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“The Jedi’s attempting to help the prisoner escape. Shoot him!”

Forced to fight against those who he would have served with, Dular deflected the incoming bolts of plasma…

…while either attempting to inflict the least fatal injuries possible, or to disarm the clones.

“Surrender,” Dular advised the last remaining clone.

“No,” he said, and prepared to fire - even if that meant being struck down. “Ke nu jurkad sha Mando’ade, dar’jetii!”

Above Coruscant, work on one of the first Venator-class Star Destroyers, the Legacy, had been completed. It had been named after the long dead Senator Drazil Drewton’s yacht by its Captain, Raymus Drewton.

Raymus hadn’t had a chance to speak with Lieutenant Tarisian Drewton, his brother, since the Battle of Sriran. “You’re a hard man to reach these days.”

“You aren’t anymore. Captain Raymus, eh?” Tarisian said. “Rising through the ranks already. And naming a Star Destroy after our father’s ship…”

“Maybe you’ll be a Commander some day.”

“Hopefully - but not if you make me do another blasted mistake like the last one.”

“That wasn’t my fault.”

“They knew we were coming! The whole thing was a trap! As soon as your fleet-”

My fleet? Don’t blame my fleet when you’re working with Krenis and Tornac.”

“Don’t insult Kyle like that, Raymus. He shares my enthusiasm for justice to those who oppose the Republic.”

“Hopefully not. He interrogates some prisoners to death.”

“Just deal with your problems and let me deal with mine.”

After Tarisian left, in another part of the Star Destroyer, Raymus knew that he couldn’t even fully trust his own brother anymore. Commanders Krenis and Tornac had disobeyed orders from their Jedi Generals, preferring more direct action. And now Tarisian answered to them.

Everything was being brought down, torn apart, in this war.

A war that the Republic was going to lose, anyway.

“Can’t even trust a Jedi these days,” one officer said darkly.

Raymus turned to the direction that the officer was looking in, and on a holoscreen saw a live HoloNet recording of Palpatine declaring someone a traitor.

Then he looked at the face pasted on the bottom of the screen, and froze. It was Dular.

“It is not easy for me to say this, but it must be done,” Supreme Chancellor Palpatine said sadly. “Last night, one of the Jedi Order’s own knights, Dular, freed the captive terrorist leader Bodotor Thuvat and killed the guards to his cell. A few days ago, Dular assisted in the rescue of newly-appointed Captain Drewton and a clone lieutenant from the same terrorist organization. It is suspected that he made a deal with the terrorists at the time, and bringing Thuvat into captivity and bringing him back out leads to suspicion of what Thuvat actually did while he was in our capitol. Therefore, greater security precautions are being taken, and the Jedi Dular is to be apprehended at all costs.”

“Dular?” Raymus breathed. “Zahn, am I imagining things?”

“Probably, sir, but not this.”

“This…this isn’t something from the Separatists designed to trick us into killing one of our own men?”

“No, sir. Both the encrypted data and the transmission waves indicate that it came from the Senate Arena on Coruscant.”

Raymus raised his voice so that all standing in the room could hear him. “Listen up, everyone. Until further evidence is found, this Jedi will not be assumed guilty by anyone on this ship. We’ll forget this all happened. Just remember what he did at Bilbringi.”

“With all due respect, sir…the report came from the Chancellor himself.”

“I trust the Chancellor, Ganlis. I simply do not trust his sources, and I will not have an innocent Jedi being killed. I value each of your lives the same way.”

Nar Shaddaa…

After the battle that had broken out between the Nockudumey, the Mandalorian Daklif Ordo had escaped Raltiir while the newly-elected leader Mecupa had attempted to unite the organization once again. Though originally against him, Dem Nozah had seen the “reason” in Mecupa’s arguments - or had at least seemed to.

On Nar Shaddaa, Ordo had been captured by the terrorists and taken to the Nockudumey base of the same world.

“This is your base?” Daklif Ordo questioned as he walked into what could be called an office.

