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The Apprentice

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The Apprentice

The Ghost flew through space. The journey had been a long one and much to the crew's dismay Hera had announced over coms that they still had several hours to go. The bulk of the crew was sat in the main communal area, Rex was dismantling and cleaning a stack of blasters that Sabine had found piled up in a supply chest. The artist herself was working on another painting in the corner. Kanan and Ashoka were sat to the side having a hushed conversation, the Jedi frowned and ran a hand through his hair, glancing over at Ezra with worry every once in a while. Frowning he turned back to Ashoka

"You're sure?" He said stroking his chin

"I'm not sure" Ashoka frowned "I've been feeling tremors in The Force, waves of cold" the Togruta shuddered slightly as another wave of cold ran up her spine, shaking it off she turned back to Kanan "I haven't felt anything like that in the force since..."

"The Clone Wars" Kanan finished her sentence, still frowning "or since Vader attacked the fleet, could it be him?" He looked up at Ashoka with a raised eyebrow.

"No" the Togruta shook her head "Vader's presence in The Force is much more pronounced, it's stronger in the Dark Side, this one isn't as cold, almost as if whoever it is is walking the line between the light and the dark" Kanan sighed and ran a hand through his hair.

"So we have no idea who or what it could be" the Jedi sat back "it can't be an Inquisitor, they've never been strong enough in the Dark Side for one of us to feel them at this distance" Ashoka nodded in confirmation. They both looked over at Ezra. The Padawan was sat cross legged on the floor with his eyes closed, his lightsaber was floating mid air in front of him. As they watched, screws and bolts drifted out of their place and the weapon dismantled itself, revealing a glowing blue crystal in the centre of a mass of wiring and circuity. The weapon was unique and even if it was just a standard design it was still an extremely rare sight in the galaxy these days. Ezra had been mediating more and more in recent days and Kanan was starting to worry, normally the kid was too distracted to clear his mind enough to meditate, but something had changed. Over the past few weeks even Chopper had had difficultly getting Ezra rilled up, and whenever anyone had tried to ask him about what was wrong he'd shake them off and slink away to the Phantom where he'd be found hours later in deep meditation.

"You're worried about him" Ashoka said, she didn't even need to ask, the whole fleet had picked up on the kids odd behaviour.

"Something's bothering the kid and he won't open up" Kanan confided in the Togruta "do you think it might be linked to the presence you felt?"

"I don't know Kanan" Ashoka looked troubled, "whatever it is, it's distraction he can't afford, not with the Empire tightening security on all it's major stations and outposts". Kanan nodded in response, still looking at Ezra, his lightsaber had drifted back together at this point and the last screw was sliding into place when his back went rigid and his face contorted in pain

"Argh!" His cry startled everyone, all eyes in the room darting towards him as his lightsaber clattered to the ground.

"Ezra!" Kanan yelled, darting from his seat across the room to his Apprentice "what happened?" He took the boy by the shoulder and looked at him as his eyes darted from side to side, was it him, or was there yellow in his eyes? Before he could decide Ezra closed his eyes and shook his head fiercely

"I'm fine Kanan!" He snapped grabbing his lightsaber and stumbling to his feet

"Really?" Rex said, setting down a blaster and standing up "cause that didn't look or sound fine" the old clone glanced at Ashoka who frowned back.

"It's ok Rex" Ezra said, a little too quickly, "I just need some space" stumbling slightly he made his way to the ladder connecting the Ghost to the Phantom and scurried up it.

"What was that about Kanan?" Sabine said, setting down her paint gun next to Rex's pile of blasters and folding her arms "he's been acting strange for weeks." The Jedi sighed, "I wish I knew, he won't open up about what's bothering him" Kanan looked up into the Phantom frowning

##

Ezra sat cross legged in the Phantom, his eyes shut

"Focus" he murmured to himself, "focus, just let go" the visions had started to come more and more frequently, it was getting to the point where he didn't trust himself to walk about, he knew he should tell Kanan.

But every time he went to, something stopped him, almost like a block in his brain and the words just wouldn't form. As he sat there he tried to focus on breathing and not thinking, trying to find some peace in his mind. But like countless times before he felt cold run down his spine, almost like someone had poured icy water down his back. A sudden head rush overtook him and his vision went black.

When he opened his eyes again he was standing in a dark corridor, everything was slightly blurred and dark, all the sounds he heard were slightly echoed, it was different this time.

"Ezra!" His head whipped around his eyes wide

"Sabine!" He yelled, fear gripped his heart and the cold started spreading from his spine, he charged down the corridor, he could see a red light and hear the distinct hum of a lightsaber, he rounded the corner and almost collided with Sabine who was hovering in mid air clutching her throat. Behind her stood a figure in billowing black robes, their face covered in a helmet, shrouded in darkness the only part Ezra could make out was the gleam of T shaped visor.

Then the vision melted away, he was on his knees in a hanger, the Ghost was behind him it's engines spluttering and wheezing as if it was damaged, the robed figure was advancing towards him, raising a crimson blade above his head. Ezra couldn't move, he was rooted to the spot, he looked down and screamed in horror as he saw his left hand gripping a charred stump where his right hand used to be. He shut his eyes in terror as the red blade sailed through the air towards him.

It never came. He opened his eyes. He was in the Phantom, leaning back against the wall next to the controls. Sweat dripped off his brow and he was panting.

"Who are you?" He whispered to himself, "an Inquisitor? A Sith?" He didn't expect an answer. He just sat there, enjoying the respite from the cold and the dark. He had to tell Kanan, he had to tell someone. He stumbled to his feet and was just about at the Phantoms hatch when the ship rocked violently

"What the?!" Ezra yelled as he stumbled backwards, Hera's voice crackled over the coms

"Everyone man the guns! We've got a hostile ship and they're coming in for another run!" Ezra scrambled to the Phantoms controls and gripped the turrets gun controls

"I've got the Phantom" he said into his com link

"Good!" Hera answered "hang on!" She yelled suddenly

"I hate it when she says that" Zeb muttered on the line. The Ghost banked suddenly to the starboard side and Ezra caught a glimpse of a dark ship, it looked like a heavily modified Imperial design, but before he could get a better look the ship had adjusted course and was in pursuit, firing heavily.

"Sabine, what kind of ship is that?" Ezra asked as he aimed the Phantoms guns at the ship and fired back

"No idea" Sabines voice said over the coms "it looks like an Imperial design, but I've never seen anything like it before, pirates maybe?" All the Ghosts guns were maned now and they were all firing back but the ship was weaving and dodging between the shots, rolling elegantly in space.

"Whoever they are, they're good" Hera grunted over the coms as she wrestled with the controls trying to avoid their pursers cannon fire. But despite her best efforts the Ghost rocked again as it was struck by another laser. The lights in the cabin flickered and the hum of the engines died a little

"This is bad!" Hera said through the coms "the hyperdrive's down, we're on emergency generators!" Ezra wasn't listening though, he was watching the ship that attacked them, it wasn't pressing it's attack! It was banking away, as it flew away Ezra managed to glimpse a name emblazoned on the hull "The Rogue Shadow".

As he watched it go the edges of his vision began to blur, the cold was spreading up his back again

"Not again" he muttered, he stumbled towards the ladder, but as he did his vision tunnelled and he was hit with waves of dizziness, he fell to his knees. Not even bothering to resist as the darkness took him. He was back in the hanger, the Ghost was still behind him, this time however the hangers large blast doors were closed and he was standing in front of them, Sabine was standing next to him, tears rolling down her cheeks

"I'm never going to see you again am I?" She said, wiping her eyes.

"Probably not, no" Ezra said, his heart aching

"Then I'll never have to live this down" she said and grabbed his collar and pulled him close, their lips met and the vision melted once again. He was on his knees clutching his charred arm, the hanger was empty, the Ghost was gone. The robed figure stood over him chuckling as he removed his helmet and grinned down at him, sharp features, close cut brown hair and piercing yellow eyes

"Very good. My apprentice." The figure laughed and Ezra looked up at him. Rage in his heart. The vision blurred and he was standing on a landing platform, lakes of lava bubbled around him and Sabine stood before him, her armour covered in scorch marks

"Ezra" she half whispered as he raised his right hand. Underneath the frayed remains of a leather glove he saw the gears and circuits of a mechanical prosthetic.

"Ezra!" Sabines voice was all around him now "Ezra? Ezra!" A sharp pain smacked across his face and he sat up gasping.

He was on the floor in the Phantom, Sabine was on her knees next to him

"Ow" he groaned feeling his face "did you just slap me?" He asked half turning towards the Mandalorian.

"It's the best way to wake someone up" Sabine shrugged as Ezra glared at her "hey! It worked didn't it?" Sabine said half smiling. Ezra shook his head and pulled down one of the Phantoms folding chairs and slumping down in it, his head in his hands. Sabine sat next to him, her hand on his shoulder

"What is up with you kid? The artist said frowning with genuine concern "you've been acting strange for weeks and don't say "nothing"! We both know that's a lie." Ezra looked at his friend and sighed

"I've been having visions" he said, looking straight ahead. "At first they were normal, flashes of the future but nothing I could make out properly, but over the passed few days they've been getting clearer and they're showing me more and more and they're coming in waves one after the other." Sabine frowned with concern and tried to get Ezra to look at her

"What do you see in these visions?" She asked gently, Ezra looked at her with hollow eyes.

"I see a force user with a red lightsaber, I keep seeing him attacking us, attacking you!" His hands balled into fists "I'm in a hanger and the Ghost is damaged and something very dangerous is coming" he looked down unsure of how much to give away. Sabine put her arm around him and squeezed his shoulders in a sort of hug

"Kid, I can't help you if you don't tell me everything" she said gently "it's ok, I can handle it" Ezra looked up at the older girl and sighed he looked straight ahead again and continued

"The visions keep cutting out, but one of the last things I see is you crying, and then..." He trailed off and made a snap decision to not tell her about the kiss. He picked up again "then the Ghost is gone and and I'm alone with the guy with lightsaber, my right hand is gone and he says to me "Very good. My apprentice" the visions haven't shown me anything else."

Sabine was quite for a few minutes, she was mulling over what Ezra had told her, she could tell he was holding something back.

"Why haven't you told Kanan?" She asked, "or Ashoka?"

"I've tried to" the kid ran his hands over his face "but every time... I just can't..." He made a face and then looked straight at her "it's almost like someone is in my head" Sabine squeezed Ezra again trying to comfort him

"It'll be ok kid, maybe it's something all Jedi go through" she knew she wasn't being much help, honestly she had no idea what was going on with the kid.

"Yeah maybe" Ezra said glumly. There was a beep on the coms

"Everyone meet in the cockpit" Hera said.

"Better get going then" Ezra said, making an effort to be cheery, smoothing down his jacket as he stood up. Sabine stayed sitting, watching Ezra walk to the hatch.

"Ezra?" Sabine called out, gently he turned to look at her

"Yeah?" He said frowning

"If everything you've seen is as bad as you make out, what could be so bad you can't tell me?" Sabine said looking the Padawan right in the eye. Ezra took a breath, then looked down

"Sabine" he stopped and cleared his throat "whatever we're doing in the future where these visions are from, I don't think I'm coming back" he looked up sadly then turned around and climbed down the ladder. Sabine sat for a while, thoughts racing through her head

"You're coming back kid." She said to herself "I'll make sure of it"

##

In the cockpit Hera was looking over panels, frowning as Chopper beeped out a damage assessment, the doors opened and Kanan, Ashoka and Rex came in

"How's the Ghost?" Asked Kanan as he sat down in the co-pilots seat

"Not good" Hera sighed "the hyperdrive's shot and the generators won't keep life support up long enough for us to fix it, we're gonna need somewhere to land and make repairs"

"Well there's an old Republic outpost near by" Rex said looking at Ashoka who nodded

"We used it for fighter repairs in the Clone Wars" the Togruta said "it should be safe enough while we make repairs"

"The generators should be able to get us there" Rex said looking up from a terminal.

"Then it looks like that's where we're going" Hera said tapping at the controls, as she set in the co-ordinates the door opened and Ezra, Zeb and Sabine walked in

"There's no hull damage" said Zeb

"And the Phantom's fine" Sabine said.

"Who was that?" Ezra said "why'd they break off their attack?" There was silence on the deck, no one knew answer

"Whoever they are." Kanan said "next time we'll be ready" there was a general murmur of approval. The lights flickered

"The generators aren't going to last much longer" Hera said in a warning tone

"Well, we should be there in a few minutes" said Rex looking up from a console

"Not minute too soon" Hera muttered "when we get there split into teams and search through the outpost, we might find something useful if it was a Republic base"

"Yeah, good idea" Kanan said standing up

"Rex, you go with Ashoka. Zeb you're with me" after a pause he looked over at Ezra "Sabine you're with Ezra, eyes open and if there's the slightest hint of trouble radio it in and we'll come running"

"Right" Ezra said, with no enthusiasm. He turned and left the bridge the door hissing shut behind him

"Keep an eye on him" he said to Sabine

"You got it Kanan" the Mandalorian nodded and left the bridge to get her helmet. She stopped by her cabin to pick it up, along with some ammo for her pistols and her paint guns

"Gotta leave a mark" she muttered. She checked Ezra and Zebs cabin, he wasn't in there. She found him in the common area, his helmet was on the on the table and he was adjusting his lightsaber, his eyes shadowed.

"You're gonna be fine kid." She said as she sat down next to him. He looked up and half smiled before going back to tinkering, the weapon clicked, he grunted with satisfaction and clipped it to his belt

"When we get back, I'm gonna tell Kanan" he said looking up at Sabine "we'll figure this out" Sabine smiled and patted his arm

"You're coming back" she said, trying to reassure both of them.

After they'd landed in the outpost station the crew met at the bottom of the ramp and Kanan took charge as usual

"Zeb and I will cover the East section, Rex, Ashoka, you take the North. Ezra, Sabine you take the South, we'll meet back here when Hera and Chopper have fixed the Ghost" the crew all nodded in response and started off in different directions. Before Ezra could leave Kanan caught his shoulder

"Kid" he started

"We'll talk about it when we get back" Ezra said looking up at his master

"Alright" the Jedi nodded "be careful out there"

"Am I ever?" The boy laughed before closing his helmet visor and running after Sabine who had started off down a corridor.

##

On the other side of the station a figure wearing dark robes over a leather tunic and a Mandalorian chest plate sat in front a collection of security monitors, watching the Ghost crew scatter through the station station, his focus mainly on a monitor showing a Mandalorian and the Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger. The figure grinned behind his helmet and stood up

"All according to plan"

##

So far they'd found nothing. Most of the station had been picked clean in its sixteen years of abandonment.

"Nothing in here" Ezra said, looking up from a trunk he'd been searching through

"There's some power cells in here" Sabine said, her head still buried in a locker "not much, but at least we got something"

"They'll keep Chopper going I suppose" Ezra said shrugging

"Oh, then I guess I'll just leave them here then" Sabine said smiling under her helmet. The two laughed, the tension had lifted slightly, it was just another scavenging trip.

"Come on" Sabine said, stashing the power cells in her belt. They walked down the corridor, Sabine leading the way with the flashlight attached to her helmet. As they walked Ezra's pace started to slow, there was a strange feeling in the Force. The same kind he'd felt when he'd first met Kanan, he looked around, and realised the corridors looked familiar, he didn't even notice that Sabine had rounded the next bend without him.

"This looks like..." He said

"Ezra!" Sabines cry cut through the silence like a knife to the heart.

"No." Ezra whispered. He took off down the corridor "no, no, no, no!" He fumbled for his com link

"Kanan we got trouble, we're gonna need some -" he rounded the corner and almost crashed into Sabine, she was hovering about a foot in the air clutching her throat

"- help" he dropped his com link and stared in horror. Behind Sabine stood a figure, about six feet tall in black robes, their face covered in a helmet shaped to their head with a T shaped visor.

"You." He hissed. Hate sparked in his chest, he trembled with rage

"Me" the figure laughed, his voice was altered by the helmet but he couldn't mistake it.

"Let her go!" Ezra yelled, unclipping his lightsaber and stepping forward taking a defensive stance and activating the blue blade. There was a hiss as the figure activated a crimson lightsaber

"Why don't you come make me, Padawan" the figure mocked stepping forward, one hand still outstretched towards Sabine who was beginning to choke, her legs kicking. Ezra raised his lightsaber. Before he could charge the figure spun round and raised his lightsaber to block Ashoka's white blades Sabine dropped the ground gasping for breath

"Sabine!" Ezra deactivated his blade and ran to her side and pulled her helmet off, she seemed alright.

"So you're the one I've felt in the Force" Ashoka said glaring "who are you?"

"Who I am isn't important part timer, you may simply call me, Starkiller." Starkiller laughed and shoved Ashoka back, she swung her sabers to meet his and the two clashed back and forth, Starkiller mainly taking the offensive, the tight confines of the hallway limiting Ashoka's fighting style, she was pushed back, forced to take the defence.

"Lady Tano, you disappoint me!" Starkiller mocked as he batted away one of Ashoka's blades "my master always praised you with such high esteem"

"Your master?" Ashoka growled as she countered Starkillers attack "Vader" her eyes went wide "how does he know about me?"

"Oh I think you know!" Starkiller laughed as he advanced. "I know you've felt it, Snips"

"No" Ashoka's eyes went wide and she backed away, her blades up. Starkiller laughed

"We both had the same teacher, I know the way you fight. You've already lost!" He advanced

"I've bested better opponents then you" Ashoka spat

"Oh, I don't think you've ever fought anyone quite like me!" Starkiller chuckled and raised his hand, lightning shot from his finger tips. Caught off guard the lightning struck Ashoka in the chest and she flew backwards, howling in agony.

"No!" Ezra leapt at Starkiller who broke off the lightning attack on Ashoka and blocked Ezra's strike

"It's been you!" Ezra grunted as he struggled to keep the blades locked

"You're the one who's been sending the visions, stopping me from telling Kanan!"

"Well you are a bright one" Starkiller said pushing Ezra back

"Ezra!" Kanan, Rex and Zeb had caught up. Kanan lunged for Starkiller whilst Rex and Zeb ran to Sabine

"I'm fine" she insisted waving them off "help Ashoka!" Rex ran to his old friend while Kanan and Ezra did their best to fend off Starkiller

"Who sent you?" Kanan asked

"No one sends me anywhere Jedi" Starkiller said smugly "and you should really keep your guard up!" To emphasise his point he darted under Kanans guard and hit the Jedi in the stomach with the hilt of his lightsaber. The Jedi doubled over gasping, Starkiller grabbed Kanans arm and twisted it until there was a sickening crack and the Jedi howled in pain

"Oh shut up" Starkiller scoffed and smacked Kanan hard on the back of his head with the butt of his lightsaber.

"No!" Ezra roared, anger welled up inside him and he thrust out his arm putting all the will and strength he had into a telekinetic push. To his surprise however Starkillers Force Wall broke almost easily and he sailed backwards and crashed into a wall, groaning as he stood up he was quickly hit by two stun bolts from the blaster section of Ezra's lightsaber. Zeb was already leaning over Kanan

"'Is arms broken" the Lasat said, "and it's a nasty knock, we got get 'im to the Ghost!"

"Right" Rex said, Ashoka was up now, leaning heavily on the clones shoulder, Zeb picked up Kanan as gently as he could and they took off towards the Ghost, Ezra leading the way.

"He won't be stunned for long" Sabine said "we've got to find a way to slow him down"

"The base has automated defences" Rex said as he readjusted Ashoka's weight "if we activate them it might buy us enough time"

"Should be doable" Sabine said tapping commands into her wrist mounted computer

"Right" Ezra nodded "sounds like a plan. Zeb, Rex get Ashoka and Kanan to the med bay! Sabine and I will cover our backs!"

The Ghost was in sight now, Hera was emerging wiping her hands with a cloth

"What happened?" She asked wide eyed as Zeb and Rex rushed past her

"Ran into some trouble" Ezra panted "a Dark Side user, calls himself Starkiller"

"Hera, please tell me the Ghost is ready to go!" Sabine said barely looking up

"Chopper's just finishing up now-" Hera started

"Good!" Ezra cut her off as he pulled off his helmet "get her ready to go, we don't have long!" Hera started to say something else, but changed her mind and ran back into the ship

"There! Got it!" Sabine yelled as she pressed a final button, in the hanger behind them old turrets powered up and large blast doors started to rumble shut, cutting the ship off from the rest of the space. The Mandalorian pulled off her helmet and turned to Ezra

"We've got to man the guns! Ezra?" The Padawan was starring at the blast doors. He'd gone white as a sheet.

"Sabine" he turned to her with hollow eyes "this is the hanger from my vision." Dread flooded Sabines heart

"I understand now" Ezra said, he turned and walked towards the blast doors unclipping his lightsaber

"Ezra! What are you doing?" Sabine ran after him "I activated the defences!"

"We both know Ashoka would be able to get through them without breaking a sweat, and he made her look like a punk. He'll get through them, he'll get in and he'll kill us all" he blinked away tears "I can slow him down"

Sabine felt as if a rug had been pulled out from under her, everything was spinning.

"There must be another way" she half whispered.

"We both know there isn't." Ezra shook his head. Behind the blast doors came the muffled sound of blasters opening fire, then a muffled boom "Sabine, before I met you guys all I thought about was myself" the Jedi looked away, his head bowed, tears welling up in his eyes. When he looked at her again his eyes were determined and his voice steadier "if this is it, let me go out protecting the only people that matter." Sabine let his words wash over her before she nodded

"I'm never going to see you again am I?" She was crying now, she didn't make an effort to stop the tears sliding down her cheeks. Ezra closed his eyes and took a breath

"Probably not no." She felt something in her snap, guilt, regret, grief, she felt them all wash over her. She wiped her eyes

"Then I'll never have to live this down" she took a step forward, grabbed his collar and kissed him. He didn't seem surprised and kissed her back. The moment seemed to be an eternity. The blast doors started to open and Ezra broke away.

"Goodbye Sabine" he looked her in the eyes one last time. The doors opened enough to reveal Starkiller forcing the doors open with his will, Ezra thrust his arm out and sent the Dark Sider flying backwards. Ezra activated his lightsaber and marched out to meet him. He didn't look back.

Sabine watched him go, watched as he swiped his fist through the air and the doors slammed shut. Her hand went to her lips.

"So that's what he wasn't telling me" she said to herself.

##

Starkiller looked up to see Ezra Bridger striding towards him, he'd removed his helmet and his face was visible. Starkiller grinned and stood up.

"How brave of you boy" they started to circle each other, keeping an equal distance, both sizing the other up.

"So who are you?" Ezra raised his eyebrow

"Stalling won't save you" Starkiller growled, activating his lightsaber

"Oh I don't plan on escaping" the kid shrugged "we both know how this ends"

"Yes we do" Starkiller mocked as he raised his blade "why don't you just surrender?"

"I plan to go down fighting, I won't run from fate, or from you. But there's no way I'm making this easy!" and he charged.

They met in the middle blades clashing. Ezra took the offensive aiming blows at Starkiller's head and arms, Starkiller countered the blows, but never returned strikes, dancing around Ezra's blade and sometimes dodging him altogether making Ezra stumble. Growling with frustration the Padawan swung his blade at Starkillers head who ducked under it and kicked Ezra in the chest sending him flying into a wall. His head smacked into the wall, stars danced in front of his eyes and a high pitched ringing started in his ears. He stumbled to his feet, disorientated and off balance. Starkiller came at him and Ezra swung wildly, each strike batted away and deflected.

"Frustrating isn't it?" Starkiller chuckled "everything you do isn't quite enough"

"Shut up!" Ezra snapped and slashed at Starkiller who blocked it and locked their blades

"That's right, let your frustration turn to anger! Let it fuel you!" Starkiller laughed. Ezra growled and shoved against Starkillers blade with his own in rage. Starkiller stumbled backwards, surprised by the boys strength. He could feel the rage in the boys heart, see it in his increasingly unbalanced strikes. The Darkness was sucking him in. He just had to push him over the edge.

Dodging under the boys next strike he kicked his back and sent him skidding forward on his stomach, as he got up Starkiller raised his hand and closed his fist slightly. Ezra felt a hand close around his neck and he rose into the air slightly, he dropped his lightsaber and grasped at his throat, glaring at Starkiller

"Who... Are... You?" He managed to splutter glaring

"I am the heir to the Sith" Starkiller laughed, he raised his hand and Ezra's lightsaber flew to him, the Sith examined it

"An interesting design" he clipped it to his belt, next to three other trophy blades. He walked over to the boy, his helmet right in his face. Behind Bridger the blast doors protecting the Rebel ship started to open as Starkiller willed them. The boys face twisted into a look of horror as he heard the doors open. Starkiller thrust his arm out and Ezra flew through the air, through the open doors and landed with a grunt on the Phantoms cockpit. Sabines face gazed up at him through the glass in terror.

"Please tell me you've got this thing working". Ezra grunted through the glass

"We're working on it" Sabine called back through

"That's ok!" Ezra grunted sarcastically "I've got him on the ropes" suddenly he felt a hand close around his ankle and he was yanked away from the Ghost like a rag doll. He crashed to the floor at Starkillers feet. The Sith put his boot on Ezra's chest and lowered his blade to his throat

"I'm going to destroy you now Bridger" he mocked

"No!" Ezra grunted thrashing against Starkillers superior weight

"Oh don't worry, I won't kill you first"

Starkiller chuckled "No, first I'll kill your friends, while you watch."

"No!" Ezra whispered, he could feel the cold gnawing at him, edging up his spine

"I'll save the girl for last" Starkiller grinned "and I'll make it slow!"

"NO!" Ezra screamed. He closed his eyes and opened himself to The Force. There was a rushing sound in his ears, the cold spread over him, filling him. Rage burned in his heart. The power! He let the rage out in animalistic scream and a pulse of Force energy escaped from him. Sending Starkiller flying off him, the Sith's lightsaber landed next to Ezra. He picked it up as he stood and glared at Starkiller. Feeling the Dark Side coursing within him.

##

On board the Ghost in the med bay Ashoka Tano was sat in a chair, quietly mediating, the pain of the lightning slowly fading.

She looked up. Kanan, who was lying in the med bay bunk groaned and shifted. Ashoka could feel a shift in the force. Cold. A new presence in the Dark Side, at the same time there was one fewer in the Light.

"Ezra." Ashoka whispered "what have you done?"

##

Starkiller laughed in triumph. The boy had embraced the Darkness.

All he had to do now was give in to it. The Sith stood and unclipped the lightsaber of Rahm Kota from his belt. The green blade hummed as he activated it

"You won't go near them!" The boy snarled as he leapt at Starkiller, red blade raised above his head. Red and green clashed. Sparks flew from the Sabers. Starkiller still defending as Ezra's rage fuelled his vicious attacks. Behind them the Ghosts engines roared into life. Starkiller looked up in alarm. Then a perfect plan formed in his mind. The Ghost was behind him, his next move was neat and clean. Ezra was bringing his blade downwards, Starkiller blocked the strike with his lightsaber in his left hand, with his right he punched Ezra hard in the stomach, the boy doubled over and when he did Starkiller dropped the green blade into his right hand and cleanly sliced of the boys hand.

"Argh!" Ezra cried out dropping to his knees. Starkiller raised his hand and clenched his fist. The Ghost froze mid take off, it's engines straining.

Ezra stared down at the stump of his arm. He'd been an idiot. The visions and come true. He looked up. Starkiller was standing with his arm raised, the Ghost was frozen behind him, held captive by the Force

"You are strong Bridger, but only your hatred will give you the power to save your friends!" Starkiller looked down at the beaten Padawan "give in the Dark Side!" He urged. Ezra looked up, he saw Sabines face in the Phantoms windows. Saw the terror in her eyes

"I'm sorry" he whispered. He closed his eyes and let the Darkness take him. He felt the power built within him, felt a piercing pain in his eyes, he raised his remaining arm and yelled in agony. Lightning shot from his fingertips. Starkiller released the Ghost and deflected the lightning back at him with his lightsaber. The Ghost flew out of the open hanger and sped away into space.

The lightning shocked Ezra to the core. The agony was unbearable and he thrashed and howled until it subsided, he fell onto his remaining arm, panting.

"Very good" Starkiller laughed, he reached up and removed his helmet. His brown hair was cut brutally short, his face was sharp and cruel with yellow eyes. He strode over to the boy

"My, apprentice." Ezra looked up. Glaring with sickly yellow eyes.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

The Ghost flew away from the Outpost as fast as Hera could push the battered ship

"Alright, everyone hang on" Hera called over the coms "we're making the jump to hyperspace, we'll be at the fleet in a few hours." Sabine sat in the Phantom, watching as the stars stretched into the swirling blue clouds of hyperspace. The last few minutes replaying again and again in her head. Ezra's scream of agony and the lightning... Kanan had told her about Sith warriors in the Clone Wars who could produce lightning attacks from the Dark Side. Had Ezra crossed the line? Had he turned? Why did she let him leave? He was clearly outmatched. Starkiller had held the entire Ghost in place! What chance had Ezra ever had?

"Stupid kid!" She choked up, her eyes clouding. How was she going to explain this? They'd never forgive her for letting him go. There was the sound of tapping on metal and Sabine spun around on the Phantoms chair to see Ashoka climbing up the ladder. The Togruta's expression was empty.

"Ashoka" Sabine stood up "shouldn't you be in the med bay?" Ashoka smiled and shook her head

"It's nice of you to be concerned Sabine, but I'll be fine. It's been a long time since I've met a Dark Side user who was proficient in Sith Lightning" The Togruta rubbed her side and winced. "Sabine, Ezra stayed behind didn't he?" Sabine felt a lump in her throat form. She tried to speak, but the words caught in her throat and she just nodded. Ashoka sighed and her shoulders slumped

"Then it's as I feared" the Grey Jedi sighed

"What?" Sabine said after taking a breath "is he dead?" Ashoka shook her head.

"After I got onboard I felt shifts in the Force, like a light had gone out." The Togruta looked at Sabine and took the Mandalorians hands in her own.

"Sabine, Ezra has turned to the Dark Side."

##

"Your apprentice?" Ezra glowered up at Starkiller

"Why yes" Starkillers voice wasn't as harsh, almost soft without the helmet "I can feel the Dark Side within you, you can feel its power!" The Sith crouched down next to the fallen Jedi "I can teach you to control it! Teach you to be more powerful then you ever could become as a Jedi! Together we can defeat Vader and the Emperor and rule the Galaxy!" Ezra stared up at Starkiller, yellow eyes gazing into each other

"Will we make them pay?" Ezra said through gritted teeth "make them suffer for all the pain and suffering they've forced on the galaxy?"

"Of course" Starkiller straighten up and stood over the boy. Ezra stared up at the Sith before rising up onto one knee with his head bowed

"Then I will follow you, and put faith in your training" he hesitated "my Master" Starkiller smiled and placed his hand on his new apprentices shoulder

"Rise my apprentice" he offered his hand and after a pause the boy took it. Starkiller pulled Ezra to his feet

"Come on" Starkiller looked around him "the Empire will send someone to check into this "incident"." Ezra nodded. Now he could see Starkillers face he realised the Sith was much younger then he'd thought, his face was young. He could only be about seventeen years old. Starkiller raised his hand his lightsaber flew to him, freed from the grip of Ezra's severed hand.

The two of them started off out of the hanger and down darkened corridors, Ezra hugging the stump of his arm to his chest

"We'll get that fixed when we get to my ship" Starkiller nodded at the arm, his gaze unwavering as the boy glared at him. The two jogged through the station, descending staircases until they reached the lowest part of the station and emerged into a second hanger. Ezra slowed to a walk staring at the ship that waited for them. A heavily modified Imperial vessel. The name "Rogue Shadow" emblazoned on the hull

"So it was you that attacked us" the boy said flatly "why am I not surprised?" Starkiller glanced at the boy, but didn't acknowledge the jibe.

"Ah! Master!" A droid was making it's way down the Shadows ramp "I see your mission was a complete success!" The droid said looking at Ezra before turning back to Starkiller

"You're powers of deduction astound me PROXY" Starkiller said smiling. It was the first time Ezra had heard any humour or warmth in the Siths voice

"The ships sensors have detected approaching Imperial ships" PROXY said "should we depart?"

"As soon as possible, tell Juno to prep for take off" Starkiller said, stripping off his heavy robe as he made his way up the ramp. Ezra paused at the base of the ramp for a minute. He looked around him and took a breath before following his new master into the ship.

