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THE SHROUD OF DARKNESSEpisode 4THE DEAD MAN'S TALE






    











The Bando Gora Citadel, a lasting testament to the shadowy cult’s long past might.





Now petty squabbles and infighting consume the once mighty order.

“We’re fools to let the Jedi run amok on our moon!”, Buquet, one of Doden Makker’s top lieutenants, rallies, “I say, kill them now!”.






“Whether Vreacker is with us or not!”, adds Webber, a Mon Cala assassin.





“Then we go to battle!”, thunders Makker.





“FOOLS!”, Eng Vreacker’s voice booms, seeming to come from everywhere at once, “How could you think that I would not know of your treachery! Did I not command you to leave the Jedi and their Fett spawn for me!?!”.





Mustering up his courage Makker challenges, “ You answer to me! I am the high priest and glorious leader of the Bando Gora!”.





Without warning Makker’s minions are impelled from behind!





Emerging from the shadows with his own followers, dressed in the traditional armor of the Bando Gora, Vreacker sneers, “An insult I intend to correct!”.





Igniting his electrowhip Vreacker growls, “For ten dark years I’ve followed your command as you defiled the memory of the Bando Gora! ”.





“You dare attack me!”, Makker cries firing his blaster, “I, who rebuilt you! Gave you new life!”.





“You never understood Makker.”, Vreacker hauntedly answers, “I am as broken and lifeless as the day you found me.”.





With a swift flick of his electrowhip Vreacker beheads the vile Gran.





Vreacker looks down at the dead Gran and continues, “I have been since she died.”.





Raising his electrowhip as if in a battle cry Vreacker snarls, “But it is not merely I who have been broken and lifeless. These past ten years the once proud Bando Gora has been reduced to common thievery! A shadow of our former glory! No more! We will now have our revenge against the man who destroyed both the Bando Gora and me, Jango Fett!”.





Dead men tell no tales. It is a common enough refrain among space pirates, grossly romanticized by countless holodramas. Obi-Wan Kenobi was a practical man, one who had never stopped to give the saying more than a passing thought. Yet after witnessing the re emergence of the long dormant Bando Gora, lead by a man who should be dead, he could not help but wonder if dead men did indeed tell tales.





“If this Vreacker… thing knows of Fett’s time on Kholma, he could prove an invaluable informant to us.”, Anakin Skywalker begins, joining his Master’s side, “With the information he has…”.

“We could potentially trace the clone army back to its source and discover its origins.”, Obi-Wan echoes his Padawan’s thoughts.






“Exactly!”, Anakin excitedly exclaims.





“I’m afraid that he may not prove eager to share that knowledge with us. The Jedi Order and the Bando Gora have… a history.”, Obi-Wan gravely warns.





“What sort of a history?”, questions Anakin, puzzled.





“A violent one.”, Obi-Wan heavily sighs, remembering the height of the Bando Gora’s power.





“Years before you joined the Order, the Bando Gora began an unprecedented reign of terror throughout the Outer Rim.”





“They distributed death sticks across the galactic underworld.”





“Death sticks laced with an especially dangerous neurotoxin.”





“This poison amplified fear and anger among the infected…”





“Causing mass pandemonium and unrest.”





“Which fed the Bando Gora’s power, allowing them to overthrow several planetary governments.”





“Eventually the Jedi Order was dispatched to deal with the Bando Gora.”





“A Jedi task force under the command of Master Dooku drove the Bando Gora back to Kholma…”





“But at a terrible cost.”.





Obi-Wan’s recollection is abruptly interrupted by the chaotic cacophony of laser fire and the screams of terrified civilians.





“What in blazes?”, Obi-Wan wonders as the panicked citizens of Kholma desperately rush by him…





To escape the brutal savagery of the rampaging Bando Gora!





Obi-Wan watches in horror as an inhuman monstrosity charges forward…





Brutally tearing through Kenobi’s valiant clone soldiers with sadistic glee.





“You’re going to pay for that.”, Cody vows rushing to meet the monster.





“Make me!”, Vreacker goads dropping a murdered trooper at the Commander’s feet.





Vreacker cackles, surging forward in an unstoppable attack…





Which Cody is no match for.





“No Commander, it is you who will pay.”, Vreacker jeers, wrenching Cody up to face him.





“You will pay… you will all pay.”, the mechanical monstrosity raves…





Slowing cutting a bloody swath across Cody’s face with one of his cybernetic arms





“Now, you die.”, Vreacker declares, raising his mechanical arm to deliver a mortal blow to the Commander…





Which is blocked by the sudden blinding blue flash of a lightsaber!





“I don’t think so!”, Obi-Wan Kenobi quips.





“Jedi!”, Vreacker seethes, filled with hatred by the intervention of the Bando Gora’s long time enemy.





Letting Cody go free Vreacker continues, “If this Fett spawn’s blood will not be spilled…”





“I will settle for yours!”.