“This is the smuggler’s moon, Ordo. Do not be surprised.” Mecupa replied, almost sounding as if he was disappointed. He waited for the guard to leave before continuing. “I brought you here to offer you a deal.”

“The Nockudumey make deals?”

I do. Now, you probably know about my…problems with the Nockudumey. Some loyal to me, some still loyal to Thuvat. They want to go back to the way things were. The whole thing’s as stable as a drunk Gundark.”

“What are you proposing?”

“There’s a Jedi who’s been ‘convicted’ of helping Thuvat escape Republic custody. You’ve had past associations with him, and I know you want evidence to clear his name.”

“It’s in the CZ unit.”


“And in return, you want?”

“I would have thought it was obvious,” the Nockudumey leader said as he took another drink. “The Republic knows that Thuvat’s not a terrorist and, perhaps, we could add, that he’s been working with the Republic, then the Nockudumey knows for sure…not just from an usurper like me.”

“There will be unquestioned loyalty to me.”

“A win-win situation, I see.”

“And, there’s something else. I want Thuvat forever silenced.”

“See to it that my will is carried out. And with it, yours.”

“I will return when Thuvat is dead.”

Now declared outlaws of the Republic, Dular and Bodotor Thuvat were forced to disguise themselves and to hide in the only safe place on Coruscant - the underlevels.

“This is why I hate the undercity,” Dular said, gazing at the bar he was in.

“Are you insane?” Bodotor Thuvat asked him, sounding as if he meant it. “The lights, the music…the drinks! This is what I live for!”


“Well, Jedi, I’ve appreciated your assistance, but that assistance has, unfortunately, met its complete, utter, termination.”

“What are you talking about?” Dular asked suspiciously.

“Plenty of people who’d recognize me on Coruscant. This ridiculous disguise won’t last for long, and I know some people who can get me off-planet.”

“What about me?”

“Getting two off in one ship’s too risky, kid.”

Anger rose up within Dular. He’d rescued the Rodian, and in return he’d received nothing. “You’re abandoning me? You owe me!”

“From a certain point of view. From another point of view, no. In rescuing me, you paid the debt you owed me - when you captured me. And I’m leaving you with some, perhaps, helpful advice: there’s some shuttles departing for the Legacy which you can board.”

“The Legacy? Isn’t that one of the new Venator-class Star Destroyers? Why would I want to board a Star Destroyer?”

“Because it’s Captain Raymus Drewton’s,” Bodotor explained, and left.

Not long after, on the Legacy

…the Jedi Knight Dular was being brought before Captain Raymus Drewton. Though confident in his old friend, he was still unsure of what his reaction would be to the situation.

“Captain Drewton,” the clone trooper who had brought him said, “I knew you ordered not to look for the Jedi, but…I wasn’t even looking for him. I found him on one of our shuttles departing from Coruscant.”

“Dular,” Raymus said sternly, “you didn’t assist the terrorist, did you?”

“Yes, I did,” the young Jedi replied to the surprise of those listening.

“But I’m not what you think I am,” he added quickly. “You heard what Thuvat really was…and I knew what Krenis was doing was wrong.”

“It was a damned foolish thing to just walk in there and take such direct action. Jedi are supposed to negotiate, not attack…and I don’t mean aggressive negotiations. Instead, you’ve gotten yourself into a mess larger than the Dune Sea.”

“I know, and I regret it. That’s why I’m asking for your help in clearing my name.”

There was a pause.

“I shouldn’t be doing this,” the Captain said finally, “but I am. Just be aware that if Thuvat was lying…there’s nothing I can do to help you.”

On a world far away in the Outer Rim, the leader of the Confederacy of Independent Systems contacted his Master.

“The Battle for Phaeda has been won?” the Dark Lord questioned.

“Yes, my Lord Sidious,” Count Dooku replied. “Every day, we grow one step ahead of the Republic.”

“Good, good. There has been great progress within the Republic today, as well. A Jedi has been convicted of helping a terrorist.”

“This will undermine the public’s already wavering trust in the Jedi.”

“Exactly, Lord Tyranus. Exactly.”

<<  Chapter 19
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