##

"What do you mean the kids gone?!" Zeb roared. The Ghost crew was gathered in the common area. Kana was sat with his arm in a cast, staring off into the distance.

"He stayed behind to defend the Ghost from Starkiller" Sabine said quietly "he knew the defences wouldn't keep him out" the Mandalorian shook her head "I couldn't stop him" she looked down, she had Ezra's cadet helmet in her lap.

"Well we have to go back and get him!" Kanan said

"Kanan" Rex said sadly " I'm so sorry but there's no way Starkiller left him alive" Kanans head snapped around glaring

"So quick to give up on a friend!" The Jedi got up "how like a Stormtrooper!" Rex's brow furrowed into a frown. He took a breath

"You're grieving." He said slowly "so I'll let that slide"

"He's alive!" Kanan yelled at the clone "I can feel it!"

"He's right Rex" Ashoka said quietly

"Exactly!" Kanan said looking Ashoka in gratitude "so let's go back for him!" Hera shook her head

"Kanan, there's no way to go back until we drop out of hyperspace"

"Then drop us out!" Kanan snapped at Hera. The pilot folded her arms and frowned at Kanan. The Jedi took a breath

"I'm sorry Hera, but we can't leave him!" Sabine looked up from Ezra's helmet

"Kanan, there's something you don't know" she said quietly

"What don't I know?" The Jedi said frowning. Ashoka cleared her throat

"Kanan" she paused "Ezra has turned to the Dark Side." There was silence on the Ghost. Each crew member silently processing the information.

"No" Kanan broke the silence. "He can't have, I would have felt it!"

"You do feel it Kanan" the Togruta said gently. "You just don't want to" Kanan sat with his head in his hands

"No" he whispered "no..."

##

Ezra sat in the Rogue Shadows med bay as the droid PROXY worked on fitting him with a replacement hand.

"You humans are so fragile" the droid said as he worked

"You don't look so tough droid" Ezra snapped, wincing slightly as PROXY adjusted the circuity in his wrist

"Oh appearances are deceiving young one, I hold several combat modules that allow me to imitate highly respected lightsaber combatants"

"Huh, every day's a school day" Ezra said rolling his eyes, then flinching again as PROXY continued work on the hand.

##

At the Shadows controls Juno Eclipse sat with her arms crossed staring at Starkiller with a raised eyebrow. Starkiller sat in the co-pilots seat flipping through maps in deep thought

"I see the look Juno" the Sith said without looking up "care to tell me what it's about?" Juno rolled her eyes

"You've taken an apprentice, an apprentice that happens to be Ezra Bridger, who happens to be on the Empires most wanted list." Juno sat forward "Galen, what part of this is a good idea?" Galen looked over at her

"Juno, you know what the Sith are like. They betray each other" Galen twirled his chair around to face her "he already has once, and when he does it again I'll want back up" Juno shook her head

"Yes we've been over this" she said annoyed "but why him?" Galen looked over

"Two birds with one stone" he smiled "I do have a plan you know!" Juno scoffed

"That'll be a first, so what is this plan?" Galen sat back and folded his arms

"The only way we'll be able to get close to Vader and the Emperor is if the Alliance can cause enough trouble to cause Vader's involvement. With Ezra I'll be strong enough to take him. But I'll need to strengthen and embolden the Rebellion, I can earn the Alliances trust as Galen Marek after training Ezra in the Dark Side" Galen went back to looking through maps "and what better way to win their trust then returning their precious Ezra Bridger?" He glanced over at Juno smugly. The pilot shook her head

"Not the worst plan you've come up with" she shrugged "that's not saying much though" Galen looked over at her with a raised eyebrow before tapping commands into the navigation systems

"That boy hates you" Juno said it simply "you took his hand off" Galen nodded

"And I hate Vader, it's the way of the Sith" Juno shook her head

"So where are we going?" She asked as Galen finished tapping commands into the navigation system

"I need somewhere to train Ezra that's already strong in the Dark Side, somewhere Vader or his friends won't sense his presence and come looking" Juno glanced at a monitor

"We're going back to Felucia?" She looked over at Marek in shock

"Since Shaak Ti died the planets natural affinity for the Dark Side has returned, it's the perfect place" Galen pulled a few levers and dialled commands into the ships controls

"Get her ready to go" he said to Juno "I'm going to see how he's doing" Juno nodded and went to work.

##

"There. Complete" PROXY said. Ezra raised his new hand. The gears and circuits were vaguely visible under black armour plating. Ezra made a fist.

"How's the new handing suiting you?" Starkiller was standing in the door with his arms folded

"It'll take some getting used to" the boy didn't even look up "it's not exactly elegant" he opened his hand listening to the sound of gears turning as the joints moved.

"Wear that over it" Starkiller tossed Ezra a leather glove "you won't be able to tell the difference" the two didn't break eye contact as Ezra pulled on the glove

"So what's the plan then? Master" Ezra said coolly. Starkiller shook off the boys hostility. He hadn't expected the start to be easy

"We're heading to a planet called Felucia" he said sitting down across from Ezra

"Sounds wonderful" the boy drawled sarcastically. Starkiller tilted his head to one side, then raised his hand. Ezra choked, he felt a hand close around his throat again, his new hand flew to his neck and he glared at Starkiller

"Let me make this clear Bridger" Starkiller said softly but firmly "I am not Kanan Jarrus. I will not be as lenient or soft." He tightened his grip and the boy tried to gasp "if you disobey me, or vex me, there will be consequences" he released his grip and Ezra slumped forward gasping. "Is that understood?" The Sith said calmly

"Yes, master" Ezra said glaring, massaging his throat

"Good" Starkiller straightened his tunic "your training will be as unpleasant as you make it" Ezra glared before nodding

"Understood" he said coldly. Starkiller cleared his throat

"Felucia has a natural affinity for the Dark Side, it will greatly increase the speed of your training" the boy nodded.

"PROXY, we need to send a transmission" Starkiller glanced at the droid before walking out of the medical bay. The droid set down it's medical tools and turned to Ezra

"He can be difficult." The droid said in the same optimistic tone he always used "but given time he will grow on you, just as he grew on Captain Eclipse" PROXY started to leave "I wouldn't judge him so harshly, you are not so different" the droid said as he made his way

"And how is that?" Ezra snapped still massaging his throat

"You both lost everything" the droid said without turning "you both learned to survive." The door shut behind him.

##

The Ghost had returned to the Rebel Fleet, Hera and Ashoka had volunteered to give Sato a debrief of their failure.

"I see" Commander Sato said rubbing his chin "this is regretful Captain Syndulla, he was a useful asset to the Rebellion" Sato paused "and he was a good kid"

"The best" Hera said wiping her eyes

"How long will it take for Kanan to recover from his injuries?"

"A few months at most" Hera said glumly

"And how long will it take the rest of your crew to recover?" Sato asked gently. Hera sat down with her head in her hands, Ashoka put her hand on her shoulder

"I don't know Commander, we've never lost anyone before" Hera didn't even look up

"Then I think it best if you spend some time away from the Rebellion" Sato said "you're free to take leave until you're ready to return"

"That's very generous of you Commander" Hera said gratefully "I'll tell the rest of the crew."

After Hera had left Sato turned to Ashoka. The Togruta had stayed quiet through most of the debriefing.

"Commander Tano" Sato said carefully "do you believe the Ghost crew will be able to function effectively with out Ezra?"

"You mean will they still be valuable to the Rebellion" Ashoka said coldly

"We have to look at the bigger picture" Sato said stubbornly "one boy is not worth an entire galaxy."

"He wasn't just a boy!" Ashoka snapped "he was a Jedi, I'd have thought you'd have been at least upset to learn there was one less in the universe." The Togruta gave Sato a withering look, the man fidgeted

"Yes... Well..." He started to say

"Don't bother" Ashoka was already on her way out, the door sliding shut behind her.

##

Juno was sat at the Rogue Shadow controls, watching as the swirling vortex of hyperspace rolled outside the ship. Despite Galen's reassurances she was still wary of his decision to take the boy as an Apprentice. It was too much unwanted attention.

"I can't beat Vader and his emperor alone" he had insisted "always two there must be, a master and an apprentice." Before she'd met Galen she'd never believe the old stories about the Sith and the Jedi, "a bunch of superstitious nonsense" she'd always thought to herself. That was before she'd seen Galen pull a Star Destroyer out of the sky with his mind, once you seen things like that, you become a believer quickly.

A door opened behind her and she turned her chair expecting to see Galen, instead Ezra was stood in the doorway. He was wearing a leather glove over the new prosthetic hand PROXY had grafted to his wrist, he was still hugging his right arm to his chest, the new fingers twitching every so often.

"Captain Eclipse, I presume" the boy said as the door closed behind him

"Juno" she said, her eyes running up and down the boy, sizing him up "should you be walking around? Shouldn't you be resting?" The concern was legitimate but Ezra shrugged it off

"He cut off my hand not my legs" he said flatly as he wandered around the Shadows communal area that that was attached to the cockpit in a sort of open plan. Juno shrugged, Galen had the same attitude, but Galen hadn't lost a limb, yet.

"So you're the pilot I guess" Ezra said turning back to Juno "you're good"

"Thanks" Juno said, unsure of where Ezra was going with this

"So what were you? Imperial? Pirate?" Ezra asked as he slumped down in the co-pilots seat

"I graduated from the Imperial Academy as the top of my class" Juno said firmly "what were you before you waved a glow stick around and ended up on the Imperials most wanted list?"

"I'm on the Imperial most wanted list?" Ezra looked up as he peeled the glove of his new hand "I was a lot of things, con artist, thief, loft rat" he went back to examining his new had, clenching and unclenching his fist over and over.

"Yes you are" Juno leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms "care to tell me why one of your listed aliases is Jabba the Hutt?" Ezra almost laughed at that, his mouth shifting into something that was almost a smile.

"Well I got captured right after I met the others" he paused for a moment "and I was trying to be as uncooperative as possible"

"And you said Jabba the Hutt when they asked your name?" Juno almost chuckled

"First thing that came to mind" Ezra shrugged "so how'd the top graduate of their Imperial Class end up flying a Sith around?" He leaned forwards "I'm just assuming that Vader assigned you to him?" Juno froze slightly

"Oh calm down, who else could train him? None of the Inquisitors are close to as powerful as him" Ezra shrugged

"You're oddly calm" Juno said sarcastically

"If you were going to take me to Vader you wouldn't have given me this" Ezra said plainly, raising his new hand, his yellow eyes drilling into her "so I'm going to assume Starkiller is being partially honest when he says he plans to destroy Vader and the Emperor"

"We will destroy the Emperor" Ezra and Juno both jumped at the unexpected noise and turned to see Starkiller standing in the doorway "Vader murdered my father, raised me to be nothing but a weapon" the Sith made his way into the common area "I want him dead just as much as the rest of he Galaxy"

"Good" Ezra said, a smile appearing on his face, his yellow eyes shining in the dark.

##

"So Sato's given us time off?" Zeb said scratching his head, the Lasat looked over at Sabine "well I guess that's good of him" he almost expected to hear Ezra make a joke, the fact he was gone was still sinking in.

"We should use it to search for Ezra" Sabine said immediately, there was a murmur of consent from the crew and they all turned to Kanan, who'd remained silent during the discussion.

"Of course we should" the Jedi said after a while "but there's something we should all bear in mind when we start looking." The crew exchanged worried glances. Hera frowned, ever since Kanan had accepted that fact Ezra had turned to the Dark Side he'd been strangely quiet.

"Bear in mind?" Sabine said suddenly "Kanan, it's Ezra!"

"Yes Sabine" the Jedi snapped. He took a breath before continuing "but he's embraced the Dark Side, we have to be ready to accept the possibility that the Ezra we find won't be the one we lost." There was silence in the Ghost. Hera looked sadly at Sabine, she was staring across the room at Ezra's cadet helmet again, a far away look on her face.

"What does that mean?" She asked quietly

"The Dark Side changes people" the whole crew jumped and looked at the door, Ashoka was standing in the doorframe "it's unstable, addictive." She stepped into the room, the door closing behind her "passions set you free, but they change you." She looked at Kanan who nodded

"You coming with us then?" Zeb said leaning forwards. The crew looked at Ashoka. The Togruta took a breath

"I'll help you look, but for now you all need to rest"

"What?" Kanan snapped, "that's crazy"

"She's right Kanan" Hera said from across the room

"I can't believe I'm hearing this!" The Jedi growled glaring at Hera "it was your idea to let him join the crew"

"Yes it was Kanan!" Hera snapped "but look at at yourself! You're arms in a cast!"

"She's right Kanan" Ashoka said gently "do you really think you'd stand a chance against Starkiller in this condition?"

"But we can't oleave him out there!" Kanan said helplessly

"We won't" Ashoka said firmly "I'm taking an A-Wing and I'm going to start looking now. I only came here to tell you that" she tossed Hera a long range communicator "call me when you're all ready." The Togruta turned and walked away, but paused before walking out the door and looked over her shoulder "we'll find him" she said firmly. Then she left.

##

The days since they'd arrived on the dark planet Felucia had started blur together. A routine was quickly established. Up at the crack of dawn, he'd spar with PROXY, duelling legendary Jedi, reincarnated through PROXY's combat modules. Starkiller lent him the green lightsaber he'd used slice off his hand for these sparing sessions, stating plainly that he wouldn't return Ezra's own lightsaber "until he was ready". Juno would spend a few hours after that teaching him to fly the Rogue Shadow, teaching him how to maintain the ship and make upgrades. It wasn't until midday that Starkiller would train him in the Dark Side. Much like with Kanans lessons in light the lessons in the dark had started off small. Learning to control and channel his anger

"Hatred and Rage can give you great power" Starkiller had said in their first lesson "but don't allow it to blind you with arrogance, unchecked it can make you sloppy and unbalanced" the Sith smiled humourlessly "and that can cost you a hand." As the days stretched into weeks the lessons had stepped up a notch, the sparing sessions had become more ferocious. The boy quickly learned not to hesitate. When Starkiller had presented him with a Felucian native, a Wookie like creature and ordered him to practice a force choke on the creature he had faltered. A spark of compassion left in his heart. Then he'd felt a hand around his throat and Starkiller had calmly told him that until he choked the Falucian he wouldn't be released. After letting go of his throat Ezra had raised his right hand and closed his fist. Hate in his eyes. He'd grown used to his replacement limb, to him it was the same as his original hand.

The training was gruelling. But he felt it making him stronger. As weeks stretched into months he could feel the darkness of the planet feeding him strength. He started to win against PROXY more and more, cutting down Jedi with cold determination. He'd taken to wearing black. Boots, trousers and a simple leather tunic over a loose shirt, his hair had grown out, his eyes had hardened, turning from sickly yellow to gold. He'd grown a few inches.

One morning Starkiller was stood with PROXY in the clearing outside the Rogue Shadow.

"You're doing well" Starkiller said "but to truly grow powerful in the Dark Side you must let go of the compassions that held you in the light" next to him PROXY flickered, after the flash has dissipated the image of Ashoka Tano stood in PROXY's place. Ezra stared at the image, there was something twitching in his chest, it almost made him hesitate.

"Destroy what you once held dear" Starkiller called from across the clearing. He tossed Ezra Rahm Kota's lightsaber which he caught cleanly. He paused for a moment, then activated the green blade. Ashoka activated her twin white blades and charged.

Ezra waited until she was feet away before rolling under her first strike and aiming his own at her back, Ashoka blocked the strike with her second lightsaber and swung again with her first which Ezra ducked under and aimed a telekinetic push at her torso with his free hand. The Togruta skidded backwards, managing to stay on her feet, Ezra charged the disoriented Ashoka and jabbed his green blade under her guard. Ashoka moved one of her lightsabers to block the jab, falling into his trap. Swinging his blade to the right he cleanly cut her right lightsaber in half and thrust his gloved right hand out sending her tumbling back with another well aimed telekinetic push. Starkiller watched from the sidelines. A smile slowly spreading across his face. The fight was quickly turning in Ezra's favour, without her second blade Ashoka was having trouble fending off Ezra offence. In a ditch effort she swung at Ezra in offence. Ezra dodged to the side and caught her wrist in his right hand, squeezing until she dropped the lightsaber. With a final push he forced her over onto her back and advanced, raising the green blade over his head

"Ezra! Don't!" He froze. None of PROXY's projections had talked before, he stood over her, blade in the air.

"Strike her down!" Starkiller roared from across the clearing. Ezra closed his eyes, gritted his teeth and drove the blade downwards. The Togruta screamed as the blade entered her chest, after a second the projection faded and PROXY had taken Ashoka's place

"Very good sir!" The droid said climbing to it's feet "you have improved considerably in such a short time!"

"He did alright" Starkiller said shortly. He'd made his way over to the combatants "you hesitated" he said as he held out his hand. Ezra deactivated the green blade and handed it to Starkiller

"Yes master" he said looking down

"Compassion is a weakness" Starkiller urged taking the boys shoulder "don't let it blind you!" The boy looked up and nodded

"Yes my master, when the challenge is real, I won't hesitate"

"Good" Starkiller said after a pause. "Go, take some time off" the boy nodded and started back towards the Shadow. The Sith and the droid watched him go

"Master, I am curious. Why did you not have me use the avatar of Kanan Jarrus?" PROXY asked turning to Starkiller

"Killing Jarrus will be his ultimate test PROXY." The Sith said simply "there can be not practice or training for that."

##

Hours later Ezra was sat out in the clearing, he was making adjustments to his artificial hand, it was never as quick or manoeuvrable as flesh and blood. There was pull in the Force. He looked up, eyes scanning the edge of the jungle. There was something out there, the environment on Felucia throbbed with Dark Side energy, but this was different. It was concentrated, it was being focused, used. His eyes narrowed, he set down his tools and pulled his glove on. Letting his senses guide him he walked into the forest.

He stepped carefully through the under growth and in between trees, the plants had fed on dark side energy and started to take on a life of their own, eerily feeling around them for prey. He walked slowly with one hand raised in front of him, letting the Force guide him, telling him where to put his feet, when to duck and which way to turn. Pushing aside foliage he emerged into a new clearing, it was smaller then the previous, he could feel the disturbance in the Dark Side.

There was something behind him! Trusting his instincts he dived to the right. A young Zabrak had leapt through the air wielding a pair of short red lightsabers, swinging then at where his head had been seconds earlier. The hilts were shaped like batons. Ezra frowned, PROXY had used weapons like that once, what had he called them? Guard Shotos? The Zabrak had skidded to a halt after missing him, growling with frustration she charged him again. He was ready for her this time. Her strikes were off balance and fuelled by fury, he dodged them easily. Ducking underneath and around them, laughing as he did so. His laughter enraged her further, her strikes growing more and more desperate. He ducked under her latest blow and caught the hilt of her guard shoto in his metal hand. Their faces inches apart he grinned

"So, what brings a nice girl like you to a place like this?" The Zabrak snarled and tried to yank her saber free, Ezra held on though and thrust his free hand out, sending her back with a telekinetic push, she let go of her lightsaber.

"What I can't even get your name?" He smirked

"My name is Maris Brood" the Zabrak snarled "not that it will do you any good" she charged again, the two clashed with the shortened blades, Ezra fell back into a defensive form observing Broods technique

"She obviously fell to the darkness with no one to teach her" he thought to himself, watching her wild and unbalanced strikes, easily parrying her attacks it was clear she'd had no training.

"Is what it was like for Starkiller when I turned?" The thought crossed his mind as he knocked her blade aside and kicked her hard in the chest, sending her flying backwards, she landed with a grunt, sprawling out on her back

"Stay down" he said coldly. Brood ignored him, climbed to her feet and charged again.

"This is getting boring" Ezra thought to himself, rolling his eyes as he leapt cleanly out he way of Broods next attack.

"Time to end this." He said coldly and raised his hand, focusing on the hilt in Broods hand. The guard shoto was plucked cleanly from Maris's hand and sailed through the air, Ezra caught it and ignited the second blade. Brood stared at her empty hand before starting to back away. Ezra darted forward and slashed across both her knees. Maris Brood fell to her knees screaming in agony, she looked down to see both her own lightsaber blades crossed at her neck.

"Please" she whimpered looking up at Ezra. He regarded her with cold golden eyes

"Compassion is a weakness." He said flatly and slashed both blades forward. Maris Broods headless body fell to the side and lay still. Ezra stood there panting, a slow clap echoed through the clearing. Ezra turned and saw Starkiller.

"Very good" the Sith was grinning

"Did you know about her?" Ezra glanced at Broods body

"Oh I've known about Maris since before we arrived" Starkiller shrugged casually "I knew she have to be removed at some point, but I thought I'd leave it up to you" Starkiller smiled "consider it a test. Which you passed. You're almost ready. There is just one more trial"

"And what's that?" Ezra asked

"Why, a rematch of course" Starkiller laughed and activated his crimson lightsaber. After a moments pause Ezra raised the two guard shotos. A grin spreading across his face.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

In a jungle clearing on the planet Felucia lay the headless body of Maris Brood. Only minutes had passed, yet the body was already beginning to attract wild life. A corrupted lizard crawled out of the underbrush. Green skin laced with lashes of purple, it's eyes slowly turning yellow. It's head darted from side to side. Then it scurried towards the body. A steel toed black boot landed on the lizard and crushed it. Two figures danced back and forth across the clearing, red blades clashing, each matching the others ferocity, each employing the opposite strategy. The taller of the two, wielding a longer single blade took the offensive, driving his opponent back, striking without mercy. The smaller merely fended off blows and never returned the attack with two short blades, allowing the taller to lead the fight. Watching and waiting for the time to strike. The fight grew more and more intense. Starkiller swung his blade in a downwards arch at Ezra's head, the boy blocked the strike with one of his guard shotos and swung at Starkillers chest with the other. The Sith dodged backwards to avoid it, breaking the lightsaber lock. Ezra thrust his hand out in a telekinetic push, Starkiller skidded backwards but remained upright, he charged forward and pressed the attack with renewed vigour, Ezra fell back into defending himself, waiting and watching.

##

"Where is he?!" Ashoka Tano roared into the face of a terrified Imperial officer "where's Ezra Bridger?" The Togruta stood in an Imperial data outpost, set on an asteroid in the Outer Rim. Outside, next to her docked A-wing were the remains of a dozen destroyed TIE fighters, the bodies of Stormtroopers littered the ground. The only survivor was the Commanding Officer who she currently had pinned up against a wall, her hand gripping his neck. Ashoka had searched through the Outer Rim to find Ezra, every lead had turned up cold and every Imperial prison and outpost she had searched was sadly Ezra-free. She had hacked into the Imperial network hoping to find any information on his whereabouts but there wasn't even a trace of him there.

"I'm telling you!" The officer spluttered terrified "Ezra Bridger wasn't taken by the Empire!"

"Then who does Starkiller work for!" she'd asked this to others, searched for him in the Imperial Network and found nothing, she almost didn't bother asking. But to her surprise the name seemed to mean something to the Officer. His eyes went wide.

"You know who he is?" Ashoka asked curiously

"Only rumours!" The officer spluttered

"Well let's hear them" the Togruta let go of the officers neck and he slumped to the floor.

"About a year ago, a TIE fighter manufacturing plant was attacked by a rebel cell, the situation was being brought under control when a warrior arrived and massacred both the rebel cell and the Imperial garrison" the officer rubbed his neck staring up at Ashoka in terror "only a handful survived and those who did we're quickly summoned to Lord Vader and were never seen again!"

"How do you know about this?" Ashoka crouched next to the officer

"I was listening in to an open com link on one of Lord Vader's "debriefings" the signal kept cutting out, but I heard the name Starkiller, and mentions of the force." Ashoka was quiet for a long time. Staring into nothingness as she thought through what she's been told

"There's something else" the officer half whispered

"What else is there?" Ashoka said quietly

"There's talk of Jedi that faced Starkiller and lived" the officer said

"I need a name" Ashoka snapped

"Galen Marek" the officer said. Ashoka nodded and stood up

"That's all I know! Spare me!" The officer begged

"I was never going to kill you" Ashoka said plainly and then she kicked the officer hard in the head. His head slammed back into the wall and he slumped unconscious. The Togruta turned away from the officer and ran to her A-Wing, clicking a button on a remote control the cockpit hissed open and Ashoka jumped in. After tapping at controls a holographic image of Kanan appeared

"Ashoka" he said, his voice somewhat distorted "I hope you've got some good news! Our latest lead is just a dead end" Ashoka could hear the despair in the Jedi's voice

"I've something, a Jedi that's faced Starkiller"

"Who?" Kanan's voice was suddenly filled with a new enthusiasm

"Galen Marek" Ashoka almost smiled

##

Red blades clashed again and again. Sparks flew from the blades, setting small patches of dead leaves and twigs on the clearing floor on fire. The combatants broke apart, both panting. The fight had dragged on for several minutes and it was taking it's toll on both of them.

"You've learned well" Starkiller panted

"Well" Ezra panted closing his eyes and concentrating "I had a good teacher!" He opened his eyes and thrust his hand out. Burning leaves and twigs flew from the clearing floor and flew at Starkiller. The Sith deactivated his lightsaber and swiped his hand through the air sending the burning embers aside. Ezra had already charged. Leaping over Starkiller in a somersault he landed mere feet behind Starkiller and raised his lightsaber, the blade inches away from his masters neck

"I got you!" The boy panted

"And I got you" Starkiller said matter-of-factly. Ezra looked down and saw that Starkiller had pressed his deactivated lightsaber against his stomach.

"A draw" Ezra said simply

"Indeed" Starkiller said, a smile appearing on his face

"That's a right hand better off then our last match" Ezra shrugged, deactivating the guard shotos. Starkiller smiled and shook his head. His com chirped

"What is it PROXY?" He asked, raising his hand to his ear

"Master, we've picked up a ship on the scanner, it appears to be an advanced TIE fighter"

"An Inquisitor?" Ezra looked at Starkiller with a raised eyebrow

"Most likely" Starkiller nodded and tapped his com again "we're on our way back PROXY" the two started back towards the Rogue Shadow

"This may work to our advantage" Starkiller said stroking his chin

"How?" Ezra was bewildered "care to tell me the plan?" Starkiller looked down at his apprentice

"Alright" he nodded "you've earned that. If we're going to get Vader into the open we're going to have to make a lot of noise. That means wiping out every single Inquisitor and taking a huge chunk out of the Empire."

"How are we going to do that?" Ezra asked exasperated

"We can start with the Inquisitor that's coming" Starkiller said simply "the death of one will bring more"

"And taking a chunk out of the Empire?" Ezra looked up at Starkiller

"We'll need the Rebels for that." Starkiller said simply "it's time for one last lesson. I'm going to teach you to hide your connection to the Dark Side. You'll appear to be a Jedi again." The boys yellow eyes want wide.

##

"Galen Marek?" Sabine asked incredulously "so we're giving up searching for Ezra to look for a replacement?" Ashoka had met up with the Ghost and the crew had met in the communal area to discuss Ashoka's latest discovery.

"Of course not Sabine!" Kanan said quickly "but if Ashoka's right he might be our only lead!"

"It's been two months" Zeb said gruffly "at this stage I'm willin to bet on any chance we got"

"I dunno" Hera frowned "where'd this Galen Marek come from?" She looked at Kanan and Ashoka

"The name Marek sounded familiar" Ashoka said "so I checked the holocron" the Togruta raised her hand, the holocron on the Dejarik table levitated and divided into sections, a holographic image of a man and a woman appeared, both wearing Jedi robes and welding blue and yellow lightsabers respectively.

"Kento and Mallie Marek" Ashoka explained "they were Jedi that abandoned the Order before Order 66."

"Why'd they leave the order?" Zeb asked glancing at Sabine

"They fell in love" Ashoka shrugged "but that was forbidden for a Jedi. So they left, they got married. Master Skywalker seemed oddly supportive"

"If they weren't in the Order when Order 66 was issued there's a chance they survived" Kanan said looking at Ashoka for conformation

"My thoughts exactly" Ashoka nodded "this Galen Marek could be there son!"

"Then where are his parents?" Sabine asked. There was a moment of silence, Ashoka cleared her throat

"Many Jedi that survived the purge were picked off over the years by Vader and the Inquisitors" the Togruta said sadly "but I met Kento once, he seemed like the kind of man who would die for his son"

"I'd expect that of any father" Hera said darkly "but this might hold up, I used our link to the Imperial network and did some digging. Look at this" the Twi'lek tapped a few commands into a data pad and another holographic image appeared, projected by the Dejarik board "over the last six months there's been a series of Jedi attacks on Imperial military sites, the reports are pretty shaky but there are one or two images" Hera tapped a command into the data pad and a frozen image of a young Jedi appeared above the board. He wielded a blue lightsaber, a white cloak billowed around him amid a torrent of frozen red blaster fire, his hood was down revealing a young angular face, his brown hair was cut close to his head and he had piercing brown eyes. With the holograms next to each other there wasn't denying the resemblance between Galen and Kento.

"He's the image of his father" Ashoka said quietly. There was murmur of agreement from the crew.

"Are we doing this?" Kanan asked the crew. The crew looked at each other, one after another and after a moment they nodded at Kanan

"Alright then" said the Jedi "let's find Galen Marek, see what he knows about Starkiller"

"Then we find Ezra" Said Sabine.

##

On board the Rogue Shadow Ezra Bridger sat on the floor crossed legged, his eyes closed, Galen Marek sat across from him, observing the boy with brown eyes.

"Focus" he said gently "focus on remembering what it's like to be a Jedi, let those memories fill you." Around the Rogue Shadow objects started to slowly levitate. Juno Eclipse glanced to her left and saw her blaster floating next her, she rolled her yes and snatched it out of the air and clipped it back into it's holster.

Images flashed through Ezra's mind, feelings blossomed in his heart, warming him. He was in Kanans cabin examining Kanans lightsaber, he was outside the Ghost reflecting pebbles with the weapon, stars surrounded him and he reached up grasping at his glowing blue Kyber crystal. He saw Sabine, they were in front of the blast doors. The kiss that she'd never have to live down. The moment that had felt like an eternity and for the first time in two months he remembered what he was fighting for. He opened his eyes. Galen nodded in approval and passed him a mirror. Hesitantly Ezra took it, his reflection stared back at him. It was older then he remembered, a mess of tangled hair hung over his forehead framing blue eyes, he ran his left hand over his face. He the put mirror down.

"Master, I've managed to identify the approaching Inquisitor" PROXY said out of nowhere from across the room

"Which one is it?" Galen said turning to the droid. PROXY flickered, sat in his place was a Mirialan female in black Inquisitor armour

"Her!" Ezra growled

"You know her?" Juno turned to Ezra surprised

"The Seventh Sister" Ezra glared at the image "she's been a real pain over the last few months after the Grand Inquisitor died"

"She must be trying to take his place" Juno said glancing at Galen who nodded

"Most likely" Galen nodded, looking at Ezra. "Ezra, you up for a challenge?"

"If it means taking her out, I'm all for it!" The boy grinned and cracked the knuckles on his left hand. Galen smiled

"Then you're ready for this" he unclipped Ezra's lightsaber from his belt and held it out to him. Ezra hesitated for a second, then raised it's right hand, the weapon flew from Galen's hand and landed neatly in its owners gloved grip, it was lighter then he remembered. Galen got up and started to rummage through a large trunk, pulling odd bits and prices out.

"You'll need these" Ezra got up and stood next to Galen. The Jedi handed him a homing beacon, a fistful of credits, a black cloak and a simple black helmet. The helmet had no defining features, blacked out optical lenses for eyes and a plain face plate, he swung the cloak around his shoulders and put the helmet on, the Shadows interior lit up, enhanced by the lenses, a series of heads up displayed appeared inside the helmet, a thermometer, a Geiger counter and a small bar along the bottom that was labelled

"Reserve oxygen"

"The helmet will filter out toxins and smoke, and in emergencies there's a small reserve oxygen supply."

"Thanks Galen" Ezra tapped the side of the helmet and the face plate and goggles slid aside revealing his face just like his cadet helmet had done "what are these for?" He held up the homing beacon and the credits. Galen had buried his head in another chest

"You're going to need them" he stood up, he was holding a smaller set of plain black Mandalorian armour, a chest piece, arm, knee and shin guards

"When the Inquisitor gets here, kill her and take her TIE fighter, go to Lothal and make as much noise as you can. Bring the Ghost to you, but don't interact with them until I contact you"

"Wait!" Juno looked bewildered "you're leaving the fight the Inquisitor alone?"