Visions…





This particular gift…





Or curse, had long allowed Dooku to lose himself in the currents of the force.





Lending warnings from the past.





And premonitions of the future.





“It cannot be!”, the Count gasps as he emerges from his volatile vision.





His thoughts churning violently and his heart racing, Dooku stares through the viewport, seemingly taking in the entire galaxy at once.





Withdrawing his comlink Count Dooku orders, “Prepare my shuttle…”





“And contact Lord Sidious, there is a grave disturbance in the force.”.





Punjab…





The once bustling city, now burns as the Bando Gora push their way further into the city.





“We can’t save the city.”, warns Commander Cody,





“They’re overwhelming us with sheer numbers.”, the clone officer continues.





Surveying the carnage around him Anakin sighs deeply, silently conceding the doomed city.





“Contact Oddball and Hawk. We’ll need all available transports to evacuate civilians.”, Anakin heavily orders.





Rushing forward into the melee, Anakin continues, “Order your men to form a perimeter around the civilians. We have to hold out until the transports arrive!”.





Meanwhile, Obi-Wan continues to savagely dual Eng Vreacker!





Attempting to reason with the cyborg Obi-Wan pleads, “You are just a pawn in Dooku’s game! We can help you. For your own sake, stop while there is still time!”.





Enraged by the mention of Dooku Vreacker viciously lunges at Obi-Wan, howling, “I am no pawn! I am my own Master!”.





“Perhaps once. But you have allowed rage and hatred to become your Master now.”, Obi-Wan challenges Vreacker.





“No amount of death and destruction can bring Komari back.”, Obi-Wan concludes.





“What could you know of my pain! My loss!”, Vreacker shrieks, shocked by Kenobi’s reference to his long dead love.





Locking eyes with Vreacker Kenobi hauntingly answers, “All there is.”.





“No Jedi, you know nothing of pain. I cradled the women I loved as she died, watched the Order I served for decades crumble, and was forced to cut down my own brother. Only after you have done the same will you know what pain truly is.”, Vreacker spits.





Rain.





Many of the galaxy’s teeming trillions of ordinary beings make every possible attempt to avoid such foul weather.





Darth Sidious was by no means an ordinary being.





He welcomed the rain and the protective darkness it cloaked him in.





The Dark Lord watches from the shadows as the personal transport of Count Dooku glides to a graceful landing before him.





“Lord Sidious.”, Dooku greets with a slight bow towards his Master, “There is a grave disturbance in the force my Master.”.





“I have sensed it Lord Tyranus.”, Sidious shares, “An enemy from long ago dares rise to face us again.”.





“The Bando Gora!”, Dooku sharply gasps as his fears are realized.





“Indeed.”, the Dark Lord affirms, “Lead by your old enemy… Eng Vreacker.”.





“I sensed as much. But how can that be? He is dead, at the hands’ of Jango Fett years ago! The Bando Gora is now lead by an unimaginative Gran, Doden Makker. I entered into an alliance with Makker as to monitor the Bando Gora. They are nothing, an insignificant triviality.”, the Count bursts.





“Obviously not.”, Lord Sidious spits back, “Eng Vreacker is the only surviving link between the Sith and the clone army’s creation. He must be eliminated.”.

“I will take care of the matter personally.”, Dooku assures his Master, “There will be no loose ends this time.”.






“I should hope not.”, threatens Darth Sidious, “For your sake.”.





War…





It is only real when it reaches your home, threatening to destroy everything you hold dear.





For the citizens of Punjab war has suddenly become very real.





Yet it is in the darkest hour when light shines brightest.





“Load up! Women and children first! Let’s move!”, Commander Cody orders as the evacuation transports settle besides the panic stricken civilians.





Watching as the massive amounts of refuges quickly fill the gunships, a grim truth becomes evident to Cody.





“There’s not enough room in the transports for the civilians and us.”, the Commander reports to Anakin, “Your orders sir?”.





“Dispatch them back to the cruisers.”, Anakin soberly orders, “We’ll have to find another way.”.





“Copy that sir.”, Cody steadfastly answers, fearing there is no other way.





Watching as the gunships ascend into the heavens, delivering their innocent passengers from certain death, Clone trooper Crys remarks, “So this is it. I always knew I’d go out on some backwater hell hole. Any last orders Commander?”.





“Die well.”, Cody replies without hesitation…





As the forces of the Bando Gora overwhelm their lines!





“We’re not finished yet!”, rallies Anakin Skywalker as he smashes his way through the columns of enemy soldiers.





“Get to the speeders and fall back to the camp. I’ll cover you!”, the young Jedi continues.





“Alone!”, bursts Waxer.

“But that’s suicide!”, Boil observes.






“Maybe…”, Anakin concedes, “But its also our only hope.”.





Without another word Anakin speeds through the enemy lines…





Slowing their advance long enough for the clones to climb aboard their speeder bikes…





And speed away!





Despite the chaos surrounding them Kenobi and Vreacker continue their ferocious dual.





