed, he was an ancient thing, which should have died centuries ago but for the will of the Force.

Idnum-Ki sensed the dark side of the Force in the alien, the source of the dark taint he had sensed when he had first entered the atmosphere of the planet. He immediately assumed what he was. “Surrender, Sith.”

Four long-dead Sith appeared before the Pau’an, all of whom Idnum knew: Darth Bane, the creator of the Rule of Two; Darth Malak, a Sith from nearly four thousand years ago; Darth Revan, his Master; and Darth Nihilus.

In addition to the fact that they were dead, there was another reason to be convinced that they were not actually there.

They were dead to the Force.

“Sith? No, Idnum-Ki,” the Pau’an said. “There are no Sith here.”

All four of the Sith visions moved first. Though Idnum-Ki knew that they were only visions, they seemed real enough, and he would rather keep his head.

But if they’re not real, they can’t be killed, either…

Following that logic, he attempted to escape, but was stopped by Darth Nihilus’s Force Lightning.

Deciding that trying to escape and remaining with the visions of long-dead Sith would bring about the same result, he remained. He let go of his conscious self, and the Force directed his blade…

Into the chest of Darth Malak.

Perhaps Revan’s Sith spirit was motivated by revenge, or the matter was a coincidence. Idnum-Ki didn’t have time to decide; he simply parried.

Distracted by Nihilus’s attack, his lightsaber was taken away from him by Revan through the Force, and Idnum-Ki prepared for his final moments.

As did the Sith who attacked him.

But in the Force, in one single moment, Idnum-Ki felt the urge to live. To remain. The galaxy would fall without him. The Sith would return, and no one would be able to stop their rise.

And so he must do anything possible to keep that from happening. It was his destiny to survive.

Through him, the Force cried out in a burst of energy…

…dissolving all that was of the Sith spirits.

“Impressive,” the Pau’an said smiling.

“What…what did I do?” the Jedi questioned wearily, exhausted from using the attack.

“I felt your intentions in the Force. Your only intentions in what would possibly have been your last moments were to survive. The way of the Sith.”

“You won’t turn me,” Idnum said, while a long-time conflict within him suddenly grew stronger. “The Sith-”

“I do not claim to be part of either groups, but spare me your Jedi philosophy. I abhor their Order with a deadly hatred. It does not flourish, it only hinders. And I abhor it because of the blindness of its Masters…but you are not like that, Idnum-Ki. I have looked into the future. Their Order will fail, and you will perish with it…if you chose to continue the path they set out for you. You are able to see past the fog of lies they have created for centuries. You are a Jedi, yes, but it is not who you are. You can rise above the conflicts. You can be something that ascends merely Jedi and Sith. Remember Ibtiseh.”

“You sensed - you knew - that the Masters of the Jedi Council would soon be killed if he lived. The Republic is unstable under Chancellor Valorum, and no matter how wrong the Jedi may be…your government would perish without them.”

“Master Ki! Why have you come, if I may ask?”

“To maintain peace in the galaxy, Ibtiseh,” Idnum had said sadly igniting his lightsaber. “I’m sorry, old friend.”

“The murder you committed is even now etched on your soul…as are the deaths of many more Jedi to come.”

“Perhaps I wish to be something more than a Jedi,” Idnum-Ki said in the present, “but I have no interest in killing any more. Even with that aside, the galaxy would fall into chaos without them.”

“With Valorum, yes,” said the Pau’an. “With the next Chancellor to come…perhaps not.”

Above the world of Dantooine, battle raged on.

On the bridge of a Republic Hammerhead-class cruiser…

“Ganler’s been captured, Admiral,” a human officer said sadly. “There’s not much hope for Khoonda.”

“Anything on the Jedi?” the general asked.

“Negative, sir.”

The officer gazed at the Invincible. “Sir, that ship seems familiar to me.”

“It should. That ship was at Kalee. Commanded by Qymaen jai Sheelal.”

Far below, gazing at their corpses, Tarisian Drewton realized that he had killed the guards. He had only intended to wound them. Now they were dead…like his father.

Dular had heard the blaster shot and appeared behind him with a lightsaber in hand.

“You’re a Jedi, right?” Raymus asked him.

“I’m a Padawan,” Dular corrected. “Come. My Master and I have been looking for you.”

“You must learn to embrace the dark side, unlike the Jedi, but to not let it control you, like the Sith,” the Pau’an teacher said to Idnum-Ki no far away. “I admit, I myself once succumbed to my anger…as Darth Desolous.”

“Go, and use what I have taught you to bring peace to Dantooine. Your power will bring you victory.”

“I will return when I have won,” Idnum-Ki said bowing. “Through victory, my chains will be broken.”

Soon after, the dark Jedi located his Padawan.

“Ah, you have found the young Drewtons,” he said approvingly. There was something in him that Dular had not sensed before. “Good. Very good.”

“For I have foreseen that your fates are linked.”

Qymaen jai Sheelal held the lightsaber of a recent Jedi he had killed. He studied it, attempting to discover what life the Jedi had once had, and what strategies that the Jedi would use against him.

There was a Jedi on the world below, and soon, he would confront him. The Jedi would regret that he had ever lived. That would only be one step in avenging his homeworld.

His hologram receiver chimed, bringing him back to the present, and it displayed a miniature image of the Invincible’s commander, Troyb.

“Lord Sheelal,” the Nemoidian said. “The Jedi has returned. An entire two squads of our droids, gone…”

“Do not worry about the Jedi, Commander,” Sheelal replied.

“Instead, leave him to me.”

To be concluded!

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Brought to you by Drewton

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