"He's more then ready Juno" he turned to Ezra and handed him the armour "I have faith in you Ezra". Ezra looked up at Galen in thought for a moment before nodding and starting to put the armour on

"How will you get in touch?" He said looking up as he attached the shin guards" Galen handed him a long range transmitter "keep it at that frequency, use the homing beacon to draw her to you" Ezra nodded

"Where are you going?"

"I'm going to make some noise as Galen Marek" the two grinned at each other.

##

Half an hour later Ezra was sat cross legged in the clearing. The Rogue Shadow was gone. The homing beacon was activated and set in front of him. His eyes were closed and he was meditating. He felt shifts in the Force around him, he opened his eyes and found himself in a room full of stars. The room where he'd received his Kyper crystal.

"Ok" he thought to himself "this is a new one" he stood up and walked a few steps before turning on the spot and yelling out in surprise. Stood where he was sat was a boy in a mixed matched orange and green outfit, he had shaggy blue hair and bright blue eyes, they both had the same scar on their cheek. Two lines left by the Grand Inquisitors blade. He was looking at himself. Or at least his younger self, from before he'd embraced the Dark Side. The younger Ezra regarded the older with disapproving blue eyes

"Look at yourself" he tutted scornfully "look at what you've become" Ezra stared at the younger boy in astonishment. There was only two months difference between them yet the changes where staggering. He was a good three inches shorter, his frame much more slender his face didn't carry the rage and pain that coursed through him now and then.

"You crossed every line" the younger boy shook his head

"Don't lecture me!" He snapped back at the other one "I haven't done anything you wouldn't"

"Obviously" the younger said dryly raising his eyebrow

"I did what you were never brave enough to do!" Ezra glared "I've become stronger then you ever were!"

"And what has that cost you?" The younger Ezra crossed his arms, both hands whole and human "pieces of yourself. Literally!"

"I lost this protecting our friends!" Ezra raised his hand, the glove was gone, the younger Ezra examined the armour and gears that had replaced flesh "you'd do the same thing! As would I! A thousand times over!"

"And what would the others say if they'd seen what you've done?" The younger looked him right in the eye. "What would Sabine say if she saw you cut down that girl while she begged for mercy?"

"Don't bring Sabine into this!" He growled his hands clenching into fists

"Maris was about the same age as Sabine" the younger stared intently at Ezra "would you do that to her too?"

"Of course not!" Rage coursed through him, he glowered at his younger self, "insolent boy!"

"Why not? You've done it before." The Jedi crossed his arms.

"I'd never harm Sabine! Brood attacked" the older's right hand clenched around the hilt of his lightsaber

"She was beaten! She was begging for mercy!" The younger pointed at Ezra accusingly, his eyes stern "how can you trust yourself to see her again? What happens when she finds out what you are and realises you're the enemy?"

"We're on the same side!"

"Are you?" The younger tilted his head to the side, "she wants to free the Galaxy, you want to rule it."

"I can protect the Galaxy! Keep everyone safe!" Ezra felt a sharp pain in his eyes "just like we said we would!"

"And their safety is better in your hands then in theirs?" The younger was cynical

"You know it is!" Ezra said in a soft, menacing tone "you've seen the Darkness in the Galaxy! You remember growing up alone." The younger nodded

"But what will that conquest cost you? Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny." The vision shifted. He was on a platform on a volcanic world. Rivers of magma surrounded him, the landscape was barren, nothing but ash and rock. He was standing on a landing platform, a black star fighter was behind him, it was a design he'd never seen before, a slender body with two sets of wings stacked on top of each other beside the cockpit, an astromech was settled into the fighter behind the cockpit. A closer inspection revealed it to be a re painted Chopper. Ahead of him was an imperial prison complex

"Stay with the ship Chop" he said causally as he walked away pulling his hood up. The platform lead to a pathway suspended above the molten lakes, shield generators hummed constantly, a shell of blue surrounded the walkway. The whole complex surrounded by a massive ray shield. An obvious feature, even for the Empire. He was dressed in the black armour Galen had given him, it was tighter now, a red symbol was stencilled onto the chest. He ran down gangways and up stairs a black cloak billowing around him. A long walkway lead to the complex entrance, a dozen soldiers were fanned out in a horse shoe formation, guarding the doors.

"Freeze!" The obvious Commander pointed at him, the unit all raised their blasters. All dozen barrels pointed right at him.

"I don't have time for this" he said flatly he raised his right hand and clenched his fist. The whole unit rose into the air, clutching at their throats, legs kicking wildly.

"That's enough Ezra!" The complex doors had opened. Sabine was standing in the open door, her armour had been repainted, a youth with blonde hair was on her right, a lightsaber hung on his belt. Behind them were the silhouettes of others he couldn't make out

"We both know that's not my name Sabine" he called back coldly, his fist still firmly raised.

"I'm not calling you that name." She snapped "that's not who I know"

"Ezra Bridger was weak." He mocked as he advanced on her. The youth unclipped his lightsaber and activated a blue blade

"He was a Jedi!" The youth glared at him

"An idealistic fool" he said smoothly "I destroyed him. I am Remnous. I am Sith." Sabine shook her head

"Then I will avenge him" quick as flash she drew a new blaster from her right holster and fired. Right at him.

He opened his eyes. An advanced TIE was landing in the clearing. He shook his head and stood up. The TIEs hatch opened, an Inquisitor leapt from the fighter and landed gracefully several feet in front of him. She had a slender build with a plain face plate helmet. He reached up and removed his helmet.

"Well!" The Inquisitor laughed with delight "this is a surprise" the visor opened, revealing the Mirialans yellow face. Ezra stayed still, regarding the woman with cold eyes. The Mirialan didn't seem to notice his change in character and kept talking

"Where have you been?" She cooed "there's been some nasty rumours about you" she unclipped her lightsaber "people all over the Galaxy saying you're dead, even Lord Vader couldn't sense you" she grinned. He'd met Rancors with less threatening smiles.

"How pleased Lord Vader will be when I bring you to him" the Mirialan activated one of her red blades "so why don't you just come quietly? It would be such a shame to ruin such a pretty face." Anger boiled within him. She was mocking him! He'd always felt resentment for the Inquisitors, this one especially. He'd never had the power or the will to end her. Well he did now.

"Yes it would" his words came out as a threatening hiss, he unclipped his lightsaber "I'll make this quick." The Seventh Sisters eyes narrowed. She was looking the boy up and down, only now realising something had changed.

"What happened to you?" She was almost cautious, unsure of wether or not she wanted an answer

"A lot" he started to walk, the Seventh Sister parroted his actions and the two started to circle each other

"So where's your body guard?" Ezra joked as they circled. He still hadn't activated his lightsaber "what do you call that one?" He feigned confusion, rubbing his chin "the Fifth Brother?" He snapped his fingers "that's it! You know I always figured he was your boss" he laughed at the fury on the Mirialans face "what with him being Fifth and you being Seventh"

"That oath is in no way my superior!" She snapped at him, he could feel her anger building. Good.

"He's slow and short sighted! No imagination!" She raised her red blade "and when I bring you to Lord Vader they will all kneel to me as the new Grand Inquisitor!" She charged through the clearing swinging at his head with her lightsaber. He easily ducked under her blade and spun around so he was facing her, she spun and slashed at him again. Again he dodged, backing away, putting ground between them.

"Can you?" He asked simply

"What?!" The Inquisitor raised her weapon and activated her second blade, the circular hand guard spinning shut

"You can't bring me to Vader" he goaded her with his words

"You can't win here child!" The Inquisitors lightsabers spun, her eyes shadowed "you'd have to kill me, and that's not the Jedi way." Ezra closed his eyes, he felt pain behind his closed eyelids. When he opened them again the Inquisitor backed away in shock, staring at his golden eyes

"I am no Jedi" He said simply and activated his lightsaber. The blue blade hummed familiarly, it was almost comforting. He leapt at the Inquisitor, spinning through the air, bringing his blade down on her head. The Mirialan blocked the strike. Ezra landed behind her and continued the fight, abandoning the defensive form he used when facing superior opponents and let his controlled rage lead the flight. Making lightning fast strikes, barreling through her defences and pushing her backwards. The Seventh Sister backed away, making an effort to keep the boy at arms distance. He had always been impressive, for his age and meagre training. Now, with the power of the Dark Side the boy was a machine, slicing through her defences, overcoming every trick and strategy she used. She didn't know if she could win this fight. Ezra could see her tiring and knew the end was coming

"I said I'd make this quick" he said simply. He thrust his arm out pushing her back with a telekinetic attack, she skidded backwards, toppling over as she stopped. He raised his left arm, he closed his eyes and felt the power within him, imagined it traveling through his arm. He opened his eyes and opened his hand. Lightning shot from his hand, striking the Seventh Sister as she lay on the ground. Her howls of agony echoed through the jungle as she thrashed in pain. He remembered the feeling of the lightning, the pain. He almost felt sorry for her, he powered through the pity building within him and kept up the assault until he felt himself tire. The crackling stopped, the air was charged with energy. Groaning the Mirialan made an effort to get up. Ezra was on her in a heart beat, slicing her arm cleanly off above the elbow. The Seventh Sister didn't have the strength to scream. She forced herself onto her knees, looking up as Ezra retrieved her lightsaber with the Force

"Who are you?" She asked weakly as he advanced on her, activating a single red blade. He paused, and thought for a moment, his golden eyes far away.

"I'm not Ezra Bridger" he said it simply, he wasn't. "But I don't mind wearing his name for a while longer" he waved the red blade in front of him, watching it blur. He looked down at the beaten Mirialan. "When Vader and the Emperor lie dead I can take a new name." He paused and a smile crept across his face "and I'm beginning to like the sound of, Remnous." The Seventh Sister stared up at him, her expression a mixture of terror and admiration

"You're going to be spectacular" she said then bowed her head. Remnous grinned and raised the red blade above his head. He brought it down in a blur of red. The Seventh Sisters lifeless body slumped to the ground.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

An advanced TIE fighter flew away from Felucia, at the controls sat a young man. He wasn't much more then a boy, but it wouldn't be right to call him one. His eyes were closed and his face was far away as if in a trance. A light started flashing on the TIEs console. He opened his eyes, they were blue. He typed a command into the flashing console and the stars blurred into lines, the fighter was propelled into hyper space.

Far away from Felucia, on the planet Bespin the Rogue Shadow was landing on the mining facility Cloud City. Galen Marek strode down the Shadows ramp, he was dressed in a mostly grey outfit, a simple chest piece with grey shoulder guards, white sleeves stretched just past his elbows and were tucked into grey armoured gauntlets. Worn over all of this was a white robe. Galen glanced around him before pulling up the robes hood and running into the city. The Jedi didn't stop running until he reached a small bar in the inner city, he stopped just outside the entrance and tapped his com link

"You're sure he's here Juno?" Galen looked at the bar with distaste

"According to the scans, yes he is" Juno answered

"I told him to stop drinking!" Galen muttered to himself and walked inside.

The bar was crowded and noisy. Galen stood in the entrance his head scanning from side to side. A table in the corner caught his eye. An old man with long grey hair was sat at it, a bandage was wrapped around his eyes, he was dressed in scorched and dented armour. Galen rolled his eyes and made his way through the sea of people to the corner

"Always knew you would breeze back through my doors eventually boy" the blind man didn't even look up and simply "stared" at his drink

"It's good to see you too General" Galen joked dryly as he sat down opposite to the old man

"So what brings you back?" The old man sipped his drink "finally given up on your suicide quest?"

"On the day you do what I told you and stop drinking" Galen pulled the old mans glass away with the force and inspected it

"It's none alcoholic boy" the old man raised his hand and the glass returned to him "I know you weren't my apprentice for long but you should speak to me with more respect"

"And six months of Jedi training from a drunk wasn't exactly constructive Kota" Galen replied smoothly

"You have your eyes burned out and tell me you don't want a drink!" Kota snapped back

"I probably would" Galen leaned forward, "General, it's time to get back in the fight"

"There is no fight against the Empire boy" Kota said slumping back in his chair "not one we can win"

"You're wrong Kota!" Galen ran his hand through his hair on frustration "I've found other Jedi!" Kota was quiet, his mouth slightly open

"Who?" He asked softly

"Ashoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker's apprentice! There's a surviving former Padawan calling himself Kanan Jarrus and his apprentice Ezra Bridger, they're part of an Alliance of Rebel Cells Kota!. They have a fleet, fighters, soldiers!" Galen thumped his fist on the table "we can help them Kota" he looked at where the Jedi's eyes had been, he remembered burning them out, this Alliance is destined to overthrow the Empire Kota, and then know it. There was a moment of silence, eventually Kota drained his glass

"You can" He looked away "I'm no good to anyone anymore"

"You're Rahm Kota!" Galen urged the Jedi "they don't need your eyes, just your mind." Galen reached to his belt, unclipped Kota's lightsaber and placed it on the table in front of the blind Jedi "get back in the fight. General Kota." Kota ran his hand over the table until he found the lightsaber

"Where did you get this?" Kota asked in astonishment, he never thought he'd "see" his weapon again

"I took it from the Sith Assassin that blinded you" Galen lied smoothly "he took it when you fell from the wreckage. His name is Starkiller." Kota looked at Galen,

"You faced him?" Galen nodded,

"Yes General, the Rebels have gad a run in with him too, we can bring him to justice!" Kota took the lightsaber, running his fingertips over the weapon, he gripped it tightly.

"So, where is this Rebel Alliance?" The blind man asked

##

In the Outer Rim an advanced TIE fighter came out of hyperspace near the planet Lothal. The Imperial blockade had been lifted some weeks ago as it became obvious that the Lothal Rebels had abandoned operations on the planet. A few Star Destroyers were still stationed there as a part of standard procedure but it was easy to find a way around them, if you knew how. If not, this was still an Inquisitors TIE fighter, officers assigned to Lothal weren't often bold enough to question an Inquisitor. Most liked their throats intact.

##

Hera sighed, she put down the data pad she'd been looking through and rubbed her temples. It was late in the Ghost, she was alone in the cockpit. It had been nine weeks since Ezra had stayed behind to protect them, sacrificing himself in the process. It had been six weeks since they started searching. As much as the crew had protested she'd insisted they do as Ashoka said and take time to rest, they all needed to adjust. Kanan had barely spoken in the three weeks they'd spent waiting for his arm to heal, spending most of his time meditating, trying to find Ezra in the Force. It broke her heart, seeing him so desperate to find his Padawan and growing more and more disheartened when he failed. One evening, maybe a week after Ezra was taken she'd taken a tray to Kanans cabin, determined to get him to eat. She'd found him sitting on the floor, leaning against his bunk staring into nothingness. He'd looked at her with empty eyes

"Do you remember when we first found Ezra?" He'd said quietly

"Of course I do love" she put the tray down and sat down next to him

"I felt him in the Force" Kanan said quietly, his teal eyes far away, "I didn't know him, and I wasn't trying to find him, but I knew he was there, felt him right next to me. But I can't find him now, when I've known him for so long" Hera had pulled the Jedi close and put her head on his shoulder, letting him talk.

"The last thing Master Billaba ever did was die protecting me" Kanan closed his eyes, the sound of blaster fire echoing in his memories and his masters voice saying "I'll be right behind you!" The first and last lie she'd ever told him. He sighed deeply "I thought taking Ezra as an Apprentice would help me makes amends, make things right. But he's gone, he gave himself defending us. Just like Master Billaba"

"You can't blame yourself Kanan!" Hera had said, "Ezra isn't gone"

"He's not dead" the Jedi said flatly "that doesn't mean he isn't gone. He's lost Hera, lost in the Dark, and it's because I wasn't a good enough teacher to guide him." Kanan had broken down after that, sobbing gently as Hera held him. They all felt the loss, the crew was shaken to it's core. Sabine had refused to speak to anyone for weeks, stately plainly that until they started looking they had nothing to discuss, Sabine did everything alone, even mourn.

Zeb had been angry, angry at Starkiller, even at Ezra

"Why'd the kid have to be such a hero?" The Lasat had exclaimed, banging is fists onto the Dejarik board. Grief had many forms, even Chopper had stopped making trouble, it seemed hollow without Ezra. Everything they did seemed hollow without him.

##

On the moon of Nar Shaddaa Ashoka Tano inspected the wreckage of the observation platform of the TIE fighter manufacturing plant that orbited above her. According to the Imperial Network, this was the site of Rahm Kota's death. If the officer was right, Starkiller had been here. It was a slim chance, but she might find something to go on. The security footage had been wiped clean, but the wreck still told a story. The interior was covered in scorch marks, from both blasters and lightsabers. She couldn't make much out, the place had been picked clean by scavengers and Imperials. Their tracks trampled over the signs the battle had left. There was no logical reason to come here, but when you're faced with dead ends you look into every lead. There was something else, there was a pull in the Force, an urge to come here. It was probably a warning. There was no wind, the air was calm. She sat down on a dented computer bank and closed her eyes. Her breathing calm, she waited. There was no sound, after a moment she opened her eyes. Starkiller stood before her, his face still covered by his helmet, she stared fixedly at the T shaped visor. Neither of them moved, a slight breeze picked up and Starkillers tattered robe flapped at his feet. Ashoka slowly stood and unclipped her lightsabers, Starkiller raised his hand and his weapon flew to his hand. She had time to examine it now, dull grey metal, a similar design to Master Skywalker's, except plates were missing and a glowing red Kyper crystal was exposed. Slowly she took a few steps forward and knelt, placing her lightsabers a few feet in front her. Starkiller tilted his head to one side, then followed suit, kneeling a few feet away from the Togruta and set his weapon in the middle in between hers. They were silent for a while each surveying the other wearily.

"So, you're not taking you're mask off then?" Ashoka said after a few minutes had passed. Starkiller laughed, his voice heavily altered by the mask

"Really Ashoka?" Starkiller leaned forward, "of all the things you want to ask, that's it?" Ashoka's face stayed expressionless

"I guess that's a no then" she said flatly, her eyebrow raised

"Yes it is" Starkiller crossed his arms "who I am doesn't matter, just what I am" there was a pause, then Starkiller shook his head "go on, ask me" Ashoka took a breath

"Who is Darth Vader?"

"You know who he is" Starkillers voice wasn't snide or condescending. It was dead serious.

"That thing is not Anakin Skywalker!" Ashoka snapped back

"Maybe it's not now" Starkiller said flatly, "but it was"

"No!" Ashoka snapped "Anakin would never turn! He died a Jedi's death!" Starkiller chuckled

"Oh come on, you're smarter then that Snips"

"Don't call me that!" The Togruta's hands clenched into fists

"Oh that's right" Starkiller mocked, "you hate that don't you?" The Sith laughed coldly "sorry Tano, but it's our heroes that let us down the most." Ashoka glared at the Sith, her eyes darted to her lightsabers

"I can feel your anger rising" Starkiller tilted his head back "go on then Grey Jedi, take your weapons, we both know you can't beat me"

"I always had more luck the second time around" she snapped, she took a breath, allowing her anger to drain away. "Enough of your games, where Ezra Bridger?" Starkiller tilted his head to the side,

"I don't know" he said simply

"You don't know? How can you not know?!" The Togruta glowered at the Sith

"The little brat escaped me weeks ago, stole my ship and left me here." Starkillers own hands clenched into fists

"He escaped?" Ashoka was shocked

"Yes he did" Starkiller shrugged "I'm surprised he didn't run straight home, but then again" she could hear his smirk "he wasn't the same boy I took"

"What do you mean by that?" Nerves started to tingle in Ashoka's stomach

"You know what I mean Snips. The Dark Side changes people, your master is proof of that"

"What did you do to him?" The Togruta's eyes narrowed

"I showed him the Darkness, he didn't seem to like it, he fought it, I had to restrain him quite a few times" Ashoka's eyes widened with horror "you should have heard him scream!" Starkillers voice was malicious" thrashing around, calling out for "Kanan", he was his master wasn't he?"

"He is his master!" Ashoka snapped, she could feel her rage building, how dare he!

"Maybe, maybe not" Starkiller shrugged "but I doubt it, he was convinced you'd all abandoned him, left him to me"

"He wouldn't believe that"

"Maybe not the Bridger you knew," Starkiller chuckled menacingly "but I don't know if he's around anymore. You failed him. Soon he'll find his sense and return to me"

He stole your ship, he hates you, there's no way he'd serve you" Ashoka wished she could believe that, but she put on a brave face. The Sith didn't react, he stared at her "maybe so" he said calmly, "I am so glad you came Ashoka"

"Oh really? Why's that?" The Togruta's eyes narrowed suspiciously

"I needed a ship" Starkiller thrust his arm out, the Togruta was flung backwards, thudding painfully into the far wall. Starkiller raised his hand and his lightsaber flew to him, he flicked his wrist and Ashoka's flew off to the side, then he turned and ran for the broken windows. Ashoka sat up, stars dancing in front of her eyes. She heard the roar of her A-wings engines starting up and she clumsily got to her feet and started for the windows, raising her hand her lightsabers flew to her, she caught them both in her right hand and managed to make it to the shattered windows in time to see her A-wing fly away. The Togruta sat down heavily and pulled her long range transmitter from her belt

"Ghost, this is Ashoka"

"We hear you Ashoka" Heras voice answered

"I'm gonna need a lift" Ashoka sat down and massaged the back of her head

"Why? What happened to your A-wing?" It was Sabines voice this time

"I ran into Starkiller on Nar Shaddaa" the Togruta said "he stole my ship, Sabine, Ezra has escaped him!" There was a long moment of silence, then Kanans voice was on that com

"We'll be right there"

##

On Lothal a figure in black armour with a black helmet was crouched on a roof top, listening closely to an exchange between two Imperial officers as one signed forms and a squadron of Stormtroopers attached crates to the back of two speeder bikes

"-top priority, these must get to the Imperial complex as soon as possible!"

"Top priority huh?" The figure said under his breath "I like the sound of that" the Stormtrooper escort was slowly marching away "that's right Bucketheads, leave me to it" the figure grinned behind his helmet. He knew the streets, the best place to intercept them would be the market, lots of obstacles, they'd be too fast to avoid and have to stop. He took off, his cloak billowing out behind him, jumping across alleys and over chimneys. Behind him he heard the speeder bikes start up and he came to a skidding halt over looking the market place, his eyes scanned the market. A ship had just arrived, unloading a shipment of fruit to a merchant

"Perfect" he grinned and stretched his hand out, feeling the stack of crates with the Force. His plan was pull the whole stack down, but as he gripped the pile he remembered what Rex had once told him

"When you look through the Force, don't forget to look with your eyes too" he scanned the pile again and spotted a single crate at the bottom of the stack, if it came loose the whole pile would come down.

"Good advice Rex" he muttered and focused his efforts on the single crate, he clenched his fist and yanked his arm back. The crate flew out from under the pile and smashed into the wall of an opposite building. Fruit spilled over the market and the stack teetered and fell. Beggars scrambled to the open crate as the two Imperial speeder bikes rounded the corner and came to an abrupt stop seeing the commotion.

"Get out the way!" One of the riders stood up on their bike, a shadow passed over him, he looked up in time to see a black boot collide with his head. The first rider flew off his bike and landed on the wreckage of crates. The masked figure landed

"Hey!" The second rider drew his blaster and fired at the masked youth who'd landed next to his now unconscious partners speeder. The youth dodged nimbly under the blaster fire and somersaulted over the second speeder, he landed next to the remaining rider and upper cut him in the jaw, sending him tumbling off the speeder and onto the ground his helmet flying off

"Who are you?" The rider stuttered as he scurried away from the youth as he advanced. The youth reached up and tapped the side of his helmet, the face plate slid aside "Ezra Bridger?" The rider stared up in shock

"Sort of" Ezra replied and kicked the rider hard in the head, knocking him unconscious. He turned back to the speeders and started to detach the crates, he had about a minute before the Imperials realised something had gone wrong with the transport. After that it would be about a two minute response time to see what was wrong

"Ezra Bridger" thought to himself "yeah, that was me" the crates came loose, forty five seconds. "Who am I now? I'm not Remnous yet" he pushed the crates to the other speeder and pushed them behind the other two crates, thirty seconds. "Am I just different? I don't feel anything like I used to" he crouched down next to crates and worked on attaching them, fifteen seconds. "All I know is I'm not a Jedi anymore, I am the heir to the Sith" the crates where attached, he swung his leg over the speeder and gunned the engines. Time was up, the response was on the way. He turned the bike steeply and shot off down the street the engines howling. "And one day I'll kill Vader myself" he grinned at the thought.

##

"-and by the time I got to the window he'd already taken the ship" Ashoka said as she pressed an ice pack against the back of her head.

"He escaped" Kanan sat back, a grin spreading across his face. The whole crew was gathered in the common area once again, listening to Ashoka recount her latest encounter with Starkiller. A bubble of tension had been building up since Ezra had left had burst, he wasn't back yet, but they all felt better knowing he wasn't in Starkillers clutches anymore.

"So where is he?" Sabine asked "if he had a ship why didn't he go back to the fleet?"

"Starkiller said that Ezra resisted the Dark Side" Ashoka said "turning can cause an identity crisis"

"So he went away to find himself?" Zeb glanced at Kanan who nodded

"Most likely" the Jedi stroked his chin "which begs the question, do we keep looking if he doesn't want to be found?"

"We have to find him!" Sabine thumped her fist onto the table. The crew looked at her and there was a moment of silence. "I've been checking the Imperial Network and there's been reports of Jedi attacks on Imperial supply shipments on Lothal, it's got to be Ezra!"

"It's likely" Hera said gently "but Sabine, if what the Dark Side did to him was so bad he didn't want to come home, do you really want to see him like that?" Sabine paused, unsure of how to answer.

"It's Ezra" she looked at Hera coldly, "if we know where he is, we have to find him, just so we can know if he's ok and offer him help." The crew glanced at each other

"I agree" heads turned to look at Ashoka. The Togruta looked back at the crew and crossed her arms "he needs help" she said simply. Kanan nodded and looked at Hera

"Set a course for Lothal"

##

The response had arrived, three speeders. Ezra gunned the engines and pushed the speeder, the crates clattered behind him.

"They're slowing me down" he grunted in annoyance. The riders behind him pulled out blasters and fired at him. He swerved from side to side, with a typical Stormtroopers aim he'd be fine. He'd left the capital and was shooting down the Imperial road his cloak billowing out behind him, the wind roaring around him. He grinned, he felt alive! He'd always loved the rush of doing something dangerous. He gripped the speeders throttle tightly and reduced his speed. His pursuers shot past him as they over took, he sped up again and pulled his lightsaber from his belt. He drew level with the rider at the back of the group and activated the weapons blade, the rider stared at the blade in terror

"No! No! No!" He cried out as Ezra raised the blade and neatly sliced off the front of his speeder. Both the vehicle and the rider were sent spinning off the road. Ezra glanced over his shoulder and saw a small pillar of fire rise out of the tall grass.

"Whoops" he muttered sarcastically as he deactivated his lightsaber blade. He caught up with the second rider, pulling up next to him on his left, the rider glanced at him and rammed his speeder into Ezra's. He held on as the impact rocked his speeder, he gritted his teeth and flicked his hand. The Imperial gave a surprised yell as his speeder flipped over and he was sent flying. There was only one Imperial now, Ezra pulled up next to him and the two rode side by side

"Do you really want to do this?" He looked at the rider. The rider looked at Ezra for a second, then looked behind him

"You know what? I'm good" he said and pulled on his brakes. Ezra rode on alone, a grin slowly spreading across his face. He left the road and rode across the grass land. He crossed over hills, the landscape blurring around him.

##

An Imperial Star Destroyer orbited the planet Felucia. This was the last reported location of the Inquisitor the Seventh Sister, the disappearance of an Inquisitor merited an investigation, but special measures had been taken in this case. Darth Vader himself was overseeing the investigation, accompanied by the Inquisitor the Second Sister. The two stood side by side on the Destroyers bridge, surveying the planet coldly. The Second Sister stood just at Vader's shoulder height, she was unique among the Inquisitors, previously second only to the Grand Inquisitor she had taken to being at Lord Vader's personal call and his most favoured agent amongst the Inquisitors. She was a mystery to most of the Empire, including the Inquisitors. Rumours about her origin varied from her being a fallen Jedi to Vader's own daughter. He did seem to allow her a great deal of leniency. Her style differed massively from the other Inquisitors, she wore no armour, instead, a simple black robe belted at the waist, the belt sported several notches containing extra equipment and two lightsabers curved at the end of the hilt, opposed to the standard Inquisitor blade. The robe had a large hood, the only part of her face visible was her nose and chin, her yellow eyes hidden in shadow.

"Do you sense her my master?" Her voice was unaltered. Vader didn't reply, his gaze on the planet bellow.

"No" he said, a shuttle was approaching the Destroyer.

"Lord Vader" a communications officer said nervously "the search party has recovered the Inquisitors corpse." There was silence on the bridge, broken only by Vader's metallic breathing

"Have the body moved to the ships medical bay, I will inspect it personally" Vader turned, his cloak swishing, the Second Sister followed him a step or so behind. The Destroyers crew parted before them, their shoulders flinched and their heads down, the Seventh Sister looked at them with distaste. The Empire ruled through fear, fear was used to control the weak. An entire elevator full of Stormtroopers cleared out and allowed them the lift to themselves at the sight of Vader, the Sith Lord didn't even glance at the soldiers as he strode past them and entered the lift, the Inquisitor close behind him. They stood in silence, listening to the hum of the elevator. The Second Sister looked up at Vader, now she was out of the gloom more of her face was visible. Yellow Mirialan skin, black markings ran from the bridge of her nose down her cheeks, "Master, who do you believe killed the Seventh Sister?" Vader looked down at the Inquisitor, her face reflected in the eyes of his mask.

"I have a few suspects" the Siths breathing echoed in the confined space "there is a band of Rebels lead by a Jedi named Kanan Jarrus, he was one who defeated the former Grand Inquisitor"

"Could this have anything to do with the disappearance of Ezra Bridger my Lord?" The Inquisitor tilted her head "does Jarrus believe we are the ones who killed him?"

"Bridger isn't dead." Vader said without turning his head

"Do you know what happened to him my Lord?" The Seventh Sister was surprised Vader had waited this long to tell her, she was normally kept very well informed by Vader. The Sith didn't reply, and simply stared ahead. The elevator stopped and opened into the medical bay, the body of the Seventh Sister had been placed on an autopsy table, a full crew of medical droids stood ready and waiting next to it.

"Leave us" Vader said simply, the Medical crew filed out obediently. Soon they were alone, the Second Sister crossed to a terminal and entered a sequence of commands. A scanner unfolded from the wall and ran the length of the table, a blue light running over the dead Inquisitor as the scanner moved. Results of the scan started to appear on the terminal.

"Her arm was removed with a lightsaber, judging by the angle the blade hit her arm at it was done when her guard was done." The Inquisitor looked at Vader, then looked at the scanner again.

"She's taken a severe amount of punishment, burns, from lighting." The Second Sister looked up at Vader and raised her eyebrow. Vader looked at the Inquisitor

"Your reliance on technology is a weakness, all you need is the Force" Vader looked at the dead Inquisitor

"This is a minor loss" Vader said casually "the Rebels interference with the recovery of Force sensitive children has hindered out ability to quickly train replacement Inquisitors." Vader made a fist "No more, the Jedi have gone too far" He turned from the dead Inquisitor and strode over to the Second Sister, she in turn stepped away from the terminal and bowed he head as Vader approached. The Dark Lord looked down at her

"It is time to end this insurrection, the Grand Inquisitor failed to stop these Jedi. You will"

"Yes me Lord" the Second Sister bowed her head

"Lower your hood and kneel" Vader raised his hand and his lightsaber flew to it from his belt. The Second Sister slowly lowered her hood. She was a Mirialan, her yellow skin greyed and her eyes sunken from years spent in the Dark Side. The Mirialan slowly knelt and Vader's feet, the Sith activated his lightsaber

"You are strong in the Dark Side, Inquisitor, the Rebel band is aided by the Jedi Kanan Jarrus and the apprentice of Anakin Skywalker." The Second Sister looked up her eyes wide, black markings ran from the bridge of her nose and down both cheeks. Vader raised his lightsaber and lowered it to just above her right shoulder "I am tasking you to destroy these Jedi. They will likely be in contact with Galen Marek, destroy him and well." Vader moved his blade over her head to her left shoulder. "Do this in my name." He deactivated the blade. "Rise, Grand Inquisitor." The Mirialan, closed her eyes, a smile playing across her lips "Yes my Master." She rose and quickly pulled her hood back up. "It will be done"

"Good" Vader turned away from her "I am leaving you the ship." He strode to the door and turned back to her as it opened. "Do not fail me." He said plainly as he lost.