Suddenly a massive pile of debris collapses upon the cyborg…





Burying him alive!





“You owe me!”, Anakin gloats, “And not just for saving your life…again.”.





Mounting his own speeder Obi-Wan concedes, “I suppose I am rather glad you disobeyed me and left Coruscant. We’ve had such fun.”.





Together the two speed off…





Just as Vreacker emerges from the debris to watch.





Racing against time the two Jedi rush towards their command center.





“We must contact the Council immediately. It is clear there is much more here than meets the eye.”, Obi-Wan states as he and his padawan dismount their speeder bikes and hurry into the camp.





“Seems pretty straightforward to me, Jango Fett killed this Vreacker guy’s girlfriend and now he’s sworn revenge on us all. Actually kinda routine in our line of work.”, Anakin irreverently points out.





“Komari Vosa was a Jedi Knight, who was thought to have been killed by the Bando Gora shortly before the Battle of Naboo.”, Obi-Wan shares, “She is the former apprentice of Count Dooku.”.





“That would complicate things.”, Anakin exhales, shocked.





“Indeed.”, Kenobi agrees, a dark shadow passing over his face.





“Captain, contact Coruscant we must speak with the Jedi Council at once.”, Obi-Wan quickly orders.

“Our communications have been jammed General. We are trying to reroute the network, but it will take time.”, Captain Rex solemnly reports.






“There’s only one reason for a communications jam…”, Obi-Wan begins…





Before he is interrupted by the screech of a low flying Droid Gunship, which unleashes a deadly salvo of powerful laser blasts!





Kenobi and Skywalker dive for cover alongside the clones as the Gunship’s powerful ordinance tears through the camp.





Landing beside his padawan Obi-Wan finishes, “…An attack.”.





Hoping to swiftly end the confrontation a heavy weapons specialist clone trooper charges forward, brandishing a missile launcher.





However, the valiant trooper is brutally cut down by the Gunship’s continued hail of fire.





“If you distract that thing long enough I might be able to use the launcher to bring that Gunship down!”, Rex calls to the Jedi.





A rueful smile crosses Anakin’s face as he ignites his lightsaber and answers, “I was hoping you might say that!”.





Igniting his own laser sword Obi-Wan adds, “I however was not. Take your shot Captain, we’ll cover you.”.





Together the Jedi rush forward, drawing the powerful droid’s fire





Long enough for Rex to fire the launcher…





And score a direct hit…





Which reduces the Gunship to a smoldering pile of debris!





Surveying the damage Obi-Wan grimly observes, “Kholma holds no strategic value to the Separatists.”.





Puzzled Anakin asks, “Then why send more troops?”.





“To silence Vreacker.”, they fear in unison.





“We’ve got clankers incoming!”, clone trooper Redeye shouts.





Together a massive army of droids march forward with bloodless efficiency.





Deflecting fire from the advancing droids Anakin fears, “We’ll never break through to the citadel this way! There’s too many of them!”.





“There’s got to be another way!”, Obi-Wan shouts, formulating a plan, “I’ll take some troopers and find a way into the Citadel, while you divert the droids!”.





Dispatching three droids at once Anakin savagely grins and laughs, “I guess it’s my lucky day!”.





Coming alongside Kenobi Rex requests, “General, Cody tells me this mission has something to do with Jango Fett. I knew Jango Fett, he trained me. Let me come with you sir!”.





“Very well.”, Kenobi yields, “But quickly, we must hurry. I sense Vreacker is in grave danger…”.





Eng Vreacker watched with mounting dread as squadron after squadron of Vulture droid starfighters flashed across Kholma’s dark sky.





“Have you summoned more droid warriors your eminence?”, questions Vreacker’s top lieutenant, puzzled.





“No.”, the cyborg fatalistically answers…





Just as the starfighters begin to indiscriminately bomb Punjab, decimating the Bando Gora warriors!





As suddenly as it began, the hellish inferno ceases.





“Dooku.”, Eng Vreacker seethes.





A graceful shuttle sets down…





Allowing Count Dooku to emerge! “Eng Vreacker”, Dooku taunts, “You’re looking good these days, for a disgusting shell of a being.”.





“You would know!”, Vreacker snears back, brandishing his electrowhip.





“Come, come.”, Dooku appeals, feigning hurt, “Is that any way to speak to your better. After all, it was I who ended your cult’s pathetic rampage.”.





“I was the only one who could. After all, it’s mastermind Komari Vosa was once my apprentice.”, the Count continues.





“After you drove us back to Kholma you sent Fett to butcher Komari, testing the template for your loathsome clone army.”, Vreacker growls.





“Right on all counts.”, Dooku begins.





“Save one.”, the Sith Lord continues with malicious delight, “Jango Fett did not kill Komari Vosa, I did.”.



THE SHROUD OF DARKNESS
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SHADOWS OF THE PAST
 
Episode 4Episode 5
THE DAY OF RECKONING
 
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