##

Ezra was sat in his old tower, stacks of crates from his weeks of stealing from the Empire were piled against the wall, they'd be useful for something. He was at his desk working, pieces of the Seventh Sisters lightsaber littered the workbench, the ring had been removed. It had taken a day to open the case without damaging the weapon. Trying to open it with the Force had felt wrong, it wasn't his weapon. It was like trying to force his foot into the wrong shoe. When he had got it open he'd found out the blade was powered by four red crystals. He'd since then taken the trophy apart, using the pieces to build something else. He'd searched the Black Market for parts and had raided through Imperial tech shipments looking for anything useful. He'd made some adjustments to his first lightsaber, he'd removed the casing and wired in one of the red crystals below the blue, the wiring went to a new notch in the handle below the trigger that would turn the blade red or blue when pressed. With the rest of the pieces and tech he'd designed a whole new weapon. He'd searched through the Imperial records of the Jedi temple for alternate designs and had combined several into a unique weapon. The hilt was black, the metal tinged with a dull red, reminiscent of stained blood. His new design reflected the old slightly , it sported hand guard shaped to his fist, emitters were built into the guard at either end, when activated a lightsaber blade would run along the guard, projected from emitter to emitter. Directly behind the top of the hand guard on the opposite side of hilt was another emitter which would produce a shorter hand guard blade. A final emitter was mounted on the hilt, when activated it would sport a red blade. Taking the weapon in hand he stood, starring at it and turning it in his hands. Raising it above his head he activated it. The red blades hissed as they activated, he lowered it to eye level and examined it. The blades hummed together, he swung it gently from side to side, his face bathed in blood red light.

"It's gonna take some getting used to" he said optimistically, smiling at it with pride. Starkillers communicator crackled from across the room

"Ezra? Come in" Ezra quickly deactivated his new lightsaber rushed to the transmitter and grabbed the microphone

"I'm here Master"

"You've done well on Lothal, you've gained the attention of the Empire and the Rebels. ISB Agent Kallus has been dispatched to Lothal, the Ghost is on it's way as well." Starkiller sounded impressed

"Thank you Master, what's the plan" he gripped the microphone eager to begin. Starkiller chuckled

"This is what I need you to do"

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

On Lothal at the dead of night, a figure in black armour crept along the outer wall of the Imperial complex. Hugging close to the walls and freezing in place whenever a patrol passed him. He lingered in a shadowed patch, watching different patrols pass, until a pair of Stormtroopers passed him, both of them caught up in conversation.

"So I got my orders" one Stormtrooper was saying to the other "I'm being transferred to Naboo" Ezra slowly followed the patrol, his feet not making a sound, the world lit up through the lenses of his helmet. He didn't need to be cautious, the bucketheads were so caught up in their conversation they wouldn't have noticed a Gundark charging them.

"You're lucky" the other Trooper muttered "I'm not being transferred"

"Bad luck I guess" the other Trooper shrugged as they came to a door in the wall "at least the Spectres are gone" he dialled a code and the door opened

"Are we?" Both Troopers spun around blasters raised. Ezra Bridger strode out from the shadows. Both Troopers looked at each other in horror

"This won't end well for us will it?" the Trooper on the right groaned

"Got it in one" Ezra grinned, then lunged forward saber coming to life!

###

The Ghost flew through hyperspace, Sabine was sat in her room surrounded by a web of holographic screens, she was dressed in her armour under suit, the plates and helmet piled in a corner with her boots. She was going through all the Imperial accounts of Jedi attacks on Lothal, the reports were muddled and inconclusive, but she managed to get the gist. They'd started a few weeks to a month ago, the perpetrator wore black and wielded a blue lightsaber, they always acted alone and often in dramatic fashion, leading Imperial Forces on long speeder bike chases and causing as much collateral damage as possible.

"Other than a style change it sounds just like you kid" Sabine muttered as she skimmed through another report, it was much the same as the others and she was turning away to another when somethig caught her eye.

"Video footage?" she murmured eyes wide, she quickly tapped at the screen impatiently. The image of the Lothal market appeared on the screen, it looked business as usual, a merchant was unloading a shipment from a huge stack of crates. Two speeders rounded a corner just as the stack came crashing down, causing the speeders to come to a screeching halt. The riders rose yelling in protest as a black shadow passed overhead. Sabine's eyes grew wide as a figure in pure black Mandalorian armour practically swooped into the street, his boot colliding with a Stormtroopers helmet, the other Trooper, startled started firing randomly. The assailant ducked the shots effortlessly and somersaulted over the other speeder.

"You're looking in form kid" Sabine murmured then flinched as he sharply upper cut the second Stormtrooper in the jaw "and it looks like all of Kanans lessons in restraint have gone out the window" she muttered her eyebrow raised, nerves starting to tingle in her stomach, Kanans words from all those months ago echoed in her mind "We have to accept the possibility that the Ezra we find might not be the one we lost". The assailant reached up and tapped the side of his helmet, the face plate slid back. Sabine frantically paused the videos and zoomed in the image and enhanced the picture. As the image cleared, Ezra's grinning face came into focus. Her heart skipped a beat, then started working over time, relief flooded through her, Ezra was on Lothal! Then apprehension, he seemed to have abandoned all restraint, what had Starkiller done to him? Then excitement, they were on their way to him! She'd see him soon! She practically hugged herself, a smile creeping across her face for the first time in months. There was a knock on her door

"Sabine?" Hera's voice called, the artist practically leaped across the room, and fumbled with the door controls until it hissed open, Hera stood in the corridor. She looked slightly bewildered

"Sabine are you ok?" Hera said carefully to the wildly grinning Mandalorian

"Look at this!" Sabine said grabbing the Twi'leks arm and pulling her into the cabin "I was looking g through Imperial reports, and I found this footage!" she gushed quickly as she enlarged the screen and impatiently tapped the repeat button. Hera watched the video with much the same reaction as her, smiling at the sight of Ezra and flinching as he demonstrated his brutal new combat style.

"Well, good to know we're not wasting our time going to Lothal" the Twi'lek said smiling softly, she pulled the screen closer to her and examined the frozen image of Ezra's face like a mother examining her son's bruises after a fight, eyes scanning for any signs of injury. Roaming over the deep bags under his eyes, the worry and pain lines creased into his skin, he looked years older.

"He looks tired" Hera said, her voice pained, Sabine nodded sadly then pointed at the screen

"Look at his eyes" she said "still blue, Kanan said if he'd turned they'd be yellow"

"So maybe he did fight off the Dark Side" Hera stroked her chin

"Can we get there any faster?" Sabine looked at Hera, the Twi'lek shook her head

"We're pushing the Ghost as far as I dare, pushing her further will stress the hyperdrive too much"

"Damn" Sabine thumped her fist onto her bed her face twisting into a look of annoyance and impatience, Hera's eyes narrowed, something was up.

"Alright Sabine, what happened between you and Ezra? When he left?" The Mandalorian went red

"Nothing" she said a bit too quickly, Hera smiled knowingly

"Sabine" the green Twi'lek said gently "I've seen the way Ezra looks at you" the Mandalorian mumbled something intelligible under her breath "and I've seen the way you look at him" Hera smiled as Sabine went redder, with her skin tone she was practically orange at this point

"What way?" Sabine stuttered "nothing happened when he left, I just said goodbye! That's all!"

"You kissed" Hera chuckled

"How'd you know?' Sabine's head snapped round her face going an even deeper orange, if that was possible.

"I didn't" Heras smile widened "you just told me" laughing at the look on Sabine's face, which had twisted into something in between horrified and mortally embarrassed. The Twi'lek wrapped her arm around the Mandalorian and squeezed her against her shoulder, still laughing as she did so.

"Clever" Sabine muttered begrudgingly as she rested her head on Heras shoulder.

"I do my best" the pilot smiled "so, who kissed who?" Sabine shook her head furiously "oh come on, just between girls?" Hera feigned pouting. Sabine pursed her lips

"You're not going to drop this till I tell you right?" she said, deliberately looking away

"Nope" the Twi'lek grinned then wrapped her other arm around and started tickling Sabine in the ribs under her armpit, causing the Mandalorian to wiggle around whilst trying to hold in a fit of giggles.

"Ok! Ok! Stop and I'll tell you" Sabine spluttered between gasps for breath. The pilot let go of Sabine who scurried to the other side of the bed and drew her knees up to her chest. "I kissed him" she said, beginning to flush again.

"Oh how sweet" Hera smiled, "you know that was his first kiss right?" she raised her eyebrow at the Mandalorian, who somehow managed to blush more and looked away "yours too?" the pilot asked her smile growing wider "oh that's precious!" she clapped her hands together.

"It was a spur of the moment thing" Sabine mumbled into her knees "I didn't think I'd ever see him again"

"You'd never have to live it down?" Hera smiled gently

"Something like that" Sabine muttered

###

On the prison level of the Imperial Complex on Lothal a bored Stormtrooper patrolled the length of the cell blocks, the black metal hallways lit by dull red lights. His blaster dangling from one hand at his side, he constantly checked the time as he checked the locks on the blank metal doors, he was off duty in fifteen minutes and was keen to avoid any unnecessary trouble. He reached the detention level command centre, three other Stormtroopers and two officers sat at computer banks, each of them looking as bored as he felt.

"All secure" he stood at attention, the commanding officer waved off the formality

"Good, well the duty change will be here any second, so just take-" there was a knock at the detention level main entrance. Every head in the command centre turned to look at the door. The atmosphere of the room has shifted insistently, blaster raised a Stormtrooper crept towards the door. Before he reached it the door exploded inwards, hitting the Trooper and sending him flying into the far wall. A blur of black wielding a glowing blue lightsaber practically flew into the room. They all fired randomly, their shots instantly reflected back at them striking them and sending them flying backwards. Seconds after the door had been blown open Ezra stood panting in a deserted command centre

"I did knock" he shrugged as he made his way into the darkened room, pulling off his helmet. Quickly he scanned the controls and tapped at a few buttons, along the detention level doors opened. Heads poked out along the corridor, whispers of confusion spread up and down the prison. The first out was a young woman about his age with red hair, cautiously she walked into the command centre

"Ezra Bridger?" she asked staring, Ezra had his head buried in a panel, furiously working the controls

"Yep" he said without looking up "this is a rescue" he glanced up for a second and smiled before returning to his work

"What are you doing?" The redhead asked tilting her head to one side

"Rigging the security systems" Ezra's hands flew over the controls "clearing a path to the hanger" he glanced up again "there's weapons in there" he pointed at a door then went back to work "arm anyone who can use a gun Ms?"

"Tandi" she said blinking in confusion

'Tandi" Ezra nodded, not looking up anymore, his eyes glued to the security monitors while his hands typed. By now other prisoners had joined them, a burly man he recognised from Tarkintown helped Tandi hand out blasters.

"Why are you doing this?" Tandi asked as she handed out blasters staring at Ezra

"I'm a Jedi this is what we do" Ezra didn't bother looking up at that

"What's with the style change? Didn't you wear orange before?" Tandi ran an eye up and down Ezra's black armour

"I'm shaking things up" Ezra glanced up at Tandi incredulously, why was she asking about his outfit? "What did you end in prison for?" He shot back as he straightened up and pulled his helmet on

"Leading a rebel cell, we tried to pick things up after you left" she loaded a blaster and shrugged "we hit Imperial convoys, it didn't end well"

"Clearly" Ezra muttered dryly

###

On a Star Destroyer floating in deep space the Grand Inquisitor sat alone in a her personal quarters. All the furniture had been removed save for a large plush stool the l rights and been turned down until the room was in almost complete darkness the only light coming from the star light enough b through the quarters large window. Her feet tucked beneath her the Grand Inquisitor meditated, there was movement in the Force. Jedi, two? No three, three Jedi moving through space. To where? The Mirialan frowned and tilted her head, focusing her mind. There was someone else, a fourth presence, this was stationary, fresher. But at the same time there something about its like the light she felt a thin cover over something much darker. Whoever it was, they were on Lothal, and three others were racing towards them. The Mirialan tapped a button on a small control panel on her stool.

"Commander, set a course for Lothal."

###

Alarms howled through the Imperial complex, lights flashed in the corridors, the gang of escapees and their Jedi escort barrelled through the complex, a lone Stormtrooper rounded a corner

"Hey!" he fumbled with his blaster, then he toppled over, a smoking black patch burned onto his armour.

"Nice shot" Ezra nodded at Tandi begrudgingly. The red head blew a strand of hair out of her face and gave Ezra a sideways smile

"High praise from the great Jedi master" she said still smiling. Ezra glanced back at the rebel leader, raised his eyebrow under his helmet and shook his head

"Come on" he looked over his shoulder, they hadn't lost anyone and he didn't plan on it. The door to the complex hanger was on the next right, he lead them through the corridor deflecting blasts and cutting down Stormtroopers as he went. The crowd rounded the corner, thinning into single file as they squeezed through the hanger doors and then came to a sudden halt. The hanger was empty it's blast doors sealed shut.

"Well this isn't good..." Ezra muttered to himself. He tapped the side of his helmet and the visor slid open. Tandi was stood next to him and gave the Jedi a worried glance

"You do have a back up plan right?" the red head fidgeted with the settings on her blaster glancing nervously at the doors

"Yeah, but you're not going to like it" Ezra grimaced. He rummaged in compartments in his belt and withdraw a bundle of high calibre explosives. "Ok, new plan" he said over his shoulder, addressing the flock of former prisoners behind him. With as much strength as he could muster he threw the bundles far as he could then caught it with the force and tossed them to blast doors "when I blow the doors, run". There was a murmur of understanding in the crowd. "Cut across the grass land and head west" Ezra said as he fished a detonator from his belt "there's an old complications tower there, it has food, clothes the works. Wait there for-" a blaster bolt flew passed his head and cut him off. Stormtroopers started flooding into the hanger, the prisoners panicked and dived for cover Ezra included, firmly grabbing Tandis collar and pulling her with him behind a stack of crates.

"I'd cover my ears if I was you" he called over the sound of Tandis cell and the Imperials exchanging fire. He jabbed his thumb onto the detonators switch and an explosion rocked the hanger. The Jedi and the rebel turned to see a smoking hole in the hanger doors "Go! I'll cover you!" He yelled to Tandi

"We'll see you at the tower" she called back

" No you won't" he gave her a sideways glance

"Then where are we going to meet you?" she blinked in confusion

"You're not!" he said, then vaulted the barrels and activated his lightsaber, dodging between blaster bolts and sending them back at the ever increasing number of Stormtroopers filling the hanger.

###

Ashoka and Kanan sat in the Ghost common area watching the footage of Ezra that Sabine had found

"He looks like he's been through hell" Kanan said quietly as Sabine focused in on his Apprentices face

"It looks like he's been giving the Empire hell" Ashoka grimaced, she peered at the picture more closely "there's no obvious signs of Dark Side corruption" she muttered whilst chewing her lip like a doctor examining an interesting wound "that's a good sign"

"But he seems to have abandoned all restraint" Kanan countered "not such a good sign" he looked at the Togruta worriedly. All the while the rest of the few waited impatiently for the Jedis verdict

"There's just no way of telling how much he's been effected until we find him" Ashoka shook her head and sat back folding her arms

"But" Kanan said, a small smile on his face "there being no physical signs of corruption is good news" there was an audible sigh of relief from the rest of the crew "hopefully he'll be waiting for us on Lothal, we'll grab him and go"

###

The prisoners were long gone, Ezra stood alone in the centre of the hanger. Surrounding him was a ring of Stormtroopers, dozens of blasters trained on his chest. The surrounded Jedi was panting heavily, his eyes wearily moving from Trooper to Trooper, his knuckles white on the hilt of his lightsaber. Nobody moved, the only sounds in the hanger were the hum of Ezra's lightsaber and the clicks of the plates of the Stormtroopers armour as they fidgeted nervously. Then a slow clap echoed through the hanger, accompanied by a loud, cruel laugh. The ring parted and ISB agent Kallus strode forward, a cold grin plastered over his face.

"Ezra Bridger" his grin widened as the Jedi glared back at him

"Why does everyone say my full name when they see me?" the Jedi wondered allowed, rolling his eyes earning a glare from the ISB agent.

"Well, it certainly is surprising to see you here" Kallus looked down his nose at Ezra "all alone, did your rebel friends get bored with you?" Ezra glowered at the agent, his hand trembled on the hilt of his lightsaber as he fought to keep his anger in check. After a moment he took a breath and raised his eyebrow cockily

"Why does every Imperial have to start a monologue every time they open their mouths?" he mused whilst stroking his chin, laughing as Kallus went red as his was cut off .

"If it were up to me I'd order your execution here and now Bridger" Kallus grinned, relishing the thought "but fortunately for you, Lord Vader has ordered you be taken alive" Kallus looked disappointed. "So, Jedi" Kallus practically spat the word "you can cooperate, or I'll have my troops gun you down and I'll have your body dumped in a gutter where you belong, Loth Rat." Through all of this Ezra had stayed quiet, mulling over what Kallus had said about Vader wanting him alive, surprising, considering most of the Galaxy thought he was dead. How much did the Sith know? Was Starkiller wrong when he assumed Vader wouldn't be able to sense his connection to the Dark Side as he trained on Felucia? Questions to be answered later, for now, he'd stick to the plan. Without a word he deactivated his lightsaber and dropped it. There was a collective sigh of relief from the gathered Stormtroopers, even surrounded and severely out numbered they were well aware the Jedi was capable of massacring at least half of them before being brought down.

"Restrain him" Kallus barked, equally surprised at the easy victory. Two slightly bolder Troopers hurried forward, one making a beeline for the lightsaber, hurriedly scooping it up.

"On your knees rebel" one said firmly as he pushed down on Ezra's shoulder, the Jedi slowly turned his head slowly and raised his eyebrow at the Stormtrooper tilting his head slightly.

"He said, on your knees!" the other Trooper snapped and kicked Ezra hard on the back of the knee sending the Jedi down with a surprised grunt, then his head snapped up in a venomous glower. Kallus strode forwards and smirked. Something snapped in Ezra at that, he trembled with rage. He barely acknowledged when his arms were roughly pulled behind him and cuffed in place.

"The Jedi of old" Kallus mocked "weak then, weak now." At that Ezra flexed his gloved right hand, tilting his head listening to the gears turn, then he clenched it. Above him Kallus spluttered, a gloved hand grasping at his throat as he gasped for breath.

"Agent Kallus?" The Stormtrooper tightly gripping Ezra's right arm asked cautiously, then looked down. Ezra's eyes had an insane gleam, a grin spreading across his face, then he started to laugh.

"Let him go!" The other Stormtrooper pointed his blaster at the back of Ezra's head "I'll blow your head off!" The words didn't even reach him, the sharp pain in his eyes had started to build again, he could feel the choking man's windpipe in his hand, so fragile, so easy to break. He beckoned with his other hand and Kallus was pulled down onto his knees in front of Ezra, his head lolling forward onto the young mans shoulder.

"The Jedi were weak" he whispered into the agents ear, grinning as he listened to his increasingly desperate gasps for air "I am not, one day, I'll kill you myself." Slowly he unclenched his fist and released the older man. Kallus toppled backwards gasping and coughing. Ezra simply sat back and closed his eyes, once again restoring the camouflage of the Sith Mask.

"Take him away!" Kallus spat "and put him under quadruple guard!" Ezra felt more hands grab at his shoulders and arms, not bothering to resist as he was dragged away.

###

"Well, I certainly didn't expect this" Kanan said bewilderedly as he and the Ghost crew made their way down the landing ramp. Gathered around the base of Ezra's tower was a massive crowd, about forty people in total. Open Imperial supply crates littered the ground and food was being exchanged.

"Looks like the whole population of Tarkintown" Sabine said looking around

"I think it is" Hera said quietly, slowly the crew started to recognise faces in the crowd. Sabine saw a farmer she'd given a basket of fruit to, Zeb saw a young Twi'lek girl he'd help find her mother when she was lost.

"He busted out the entire on world prison single handily" Zeb muttered, "good work kid" he smiled begrudgingly.

"I don't see him though" Sabine said anxiously scanning the crowd, she pulled on her helmet and the scanner lowered, flicking through faces on her optical readout.

"We could just ask them" Kanan said nodding at half a dozen or so people making their way towards them, they were all young, the youngest could only be seventeen years old. Leading the was a young woman with frizzy red hair, her face was covered in freckles and she wore black dungarees over a red shirt with a black leather jacket. a Stormtrooper sniper rifle was strapped to her back. She surveyed the Ghost crew with weary green eyes. Kanan started down the ramp towards them, after a moment the crew followed him. The two groups met in the middle, there was a moment of silence, then the leader raised her had

"Tandi" she said "and we all know who you are" she nodded at the crew, her eyes lingering on each of them for a moment "it's an honour to meet you all"

"Likewise I'm sure" Kanan said shaking the offered hand warmly "we're looking for Ezra Bridger is he with you?"

"No," Tandi looked surprised, she sighed before gently saying "he stayed behind to cover our escape"

"Again kid!?" Zeb roared slapping his hand to his forehead in frustration.

"Yep, definitely Ezra" Sabine sighed, she pulled off her helmet and shook her head, she felt Tandis eyes linger on her for a second then she was talking to Kanan again

"We were planning on raiding the Imperial Complex and getting him out" one of the men behind Tandi said, tall, thick set with ashy blond hair and a scarred face he was about eighteen years old. Tandi nodded at him and looked back at Kanan

"You'd stand more of a chance, but my cell and I are at your command" Tandi said, there was unanimous approval from the cell behind her

"we'd appreciate the help" Kanan smiled. Sabine's eyes wandered to distant outline of Capital City

"I'll see you soon kid" she whispered to herself.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice 6

It was early morning on Lothal, a grim faced Agent Kallus stood at the entrance to the Imperial Complex, watching as a Imperial Shuttle set down. He'd received word that the new Grand Inquisitor was on her way mere minutes after filling Bridgers arrest report to the Imperial Network.

"Mystics" he scoffed as he watched the shuttle touch down and the landing ramp hiss down and lock into place. He'd met the Second Sister a few times in the past, always viewing her with the same contempt and scepticism he treated all Inquisitors with. He often wondered why Vader and the Emperor even bothered with them, considering their actual amount of success when compared the resources and effort it took to find and train them. The Jedi of old were overwhelmed by their own clone troopers, their had been no need for mystics then, he failed to see the need for them now. They were arrogant and self assured despite their continued failures and now one was swooping in to claim the credit for HIS capture. His resentful inner monologue was cut short as the Inquisitor made her way down the ramp of the shuttle.

"Inquisitor" he tilted his head stiffly

"Your resentment is unnecessary Agent Kallus" she said without even looking at him, she strode past him and towards the complex. After a moment Kallus jogged to catch up with her, still not looking at him she said "I am not here to take the boy, the merit for his capture will remain with you, I am simply here to wait for his Master and Allies. He will not be transferred to Mustafar, he will remain here as bait." The two entered the complex, the Mirialan instantly making her way towards the prison cells

"Understood" Kallus said through gritted teeth causing her to smirk under her hood

###

In a cell deeper in the complex Ezra sat in a cell, half a dozen Stormtroopers stood outside the door. After they'd dragged him to the cell they'd searched him thoroughly even going as far to remove the power cell from his synthetic hand. Then, someone had the bright idea to restrain him for good measure and if it the prisoner had been anyone else the extent of the restraints would have been called overkill. His ankles were shackled with thick cuffs, a chain linked them together and another chain on each cuff linked them to the wall, his wrists too were shackled with chains linking them to the wall behind him. His eyes were closed and his breathing regular, his right hand lay on his lap, palm open and useless. There was the sound of muffled voices behind the door, then it slid open. An Inquisitor stood in the doorway.

"Really?" he rolled his eyes "how Many of you guys are there?" His eyes ran up and down this new enemy. She wasn't tall, five foot four maybe, and unlike all the other Inquisitors he'd encountered she wasn't wearing any armour, just a simple black robe and cloak, her hood was drawn down so he could see very little of her face, but he caught glimpses of yellow skin. "Another Mirialan" he thought to himself.

"So what's your number?" he said casually "the Sixth Sister?" The Mirialan didn't respond and simply walked into the cell the door hissing shut behind her. There was a moment of silence as the two regarded each other.

"The files never mentioned an artificial limb" the Inquisitor said suddenly and matter-of-factly, she slowly reached up and lowered her hood, her greying hair was pulled back into a pony tail and the skin was sunken around her sickly yellow eyes.

"Yeah well Imperial intel is never reliable" the Jedi shrugged rattling his chains as he did so

"I'm curious though, how did it happen?" the Inquisitors eyes rested on the prosthesis

"I got enthusiastic whilst cooking" the boy replied flatly. The Grand Inquisitor met his gaze her eyebrow raised

"If you don't want to tell me that's fine" she said as she crouched down the Ezra's eye level "I'll find out soon enough" and she raised her hand to his face. Then a dull pain started to build in his head, slowly it began to intensify. The Jedi gritted his teeth

"Do what you want" he grunted glaring at the Mirialan. "I'm not telling you anything"

"It's funny that you think you have a choice" the Inquisitor smiled. She pushed forward with her mind and probed into Ezra's. The Apprentice gritted his teeth as he felt her presence in his thoughts. "Such pain" she remarked, her eyes closed "torn between your self preservation and your desire to love and have a family again."

"Get. Out." Ezra grimaced clenching his eyes shut

"So long spent alone" the Mirialan cooed "your fear holds you back, they keep you from embracing your love"

"I said get out!" Ezra spat shaking his head

"Oh I can see her." The Inquisitor grinned with delight "my she is a pretty one, your Sabine." At that Ezra sat forward his eyes snapping open and locking with the Inquisitors. He gritted his teeth and pushed against the intrusion, forcing her away from his memories. The Mirialan was taken aback and redoubled her efforts, sweat beginning to form on her brow. Ezras eye was beginning to twitch but he forced on and suddenly he was in her mind, her thoughts and memories a foggy picture in his head.

"You were a Jedi Padawan" he said as the memories became clear "you knew Ashoka Tano" he closed his eyes as he tried to fill in the blanks "you betrayed her." At that the Inquisitor broke the link and backed away, both of them panting as they regarded the other. Then without warning she backhanded him hard across the face, her eyes filled with hate. Without a word she pulled up her hood and left, the door hissing shut behind her.

###

"So once the Imperials are drawn to the main entrance by our distraction you should able to get in fairly easily through this side entrance." Tandi said pointing at a side door on the map of the complex Chopper was projecting, the same entrance ironically that Ezra had used hours earlier. The Spectres and the Lothal cell who'd taken to calling themselves the Wraiths were gathered in a circle outside the Ghost, they were nearly ready.

"From there it's a beeline to the cell block" Kanan said nodding with approval

"It's a risky gamble though" Hera said shaking her head "if the Wraiths get overwhelmed it'll be a blood bath."

"It's a risk we're willing to take" Tandi said firmly.

"Girls got stuff" Zeb muttered to Sabine

"Hmm" Sabine hummed through pursed lips her eyes running up and down the red head. Zeb chuckled next to her earning a glare form Mandalorian "What?" she snapped

"Oh nothing" Zeb smiled looking away. The Mandalorian glared at her friend before turning her gaze back to the plan, whilst it wasn't perfect, if they moved quickly it should work.

"If everyone's on board" Kanan said looking around at the assembled faces all of whom mumbled their support "get ready, we move out at nightfall"

###

Ezra sat perfectly still, his eyes closed mulling over the images he'd seen in the Inquisitors mind, the world had fallen way from him he could see the Jedi temple before the purge. He was stood in an archway watching youngling's and Padawans mill around a brightly lit courtyard, Kanan never talked about his time in the Temple, it seemed so... peaceful. Not a hint of the bitter war Kanan so rarely spoke of.

"Who knows" he jerked in surprise tripping down a few of the stairs the archway lead to, stood next to him leaning against the other side of the archway was, him.

"You again" Remnous rolled his eyes " how much of you is left Bridger?" Ezra regarded the dark apostle with unimpressed blue eyes

"I'm whole in the Force" Ezra said matter-of-factly "I'll live forever"

"Well have fun living as an ear worm in my mind" Remnous scoffed running an equally unimpressed eye up and down his former self

"Have you forgotten everything Kanan taught us?" Ezra said dryly as a half dozen Younglings ran past the two of them, "we're all connected to the Force, and as long the Force exists I will too, in all living things"

"Yeah, yeah" Remnous said flatly his eyes picking through the crowd of faces again "look Bridger is there a reason you're here or do I have to put up with you every time I meditate? And who knows what?" the older started down the stairs, he didn't hear Ezra follow him but when he turned the Jedi was next to him

"In a better world we could have been brought here" Ezra said looking over the Temple sadly "I'm here to warn you" Remnous rolled his yellow eyes at the Jedi and raised his eyebrow

"How well did that work out for you last time?" the Jedi shrugged "I will never be you again" the older said harshly, then his tone softened "and even if I wanted to, it's far too late for that" Ezra nodded sadly, then pointed at two Padawans who had just walked through another archway

"That's her" Remnous followed the youngers finger and found himself looking at a young Mirialan and a Togruta

"Who was she?" he glanced at Ezra sideways his eyebrow raised

"Her name was Barriss Offee" Ezra said "a promising Padawan, she would have made a great Jedi"

"What happened to her?" Remnous was almost cautious as he asked

"The war changed people, changed the Jedi" Ezra sat down on a stone bench "Barriss saw these changes as a sign the Jedi were becoming slaves of the Dark Side, that they'd lost sight of their true purpose as peace keepers"

"Something we could have agreed on" Remnous said sitting down next to Ezra "from what Galen's told me of the Clone Wars it was hard to tell one side from the other by the end" Ezra shrugged "so how'd she end up an Inquisitor?" Remnous asked watching as Barriss and the young Ashoka laughed together

"She struck against the Jedi" Ezra said sadly "had Ashoka blamed for the crime, the truth was uncovered but the damage was done. Both of them were expelled from the Order, one walked away willingly, the other was lead away in chains" around Remnous the vision melted. He was still sat on a stone bench, Barriss Offee sat next to him, her eyes far away. She didn't acknowledge him, to her he wasn't there. He looked around, they were in a small room, save for the bench it was empty, the walls were a rough stone, he'd recognise a cell anywhere. From outside the door there came the sound of a lightsaber, yells of surprise and the sound of saber blades clashing. Then silence. Barriss looked up, her expression one of confusion and the faintest glimmer of hope in her eyes. The cell door opened, the corpse of a temple guard toppled into the room, a dark figure with a blue lightsaber stood over it. Barriss stood starring in disbelief

"Master Skywalker?"

Ezra opened his eyes, he was back in his cell, there was the sound a lightsaber outside, yells of surprise and blaster fire, then silence. The blade of a blue lightsaber stabbed into the door.

###

Afternoon was turning into evening, the former Imperial prisoners where beginning to leave in small groups, there was no telling when the Empire would find them. Tandi didn't see them go, she was lying on her stomach, looking through her scope, focusing in on a row of bottles set up on a opposite hill. She took a deep breath, her eye narrowing, she slowly exhaled then pulled the trigger. The first bottle to the right exploded as the red laser smashed into it. Tandi lined up the next shot. The sound of next bottle smashing echoed Through the hills. It was only by the fourth bottle did she realise someone was watching her. Sabine Wren stood over her, her arms folded over her breast plate

"You're a good shot" she nodded begrudgingly

"Thanks" Tandi said, unsure of how to respond "Ezra said the same" she said after a pause. Sabine nodded stiffly at that "care to take a shot?" she stood and offered the Mandalorian the rifle. Sabine gave a short laugh and quick as a flash she drew her twin pistols and fired. Within seconds the row of bottles had been reduced to piles of glass shards

"Wow" Tandi said slowly "I meant with this" she tilted her head towards the sniper in her arms. Sabine shrugged before spinning the pistols on her fingers and slotting them back into her holsters.

"Never was a fan of sharpshooting" she shrugged "always preferred getting in close" she said matter-of-factly

"Have fun with that" Tandi said coldly. The hostility had built from nothing and for no reason either of the two could explain they looked on the other with contempt "I'll watch your blind spot" the red head turned and walked away. The Mandalorian watched her go her eyes narrowed and her lips pressed tightly together.

"My blind spot" she scoffed

###

"Well you took your time" Ezra said plainly as Galen stepped through the hole he'd made in the door. The Apprentice tilted his head and the chains and cuffs clicked open and fell away "you don't happen to have a power cell on you do you?" he held up his deactivated hand and raised an eyebrow.

"Good to see you too" Galen said drily. He was wearing the same outfit he'd worn on cloud city, the trophy lightsabers had been removed from his belt and two weather worn hilts had taken their place, a satchel bag was slung over his shoulder

"Here" Galen tossed the bag to Ezra who caught it neatly "got your gear out of the lock up"

"Thanks" Ezra nodded as he slotted the power cell back into his synthetic hand which twitched violently as power surged back through it. "There's an Inquisitor here" he said as he swung his cloak around his shoulders and fastened it.

"I know" Galen nodded "didn't expect her, we'll deal with it" Ezra clipped his lightsaber to his belt and pulled his helmet on. The two left the cell, striding over the cooling bodies of the dead troopers without looking down.

"Where's the Ghost?" Ezra asked as they jogged

"Just outside the Capital" Galen said "they're coming to break you out"

"So what's the plan then?" Ezra said frowning "why didn't you just wait for them and help out?"

"A solo rescue will be a more convincing show of my loyalty" Galen shrugged, as they rounded a corner they almost collided with a dozen Stormtroopers "plus this is more fun" Galen grinned as the master and appreciate activated their lightsabers.

###

In a darkened office several floors above the Grand Inquisitor sat staring out the wall length window. The boys resistance to her interrogation had surprised her, the fact he's completely forced it back on her infuriated her! His abilities had swelled since the last time an Imperial had laid eyes on him. When the Seventh Sisters corpse had been recovered she hadn't even considered the boy as a possible subject. The skill and ferocity necessary had seemed beyond his limited training. But now she wasn't so sure, if he had the skill to overpower her mental attacks...A light on her desk began flashing, irritably she pressed the button next to it.

"Speak Kallus" she snapped

"Apologies for the disturbance" Kallus's voice drawled sarcastically "but the boy has been set free"

"What?" the Grand Inquisitor gaped "by whom?"

"The intruder has been identified as the Jedi Galen Marek" even over the coms she could hear the smug grin on the ISB agents face "I have positioned troops to cut them off"

"That won't be enough" she muttered. She stood and pulled her hood up. She raised her hand and her sabers flew to her, her cloak swishing around her heels as she swept out of the room.

###

The door to the complex's atrium blew open, Galen Marek and Ezra Bridger strode through, blue lightsaber blades humming

"We'll use one of the Imperial transports to get out of the city" Galen said, pointing at one of armoured troop transports. Ezra nodded and the two ran for the vehicle, they were almost there when it exploded. The shock wave blasted them both off their feet and sent them flying. Ezra smashed into the far wall, the wall cracking around the point of impact. Galen landed hard and skidded across the ground, a high pitched ringing in his ears.

Dozens of Stormtroopers flooded into the hanger as the Jedi struggled to their feet.

"Should have seen that coming"' Galen grunted

"Yes you should" Galen looked up to see Kallus strode through ever increasing number of Troopers wearing his usual arrogant grin. "What was it you said about the Jedi Ezra? They were weak and you are not?" Kallus shook his head. The Bo-Rifle in his hand extended to its full form and began to crackle with purple energy. Galen stood and unclipped his second lightsaber from his belt.

"No!" both men looked at Ezra. He was on his feet, barely panting. Slowly he peeled off his glove and activated his lightsaber. "He's mine" he said through gritted teeth as he started forwards, sabre humming menacingly. Galen smiled and deactivated his blue blade.

"Alright" he said and crossed his arms over his chest. Kallus laughed

"Very well boy" his grin somehow growing even larger "I suspect I will be greatly rewarded for this victory" the Agent raised his hand and with a snapping sound every blaster in the room turned on Galen. "If he tries to interfere blow him to hell. One Rebel will suit Lord Vader just fine." This time Ezra was the one who started to laugh, his eye was beginning twitch again and the knuckles of his remaining hand were white as they clenched the hilt of his blade. "Laugh now boy, but when I've defeated you I'll have proven once and for all that the legends of the Jedi of Old were just that! Legends" Kallus snarled as he strolled forward to meet Ezra.

"You're pretty confident Kallus" Ezra smiled, he pulled off his helmet and tossed it aside. "since you're so confident I'll give you a free shot" he lowered his blade "but I'm warning you, if you waste it-" Ezra was cut off as Kallus lunged forward and swung the crackling staff at the Jedis head. The boy didn't even react and caught the staff end neatly with his metal hand, the purple energy barely fazing him "- you're gonna regret it" he finished his sentence grinning up at Kallus who was stood shaking, mouth open in shock.

"How?" the man mumbled as he fruitlessly tugged on his staff

"It's just like I said Kallus" Ezra shrugged and then kicked Kallus hard on the chest. The Agent landed hard on his back and smacked his head on the floor, the watching Stormtroopers stared in confusion. Ezra shook the staff in his hand and it folded back into a rifle, he swung the rifle strap over his shoulder and settled the weapon on his back. "I'm not weak" he lowered his blade, the point resting above the beaten Imperials throat. "And it looks like today is the day." Before anyone could do anything he drove the blade downwards.

###

In a nothingness, far away. Ezra Bridger sat cross legged, his eyes closed.

"Once you start down the Dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny". He opened his eyes and looked up. A towering man in Jedi robes stood over him, brown hair pulled back into a pony tail. "I'm ready to begin your training, Master Jin"

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

A slow clap echoed through the atrium as smoked hissed from Kallus's throat. The Grand Inquisitor strode through the ranks of stunned Stormtroopers.

"I'm impressed" she stopped a few feet short of the two Jedi her eyes fixed on Ezra. "It feels good doesn't it?" she hissed softly "all that rage? Use it boy, your talents are wasted in the Rebellion and as a Jedi. Join us and Lord Vader will show you a power you could never imagine."

"Oh I don't know" Ezra grinned cockily "I have a pretty wild imagination" the Grand Inquisitors face twisted into a snarl

"Kallus was a fool" she remarked as her eyes flicked to the corpse on the ground "I however am not, soldiers" the garrison snapped back to life as they raised their blasters.

"You sure about that?" the Inquisitors head whipped around to look at Galen who shrugged sarcastically and raised his hand, a detonator in his fist

###

Tandi peered at the Imperial Complex through the scope of her rifle, there was a mysterious lack of guards at the entrance. The Wrath leader was laid on top of a roof top across from the Complex, the rest of her cell and the Spectres were scattered and in position.

"You're all clear Spectre One" she said into the com link Hera had fished out of a crate for her "too clear" she muttered as side note

"It's obviously a trap" Sabine's voice said on the line

"'S why they kept 'im on world" Zeb said gruffly "they knew we'd come for 'im"

"Yeah we're predicable That way" Kanan said softly "is everyone in position?"

"The Wraiths are ready" Tandi said her eyes roaming over the building "but how can I draw their attention without any guards to take out?"

"Get creative" Sabine said was it her or could she hear a grin in her voice? She had no idea why she was developing such an intense dislike for the Mandalorian but Sabine's attitude wasn't helping at all.

"Yeah, yeah" the redhead muttered as she twisted a dial on her scope and the lenses zoomed in. A cluster of barrels caught her eye. "I've got something" her eye narrowed and she started to squeeze the trigger. The hanger doors exploded, a pillar of fire rising into the night sky as chunks of hot metal flew in all directions.

"That was definitely something" Kanan said the surprise in his voice evident

"That wasn't me.." Tandi said staring at the smoke pouring from the door

"Well if I were a betting girl I'd say Ezra broke out on his own" Heras smile was easy to hear

"He escaped on his own?" Bran said the surprise evident in his voice

"He tends to do that" Kanan explained. Suddenly a speeder shot out of the hole where the door had been and barrelled down the rode towards the city limits, before it vanished Tandi squinted through her scope and just managed to make out the two riding it, one was clad head to toe in black armour, very familiar armour.

"He's on the move!" Tandi practically shouted into the coms "he's on a speeder heading south to the city limits, there's someone with him!"

"Who!?" a dozen voices asked at once

"Couldn't tell, they were moving too fast"

"Ok. New plan" Kanan said "follow him and improvise once we catch up!"

###

"Do any of your plans ever work out?!" Ezra yelled over the howling wind as he clung to Galen's waist for dear life.

"I'll tell you when one does" Galen shouted back as he gunned the engines and sped up the buildings turning to a grey blur. After the explosion had gone off they had taken advantage of the chaos, Ezra had scooped up his helmet and the two had grabbed the nearest speeder.

"We've got company!" he yelled to Galen , four speeders were closing in behind them, an armoured transport following them. He could sense the Inquisitor on board.

"All we have to do is get to the city limits, Juno's waiting for us there. Galen said through gritted teeth as he dried in vain to drain more power from the engines "anyway I'm sure the Ghost is waiting too"

"You could sense Kanan back there too right?" Ezra asked, he'd been so distracted by his confusion and following Galen's plan over the past few weeks the fact he was mere minutes away from reuniting with the rebels was only just sinking in. There was pit in his stomach, was he nervous?

"Yeah that was him, I watched them for a while after I arrived" Galen glanced back at him. "Just use the Mask like I taught you and they won't suspect a thing"

"Not what I was worried about" Ezra muttered under his breath a certain Mandalorian on his mind. The buildings started to thin out, the stretch of the highway appearing. Behind them the armoured transports cannon twisted to face forward. On board the munitions officer looked through the targeting system

"I have a clear shot mam" he turned in his seat to look at the Grand Inquisitor who was stood with her arms behind her back her eyes fixed on the speeder.

"You may fire when ready" the Mirialan said calmly her eyes never wavering. The officer nodded and turned back to the controls.

###

The Rogue Shadow flew silently over head. The modifications Juno had personally made to the ship's stealth systems made it almost Impossible to detect via radar and scanners and it's engines barely made a sound.

"I swear the only reason I stick around is because Galen would wreck this thing in a week if I wasn't here" she muttered dryly as she followed the chase.

"Your loyalty to my apprentice is inspiring captain" Rahm Kota said sarcastically. The General was stood in the main spaces doorway his arms folded. The general had cleaned himself up since Galen had picked him up from Cloud City. Galen had found him a fresh suit of armour and he'd washed his hair, pulling it back into a pony tail framing his face and ruined eyes.

"Yeah his personality is just so inspiring" Juno chuckled glancing at the Jedi with a half smile.

###

They'd left the city behind and were speeding along the highway

"I think we're good" Galen said glancing up and smiling as he saw the Rogue Shadow in the sky. No sooner were the words out of his mouth when the ground in front of them was struck by a laser and their speeder was sent spinning into the air sending both Jedi flying. They crashed into the tall grass landing in a heap. Groaning Ezra sat up, he was growing more and more glad Galen had given him a helmet

"Did Vader betray you because you're a terrible driver?" he groaned shaking his head "because you're the worst."

"Hilarious" Galen grunted as he stood up and dusted himself off

"That's what you get for assuming" Ezra said dryly as he got up "it makes an ass out you and me"

"Is this really the time?!" Galen snapped as he pulled both lightsabers from his belt. The Imperial speeders and armoured transport had come to a halt. Stormtroopers and the Inquisitor were making their way towards them

"Well if I'm gonna die might as well do it smiling" Ezra shrugged as he unclipped his own lightsaber from his belt and activated the blue blade. The Grand Inquisitor saw the blue glow and smiled under hood. She raised her hand and the Stormtroopers halted, she continued on alone until she was a few feet from the two Jedi.

"A daring attempt" she said in an amused voice "but a failure in the end"

"Was it now?" Galen said. As if from nowhere the Rogue Shadow shot overhead. Lasers shot from its cannons sending Stormtroopers flying and striking the armoured transport tipping it over. The Rogue Shadow banked steeply and began to descend. The Inquisitor watched her lips pulled back in a vicious snarl. Galen and Ezra took advantage of her distraction and both at once thrust their arms out in a joint telekinetic push sending the Mirialan flying backwards. As the Inquisitor thudded to the ground and sprawled out the Shadow touched down and the ramp descended. A man in grey armour and blank eyes strode out, Rahm Kotas green lightsaber in hand

"Get in here Boy!" he roared deflecting blaster bolts from the few remaining Stormtroopers

"Is that Rahm Kota?" Ezra asked Galen as they backed towards the Shadow

"Yeah" Galen nodded "it's a long story, I'll..." Galen stopped talking as a instantly recognisable sound cut through the night sky. Kota heard it too

"TIE incoming! Get in here now!" the three Jedi turned towards the Shadow as two TIE fighters came into view, zooming towards the Shadow at breakneck speed.

The left TIE suddenly exploded.

"What?" Galen looked around in confusion "who?" he wondered allowed. The Ghost flew into view firing on the second TIE.

"That's it Hera!" Ezra roared joy swelling in his heart at the sight of the ship

"Running now celebrating later!" Kota yelled over the din.

"I thought you were passed out in the cargo hold?" Galen asked the blind Jedi as he jogged up the ramp Ezra in close tow.

"I finally came to" the blind Jedi smirked in response as the ramp closed behind them.

In the pilot seat Juno quickly flipped switches dials coming to life. She activated the radio and tuned it to the frequency Ezra had given them. The static cleared

"Rogue Shadow to Ghost, Rogue Shadow to Ghost" she said as she eased the ship into the air

"Ghost receiving you Rogue Shadow" a woman's voice answered "who is this?"

"My name is Juno Eclipse" Juno said as the ship rose into the night sky "I have Ezra Bridger, Rahm Kota and Galen Marek on board" there was a moment of silence.

"We're transmitting co-ordinates to you now, we'll dock in hyperspace"

###

On the ground starring at the fading shapes of the two ships the Grand Inquisitors hands clenched into fists.

"My Master will not be pleased" she muttered

###

Sabine stood impatiently in front of the Ghosts docking airlock. They were flying through hyperspace next to the Rogue Shadow. After Ezra and his rescuer who they now knew had been Galen Marek had vanished they'd gotten to the city limits as fast as they could. Hera had been waiting with the Ghost and they'd followed the TIE fighters to the Rogue Shadow. The two ships had out manoeuvred the Imperial blockade and blasted into hyperspace. They were on their way back to the Rebel fleet, much to Commander Satos joy. Sabine's face split into a grin as she heard the docking mechanisms start to groan as the Rogue Shadow began to connect to the Ghost.

###

On the other side of the door Ezra's remaining palm was getting sweaty. Why was he so nervous? The Grand Inquisitors voice echoed in his head

"Your fear keeps you from embracing your love"

"Maybe she was right" he muttered to himself.

"I'd recognise those nerves anywhere" a voice said behind him making him jump. He turned to see the Jedi Rahm Kota behind him. The general was smiling knowingly

"You do?" Ezra asked, he was short on breath. Pull yourself together! He scolded himself

"Trust me Son" the blind man smiled putting a hand on Ezra's shoulder "she'll be happy to see you." Ezra smiled and nodded, then realised Kota couldn't see him

"Uh" he started

"I know you nodded" Kota smiled

"How?" Ezra asked, grateful for anything to distract him

"The Force is quite, revealing" Kota said simply

"Good thing too" Galen's voice made Ezra jump again "you're not completely useless Old Man" the Jedi clapped the older man on the shoulder and turned to Ezra "we're docked, you ready?"

"As I'll ever be" Ezra gulped. Galen pressed a few buttons on a control panel next to the door. The door slid open.

For the first time in months Ezra and Sabine stood face to face.

"Ezra" she breathed relief washing over her.

"Sabine" he murmured his heart beating faster then he cared to admit. There was a long silence. The rest of the Spectres were behind her, he could see them over her shoulder.

"You idiot" she muttered and flung her arms around him.

"I know" he said quietly and wrapped his arms around her "I" he paused "I lo..." he choked

"What?" she whispered

"I've missed you so much" he whispered as he buried his head in her shoulder. Behind them Kanan and Hera smiled knowingly at each other, Kanan subtly took Heras hand and whispered softly in her ear

"He'll tell her when he's ready" Hera smiled softly and nodded her eyes clouding with tears. Ezra and Sabine broke apart both wiping their eyes. Zeb sniffed loudly and lumbered forward pushing the Mandalorian aside he wrapped her arms around Ezra and hoisted him up in a bear hug.

"Ok Zeb I get it you missed me!" Ezra grunted "please, put me down, can't breath!" The Lasat grinned down at him, then shoved him to the ground

"Don't you ever do that again!" he snarled leaning down so his face was right in Ezra's

"What?" Ezra was shocked "save all your lives?!"

"Well... No..." Zeb rubbed the back of his neck "just leave the heroic self sacrifice to someone else next time alright?" Ezra cracked a smile

"Yeah sure Zeb." There was a clatter and Chopper rolled down the corridor "hey Chop" Ezra smiled at the old droid. Chopper chirped grumpily before one of his arms extended and shocked him. "Ow! You rust bucket!" Ezra snapped jumping to his feet as Chopper rolled away laughing merrily.

"Some things never change" Kanan chuckled as he walked forwards

"Yeah that's true" Ezra chuckled

"It's good to see you kid" the Jedi smiled warmly and put a hand on his Apprentices shoulder.

"You too Kanan" Ezra smiled up at Kanan, guilt weighing in his chest. Kanan nodded, he wanted to say more, but he decided against it. It wasn't proper. Ashoka nodded at Ezra

"You gave us quiet a scare Ezra" she smiled, but there was something wrong. She could sense light coming from him, but there was something off about it. It was thin, nothing like what she could sense off him before he left. Ezra nodded and looked around Kanan. Hera was there.

"Mom" he breathed and started forward. Hera smiled a tear running down her cheek. Her boy was home.

###

"After Starkiller took me from the outpost he took me to multiple systems, teaching me how to use the Dark Side" Ezra shuddered and gripped the tea Hera had insistently pushed into his hands. The crews of the Ghost and Rogue Shadow were gathered in the Ghosts common area along with the Wraiths Ezra was sat at the table, Sabine was at sat next to him, very close to him, Hera was perched on the stool across from him. After introductions the Rogues crew had been warmly welcomed.

"You must be the famous Galen Marek" Kanan had said offering a hand

"I wouldn't say famous" Galen had shrugged taking it.

"General Kota" Ashoka had nodded

"Commander Tano" Kota had replied as equally formally

"It's good to see you alive, you'll be valuable to the Rebellion" Kanan had said

"Thank you Caleb" the blind man "it's thanks to the boy I've come to realise my value wasn't reduced to nothing after..." Kota "glanced" at Galen "I lost my sight"

"This is Juno Eclipse" Galen clapped Juno on the shoulder "the best pilot in the galaxy." Now they were gathered listening to Ezra's account of his time missing, a slightly altered version of course.

"It wasn't easy" he said not looking up from the tea "the cold, the rage, I didn't even feel like myself anymore" Sabine put a hand on his arm "he gave me this armour, made me swear loyalty to him. The things he made me do!" the metal cup crumpled slightly "eventually he let his guard down when he was showing me the wreck of the platform where he fought Rahm Kota, his arrogance blinded him and I got away"

"Adda boy" Zeb grinned

"Thanks Zeb" Ezra said quietly. "I wandered the galaxy, I wanted to come home, but, the Dark Side" he bowed his head in shame "I couldn't let you see me like that" Sabine wrapped her arm around his shoulder. Tandi pursed her lips. "Eventually Galen found me, he helped me, he took me to Lothal and brought me back to the light" Kanan looked at Galen with wide eyes.

"Galen" he said quietly "we owe you a debt we can never repay" Galen nodded sagely

"Go on Ezra" he said. Ezra nodded

"When we were ready we decided to go back to the Rebellion. Galen and Juno went to get Kota. But I heard from an Imperial officer they were planning on executing the on world prisoners. So I went to get them out, but the plan didn't work out."

"Understatement" Juno muttered

"I'm sorry" Ezra said softly, he still hadn't looked up

"For what?" Zeb said bashfully "saving all our lives?"

"For not coming home sooner" the Apprentice said looking up with a small smile setting down his tea.

"It doesn't matter now" Hera said gently "you're home now and that's what matters." She reached across the table and took his hands in hers, smiling. Her smile faded. Frowning she looked at Ezra's right hand. Then she started to pull off the leather glove.

"Hera wait" Ezra tried to pull his hand away but Hera caught his wrist in a vice like grip her eyes locking with Ezra's "you may not like what you see" he said softly as the closet thing he had to a mother pulled off the glove. There was a collective gasp of horror as the rebels saw the metal that had replaced flesh.

"What happened?" Hera asked softly but firmly

"It was when I stayed behind. That's how Starkiller beat me." Ezra said balling the metal hand into a fist.

"When we find him" Heras voice was laced with venom "he's going to pay!" A shiver ran down Galen Marek's spine.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

Alarms howled, smoke poured from gashes from the wall as red lights flashed. They were dead in space. Sabine swiped her hands through the air trying to clear smoke away from her.

"Ezra?" She called coughing violently "Ezra?!" She stumbled forward blinking heavily, the door in front of her opened and she staggered into the common area clutching a painful burn on her side. The smoke was thinner in here and her eyes adjusted. She wished they hadn't. Zeb was laid out on the floor, his eyes staring blankly his hands wrapped the staff of his own Bo-Rifle which had been run through his chest.

"Zeb..." her eyes clouded with tears, she looked around, Hera was slumped over the table a smoking blaster mark on her chest, on the floor next to her was Kanan, his lightsaber still clutched in his severed hand. Chunks of smoking tech littered the floor all blown out from the ruined remains of Chopper. "They're all dead.." she couldn't believe it!

"No! Please!" her head whipped around the voice had come from the cockpit. Hesitantly she edged towards the cockpit, the door was jammed open. A dark shadow was vaguely visible, a tall figure cloaked in black.

"It can't be" she whispered in horror. The figure turned revealing the gleam of a T shaped visor. "Starkiller" she whispered unable to believe what was in front of her.

"Ah" the Siths altered voice echoed through the dead ship. 'The last Spectre" Starkiller raised his hand and she was pulled off her feet and flew through the air towards him. His hand closed around her neck and he turned his head to look at the corner. "Do you see now?" Ezra was huddled in the corner, his whole arm was gone at the shoulder "you are mine, you pledged your service for your friends lives!" effortlessly he lifted her higher into the air his fist tightening.

"Please!" Ezra awkwardly got to his knees, clutching his maimed shoulder. "Just let her go! I'll do anything!"

"Yes you will" Starkiller hissed. "Release your true self! Give in to the Dark Side" Sabine spluttered and choked trying to tell him not to. "Quiet girl!" Starkiller dropped her suddenly, she landed hard on her burn pain shooting through her. Ezra had closed his eyes his face contorted with pain. The air around them turned freezing and she looked up in horror to see his eyes had turned yellow.

"Ezra" she sobbed

"Good" Starkiller smirked mockingly "now my apprentice, we have no further use for this now do we?" he looked down at her

"No my master" Ezra looked at her coldly and slowly got to his feet

"Kill her, prove your loyalty" the Sith offered his lightsaber which Ezra took without hesitation activating the red blade with a sinister hum.

"Please Ezra!" Sabine begged "you're not evil! You're my friend, I love you!" tears began to stream down her face. Ezra stared at her blankly

"Ezra Bridger is dead." He said coldly and raised Starkillers blade.

"No!" Sabine howled sitting up, she was in her room. She was in bed the sheets and her loose grey top and shorts soaked with sweat. It was all a horrible nightmare. She stayed there for a long time, her heart rate slowly starting to come down. She needed to see him, she tossed the sheets aside and got up, the metal floor cold on her bare feet. Silently she padded down the hall to Ezra and Zebs cabin, the door opened with a hiss. The Lasat didn't even stir, sleepy rolling over and snoring. Ezra's bunk was empty. Her heart picked up a bit, where was he? Her mind raced, the Phantom! With more urgency she hurried to the common area, indeed there was a light on in the shuttle shining down the ladder. She started to climb it.

Ezra was sat on one of the folding chairs, he'd brought a collapsible table with him. Pieces of his cybernetic hand littered the surface and he was completely absorbed in the prosthesis, working diligently with a set of tools. He's obviously been to bed, he was wearing a set of loose black bottoms and a black vest. She couldn't help but notice how much his muscles had grown in the time he'd been away.

"Hey" she said softly making him jump

"Oh" he relaxed once he saw her "hey Sabine" a small smile appearing on his face

"Couldn't sleep?" she smiled gently as sat down next to him he shook his head

"I haven't had a good night's sleep in a long time" he said as he set down his tools and started to reattach his hands armour plating. "Couldn't you?" he asked as he worked. Sabine shook her head

"No, nightmares" Ezra nodded understandingly

"I get them too" he said darky. There was a moment of silence between the two. Sabine examined the hand, he'd installed an energy gate in the palm and a small focusing point in the index finger. She smiled

"Built yourself a finger gun?" she asked playfully

"Yeah" he looked at her a ghost of his signature grin on his face, "it's good for one shot" he said making a pistol shape with his hand "a last resort"

"Clever" she said genuinely. It was like Ezra to build a blaster into anything

"Thanks" he said as he finished reattaching the plates and reached for his glove

"No, wait" she said suddenly, slowly, she reached out and took his hand, shivering at the cold metal. Hesitantly he allowed her to take it and as gently as he could he squeezed her soft skin. The two stared into each others eyes for a while resting in comfortable silence.

"It's ok you know" she said, as she rested her head on his shoulder

"What is?" he asked before slowly putting his arm around her

"Not being ok" she said simply "we understand" she felt him relax slightly and he rested his head on hers. "Ezra?" she asked after a time

"Yeah Sabine" he said gently

"What was it like?" she asked hesitantly "the Dark Side?" Ezra was quiet for a while

"Cold" he said eventually "like every emotion, every passion I'd ever had had was dialled to eleven, I had so little control and so much power all at once." He sighed "I was free, but I lost so much" he closed his eyes and took a breath "to tell you the truth I don't think I'll ever be the same again, I'm not the same Ezra anymore, I'm what remains" he said heavily his eyes forward. Sabine let that sink in. Her mind trying to process what that must have been like.

"It can't have been easy." She said "I'm so sorry"

"For what?" he asked genuinely surprised and confused

"For letting you go, for letting you fight that monster alone" she said tears welling up in her eyes.

"It wasn't your fault" he said firmly "it was my choice, I did it to protect you, and the others!" he added quickly. She blushed slightly and smiled.

"When you were gone all I could think about was finding you" she said nuzzling into his shoulder "I couldn't bare the thought of you being alone with him, what he was doing to you" she shut her eyes tightly. Then she felt her squeeze her shoulder tighter.

"I thought of you too" he said quietly "the nights were the worst, he'd leave me locked in an empty cabin, chained up like am animal, I couldn't sleep, what I'd done playing again and again in my head"

"What did he make you do Ezra?" she asked, almost afraid to know. Ezra took a long steadying breath

"We were on a planet named Felucia" he stopped a pained look on his face, he continued slowly "he left me in the jungle and told me to find my way back to the ship using what he'd taught me to survive. I was pretty far gone at this point. The rage, the power it had all gone to my head, I was weak, I wanted more!" he squeezed his eyes shut his face drawn with regret.

"Go on" Sabine said gently

"On my way back to the Rogue Shadow I was attacked by a girl, her name was Maris Brood, a Zabrak she was like me, lost in the Dark Side. She attacked me, it was an easy fight she was unrefined. I beat her, her own saber at her neck. She begged for mercy and I just, cut her down." Tears ran down his cheek

"You killed her?" Sabine asked, unable to believe what she's heard

"I'm a monster Sabine" he sobbed

"No!" she said sharply she shrugged his arm off her shoulder and swung her leg over his, settling on his thighs and taking his face in both her hands "that wasn't you!" she stared into his eyes, they were the beautiful shade of blue she'd always loved. "It was the thing that took your place." Ezra stared back at her, losing himself in her eyes.

"When Galen brought me back" he said slowly "he told me to focus on the most best memories and thoughts I had. I thought of you" he breathed "seeing you for the first time, that kiss, how I feel" he gulped "how I really feel" he looked away

"How do you feel Ezra?" Sabine said turning his head back towards her. He put his left hand on hers and took a deep breath.

"I love you" he said. Relief swept over her, her heart swelled and started beating overtime.

"I love you too" she whispered. They gazed at each other and then instinctively they leaned forwards. Their lips found each other and the began to kiss. Sabine put her hands on his shoulders and edged closer deepening the kiss. Ezra wrapped his arms around her lower back and stood up Sabine instinctively wrapping her legs around his waist. Still kissing Ezra pushed her up against the Phantoms wall both moaning into the kiss as their tongues invaded each others mouths. Sabine broke away and rested her forehead on his

"Why did we wait so long to do this?" she whispered

"You don't know what you have until it's gone" he smiled

"Such wisdom" she smirked twirling his over grown hair around her finger before gently prying his hands off her lower back, still holding on to him with her legs she pulled on his shirt, he got the idea and raised his arms making it easier for her to pull it off. As she tossed it aside he lost his balance and fell backwards landing on the Phantom floor. Sabine thrust her arms out on either side of his head to stop herself from landing on him.

"How graceful" she giggled as she settled back on him and traced a finger along his hard pecks and down to the chiselled abs that had formed under Starkillers brutal training regime, her touch raising goose bumps along his skin. "these are new" she smiled "I like these" promoting a smiled from the young man beneath her. She leaned forward and kissed him again. Never before had she needed something so much and not realised until she had it. She broke the kiss and sat up, slowly she gripped the hem of her top and pulled it off, baring herself to him. Acting on instinct he put his hands on her hips and travelled up her soft skin to her breasts.

"Ezra" she sighed leaning into him

"Sabine" he whispered. He sat up and enraptured her mouth with his again. She broke away and smiled softly

"Do you know what day it is?" she said playfully

"What?" he asked breathlessly

"It's Empire day" she smiled "happy birthday Ezra Bridger"

Space rolled by the Rebel fleet as Sabine Wren and Ezra Bridger tenderly made love for the first time.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

There's no dawn in space. The passage of time was almost impossible to track. As a result, the sleeping schedules of most of the Ghost crew was off by a few hours. The most seasoned of pilots could keep regular time. Hera however was always up a few hours early. The Twi'lek emerged from her cabin yawning loudly and stretching, then she smiled feeling lighter then she had in weeks. Ezra was home! The whole family was together again. She paused outside his cabin, when he's first joined them, he'd been so cautious, hesitant to be a part of a family, he'd had trouble sleeping at first. So, she'd checked in on him every now and then. He looked so sweet when he was asleep. The guarded demeanour he'd developed growing up on the streets vanished, the anger she could tell he buried left him. He almost looked peaceful. It wouldn't hurt to check on him now, just for a second. The door hissed open, Ezra's bunk was empty. Instantly she was on edge, then she forced herself to calm down. They were with the fleet, nothing could have gotten close to the ship without someone noticing. Maybe he was in Sabine's room? She smiled at the thought. She opened the cabins door to find that it was empty. She had three other obvious places to check, maybe they'd gotten up early
"It would be a first" she chuckled to herself, the galley and the common area were empty, that only left the Phantom. Hera climbed the ladder into the corridor connecting to the Phantom, all the lights had been turned off.
"That's weird" Hera mumbled to herself as she dialled a few commands into a control panel on the wall, dim lights flickered on up and down the corridor lightning up the inside of the Phantom. Hera peered into the dully lit ship, then made a sound that was halfway between a gasp and a laugh. Lying cuddled together under a blanket they kept for emergencies was Ezra and Sabine. Ezra was asleep on his back, Sabine cuddled up to him her head on his bare chest his arm wrapped around her naked shoulder his hand resting on her back. Unsure what to do Hera took a hesitant step forward, her shadow fell across Ezra's face and he was instantly awake, his peaceful expression gone. He half sat up, then he saw who it was. There was a whole minute's silence, Ezra went red while Hera tried to suppress a fit of giggles.
"Uh" Ezra started to say, but Hera put her finger to her lips and nodded at Sabine who was still asleep. Ezra looked down at her and smiled looking up mouthed "Thanks". Hera smiled knowingly and winked before turning and leaving, turning the lights down as she left. As Hera descended down the ladder she heard Sabine murmur sleepily
"Ezra? Is everything ok?"
"Everything's fine" Ezra said gently as he laid back and softly kissed her forehead, feeling at peace for the first time in months.

###

The Empire was built on fear, they controlled the Galaxy through the might of their military. What most people didn't know was that the command structure of the Empire itself was ruled by fear. No officer or Stormtrooper dared to fail an assignment for fear of angering Lord Vader, who had exterminated entire battalions of Troopers for failure. Horror stories about his combat prowess and dark power haunted the corridors of every Star Destroyer in the vast Imperial fleet. But that wasn't the scary part. The scary part was what Vader himself said about the Emperor
"The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am"
That statement alone was currently the centre thought of the Grand Inquisitor, and it made her incredibly grateful that she hadn't set eyes on the Emperor since the day she had been dubbed an Inquisitor of the Empire.
"You failed me" Darth Vader said simply. The Grand Inquisitor choked and clutched at her throat, she was suspended three feet in the air a vice like grip on her throat. They were on the command deck of the Star Destroyer Vader had left in the command of the Grand Inquisitor. The flight officers were making an obvious effort not to look up, each fighting the urge to wipe their brow. Vader however was more focused on the Inquisitor.
"I ordered you to eliminate the rebels and bring Bridger to me" the Sith mechanical breathing echoed through the bridge "instead, I learn that Bridger escaped, causing significant damage to the Lothal Complex and significant casualties, including a highly skilled and experienced ISB agent!" Vader's tone rose as he spoke, the artificial air was palpable with rage. "Did I miss anything?" the Mirialan shook her head, black spots appearing before her eyes. "Pathetic" Vader scoffed turning on his heels and striding towards the main command centre the Inquisitor floating behind him her legs kicking weakly. As the dark lord of the Sith swept by every officer on the bridge seemed to make a determined effort to melt into their consoles.
"Leave us" Vader said simply as he swept into the command centre, within seconds they were alone, the blast doors rolled shut cutting them off from the rest of the bridge. "If you were anyone else you would be dead now" Vader said coldly then dropped her. The Mirialan sprawled onto the ground gasping and coughing violently, she resisted the urge to vomit, she would not fall into such shame. The Inquisitor shakily got to her feet.
"As it stands" Vader growled "I have need of you, if Bridger dies I don't have time to train another"
"Yes master" The Inquisitor mumbled
"You will not fail me again, bring Bridger to me" Vader stared down at the Mirialan "or you will feel the fullest extent of my wrath, Offee".
As the Inquisitor slinked out of the command centre she caught an officers eye on her for a second, with a blur of red she slashed his head clean off.
"Clean that up" she hissed at a pair of terrified Stormtroopers before pulling her hood up and sweeping away.
Now alone in the main command centre Vader dialled a few commands into the central console and waited for a few minutes. The shimmering image of Starkiller appeared, projected from the consoles holographic projectors. His Apprentice was garbled in black robes, he wasn't wearing his helmet and his sharp face peered at him, no doubt through the droid PROXY.
"You have been busy my Apprentice" Vader said smoothly as he surveyed the hologram of the young man with distrust
"As you ordered my Master" Starkiller bowed his head "all to gain the trust of the Rebels"
"Indeed" Vader said sceptically "how do you justify kidnapping Bridger?"
'Their trust had to be absolute" Starkiller said his head still bowed "returning Bridger to them proved my dedication and good will"
"And what did you tell the boy?" Vader asked coldly "if Imperial intelligence is to be believed he was missing for months"
"The boy is oblivious" Starkiller said confidently "I allowed him to escape Starkiller and followed him as Galen Marek, he is convinced we are separate people"
"And the Rebels trust you for returning Bridger" Vader considered Starkillers words
"Yes my master" Starkiller nodded "with time I can embolden them, so we may strike at the Emperor as planned"
"My patience is wearing thin" Vader said coldly, "You disappeared for three months"
"Bridger had to be missing long enough for the rebels to grow desperate" Starkiller countered "there was no scepticism to my story, the rebels are riled, with time they will be ready to strike"
"Do not wait too long to contact me" Vader pointed at the image threateningly before it flickered out.

###

On board the Rogue Shadow PROXY shuddered and the image of Vader disappeared
"I hate being him" the droid grumbled
"I think he does too" Galen said softly

Kanan walked into the Ghost common area, it was early. Hera was sat at the table flicking through a data pad, Sabine and Tandi were sat cross legged across the room from each other, both were dismantling their blasters, Sabine stripping her blasters whilst Tandi serviced her rifle, she'd already heavily modified the Imperial weapon, stripping out most of its insides and replacing them and the scope with more advanced alternatives. Each of the two seemed determined to complete their task before the other. All the while both of their eyes flicked across to Ezra. The Apprentice was on the other side of the common area doing push ups, he was wearing the black clothes Starkiller had given him but he'd left off the long sleeve top and tunic and was wearing a black tank top. Kanan chuckled softly. Then he saw the crisscross pattern of scars and burns adorning Ezra's arms. Starkillers work no doubt, he paused for a moment to tame the hate that built within him at the thought.
"Morning" he said cheerfully
"Morning Kanan" Ezra said between push ups
"Morning" Sabine said without looking up. Tandi nodded respectfully as she started scrubbing the inside of the rifle with a wire brush. Hera was sat at the table stirring a mug of tea as she read a data pad
"Good morning captain" Kanan smiled as he sat next to her
"Morning love" the Twi'lek said warmly. The Jedi nudged her softly and nodded at Sabine and Tandi a smile on his face. Heras face split into a grin and she quickly turned back to her data pad trying to hold in a fit of giggles.
"What?" Kanan asked confused
"Nothing" Hera said knowingly smiling at her data pad. Kanan looked back at Sabine and caught saw Ezra starring at them, sweat dripping down his forehead a look of worry on his face. Then he saw Kanan looking and he quickly returned to his push ups a blush spreading across his face. Kanan's eyes lingered on Sabine for a second before shrugging it off. There was the tap of footsteps on metal and a door opened. Ashoka and Rex entered the common area

"Wow, I haven't anything like that since my last days in the 501st" the old clone chuckled looking down at Ezra

"Oh, hey Rex" Ezra chuckled as he got to his feet and wiped his forehead, "it's good to see you" he started forward his arm outstretched a grin spreading across his face

"You too kid" Rex smiled as he shook the outstretched hand "I've gotta say, you've done a fair bit of growing up in the last three months"

"Oh" Ezra looked down at himself "I guess I have"

"He definitely needs a haircut though" Hera said from the other side of the room

"Agreed" Kanan laughed. Ezra shrugged and mumbled to himself

"Does Sato have a new mission for us Ashoka?" Sabine asked as she finished reassembling her pistols

"No" the Togruta shook her head "I wanted to speak to Ezra"

"Oh, sure" Ezra said hesitantly

"I just wanted to ask a few more questions, that's all" Ashoka said gently but firmly, eyeing the Apprentice warily.

"Actually, I'd like to ask a few more questions" Kanan said standing up

"Alone, Kanan" Ashoka said sharply fixing the Jedi with a pointed stare

"What?" Sabine asked incredulously "what could you possibly have to ask that we can't all hear?"

"It's fine Sabine" Ezra said gently as he pulled on his loose long sleeved top "I'll answer all the questions she has"

"Thank you, Ezra," Ashoka nodded gratefully as she followed the younger out of the common area and along the corridor to the cockpit, the door opening with a hiss.

"So, what did you want to know?" Ezra said as he sat down in the pilot's seat, half a dozen A-Wings flew past in formation banking into the stars. The Togruta settled into the co-pilots seat and cleared her throat

"What can you tell me about Starkiller? Did you learn anything useful about him?"

"He's arrogant" Ezra said quickly "He's driven by a vendetta, he kept talking about Vader murdering his father"

"He wants revenge" Ashoka nodded "it makes sense, what did he want with you?"

"He said he wasn't strong enough to destroy Vader alone" Ezra said after a moment's thought "he said he needed me to "level the playing field" and destroy Vader"

"But not the Emperor?" Ashoka frowned

"He never mentioned the Emperor" Ezra shrugged "to be honest, I don't think he's even thought that far ahead, he's unstable"

"Unstable?" Ashoka frowned her mind replaying her last meeting with the Sith Apprentice, he'd seemed poised and sound minded then.

"He'd break out into these violent rages" Ezra said darkly "he gave me a fare few of these when he was angry" he pulled his sleeve back showing the Togruta the scars. Ashoka examined the wounds, fits of rage weren't unheard of in Dark Side users and Starkiller had been expecting her. He'd planned to throw her off balance and steal her ship.

"Did he…" Ashoka hesitated "did he mention Vader at all?" she took a breath "Did he talk about who he is under the mask?" Ezra shifted uncomfortably

"Yes" he said after a pause "but I don't know if it's true and even if it is I wish it wasn't"

"Who?" Ashoka leaned forward eagerly.

"I'm sorry Ashoka" Ezra looked away "he said, he was Anakin Skywalker". Ashoka felt her heart sink, it must have shown as Ezra hastily said "but we don't know if it's true, he might have been lying"

"No Ezra" the Togruta said softly "he was telling the truth". The two sat in silence, both lost in their own thoughts.

###

Kanan was waiting for her as she left the cockpit, without a word he grabbed her arm and pulled her into his cabin

"What's the big idea interrogating him like that?" the Jedi snapped at her

"I wasn't interrogating him" Ashoka said indignantly

"Well what else would you call that?" Kanan growled "speaking to him alone, separating him from us, his family!"

"We have to be sure it's safe to trust him Kanan" Ashoka said defiantly. The Jedi took a step backward a look of shock on his face

"How can we not trust him? It's Ezra!"

"Yes, it's Ezra Kanan" the Togruta sighed, glumly aware of her job as the devil's advocate "but doesn't his story sound a little too convenient? He just happens to escape Starkiller and Galen manages to bring him back. How many times have you heard about that happening?" Kanan flattered, Ashoka's word made sense to him

"I don't know" he admitted truthfully "but the Order forbid any knowledge of the Sith, so neither of us would know!"

"If you want to learn about the Sith, I know a place." They both jumped and turned to the cabin door. Ezra was stood there, his arms crossed over his chest.

"Ezra…." Ashoka said bashfully

"It's fine" the Apprentice grumbled "I didn't expect you to trust me right away, even after all I gave to protect you" his eyes lingered in his right hand. An awkward silence followed, both adults shamefully aware of the hell Ezra had been through. Kanan cleared his throat

"You said you know where we can learn about the Sith?"

"Starkiller had a plan" Ezra nodded "he said when I was strong enough we would go to a planet with a Sith Temple, the route is in the Rogue Shadows data banks"

"What was the planet called?" Ashoka asked hesitantly. Ezra fidgeted

"Malachor"

###

The Rogue Shadow had landed in the Imperial transport ship the Rebels had stolen, Galen Marek emerged from the ship as the Ghost touched down in the hanger. The Spectres, followed by the half dozen Wraiths came down the ramp, all talking amongst themselves. Kanan spotted him and came forward

"Morning Galen" he said his arm outstretched. Galen considered the hand for a moment before taking it

"Moring Kanan, so what's the occasion?"

"Commander Sato has ordered a new transmission to welcome Ezra back" Hera said as she ruffled Ezra's hair affectionately. Ezra looked embarrassed

"Yeah, Hera about that" he said rubbing the back of his neck "I don't think that is such a good idea"

"Ah why not kid?" Zeb chuckled playfully slapping Ezra on the back "you escaped a Sith, that's something to talk about"

"He's right Ezra" Hera nodded "and the rebellion needs it, people across the galaxy thought you were dead, you were our symbol of hope, we need to restore that hope"

"But I'm not the Ezra that sent that transmission" he mumbled quietly. He took a breath before nodding.

###

He still had reservations half an hour later as he stood on the bridge of the Rebel command ship. A team of technicians fussed about setting up a recorder, the plan was to hijack the imperial broadcast with the sensors in the carrier and project the footage to the surrounding Imperial systems, from there it would spread across the galaxy, just as their last message had.

"I must say" Commander Sato was saying to him "it is a relief to see you returned safely Ezra, your return and the addition of Galen Marek to our ranks has done tremendous good to the moral of the rebellion"

"Glad to help" Ezra muttered. It was only just dawning on him how much he despised Sato. He was a noble man, but only had a one-track mind, he cared only for the rebellion, not even giving a thought to the comfort or suffering of his soldiers.

"We're ready to go" a technician said breathlessly "you'll have thirty seconds at most so make what you say count!" Ezra nodded solemnly.

###

The bar was almost the same as every scum pit across the galaxy. It's patrons a rowdy bunch of smugglers, pirates and traders. As per law the Imperial broadcast was playing, a news reel was replaying a debate in the senate, all edited to promote the Empires rule of course. No one was paying attention to the propaganda, with obvious dirty looks being shot at the two Stormtroopers that were stood at the door. Then the broadcast stopped. Silence fell across the bar as heads turning to the screen. Then an image appeared. Static rolling across the screen as the picture came into focus, the image showed a young man cloaked in black, his midnight blue hair framing his face, new lines of worry were creased into his face and dark shadows were under his eyes. But it could only be Ezra Bridger.

"Every day the Empire tightens it hold on the galaxy, and all it needs to spread is your willing ignorance." There was a mummer of anger amongst the drinkers. "Every day the Empire deafens you with lies and propaganda, like that little gem that I'm dead". A chuckle rippled through the bar, the Stormtrooper at the door shifted nervously, glancing at each other nervously. Ezra smiled hollowly "Obviously, I'm not. I'm alive and I'll never stop the fight, the fight for freedom, the fight to live our lives peacefully! The Alliance will never surrender, our ranks grow every day! Stand with us! Stand and fight, take back your lives, your safety, fight the Empire together! Because that's when we're strongest, as one!" The image disappeared and there was a moment of silence. Then, slowly, one by one, heads turned to the Stormtroopers at the door

"I've got a bad feeling about this" one of them muttered.

###

As the Rebel fleet jumped into hyperspace a bead of sweat rolled down Ezra's neck and he shifted uncomfortably, the voice of Remnous echoing in his mind "You just rallied an army against the Empire. YOUR Empire!" The edges of his vision blurred, splodges of black creeping across his vision. There was light all around him, suffocating him, he could feel it chipping away at the darkness within him, burrowing its way into his mind.

"An excellent speech Ezra" Commander Sato said warmly placing a hand on his shoulder. Ezra flinched away as if Sato had sunk a blade into him, there was a ringing in his ears.

"Ezra what's wrong?" Hera appeared in front of him out of the blur, her face distorted and out of focus. The ringing intensified, evolving into a splitting headache.

"Why did you make me do that?" he whispered through gritted teeth before shoving past the crowd of concerned well-wishers and running from the bridge.

"Ezra!" Kanan started after him

"Wait" Galen put his hand on Kanan's shoulder "I'll talk to him"

"No" Sabine snapped pushing past both Jedi "I will" The Mandalorian nodded at Hera before running after Ezra.

###

Ezra kept running, all the while the darkness crept across his vision, reducing the world to a murky blur. Figures appeared out of the gloom, Rebels staring in confusion, a kneeling Inquisitor, Stormtroopers stood at attention lining the walls. A man clothed in black robes bared his path down the corridor and as Ezra ran he raised his arm, the sleeve slid back revealing a gnarled hand, the skin translucent and grey. Not stopping Ezra barrelled through the illusion and through an open door into an empty room. The wall was taken up entirely by a huge window. The vortex of hyperspace swirled hypnotically, it faded from his view the room morphed into a grand throne room. He knew the building, had spent hours staring at the place in vain through the holocron, even with the banners of the Empire and the drastically changed decor it was impossible to mistake the Jedi Temple. He was stood in front of a black stone throne at the top of a grand staircase. A young woman in black knelt before him, her head bowed.

"You are exceptionally gifted in the true power of the Force" his voice was deeper, richer, older. HE stared down at her, pride burning in his heart, with a swish of his cloak he raised the lightsabre he had crafted in his tower on Lothal, activating the multiple blades he lowered it to above her shoulder. "Your training is complete, it will be more than sufficient to destroy your brother." He grinned wickedly. "Now rise" the blade passed over her bowed head and hovered above her other shoulder "My Apprentice". His blade hissed as it retracted.

"Thank you, my master," the kneeling Sith whispered, she rose slowly, he brown hair was pulled back into a tight bun, her once brown eyes were piercing yellow. "I will serve you well, my Emperor".

The images faded and he was alone. Staring into the void.

"It is your destiny" Remnous hissed in his mind, his reflection in the window stared at him, and just for a moment, almost too fast to see, the reflection changed. He was cloaked in black, his hair was shoulder length, the fingers on his synthetic hand ended with wicked sharp blades like claws and a long, deep scar ran from the left side of his jaw up his face and over his left eye. He stared, his false blue eyes staring into the golden eyes of his true self.

"Ezra?" said a cautious voice behind him. He turned, Sabine was stood in the doorway, her face a picture of concern. The sight of her warmed his heart and eased the pain in his head whilst disgusting him all at once.

"Sabine" he choked, a tear running down his cheek. His knees buckled and he sunk downwards, the Mandalorian rushed forward and caught him, sinking to the floor with him as he sobbed wholeheartedly into her shoulder. "I'm being torn apart" he whispered "I can feel it, the Light and the Dark" Sabine held him, she didn't' say anything, she just listened. "Good and Evil" he screwed his eyes shut and let it all out, his heart a void of emptiness and pain, his mind a shattered mess, the remains of the dying Ezra Bridger fruitlessly trying to repel the steadily strengthening Darth Remnous "Why do they hurt?" He sobbed.

Sabine clasped Ezra against her as he wept. She had no idea what to do or say. Hesitantly she ran a hand through his hair and hummed the tune of an old Mandalorian lullaby her mother had sung to her as a child. It hurt her to see Ezra like this, the boy she'd met on Lothal had been fearless, not letting anything faze him. He'd even had the nerve to hit on her moments after they'd met, it had annoyed her at first. All she'd seen was an arrogant, delinquent Loth Rat who was just out for himself. But after he'd joined them she had watched him grow and change, abandoning his selfish attitude, risking his life for others fearlessly, vowing to protect the galaxy had earned him his kyper crystal. Then she had let him make the ultimate sacrifice, dooming him to a fate worse than death. Whether or not she had loved him before those blast doors had closed behind him she had no idea, but now all she was sure of was what she'd felt the night before when they'd laid in each-other's arms. So, she stayed with him, holding him tightly.

###

Ashoka walked into the hanger of the carrier, the Rogue Shadow was settled next to the Ghost. Armour plates had been removed and a pair of boots were sticking out from under it. As Ashoka walked forwards she heard unintelligible mutters and curses coming from under the ship.

"Juno?" She asked cautiously. The muttering stopped and after a second Juno Eclipse slid out from under the Rogue shadow.

"What?" she asked, raising an eyebrow irritably.

"I had some questions I wanted to ask you" the Togruta said, unshaken by the lukewarm welcome. The pilot rolled her eyes and slid back under the ship

"If you hadn't noticed I'm a bit busy right now" she said as she worked

"This will only take a second" Ashoka said as pleasantly as she could. There was a moment silence, then came an audible groan and Juno remerged from under the ship.

"What can I tell you?" she said as she stood and crossed to a small fold away table and picked up a towel and wiped drops of oil and other engine fluid off her face.

"Where did you meet Galen?" the Togruta said, calmly surveying the pilots face, any details she purposely left out would be there.

"I had just defected from the Empire" Juno said as she turned back to the ship and started fiddling with the wiring inside the hull "I had been assigned to a TIE escort of a Star Destroyer, our primary mission was maintaining a military presence on Kashyk, subduing any uprising from the air before it could start. I didn't sign up to be a slave driver" she said darkly "I was having a drink in a bar in a port called Mos Eisley when some smuggler started trying to hit on me" the pilot rolled her eyes "something about his ship making the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs. He was drunk, and an idiot." Juno shrugged "I was about to tell him to scram when this random guy in a white robe knocked him clean out"

"Never figured you for the damsel type" Ashoka said surprised

"I'm not" Juno said harshly "I told him to get lost too". The pilot grinned at the memory. "I was staggering back to where the shuttle I'd stolen was docked when a troop of bucket heads started asking about my identification and "proof of ownership" for the shuttle. I was getting ready for a shootout when the guy in the robe came back, waved his hand and told the bucket head commander that he didn't need to see my identification and to move along. I thought the whole thing was ridiculous until the bucket head agreed and moved on." Juno paused and stopped untangling a knot of cables. "I'd heard stories about the Jedi and their mind tricks but I'd never believed them". Ashoka nodded slowly and motioned for the pilot to continue. "He disappeared after that but I kept my eye out for him whilst I was in Mos Eisley but I didn't see him again."

"So how'd you end up traveling with him?" Ashoka asked folding her arms

"It was maybe a week later" Juno said as she pulled a wrench from her belt and started work on the Shadows inner workings again "I was getting supplies from the market for the journey to the next system when I overheard some lowlife talking about how a bunch of Hutt thugs had cornered a Jedi across town. For a second I didn't care then I realised something"

"And what was that?" Ashoka asked warily

"From day one of my training at the academy I'd been told that the Jedi were selfish and cruel, that they'd started the Clone Wars and had tried to over throw the Republic, in that moment I realised that the Republic had been overthrown anyway and that this Jedi had helped me, me. Some random deserter he didn't know anything about and in that one act he'd been kinder and more compassionate then all the Imperials I'd met and that I owed him"

"Quite a turnaround" Ashoka said sceptically

"Think what you will" Juno snapped turning to face the Grey Jedi "but I saw a chance to do good and I took it". There was tense few seconds as the two women stared each other down. "Have I answered all your questions?" Juno said her eyes never leaving the Togrutas

"I just have one more" Ashoka said "where did you find Ezra?" Juno sighed and turned back to the ship.

"I should've known that you'd want to know that" the pilot shrugged "We were in deep space, around the Lothal sector. Galen was mediating, it was all quiet then suddenly he jumped up and ran to the cockpit jabbering about a "Dark Presence on Garel", so we jumped there and docked."

"Why would Galen run to a dark presence?" Ashoka asked bemused

"Don't ask me" Juno shrugged "Galen thought it was an Inquisitor, or maybe Starkiller, he seems to have some agenda against them, never bothered asking exactly why, I figure the less Imperial agents the better"

"So, you found Ezra on Garel?" Ashoka tilted her head to the side slightly, aware that the pilot had turned away from her again.

"In a bar" Juno chuckled "So drunk he could barely stand, that hadn't stopped him from picking a fight with some Bucket Heads though"

"He was drunk?" Ashoka was both surprised and repressing the urge to laugh. As far as she was aware Ezra had never touched a drop in his life. Juno didn't have such restraint and started to laugh.

"It's quite the sight" she smiled "he puts on this tough guy act, which is all well and good when you're normal, but when you have the power to back it up…." The pilot trailed off "Galen had to stop him from killing the commander"

"Wait, killing?" Ashoka gasped, horrified. Had Ezra really been that far gone? She could never imagine Ezra taking a life. Juno nodded sagely

"He put up a hell of a fight when Galen stopped him" Juno frowned "we had to drag him out of the bar and dump him in a water trough to sober him up" a small smile reappearing on her face "that was funny, when he could string a sentence together he told us who he was, not that he had to, he was easy to recognise without his helmet on"

"Did he say anything about Starkiller?" Ashoka asked sceptically "any specifics?"

"No" Juno said flatly "he wouldn't talk about it and I don't think he ever will"

###

"What did he do to you?" Sabine murmured. She and Ezra were sat on a bench against the wall. Ezras eyes were hollow and blotchy.

"He said the key to gaining strength in the Dark Side was pain." He said quietly, almost subconsciously rubbing his scared arms.

"He tortured you?" Sabines eyes widened in horror. Ezra nodded without looking at her.

"He said, "pain leads to fear, fear leads to hate and hate leads to power". It was nonstop sparing matches, no safety blades. He'd only ever let me get two hours sleep at most at a time. I was wired and on edge, constantly ready to strike." He looked down at his hand, it was trembling. Sabine took his hand and squeezed it tightly.

"It's going to be ok" she said softly "You're home now and I'll never let you go again". Ezra turned to her with a small smile. Slowly she leaned forward and rested her forehead against his. They rested together in silence for a few minutes, both smiling in contentment. After a moment, Sabine said quietly "Ezra. About last night"

"Yeah?" Ezra said suddenly worried

"Last night was amazing" Sabine said chuckling softly at the look of obvious relief on Ezras face.

"Yeah it was" he smiled sheepishly. There was a shudder as the carrier dropped out of hyperspace. A planet hung below them its landmasses a mix of browns. "Where are we?" Ezra asked confused. He got to his feet and stood in front of the window.

"After you disappeared the Rebels found a suitable planet to hide a base" Sabine stood up and joined him at the window. "But it turned out to be a trap."

"Could've seen that coming" Ezra said sarcastically

"Hindsight is 20/20" Sabine shrugged "At the last second Chopper and AP-5..."

"AP-5?" Ezra looked at Sabine in confusion

"Long story" Sabine smiled, thinking of the droids' dry humour "AP-5 is an Imperial Droid Chopper befriended, together they found this planet, it's called Atollon" slowly Sabine took Ezras hand as the carrier began to descend into the atmosphere. "Welcome to Chopper Base."

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

The early morning sun shone, the mountains slowly lit up in the yellow light. As the sun rose the heat thawed the sands and a haze sprang up. Shadows spread across the hills as the light rose. Grotesque and disfigured the shadows danced back and forth striking at each other. As the shadows danced flashes of light came from their base, with them came the harsh sounds of a lightsabre duel. Ezra and Galen circled each other, clashing again and again, both fully throwing themselves into a brutal contest. Galen pressed forward pushing Ezra back with a flurry of slashes and jabs, he held a yellow blade in his left hand in a reverse grip and a blue lightsabre in his right. Both hilts were weathered, the designs faded and worn. Ezra held his blade in both hands, meeting Galens blows with swift, powerful strikes. The blue blades clashed again and ground against each other as the two combatants locked their blades.

"Given you performance I'll assume that the Seventh Sister was no bother" Galen grinned. Sweat ran down his brow. Ezra had appeared at the Rogue Shadow at dawn, just as he had on Felucia. Out of pride and curiosity to see just how much Ezra had progressed in their time apart Galen had agreed to return to their old training regime. Regrettably they couldn't risk Dark Side training with three force sensitives nearby. But they could still spar, Galen grinned. They'd been at it for at least an hour and other then one or two water breaks Ezra was showing no signs of tiring.

"It was almost boring" Ezra snorted, his shoulders straining as he pushed against the blue blade, his eye wearily tracking the yellow. "She had no grace, no tricks it was actually really underwhelming" he grunted as he shoved against Galen sending his master stumbling back.

"I must be quite the teacher" Galen chuckled as he raised both blades to block Ezras next strike.

"More like PROXY is" Ezra grinned as feigned around Galens block and somersaulted over him landing neatly behind him and swept his leg into Galens sending him sprawling onto the ground, with one fluid motion Ezra lowered his blade to Galens throat "I win" the apprentice grinned panting. Stunned by the sudden move and the hard fall Galen panted, staring at the blade at his throat in awe. With time Ezra would grow to be more powerful then him, Vader, even the Emperor.

"You win" he muttered begrudgingly. Ezras grin almost split his face in two.

"It was a good fight" he offered a hand to Galen who took it without hesitation and allowed Ezra to pull him to his feet

"Where'd you learn that?" Galen asked as he dusted himself off "I know PROXY didn't teach you that"

"Came up with it myself" Ezra shrugged as he clipped his lightsabre to his belt "tested it on some bucket heads on Lothal." Ezra was obviously proud of himself "where is PROXY anyway?"

"Deactivated in the cargo hold" Galen deactivated his blades "Wasn't worth the risk of him saying anything, he'd be proud though, maybe you can teach me that some time" Galen smiled as he clipped his sabres to his belt. Ezra rifled through the duffle bag they'd brought and tossed Galen a towel. "Thanks" Galen nodded as he caught it. There was a few minutes silence as the two caught their breath and wiped themselves off. "So, how're you holding up?" Galen asked, the humour was gone from his voice.

"I'm holding" Ezra muttered darkly

"That's my fault" Galen shifted uncomfortably "I should have told you the Mask was difficult to maintain, especially with so many temptations to fall to the light here"

"I don't understand" Ezra clenched his metal fist "you said my passions would free me, so why are they calling me to the light?"

"It's not your passions" Galen said matter-of-factly "it's your ties to the past, the love you feel for that Sabine girl". He saw Ezra freeze up at the mention of Sabine

"I need to feel it again" Ezra said quietly "the darkness, the power!"

"We can't risk it!" Galen said harshly as he roughly grabbed Ezras shoulder "if they sense anything the game is up"

"Well why do we need to lie?" Ezra snapped smacking Galens hand off his shoulder. "Our goals are the same!"

"All Jedi are the same" Galen folded his arms across his chest "they'll never accept us, they'll never except you. They'll be blinded by the memory of Ezra Bridger"

"Why can't I escape him?" Ezra growled. "That weakling plagues me every time I meditate and now here!"

"It'll pass" Galen reassuringly "You abandoned the identity of your past, it takes time for you to forget yourself. Until then you'll keep our cover, when the Alliance has the strength to draw Vader and the Emperor out you can truly be free of Ezra Bridger"

###

Sabine was absently sketching in the common area. Hera and Ashoka were at a briefing detailing the state of the rebellion and the ripple effects of Ezras transmission, Kanan was off looking for Ezra and Zeb was patrolling with Rex. Tandi and the Wraiths had been assigned quarters the night before, so she had the Ghost to herself. She'd forgotten how quickly they were separated when they were with the rebellion, each moving to their own duties. She sighed and set her pad down, now more than ever she was nostalgic for the old days. When there hadn't been a rebellion and it had just been, them, fighting for the little guy. She looked down at the sketch she'd been working on, without really paying attention to what she was doing she'd sketched the symbol of the Jedi but engulfed in flames. She practically dropped the pad onto the table as a shiver ran up her spine as she gazed at the drawing. She had a bad feeling about all this.

###

Kanan wondered the perimeter of Chopper Base. The night before he and Ezra had agreed to a sparring session in the morning, but when he had checked his cabin he hadn't been there, the morning had stretched into afternoon and he could feel paranoia creeping over him. He wondered how long he would feel dread like this every time Ezra wasn't where he thought he was.

"Kanan?" He turned to see Ashoka walking towards him. He raised a hand in greeting.

"Ashoka" he nodded

"What are you doing?" Ashoka frowned, blinking in the harsh afternoon sun "a recon team checked the perimeter hours ago"

"I'm looking for Ezra" Kanan confessed "we were supposed to have a sparring session this morning but he's nowhere to be seen".

"He's probably with Galen" Ashoka shrugged

"Why do you say that?" Kanan frowned

"Because they're over there" the Togrutas brow furrowed with suspicion as she pointed over Kanans shoulder. Kanan turned to see Ashoka was right, Ezra and Galen were jogging into the base perimeter.

"What were they doing out there?" Kanan asked glancing at Ashoka.

"Running from the looks of it" Ashoka muttered dryly.

"But why so far from the base?" Kanan stroked his beard "Unless, they have something to hide?" he raised his eyebrow at Ashoka

"My thoughts exactly" the Togruta nodded "Have you managed to get any answers from Galen about where he came from? Or what happened to his parents?"

"No, he always avoids questions" the Jedi muttered thoughtfully "Kota said he only trained Galen for about six months, and he was only sixteen at most when they met"

"So, how'd a seventeen-year-old become powerful enough to not only fight, but survive fighting a Sith like Starkiller?" Ashoka said sceptically as she fixed a wary eye on the approaching silhouettes of Ezra and Galen.

"I haven't the faintest clue" Kanan muttered

"I have an idea" Ashoka turned to Kanan her expression grim.

"What've you got?" the Jedi asked, never taking his eye off of Ezra.

###

Panting Ezra and Galen sprinted the final leg up a hill to the grounded rebel fleet, the afternoon sun was high in the sky and the heat was unbearable.

"Was that three miles?" Ezra groaned as he clutched at the beginnings of a stitch in his side.

"Pretty sure." Galen panted as he uncorked a water bottle and took a long drink.

"I must be getting soft" Ezra tutted disapprovingly

"Maybe it's the heat?" Galen suggested as he wiped his mouth and sat down heavily in the shade of a supply crate.

"Ezra!" Both their heads whipped around. Kanan was striding towards them, his lightsabre hilt in his hand.

"Great" Ezra muttered under his breath. With some effort, he forced his old grin "Hey Kanan" he waved cheerily.

"Where have you been?!" Kanan snapped "we were supposed to spar this morning"

"Oh yeah" Ezra chuckled "I woke up early and so did Galen, so we went for a run, did some sparring and Galen showed me a few new tricks with the Force" Ezra shrugged brushing off Kanans question.

"Really? "I woke up early" that's your excuse for skipping training?" Kanan glared fiercely "You've been gone for hours! You never taken this seriously!"

"Easy Kanan" Galen said quietly his eyes on Ezras balled fist

"I'll get to you later" Kanan shot a withering look at Galen before turning back to Ezra.

"I don't take this seriously?" Ezra said through gritted teeth

"No, you don't" Kanan snapped harshly, "you're ill disciplined" he jabbed Ezra hard on his right shoulder "reckless" he jabbed at the left "and idle minded."

"Leave him alone!" Galens fists clenched as he got to his feet

"Sit down boy" Kanan spat barley glancing at the younger man, his eyes fixed on Ezra.

"Boy?" Galen growled as he stepped forward.

"Yes." Kanan turned to Galen "I don't care how good you think you are with a lightsabre, you're not a Jedi, or a man, yet."

"Well why don't you come and find out how good I am" Galens hand clenched around the hilt of his blue lightsabre "I'll show you exactly what kind of man I am!"

"No!" Both of them turned to Ezra, he'd unclipped his own lightsabre. "You want a sparring match?" he glared at Kanan "I'll give you a sparring match!" Sabre coming to life Ezra leapt at Kanan, who barely had time to dive to the side and activate his own blade. Ezra was relentless, ducking under strikes and dodging slashes all the while countering with a fury of his own.

"Nice moves" Kanan parried a strike "who taught you those? Starkiller?"

"What of it?!" Ezra snapped as he slashed at Kanan only to have the Jedi nimbly dodge away from him.

"You seem to be taking after him a lot these day" Kanan fell into a defensive stance, feet apart, blade raised. With intensifying fury Ezra slammed his blade into Kanans, locking them.

"What's that supposed to mean?" he hissed

"The clothes, the ridiculous workout routines" Kanan stared at Ezras eyes, yellow was beginning to spread across the blue irises like cracks on a mirror. "Maybe you don't hate him as much as you claim!"

"I do hate him" Ezra could feel blood pounding in his ears, his rage was beginning to overtake him

"I don't think you do" Kanan said accusingly "I think you admire him"

"Liar!" Ezra spat

"You want to be him". It was the final step too far and Ezra howled, swinging his blade back, breaking the lock, making Kanan stumble just for a second and that was all Ezra needed. Sabre in both hands Ezra swung with all his strength. Kanans weapon flew from his hand and with an animalistic scream Ezra lunged forward his gloved right hand closing around his former master's neck. The two fell backwards, Kanan sprawling onto his back, Ezra landed on his knees, his right hand still clutching Kanans neck, the left drawn back angling his blade at the Jedi's throat.

"That's enough Ezra!" he felt a hand close around his wrist and he turned to see Galen. There was a long, tense silence. Then the apprentice turned back to Kanan, the yellow had faded from his eyes. They were blue, full of shame and horror.

"I'm sorry" he whispered, almost in a trance he let go of Kanans neck and stood, his blade hissing as it retracted. He stared at the weapon for a few seconds before throwing it as far he could.

"It's ok" Kanan said in a hoarse voice as he got to his feet "I'm sorry I said those things, I needed to see how you'd react"

"Why?" Ezra asked weakly

"I needed to see whether or not the Dark Side was still with you and all I could think of was to make you angry"

"I guess you know now" Ezra hung his head in shame

"It's alright" Kanan said gently as he laid a hand on Ezras shoulder "let me help you Ezra"

"You can't help me" Ezra said flatly before shrugging the hand off and running towards the Rogue Shadow. Galen and Kanan watched him go. Both with pits in their stomachs, for very different reasons.

"We need to talk" Kanan said, setting a steely eye on Galen.

###

"So, we are in agreement?" Sato looked at the assembled ranking rebels. No challenge was raised and the Commander nodded "then we will send a team to investigate the increased Imperial activity on the asteroid base we previously used for supply drops"

"It might be nothing" Hera said thoughtfully

"But I'd rather we know it was nothing" Ashoka folded her arms across her chest "It's better than being caught off guard."

"Indeed" Sato nodded "So, who should we send?"

"Sabine and Zeb can check it out" Hera said immediately

"They should have someone to cover them" Sato frowned

"What about Tandi?" Ashoka asked "I've seen her shoot, she hasn't missed yet"

"Good idea" Hera nodded "They can take the Phantom".

"It would be easier for them to go undetected" Sato nodded "very well, Captain Syndulla, prep the team"

###

On board the Rogue Shadow Ezra was rifling through containers as he fumbled with the straps of his armour.

"Where are they? Where are they?" he muttered to himself. He kicked open another container and sighed with relief, it was full of lightsabres. The two Guard Shotos were lying on top. He ran a hand over the baton like hilt. It was almost comforting. He slid them into specially designed holsters on his hips and finished doing up the straps on his arm guards. He'd searched through the Rogue Shadows wardrobes and had swapped out the cloak Galen had given him for a long black leather coat. He tucked his helmet under his arm and turned to leave. But he felt something pull him back, he turned and his eye fell on a draw. He remembered what he'd stored there. As if drawn to it he approached it. As the draw opened the light shone off the hilt with a blood red glow. His breath caught in his throat as he reached out and ran his fingertips across it. This was blade of Darth Remnous. It took him a moment to realise he was thinking of himself.

"Embrace your destiny" He murmured to himself as he cradled the weapon.

###

Sabine holstered her pistols as she walked down the Ghosts ramp. Hera had already separated the Phantom and landed it next to the Ghost. Tandi was stood next to the ship. She'd swapped out her dungarees for a pair of black combat trousers and a thick breastplate and her old jacket. The red head was adjusting the scope of her rifle and only looked up when the Mandalorian was at the Phantom.

"Commander Sato said you were assigned this mission too" Tandi said matter-of-factly without looking up.

"I've succeeded in the field more times then you've been out in it" Sabine scoffed rolling her eyes, the Lothal sniper was really beginning to push her nerves. Zeb appeared from around a corner, in deep discussion with Hera.

"Your job is to observe" Hera was saying. "any trouble you radio it in and then get out of there, we don't need to take any extra risks."

"Understood" Zeb said nodding as he slid his rifle onto his back and cracked his knuckles.

"Take it easy Zeb" Hera chuckled, she patted her friend on the back, nodded at the two girls then turned her back to them and walked back to the command centre.

"Alright" Zeb said "Hera's put me in charge on this one, we're to scout out an old clone wars base and observe."

"And if things go wrong?" Tandi asked

"That's why we're bringing you along, you're the long-range support" Zeb said reassuringly.

"As long as she doesn't miss" Sabine muttered

"I never miss" Tandi snapped at the Mandalorian

"Easy you two" Zeb snapped. At first, he'd found their mutual dislike over Ezra funny, but now it was getting tiresome and may develop into something dangerous. "Will you two be able to work together?" he grumbled as he ran a hand over his face.

"I'll be fine if she is" Sabine grumbled

"This is going to be a handful" Zeb muttered.

"Then you'll need an extra body on the ground" The three of them looked around to see Ezra striding towards them. He was wearing his full suit of armour with what looked like two batons attached to his belt.

"Ezra, no" Sabine said instantly.

"You weren't assigned to this mission kid" Zeb said more softly

"I assigned myself" Ezra said shortly. He looked back and forth between the two Spectres unimpressed faces "Come on guys! I haven't had any action in days!"

"If he feels up to it why not?" Tandi shrugged "I've seen him in action, I know I'd feel better having him around"

"Shut it Tani" Sabine snapped "This is a family matter"

"You shut it Sabi" Tandi snapped "It's his decision!" Sabine glowered at her and her hand drifted towards one of her blasters.

"Go on" Tandi snarled her knuckles white on the grip of her rifle "Try me"

"If you two are done we should get going" Ezra muttered as he pushed passed them into the Phantom.

"Hey!" Zeb called out

"You know you want me along" Ezra said to Zeb looking him dead in the eye "but if you want, you can try and stop me". There was a moment of tense silence. Then Zeb bowed his head. "I thought so" Ezra muttered as he ducked into the ship.

###

"I grew up on Kashyykk" Galen said. He, Ashoka and Kanan were sat on crates where Ezra had fought Kanan. "My mother was killed by slavers a few years after I was born" he unclipped one of the lightsabres from his belt and held it up. "This was hers" he said heavily "my father taught me to fight with it. But when I was ten, the Empire found us, Vader himself came to kill my father"

"I'm so sorry" Kanan said quietly

"How did you escape?" Ashoka asked

"I didn't" Galen said flatly "I was enrolled into the Inquisitors academy, I spent five years there until I was sent out to prove myself and kill a Padawan"

"What happened?" Kanan asked grimly

"I killed him" Galen said quietly "I was so horrified and disgusted by what I'd done" Galen stopped as he choked on his words "I ran and I never stopped, went back to Kashyk and found the ruins of my house, I barely remembered it but the memories came back to me and I felt something in me I hadn't felt in so many years."

"What?" Ashoka said sceptically

"Light" Galen looked up at the Grey Jedi "Hope. Warmth" He sighed "Mercy."

"So, your memories brought you back? Kanan asked

"Yeah" Galen said grimly. "I took up the fight against the Empire, but I was still fighting with rage, I needed a Jedi to teach me so I found Kota and learned what I could, when he could speak in complete sentences" he muttered.

"And you never saw Vader again?" Ashoka asked her arms crossed

"He supervised a few training sessions but never one on one" Galen said openly.

"So why'd you help Ezra?" Ashoka asked coldly, still unconvinced earning her a sullen look from Kanan. Galen shook his head.

"Pick a reason" he said "Compassion, pity, seeing myself in him." Galen looked up at Ashoka with cold eyes "I couldn't stand to see another young life ruined by a slave of the Dark Side". The two glared at each other. "I did what a Jedi would do, not that you'd know"

"I was a Jedi!" Ashoka snapped

"Yeah, was" Galen muttered

"My reasons for leaving are my own" Ashoka glowered.

"You were framed for a bombing, you turned your back on a Galaxy at war! You let innocents suffer because you felt victimised!" Galen's eyes burned with rage "and you have the nerve to challenge my integrity?" He spat on the ground at her feet.

"How dare you?" Ashoka hissed "I've fought the Empire from its founding!"

"And if you'd stayed Anakin Skywalker might not have turned and there never would have been an Empire!" Galen countered. Ashoka was visibly shocked.

"How did you know?" she whispered

"Ezra told me" Galen glared

"Wait" Kanan said bemused "what do you mean about Master Skywalker turning?" Ashoka sighed

"He's Darth Vader Kanan"

###

The Phantom hovered above a cliff edge and the hatch opened, Tandi leaped out, her rifle strapped to her back. As the Phantom flew away she hiked up hill, the Clone Wars base was in plain sight, but she needed higher ground. She found it a few metres above her, amongst a pile of rocks.

"Perfect" she smiled, the sun was behind her so there wouldn't be a glare in her scope. She unslung her rifle from her back and dropped to her knees and onto her stomach. She flicked the bipod down and set it on the ground the stock firmly in her shoulder and peered through her scope. Through the enhanced picture she watched the Phantom set down and the hatch open. The three spectres filed out, she lingered for a moment on Ezra, her heart quivering.

"Stop it" she muttered to herself.

"What was that Wraith One?" Zeb asked through the coms

"Nothing" she said quickly as she scanned the sight, "so far I can't see anything" she said, as the words left her mouth she saw a flicker of movement in the hanger "wait", she turned a dial on the scope and the picture zoomed in. She could make out the faint outline of a person in the hanger. "There's someone there". Instantly she saw the Spectres tense up.

"Who? Where?" Sabines voice was tense

"I can't tell" she muttered, "they're in the hanger entrance". Ezra groaned

"I'm an idiot, I can sense her"

"Who? Tandi asked as she tried to further enhance the picture

"The Grand Inquisitor" Ezra said through gritted teeth as the figure came into view, a woman in a black robe and hood. As she watched, the Inquisitor activated two red blades.

###

Ezra fumbled for the Guard Shotos as the Inquisitor leapt forward. Around him Zeb and Sabine scattered, both firing at her; all the shots were batted away. He barely managed to activate his own red blades and block her strike in time.

"Interesting weapons" she chuckled "Lord Vader will be pleased, you've already got the right sabre colours". Before he could think of a witty comeback Zeb popped out from behind a stack of crates and fired at the Inquisitors back. The Inquisitor broke the lock and blocked the blaster fire. Seizing the moment Ezra slashed at her torso which she simply dodged away from. Sabine appeared on his right, both pistols in her hands firing. Caught in a cross fire the Inquisitor was forced to retreat backwards, nimbly dodging away from the combined blaster fire. Taking advantage of her distraction Ezra rushed her both blades angled at her chest. At the last second the Inquisitor blocked the strikes, her teeth gritted with annoyance.

"Pests" she grunted. As she glared over her shoulder at Zeb. She'd half hoped the brat would come alone. Optimism, the useless feeling was more worthless than hope. She thrust her arm out and sent the Lasat flying backwards. She turned, intent on doing the same to the Mandalorian but even as she raised her blades, the boy imposed himself between her and her target, teeth bared in a vicious snarl.

"I feel your hate, boy" she hissed as she brought her left blade down in a sweeping strike, forcing Ezra to raise one of his own in defence "The dark side flows through your façade of hope like water through a burst dam." With her other blade, the inquisitor thrust at Ezras chest, the young man forced to parry at an awkward angle, leaving himself open for another strike. Sweeping with her right leg, the woman grinned as she heard a hard snap, Ezra letting out a noise that was half scream, half groan as she stuck at a pressure point, tumbling to his knees. Launching into a vicious spin kick she knocked him onto his back both his short blades deactivated. "Lord Vader wants you alive" she grinned as she lowered her lightsabre to the boys' chest. "But that doesn't mean in one piece". Laughing hysterically, she raised her twin blades, ready to hack the boy apart. As they travelled downwards a blistering heat spread across her left hand and her lightsabre slipped from her grasp. Clutching her blistering fingers, she whipped around, the Mandalorian was there, her blaster still raised. "You." She snarled. Rage blinding her she strode forward her left arm hugged to her chest. "Lord Vader doesn't give a damn about you, so I'm going have some fun ripping you apart!"

"NO!" Came a strangled cry from behind her. She felt arms close around her. The boy was up!

"Let go of me!" she snarled as she thrashed in his grip, but for his age he was remarkably strong.

"You don't ever threaten her!" Ezra roared as he pressed the palm of his synthetic hand against her chest. For a second nothing happened, then there was the tell-tale whine of a power cell overloading.

"No! No! No!" she howled. Then the hand exploded.

###

The explosion knocked all of the wind out of her and sent her flying backwards. Her vision blurred and an intense ringing in her ears. Sabine pulled her helmet off and shook her head fiercely. All she could see was smoke and harsh light. Then all at once the world snapped back into focus. Ezra!

Sabine clumsily got to her feet and looked about her. The Inquisitor was flying a few feet away from her, knocked unconscious a steady stream of smoke pouring out from her robes. She found Ezra a few feet away. The sight almost made her sick. Ezra was lying in a pool of his own blood, his arm was just a stump now, barely anything left below the elbow.

"Karabast" Zeb murmured as he stumbled up next to her. "Why does he have to be such a hero?" he whispered in horror.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

Amongst the ruins of an old military base on an asteroid floating in nowhere space came the howls of a warrior in agony.

"Ezra, you need to stay still!" Zeb grunted through gritted teeth as he pulled supplies out of the Phantoms medical kit in a vain attempt to stem the bleeding from the ruins of the Jedi's arm. The Lasat grimaced as he peered at the wound. Shrapnel had embedded itself up and down his upper arm leaving deep cuts, yet more scars the kid would have to add to his ever-growing collection. The right sleeve of his coat had been blown off, the rest of it was still smoking. Most of his armour had been saved from the worst of the shrapnel blast, save for the forearm guard on his right arm, which had been blown off in the explosion and was now in an unknown and most likely far away location and probably wasn't worth retrieving.

"We have to stop the bleeding or he won't make it back to base" Sabine said in a high, frightened voice.

"We don't have the equipment for that" Zeb grunted tensely as he wrapped a bandage around Ezras upper arm as a tourniquet hoping it might reduce the blood flow, but he knew it would take too long and might cost the kid what little of an arm he had left.

"We need to cauterize it!" Both Zeb and Sabine looked up from Ezra to see Tandi. The sniper was cuffing the unconscious Inquisitors arms behind her back with a pair of binders.

"What are we gonna do that with?!" Zeb ran his hand over his head, he knew Tandi was right but he had no idea how to do it.

"Zeb" Ezra groaned weakly.

"Don't try to talk" Sabine hushed as she dropped to her knees cradled his head. The apprentice shook his head vigorously and stretched out his left hand. A few feet away, one of the guard shotos kicked up dust as it dragged itself across the ground for a few seconds before flying into Ezras outstretched hand.

"You, need, to" Ezra grunted as if each word hurt him "Cut. It. Off" he whispered as he activated the red blade and held it up to the Lasat.

"What?!" Zeb gaped in horror as he gazed at the red blade in Ezras hand.

"That would stop the bleeding" Tandi murmured under her breath.

"But cutting his arm off?" Sabine said shakily.

"Please" Ezra groaned.

"Who should…" Zeb muttered looking at Sabine, unable to finished the sentence, horribly aware of its implications. On the ground Ezra slipped out of consciousness, eyes rolling into the back of his head as blood pumped thickly from his arm.

Sabine reached for the blade, arm shaking as she lifted the all-to-heavy weapon from the dust; her grip weak and trembling. Though the blade was almost too bright to bear, she looked at the shimmering length of ionising plasma with horror.

'It won't hurt' she rationalised to herself, even as someone called her name, their voice an undistinguished drone to her ringing ears. 'just one quick swipe and the wound will be cauterised, just one cut and… and…'

The shoto dropped from her limp fingers, the deadly blade leaving an ugly gash in the ground.

"I can't…" she mumbled, her eyes flicking from the blade to Ezras bleeding stump, unable to remove the image of herself slicing away Ezras limb, her nose filling with the dreamed scent of cooked flesh, her stomach threatening to hurl as her legs gave out beneath her "I… I can't…"

For several long moments nobody could move, Ezra briefly resurfacing from the depths of his mind to give an awful groan of pain, his stump of an arm oozing congealing blood. Sabine felt tears threatening at the back of her eyes, but even as she shook her head someone barged her aside, Tandi moving with a jittery, compulsive energy as she went to pick up the shoto in a firm but trembling grip.

"Move" she spoke in a voided voice to the Lasat, staring down at Ezra with an unnerving intensity.

Zeb looked up in a moment of near shock, Tandi silhouetted before him in the planetoids weak sun.

"Move, Zeb." Tandi spoke again, the shoto bathing her in bloody light, turning the blood to a vitriolic black under its glow. Slowly the Lasat backed away until Ezra lay alone on the dark earth. Raising the blade above her, Tandi felt a flush run through her, something akin to power that she'd never felt before. Pausing for the barest moment, Tandi lined up her strike before, in a move that seemed to take forever, the blade came down, the air was filled with the scream of plasma carving its way through flesh and rock, and a lump of Ezras burnt flesh rolled free; gently steaming with the rank stench of blackened flesh. The Apprentices body rocked as he was pulled out of his stupor, his left hand flying to the stump of his right arm with a strangled gasp.

"Ezra!" Tandi laughed with relief, she dropped the Shoto, the blade hissing as it retracted. The sniper dropped to her knees and pulled Ezra onto her lap, wrapping her arms around him. He blinked rapidly, head darting from side to side as he gasped for breath. Shaking, he ran his hand over the seared flesh of his upper arm he gazed up at Tandi.

"You, did it?" Ezra murmured in shock. "Thank you!" he smiled as he leaned into her shoulder. Tandi froze for a moment her heart skipping. Slowly she pulled the young man closer and ran a hand through his hair. Ezra sighed dazedly in her embrace his eyes fluttering as he began to slip out of consciousness once again, his pain receding to a dull ache, his handsome face relaxing. Then she felt a pair of eyes on her. She looked up and saw Sabine glowering at them, she could almost hear the Mandalorian say "You let go of him!". Glaring, Tandi ran her hand through his hair again and pulled him closer.

"You needed me to do it" she smiled softly "anything to save you and repay the favour, we're even now". Ezra chuckled weakly and smiled charmingly up at Tandi.

"Alright then" he said dazedly as his eyes closed. The Mandalorian glared with venom in her eyes.

"Ahem" Zeb coughed politely "If that's over, what are we going to do with her?" the Lasat jabbed his thumb at the still unconscious Inquisitor.

###

As the Phantom reappeared on the long-range scanners of Chopper Base Kanan breathed a sigh of relief before he bristled with annoyance.

"Good, they're back" he said, still unsure whether to be happy or annoyed. Beside him Hera relaxed and smiled. "Why are you happy?" he frowned at the Twi'lek. "He disobeyed orders!"

"Yeah, true" Hera shrugged "but what else were we expecting? It's Ezra" she smiled "But I'll still have to tell 'em off". She cleared her throat before grabbing a microphone and snapping "Chopper Base to Phantom come in!". There was a long moment of silence. Then.

"No, you answer!"

"Why me? You were in charge!"

"Because bringing her was your idea!"

"And it's still your responsibility!"

"Oh, shut up! Both of you!" There was a fumbling sound as if there was a squabble for the microphone and then Tandi's voice answered.

"Phantom to Chopper Base. This is Wraith One"

"Wraith One this is Spectre Two" Hera smiled at the Lothal Snipers love for protocol. "I need to speak to Spectre Four about a certain protocol violation about assigned personnel"

"Yeah, about that" Zeb's voice was on the com line now.

"Zeb, what happened?" Heras eyes narrowed.

"Well" Zeb dragged the word out as he stalled for time.

"Zeb!" Hera growled. There was a screeching sound as the microphone on the Phantom was dropped. Hera grimaced at the sound. After a moment Sabines voice pipped up.

"Well, the thing is Hera. An Inquisitor ambushed us on the asteroid, we got overwhelmed so Ezra blew up his right hand to knock her out and now he's missing half his arm and we've got the Inquisitor tied up in the Phantom."

"What?!" Hera roared, beside herself.

"And she's in critical condition. We're going to need a medical team once we land" Sabine added almost as a side note. In the communications room on Atollon, most of the Rebellion Communication team, including the four Jedi in the room had ducked under desks and behind chairs as Hera simmered with rage.

"Alright." The Twi'lek said calmly "I'll make sure a team's there when you land". Gently she set down the microphone. "You're all going to need them" she growled as she stormed off. Hesitantly Kanan and Ashoka followed her. After a moment of hesitation and an incredulous eye roll Galen grabbed Kota by his collar and dragged him after them.

"This way Old Man" he grumbled

"I can tell which way to go just fine thanks" the General snapped as the younger man pulled him along.

###

A gaggle of medical personnel was already gathering as the Phantom touched down, each of them jabbering with speculation. Kanan was peering over them with concern.

"First time off base and he's already gone and gotten himself hurt." he muttered to himself.

"And an Inquisitor went for him immediately" Ashoka said suspiciously, "why is that?"

"For all we know of Starkiller the Empire could have wanted Ezra for information on him" Kota shrugged as he and Galen drew level with the other Jedi.

"Maybe" Ashoka stroked her chin thoughtfully. "I couldn't find any link to Starkiller in the Imperial Network"

"He didn't strike me as an Imperial" Galen said hesitantly. All thoughts were wiped from their minds as the Phantoms hatch opened. Sabine and Tandi were out first, both of them supporting Ezra between them. The Apprentice was barely conscious, his head lolled around on his neck as his feet dragged in the dust. Sabine was on his right, the Mandalorian was struggling to hold him up as she gripped the stump of his arm.

"Ezra" Galen rushed forward, Kanan following swiftly, both of them wading through the sea of medical personnel and on lookers.

"It's been cauterised" Galen muttered in shock as he reached them. He looked between Sabine and Tandi quizzically "did Zeb do it?"

"I did it" Tandi said quietly, not meeting Galen's eyes, which widened. The awkward moment was broken as Ezra sagged and Galen and Kanan rushed to catch him.

"He's out of any immediate danger" Kanan said as he caught Ezra by the back and put his hands under his knees, lifting him into his arms. "He's going to need a new prosthetic."

"The Rogue Shadow has the equipment for that" Galen said, still staring at Tandi.

"What about the Inquisitor?" Ashoka asked glancing at the Phantoms hatch.

"She's still unconscious, she's hurts, bad" Sabine said gravely.

"Why'd you bring her here?" the Togruta asked, eyebrow raised in annoyance.

"We figured she if she didn't make it, it wasn't a loss and if she does make it, we have chance to question her and then put her on trial for her crimes against the Republic!"

"Optimistic at best" Ashoka muttered under her breath.

"Zeb's bringing her out now" Tandi said tersely, glancing at her.

"Any idea who she is?" The Grey Jedi frowned back Tandi. She glanced at the Phantoms hatch, then her eyes went wide. Tandi and Sabine both glanced at the hatch too, Zeb had just emerged carrying the unconscious Inquisitor. Ashoka's eyes widened as they roamed over the aging face. "It can't be…" she murmured, stunned.

"You know her?" Galen asked, looking away from Zeb and the Inquisitor to stare at Ashoka. The Togruta ignored him and pushed her way through the crowd to the Lasat to get a better look. Her hair had greyed, only streaks and patches of black remained. Her eyes were heavy, deep, black bags ran underneath them. Almost connecting to the oh so familiar markings that ran from the bridge of her noes to her cheeks.

"Barris?" She muttered. Staring down at her former friend. Her mind churning with an intense mixture of surprise and long forgotten rage. "You're alive" she stared down at her with distaste. "How bad is it?" she looked up at Zeb.

"Deep shrapnel wounds" Zeb said breathlessly. "She's lost a lot of blood."

"I have no idea how's she's still alive." Both rebels were shocked as a medic ran his eye over the Inquisitor. "She needs a Bacta Tank now"

"Right!" Zeb said as he shoved passed Ashoka, following the medic and his team, all of whom were clustering around him, each of them engaging on slight variations of the same conversation. "How the hell is she still alive?" The Togruta was left alone as the crowd swept away, numbly staring after them.

"Barris Offee" she murmured. Truthfully, she had never given much thought to her fate. After she had left the Order there had been more pressing matters to focus on, then after her final confrontation with Maul and Order 66 all she had time to think of was survival. After things had settled, Barris had receded to the back of her mind and had stayed there. Other than a few times over the years when she was feeling particularly melancholy, even then she had mourned what was lost rather than ponder what had become of her. Honestly, she had just assumed she was dead, either by execution or by some other dire means. "Whatever way she died, it was too soft a punishment" She had thought to herself bitterly. Now though? Seeing her old friend unconscious and gravely injured. She grit her teeth and shook her head vigorously. No matter what, Barris, or whatever she called herself now, was the enemy and she had betrayed her. She took a moment to calm her mind and took a breath. "I have no idea how to deal with this" She muttered and slapped her forehead.

###

Kanan sat next to the Rogue Shadows medical bunk as the machines worked on Ezra. Tandi had cut off the damage just below the elbow. The machines had made further amputations, grafting a socket into his flesh and bone. Kanan was almost glad Ezra was still out cold, even he'd winced as the machines sliced into his apprentice. He turned away, unable to look at his apprentices' prone form any longer. His tattered coat was folded on a nearby table, his armour and lightsabres were carefully laid out next to it.

"Kanan?" A weak voice shook him out of his thoughts. Ezra was awake, staring at him with sad, heavy, blue eyes.

"I'm here kid" he smiled softly. Ezra groaned as he shifted on the bunk.

"Yeah, I remember being here the first time" he said quietly, his eyes glancing down to his right arm.

"It could've been worse" Kanan said gently as the equipment beeped signalling it was done. Ezra raised his new arm, the new armour plating reflecting the medical bays light dully. "Almost". The Apprentice thought to himself, his eyes again and again returning to the fingertips.

"What happened to the Inquisitor?" He made a fist then looked at Kanan again, his eyes hard now.

"She's in critical condition" Kanan said after a long pause. He cleared his throat before continuing. "She's in the medical bay now, Sabine, Zeb and Tandi brought her in for questioning."

"They what?!" Ezra was beside himself. Why would they bring her to the base of all places?!" Scowling he tried to sit up but couldn't. He looked down at his chest. He was strapped in place by heavy black restraints. His left arm was cuffed in place as well. "What is this?" his eyes turned dark as he gazed at Kanan coldly.

"The procedure required amputation" Kanan said quickly as he rushed to undo the straps on Ezras chest "It was only to stop you from thrashing around". Ezra ignored the explanation and gripped the restraint on his wrist with his new metal hand and tore it off. "Ezra, you need to calm down" Kanan said firmly.

"Don't tell me to calm down!" Ezra snapped as he swung his legs off the bunk and sat up "I almost died trying to bring her down and you bring her in and patch her up?" He shook his head and rolled his eyes. "She won't talk, if that's why you brought her in"

"You almost killed her!"

"For good reason!" Ezra snapped "she's dangerous!"

"It's not a Jedi's place to take a life" Kanan said surprised, his eyes widened, he stared at Ezra as if he was another person

"Then maybe I'm not meant to be a Jedi" Ezra said coolly, staring straight into his former master's eyes.

"Ezra don't say that" Kanan said softly "You're not yourself right now"

"Am I not myself? Or am I just not the Ezra you lost?" Ezra queried darkly. Kanan didn't answer. "I'll fight the Empire, I'll tear it all down myself" Ezra looked away from Kanan. "But I can't be a Jedi anymore Kanan" He closed his eyes and bowed his head. There was a moment of silence, Kanan closed his eyes as he processed what his former Apprentice had said.

"I understand." The Jedi said sadly, "if that's how you truly feel, you need to walk your own path, even if it has changed."

"My path is the same as it's ever been" Ezra said as he slid off the bunk, "nothing just happens, it's all the will of the Force."

"Where do you think you're going?" Kanan asked as he stood, "You need to rest up"

"I lost my arm, not my damn legs!" Ezra spat, "I'm fine." He glared angrily at his new artificial arm. "Where is she?" His eyes lingered on the two Guard Shotos across the room.

"In the bases med bay" Kanan said slowly, eyeing Ezra suspiciously strode over to the table and inspected his armour, looking for damage. Why? What do you plan on doing when you see her?"

"If she's alive, she's dangerous" Ezra said as he pulled on his breast plate. "I'm going to keep watch on her." He didn't look at Kanan as he slipped on the last arm guard and bent to attach his shin and knee guards.

"Kota is already watching her" Kanan said reassuringly, "Him and along with an entire security and medical team. Ezra" his voice was full of concern. "You may not be my apprentice anymore, but I still care about you." Ezra paused, then he slid the two guard shotos into their holsters.

"I understand Kanan, I do" Ezra said gently, "but I can't be a victim anymore. I need to move on.". The Jedi sighed, then nodded.

"Alright Kid". As the Dark Apostle walked away, he closed his eyes. Sounds and hazy images of the future filling his mind. He saw Kanan standing over him, a yellow lightsabre in his hands.

"Go on then" He heard his own voice, full of hatred and venom say "End it!" he saw himself now. Black armour, long hair, a deep scar running down the left side of his face. He tossed his destroyed lightsabre hilt aside and spread his arms "Kill me, Caleb". Ezra opened his eyes, sighing. His path may have always lead this way, but it would be no less painful when he would have to face these flashes in the flesh.

###

Dressed in a simple, white shift, the Inquisitor floated in a Bacta Tank. Various tubes and wire were connected and attached to her, a long tube snaking its way to the mouth of a sterile masked strapped to her lower face. Oxygen was piped through the tube into the mask. Supplying the Inquisitors battered body with vast amounts of oxygen to fuel the Bactas enhanced regeneration. Her eyes, heavy and dark, were closed. Her dull hair floated around her head, drifting and snapping in the Bactas currents. She was neither conscious or unconscious. As she was, her state could best be described as the time after waking, when the world is but a distant memory and you are safe and warm in your own bed. No worries, fears, or anxieties. The pains of her body dulled and her mind relaxed as she drifted slowly in the tank, her hair dancing like fire. As she rested, she remembered. Her old life, the Jedi Temple, her Master, Luminara Unduli. Her name had been Barris Offee. But not anymore, she no longer had a name, she had a rank. The Grand Inquisitor. Agent and enforcer of the Empire and she would destroy its enemies.

###

As the sun set on the desert planet a weak wind blew through the Rebel Base, kicking up small dust piles in its wake. Several targets were arranged on crates, facing towards the wilderness they stood solidly in the wind as chunks of dust and tiny stones struck them. As the wind picked up the furthest target to the right blew backwards as a laser struck it with a small explosion. A hundred metres away, Tandi crouched in the ramp of a Corellian Blockade Runner, her rifle in hand she peered through the scope, squinting as her finger squeezed the trigger as she lined up her next shot. Another target was blasted away, Tandi lowered her rifle, her brow furrowed. Then she sighed and sat back on the Tantives loading ramp. Her mind was a hum of activity and it, in its benevolence it had decided to repeat the day's events again and again in her mind. The Feeling of helpless as she had watched the Inquisitors attack, unable to find a clean shot in the chaos that had followed. Even now she could still feel the grip and the weight of the lightsabre in her hands.

"Target practice?" With a cry of shock, she leapt further up the ramp, her rifle swinging upwards as she took aim. Ezra stood at the bottom of the ramp, arms raised above his head in mock surrender.

"Sorry" he grinned nervously "Shouldn't have snuck up on you". Tandi stared at him, he looked as though nothing had happened, if it weren't for the burns and holes adorning his armour and coat the whole sordid affair could have been a bad dream.

"Sorry" she muttered sheepishly as she put her rifle down "should you even be up?" As she expected he waved the concern off

"I'm fine" he smiled "Got a new arm and I'm right as rain" he ran his left hand up the cold metal that made up the new limb. Silence washed over the two, Ezra awkwardly fiddled with his new synthetic as Tandi tried to look at anything but him.

"Look, Ezra" Tandi said slowly, biting the inside of her cheek as she tried to find words.

"Thank you". The sniper looked up, Ezra had sat down on at the bottom of the ramp, absently fiddling with the wiring inside his new arm "I know what you had to do wasn't easy. But doing it saved my life, it had to be done." Still not looking at her, he twisted at something in his wrist and his hand balled into a fist, the wrist snapping up and going rigid.

"Well. You're welcome" She said slowly, "But you've already said thank you" she smiled, then she blushed, remembering how he had cuddled into her as he passed out. "Do you…..?", she swallowed hard and then tried again, her voice steadier "How much do you remember? Ezra was quiet, still pretending to be absorbed in his new arm.

"Not much." He said finally "Just searing pain and a sudden haze" she could hear the strain in his voice as he struggled to remember. "I think you were there and then someone was holding me and I felt safe. After that, nothing." The red head frowned, listening to his voice. Something was wrong, the Spectres couldn't tell. That dawned on her, they had no reference to this new Ezra, she didn't have much of one but still.

"Ezra" Tandi said quietly "I know we haven't really known each other very long, but I think of you as a friend". Ezra looked at her, an odd half smile on his face.

"Well you did cut my arm off" he said jokingly "if that doesn't make us friends I don't know what does"

"And as your friend" Tandi said smiling "I'm going to ask you to drop the act. What's bothering you?" Her tone hardened as she finished the sentence. Ezras smile vanished, for a moment his eyes were hard and cold. Then he sighed, gazing back across the barren landscape.

"Tandi, have you ever known about something that was going to happen, HAD to happen, but for it to come to pass, you risk losing everything?" The sniper considered his words for a moment, mulling over the potential of what he had said.

"Honestly, no" She said flatly, she'd read about the Jedi and the Force, when she could. That kind of history was hard to come by. But from what she had managed to learn she knew that the Jedi, on occasion, could see the future, or a potential future anyway. "Have you been having visions of the future?" The Dark Apostle nodded.

"My future." He said darkly

"What do you see?" She asked hesitantly. Ezra stared at his metal fist as the fingers unfurled, plates clicking against each other.

"I see myself taking The Emperors throne" Ezras voice was full of longing and dread all at once. "I see a better Galaxy, freed from the needless terror and oppression of rulers who don't care about the ones they preside over. Hordes of people gathering in the streets, celebrating their new, better lives and to honour their new Emperor". His hand snapped back into a fist. He looked back at Tandi his eyes ablaze "It's beautiful". Her heart raced as she mulled over everything he had said.

"Is this future certain?" she asked breathlessly. As an answer, he looked down at his arm, where the old flesh had given way to clean metal.

"More so everyday"

###

The Inquisitor was beginning to move in the Bacta currents, subtle twitches signalling her soon return to consciousness. Though blind, Kota was fully aware of the Inquisitors condition, in ways many of the medics wouldn't be if it weren't for their array of machines. He could hear her heart beat, though once feverish and weak it had healed at a rapid rate. It's echo now pronounced and strong, each beat restoring her strength. Her breath was steady and regular, her face almost thrusting forward into the oxygen mask, as if greedy for the precious, life giving gas. Kota alone was stunned at how quickly the Inquisitors body had healed itself.

"What kept you alive?" The old General muttered to himself, all his senses focused on the tank and its occupant.

"It's her hatred" A voice to his left surprised him, he had been so preoccupied he hadn't noticed her approach, yes it was a her, who did that voice belong to? The voice continued "She won't let herself die, not yet." Tano, yes. The voice definitely to the Togruta.

"Who could she hate that much?" The blind general mused allowed, nodding to acknowledge Ashoka. The Togruta tried to look at her former friends face, but found she couldn't'. Not without the rage that had steadily built up within in her slipping from her tender at best control. Instead, she focused on the monitor screens and readings wired into the bacta tank. Her eyes hardened as she saw the positive read outs.

"It seems she'll make a full recovery she said tersely. Beside her, Kota nodded.

"Indeed, it's surprising really, when she got here the medics were convinced she wouldn't make it" The Jedi 'glanced' at Ashoka before clearing his throat and continuing "if it's hate keeping her alive, she must really hold a grudge.". He turned his head to "gaze" at Ashoka straight on. The Togruta stared into the Jedis blank eyes.

"I knew her before she turned" she said simply as she strolled away from the Jedi around the Tank.

"Really?" The Jedi didn't sound surprised "so you know who she was before she gave up her identity to the Empire?"

"Her name was Barris Offee" Ashoka said measuredly

"The one who bombed the Jedi temple?" Kota said in surprise, raising his eyebrow. Then a realization dawned on the old mans face. "She was the one who framed you? You left the order because of her?" The Togruta turned away from Kota, her head bowed.

"In a sense" Ashoka said quietly "If it weren't for her actions I would never have lost faith with the Jedi way, my whole life changed because of her" Kota considered her words, his head slightly to one side"

"Have you considered" The blind Jedi said slowly "that if it weren't for her, you may have died when Order 66 was issued? You would have been on the front lines, surrounded by Clone Troopers, I only survived because I wouldn't have any clones in my squad" Ashoka shook her head.

"It didn't make much of a difference." She shrugged "I ended up on the front lines anyway, I managed to get away"

"You're angry at her" The Jedi didn't even bother phrasing it as a sentence, it was more than obvious to everyone in that room that Ashoka was simmering with rage. "Can you remain impartial in this?" Kota asked seriously.

"No" Ashoka growled "No, I don't think I can". Behind the glass, as the life giving Bacta began to drain out of the tank, the thing that had once been Barriss Offee opened its eyes.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

It was cold. As she slowly returned to consciousness that was the first thing she recognised, the cold. She was always cold now, no matter the temperature, cold in her soul. Such was the sacrifice of true power. She was lying on a hard, rough bench, it was made of stone. A quick brush of her fingertips revealed the walls were the same.

"I'm in a cell" she muttered in a silky voice, a cat like grin spreading across her face. Smoothly, she sat up her eyes still closed. The stone floor was cold on her bare feet, yet she didn't shiver as she stood, finally opening her eyes. The cell was cut out of rough sandstone in a perfect cube, the far wall was composed of a faintly humming ray shield. A smirk played across her weathered face as she recognised the figure stood behind it. "It's good to see that even after all these years you're still watching over me." Her yellow eyes fixed on the distorted, yet unmistakable figure, she strode forward until all that separated them was the energy field. "But isn't that what friends are for Ashoka?" The Togruta glowered at the Inquisitor, her hands clenching into fists.

"We haven't been friends for a very long time Offee." Ashoka said in a voice full of malice and venom.

"Oh, don't be like that old friend" The Mirialan said still grinning "it's only been, what? Sixteen years?

"Too short a time" Ashoka snapped back quickly. Hey lip curled in her disgust she regarded the aged Mirialan. "You've aged gracefully" The Togruta snorted.

"Vanity was never really a concern for me" The Inquisitor retorted smoothly as she shook her coarse hair out of her greying face. "I've become more powerful than ever." Her yellow eyes shone with pride "My youth was a fair price for that"

"The Dark Side has truly destroyed you!" Ashoka gaped in awe, completely stunned. For the first time, she was completely aware of the metamorphosis that had taken place over the last decade and a half. "There's none of you left." How Ezra had survived at all was beyond wonder. Maybe his sullen and secretive behaviour was justified after all.

"There's none of Barriss Offee left." The Inquisitor said coolly. "I am the Grand Inquisitor"

"Oh, so Vader made you the new head lackey?" Ashoka nodded sarcastically, feigning enthusiasm "congratulations, you were second choice pick for a failure of an organisation." The Inquisitor prickled with annoyance.

"True, the previous Grand Inquisitor failed, but I was too preoccupied too bother with the Inquisitors. I was training with Lord Vader"

"Oh, so you were a direct errand girl." Ashoka scoffed

"You're just jealous because I stole your Master" The Mirialan grinned. Ashoka froze, "Oh yes Ashoka" The Inquisitor grinned "I can play these games too"

"Anakin Skywalker is dead" Ashoka said coolly. "Whatever's walking around in that suit is not my Master. He would never be as vile or cruel."

"You're entirely right you know" The Mirialan grinned "Vader is more powerful than Skywalker ever could be."

"He was better than either of us could ever be!" Ashoka snapped, a single tear ran down her cheek, she quickly brushed it away and glared at the imprisoned Inquisitor. "Interesting weapons" Ashoka said, slowly, she reached behind her back with both hands and unclipped the Inquisitors lightsabres. "Not your typical Inquisitors weapons." The silver hilts gleamed in the cellblocks yellow light. The Black grips stood out dully next to the gleaming metal. "They're very familiar." Ashoka mused as she inspected them. "I never took you for the sentimental type" the Togruta laughed as she activated one of the red blades and inspected the glowing red plasma, smiling with mild amusement she turned back to the Inquisitor. "Why would you keep Ventress's lightsabres?"

"I thought they suited me, I merely had to take them from the Temple after the purge" The Inquisitor shrugged casually.

"It fits" Ashoka shrugged, "after Ventress lost these she worked with the Jedi and was pardoned. She died in the arms of the man she loved. It makes sense that their new owners would never have that."

"The pleasures of the flesh are easy to satisfy" The Inquisitor smirked "and I am free to love whomever I choose, but my service is to the Empire"

So, for all your strength you're still just a pawn, so much for all the "power" the Dark Side has given you." The Togruta openly laughed, restlessly she began to pace the length of the cell. The Inquisitor remained still, her eyes tracking her the entire time. "You live because we saved you. You live, at our mercy." Ashoka's eyes gleamed as she spoke

"Yes, that does raise the question, why did you heal me?" The Inquisitor cocked her head to the side curiously.

"Because we're not an Empire that just makes people disappear" Ashoka said proudly. "Make no mistake Inquisitor, this is the planet you will be buried on. But first you'll have a trial. You'll face and answer for every crime, every atrocity, you've ever committed. Then you'll be executed, as a war criminal and as a known and shamed traitor and murderer" Ashoka was flushed as she began to grin, then a new gleam appeared in her eyes, breathlessly she continued "and every soul across the Galaxy will know your face. They'll know you allowed yourself to be consumed by the Dark Side when a mere child could break free of it!" Ashoka chuckled "You, Barriss Offee, have failed once again and even your memory will be destroyed, you were a fallen hero once. Now, you'll be nothing, and your memory will fade into oblivion and you will be forgotten." Ashoka glowered at the ever still Mirialan as her rage returned. The Inquisitor said nothing, her face expressionless, save for a slight look of amusement. Growling, Ashoka swept away, she didn't look back.

"You think Bridger is free of the Dark Side?" The Mirialan chuckled as the Togruta halted, "you under estimate him old friend. He's no child." After a long pause Ashoka walked away. "I'll be here when you work it out" The Inquisitor called as she sat back down on the hardstone bench, a grin spreading across her face as she closed her eyes.

###

Ezra was sat alone in in the Rogue Shadows Common area, his guard shotos and coat were tossed haphazardly onto a low table next to his chair. The ships controls sat in the corner, lights idle now the ship was grounded. His eyes were heavy, more and more they would close before snapping open again, if he slept, he would dream and recently he hadn't had much luck with dreams. He had spent three hours watching the Inquisitor float in the tank, watched her heal, disgust in his chest. After a while he couldn't stand it anymore and made his excuse to leave. Kota had simply nodded as Ezra quickly spun on his heels and left. He was tired, despite what he had said to Kanan. His arm ached and the cybernetic was heavy and cumbersome.

"I'll have to fix it up a bit" he muttered as he ran his fingers under the armour plating that covered his cybernetic wrist until he found a catch and firmly pressed it. With a hiss, the whole wrist and under arm section of the armour came away with his fingers. The delicate machinery within the Durasteel chassis moved almost silently as he moved he moved his fingers. Gently he repeated himself on the upper side of the arm and pried the armour off entirely. He set the plating on the low table next to his Shotos before quickly removing the intricate plating from his hand. Slowly, as more and more pieces joined the display on the table, the skeletal structure of the prosthesis became more and more visible. Wires and other circuitry covered the metal droid arm, all trailing back messily to where flesh and metal were fused together. All the feedback from the arm was sent to a special device that had been built into his arm, which fed into his nervous system, allowing him to control the arm with his will and nothing else. His eyes scanned over the Shadows interior, his gaze fixed on a metal chest of draws. He stood and crossed over to it, pulling open the top and thinnest draw, it was full of neatly arranged tools. Further inspection of the drawers revealed a surplus of droid parts, most likely for upgrading or repairing PROXY. He grinned, even as his eyes grew still heavier. He had all he needed to craft a suitable prosthetic, he retrieved a pair of goggles from on top of the draws and pulled out the draw of tools and a draw of parts. One in each hand he carried them back to the low table and sat down, pulling on the goggles. He had work to do.

###

As the sun began to set Galen stood alone slightly away from the base, still within the protective perimeter he had found a flat stretch of land. Alone he performed a Form V style demonstration with the old blue and yellow blades, one, the yellow, held in a reverse grip. The vicious dance consisted of various miked, yet powerful blows. Mixed in were feigned blows followed by swift strikes. In the dimming light the blades shone especially bright, lighting up the surrounding rocks with a blur of blue and yellow light. Each strike was measured and calm, performed as a technique rather than through rage and passion. Just as a Jedi should do. Sometimes he had trouble telling the Mask and the reality apart. He truly despised Vader, his hate for the Emperor was a mere by-product of his hatred for the old man's Apprentice. The Empire itself? That was a different question, under different leadership it could be something better, he had hoped that he and Ezra would assume that leadership together. But now? He wasn't sure, Ezra had grown powerful much quicker than he had anticipated, he had at least his strength to diminish somewhat away from Felucia, but instead he had grown to a new level. Whilst this new strength was admirable and would be useful, the accompanying shifts in attitude, such as his increased aggression and recklessness made him unstable. He desperately needed time teach Ezra how to properly control his power and rage. But now they were already in too deep, it would be impossible to stage another kidnapping without arousing even more suspicion so further training was impossible. He had been over zealous, he should have taken more time to train him. But there was no use focusing on the what if of the situation, they were here, their cover wasn't broken he could still make this all work. With a final and brutal slash, he finally finished the display set. His breath barely hitched he deactivated the lightsabres and smoothly clipped them back onto his belt, his right hand pausing for a second, lingering on his father's weapons hilt.

"You're good" Galen turned to see Ashoka, without the sabre blade the darkness had pressed in and the Togruta was silhouetted against the harsh light of the bases flood lights.

"Thanks" Galen nodded coolly.

"Form V, Djem So" Ashoka observed casually, her arms folded against her chest.

"You use it too, or you used to" Galen shrugged, his eyes wearily tracking the Togruta.

"How did you know that?" Ashoka asked immediately, her voice still casual, her face betraying nothing.

"At the Inquisitors Academy they used advanced training droids, they were outfitted with holographic projectors and combat programs that allowed them to mimic Jedi" Galen said steadily. "Your combat program was particularly popular"

"Mine?" Ashoka's eyebrow shot up, a thin crack in her calm demeanour. "Why mine?"

"Why do you think?" Galen grinned, "you were the apprentice of Anakin Skywalker."

"Really?" Ashoka asked sceptically, her eyebrow still raised. "And how many times did you beat me then?" Galen laughed loudly.

"Only a handful" he shrugged, his grin still in place "but I was the only one who could."

"I'm glad my reputation proceeds me" the Togruta squared her shoulders and resumed her efforts to remain casual. Galen wasn't paying attention however, he could hear something. Soft humming, and after a moment, a soft voice.

"Come to me"

"Galen?" Galen was pulled back into the moment at the sound of his name, still ever so alien to him after years of bearing the name Starkiller.

"Yes?" He muttered distractedly as he scanned the bases perimeter, straining to hear the voice again.

"Come to me." There was an almost insistent pull in the Force. He could feel it beckoning him, trying to guide him down an otherwise invisible path. He could sense it, it was nothing like anything he'd ever experienced in the Force. Even as he had begun to train in the Light Side of the Force to disguise himself, every interaction he'd had with the Forced had been twisted, rage and pain would churn within him., there was never calm or serenity. Not like what he could feel calling him now.

"Look, Ashoka" he said, half glancing at the Togruta behind him, "there's something I need to do, I'll tell you whatever you want later." Cautiously, he began to follow the path the Force had set before him.

"What?" Ashoka bristled with annoyance and astonishment as she followed Galen "you're going out there now?" Her suspicions were beginning to feel more and more justified as she watched him pull one of the Sensor Markers from the perimeters fence.

"There's something out there" Galen said as he pulled his mother's lightsabre from his belt and activated it, the yellow blade cast a bright light around him. "It's calling to me, I have to know why." Without another word he turned and walked confidently into the darkness. As Ashoka watched him go, a single though kept returning to the front of her mind. Starkiller used Form V.

##

Truly exhausted now, Ezra sat back on the bench in the Rogue Shadows main area, his armour was stacked in a messy pile in the corner. The table in front of him was littered with tools and components. His breathing was shallow and his eyes half closed as he stared at the now completed upgrades. After stripping the original droid arm down as much as he could he'd decided that it was simply too heavy and had replaced the entire limb with one of PROXYs spare combat arms. It was the ideal, short term solution until he had the time to build one he was truly happy with, honestly he was annoyed no one had thought of the idea to begin with. The arm was composed of a cortosis-weave and as it was designed to be used by an advanced lightsabre training droid it was extremely lightweight and manoeuvrable and had the invaluable advantage of being resistant to lightsabre blades. The hand was a dexterous as human one and had a repulsor built into the palm, which allowed PROXY to imitate telekinetic pushes as well as sensors along the fingers and palm, which provided feedback to his nerve system and allowed him to experience the sensation of touch and feeling in his hand, which allowed him to judge and measure his grip. He'd still had to modify the arm heavily to make it compatible with the socket grafted into his arm below the elbow. It hadn't been designed to process the information from a nerve system and he'd had to compromise and modify the socket itself with more of PROXYs spare parts. He had no idea how long he'd been working on it, but he was happy with the results.

"It'll hold" he smiled, admiring it. "For now, anyway"

"Impressive". Shocked he turned to see Sabine stood in the doorway, bathed in shadows in the low light. She was wearing her armours under-suit, but had left off the plating.

"Hey Sabine" He smiled and stood to greet her

"So, this is where you been" she walked into the cabin. Taking in the controls and layout in the low light.

"Yeah" Ezra grinned sheepishly "I was working on this" he raised his new arm.

"I guessed" Sabine smiled, "no one's seen you in hours, I came to look for you"

"Has it been hours?" Ezra was shocked

"Most of the base is asleep" Sabine smiled at the look on Ezras face, "you should have been resting up" she said, serious now.

"I know" Ezra said quietly. There was a silence, then Sabine rushed forward, Ezra hurried to meet her and the two caught each other in a tight embrace. They held on tightly for some time.

"Are you alright?" Ezra said as they broke apart

"I'm fine Ezra, I should be the one worrying about you" Sabine reached out and took Ezras mechanical right hand in hers. "I'm so sorry Ezra"

"You have nothing to be sorry about" Ezra said sincerely "It was my choice"

"You make a lot of stupid decisions" Sabine sighed, then she wrapped her arms around him again and gave him a kiss. "That was for not dying" she said softly as they broke apart. Ezra blushed, then smiled. "So why aren't you resting?"

"I just can't relax" Ezra sighed shaking his head.

"Is it the nightmares?" Sabine asked knowingly.

"Yeah" he said "Kanan and I had a fight too" the apprentice sighed as he sat down, after a moment and an understanding look Sabine sat down next to him. Her fingers slowly intertwining with his new metal ones.

"What happened?" She asked, her eyes never leaving his.

"I'm not a Jedi anymore" Ezra said simply. There was a moment of silence, Sabine blinked as she processed what Ezra had said. Then as she thought about it, the more it made sense.

"I understand" she said quietly

"I can't live a passionless life" he said as he gently cupped her cheek with his left hand. "Our passions set us free" Sabine smiled, her heart was calm, her soul filled with a perfect contentedness.

"You're right, in Mandalorian society we're bound by honour and tradition, you owe everything to your family and clan, beyond what's best for the family there isn't room for much else."

"I guess the Jedi and Mandalorians aren't so different after all" Ezra shrugged as he wrapped an arm around Sabines shoulder.

"Maybe" she murmured, as she cuddled into him.

##

The guard in the cell block impatiently checked her station again, she was supposed to have been relieved of duty ten minutes ago and her replacement still hadn't arrived. The cell block was barely used and even when it was it was always a boring duty shift. It was another five minutes before her relief arrived.

"You took your time getting here" she grumbled as she stood up and but her helmet on.

"Whatever" the other guard muttered as she strode off. Settling into the seat next to the work station the night shift guard mentally prepared himself for a ling and boring night. Then he noticed a groaning sound, he looked over the top of his station. The Inquisitor was curled up on the bench clutching her stomach. What? He thought to himself, he knew the prisoner had recently been in intensive care, maybe something was wrong. From a draw he retrieved the remote switch for the force field and cautiously approached the cell.

##

His feet kicked up dust as he walked, every time he put his foot down he would disturb a rock which would crack across the ground as it was kicked away. He had followed the path far from the base and into the night. The path had lead Galen on a long trek through the wilderness to a maze of rocks and strange desert plants that would have been impossible to navigate if it weren't for who or whatever was guiding him. At the centre of this natural maze was a wide, circular clearing that dipped into the ground. Cautiously he made his way down the slope.

"Hello?" he called, raising his lightsabre into the air, casting yellow light around him as he strained to see his surroundings clearly. Behind him there was a loud thudding and crashing and he slowly turned. Just off the centre of the circle, what he had assumed was a large rock formation had risen and unfolded, legs and a large face had emerged. The huge creature sat back on all fours and examined him with its long face and wise grey eyes.

"Hello" The creature said, in a deep, soothing voice, each syllable full of reverence and power. "You heard my call. Good" The creature looked down at Galen, examining him closely. "Yours and another's imbalance has awoken me from a long and deep slumber."

"Imbalance?" Galen said, staring at the large creature in awe, not quite sure what to say or think.

"Yes" The creature insisted. "Your presence is like a violent storm on this quiet world, yet" the creature paused "the conflict within you is but a breath compared to the Leviathan that courses within the other" it mused darkly.

"You're a Force wielder" Galen said as the revelation dawned on him "But you're not a Jedi, or a Sith."

"Wielder? Jedi and Sith wield the Ashla and Bogan. The Light and the Dark. I'm the one in the middle. The Bendu." Bendu lowered himself to the ground and sat forward slightly "What do you call yourself?"

"I am Galen Marek" Galen said uncertainly as he knelt.

"Are you?" Bendu mused aloud as his grey eyes bore into Galen. Clouds in the sky parted and the clearing was lit up in silvery moonlight. "There is another name, one you call yourself, one you hear in your mind."

"Starkiller" Galen said quietly

"Ah" Bendu hummed pleasantly "That is it. I feel conflict within you, Starkiller"

"Yes" Starkiller nodded "I've felt conflicted since the day Vader betrayed me"

"Indeed" Bendu nodded, "when we are betrayed by those we trust it is the natural response to question all that we know and the path we have been set on" the old being regarded Starkiller again. "Your heart is full of rage, the desire for revenge, yet your soul calls for more than that"

"I don't have a soul" Starkiller said darkly "it was taken from me long ago"

"If that were true you wouldn't feel guilt for taking another's soul" Bendu said plainly "Do not be so quick to damn yourself, Starkiller. All may be redeemed"

"Another's soul?" Starkiller frowned, then he realised "Ezra"

"Indeed" Bendu nodded, his face grave "his future is concerning, for it is full of danger and pain, and unlike many others, it is not one I can see clearly."

"You've seen Ezras future?" Starkiller leaned forwards, enthralled by the Bendu's words.

"Ezra Bridger has no future."

"But, you said you've seen it." Bendu shook his head gravely.

"You misunderstand young one. The one you know as Ezra Bridger is far from the boy that was, he already has a new name. A name I see him carrying long into the future."

"A new name?" Starkiller frowned, confused by what the Bendu had said. "A Sith name?"

"Yes" Bendu nodded, his eyes serious "One that will one-day strike fear across the galaxy. He knows this for he has seen it. Each glimpse strengthens his resolve, soon he will be ready to take this new title. Just as soon you will be ready to take the name Galen Marek wholeheartedly"

"What name?" Starkiller started up at the Bendu.

"Darth Remnous"

##

The night guard had fallen asleep when she arrived at cell block. Ashoka rolled her eyes and considered waking him up, but shook off the idea. It would be easier to do this uninterrupted. The Mirialan was stood in front of the force field, her arms folded behind her back and her eyes closed.

"Welcome back" she said, a smile spreading across her face, her eyes still closed.

"Don't be cocky" the Togruta growled at the Inquisitor. "I need information"

"What can I do for you?" The Inquisitor said softly

"When you were at the Inquisitors Academy, did you hear of anyone named Galen Marek?"

"I never spent much time at the Academy" the Mirialan said simply "I spent most of my time with Lord Vader, but the name Marek is familiar".

Hmm, so maybe that part of the story is true Ashoka mused to herself "What about Starkiller? Is he an Inquisitor?" The Mirialan laughed loudly, her eyes opening for the first time since the Togruta had entered the cell block.

"Starkiller is far more than an Inquisitor" she laughed "He is a shadow in the Empire, secret to even the Emperor. Darth Vaders own Apprentice". Of course! Ashoka's eyes went wide That's how he's so powerful.

"Vader has an Apprentice?"

"Known only to a few" The Mirialan grinned viciously, "more powerful than either of us could hope to be, but you know that"

"Who is he?" Ashoka growled "I need a name!" The thing that had once been Barriss Offee snorted with laughter.

"I could tell you."

"You will!" Ashoka growled as she glared at the Mirialan

"When will you learn? You can't intimidate me Snips" Ashoka's eyes hardened.

"Maybe not, but I can still open that cell and beat the answer out of you" The Togruta cracked her knuckles loudly. "We put you back together once, we can do it again"

"Oh, if only you could" The Inquisitor laughed harshly "face it Ashoka, there are lines even you won't cross"

"If you don't give me the name, you'll find out exactly what lines I will and won't cross" The Grey Jedi said darkly. There was a tense moment of silence. Then the Mirialan laughed casually.

"I'm sure you have an idea about who it is" she said as she sat on the cells stone bench, "Someone who's a little too good to be true, maybe? Who has answers to questions you never knew to ask?" Ashoka glared at the Inquisitor causing a catlike grin tom spread across her face "Ah" she smirked "You don't need me to tell you the name, you just need to know if you have the right name". The Togruta nodded "Very well"

"Is Galen Marek Starkiller?"

"Oh Ashoka, Starkiller, is Galen Marek" The Grand Inquisitor laughed loudly at the look of horror on Ashoka's face. The Togruta turned to run for the exit but as she took the first step she heard a noise behind her before she felt an invisible hand close around her windpipe.

"For the record, I could have escaped hours ago" The Inquisitor casually strode passed the choking Togruta, she was holding the remote switch that shut down the cell force fields. "I got this as soon as the guard shift changed" the Inquisitor opened a locker and began to rummage through it "What kind of incompetent fools do you have in this 'alliance'? Who falls for the sick prisoner routine?" she laughed cruelly as she pulled a simple black cloak from the locker and swung it around her shoulders. "Contrary to what I said, I despise Starkiller" the Grand Inquisitor spat the name "So 'll leave you alive, you can waste time interrogating him when you wake up" Ashoka let out a last gasp as blackness swum across her vision and she blacked out.

##

As Ezra finished strapping on his armguard, Sabine murmured softly in her sleep. Smiling, he leaned forward and tucked the blanket over her bare shoulders and softly kissed her on the forehead.

"Love you Sabine" he smiled softly before turning away. The night air was cool as he walked down the Shadows ramp. The clouds had cleared and the stars shone brightly, lighting up the base in silvery light. The grounded fleet looked eerie in the dark. Each ship casting long and grotesque shadows across the ground. There was something wrong, he could feel it, a gnawing sensation in his gut that put him on edge. Then a shiver ran up his spine, someone was watching him. Slowly, he drew the Guard Shotos from their holsters on his belt, his eyes wearily searching for movement in the darkness.

"You must learn to mind your surroundings" said a silky voice behind him. There was a sharp crack across the back of his head and he tumbled downwards into the darkness.

##

The roar of a blockade runner's engines jarred her awake, coughing violently Ashoka stumbled to her feet and staggered up the steep stone stairs to the open air. One of the fleets Corellian frigates was taking off. No second prizes for guessing who was flying it. Her head still foggy she charged towards the rising ship. I'll work out what I'm doing when I get there was all she could get through her head. If she was leaving she must have Ezra. Summoning all her strength the Togruta leapt into the air. As she rose the ship climbed higher into the sky and she just managed to grab a hold of an escape pod bay door. Wind howled as the ship rose higher, within seconds she was freezing. One hand gripping the door as tightly as she could she fumbled at her belt and managed to get a hold of one of her lightsabres. But before she could activate it the wind whipped it out of her hand and nearly threw her off the ship. Doing her best to ignore the steadily spreading numbness in her body she focused on the escape pod door with all the power her mind had. Slowly, the bays outer door opened. The pod itself blocked hr entrance. Damn it! She thought to herself before trying to find the pods launching mechanism with the Force. It was growing more and more difficult to breath as the air rapidly thinned, she could only have a few seconds at most!

With a roar the escape pod launched. Howling with effort Ashoka dragged herself into the still open doorway. As she collapsed into the pod pay the outer door slammed shut behind her. Gasping she focused on the pods inner door. A few seconds later she spilled out into the ships interior. Taking deep, swooning, breaths she lay in a heap and coughed.

"I need a new job" she grumbled to herself as she forced herself to her feet.

##

With a gasp he sat up. His head hurt, badly. He blinked heavily and massaged the aching lump on the back of his skull.

"What happened?" He muttered. The floor beneath him was shuddering gently. He was on a ship, a moving ship. Then it came back to him, he'd been knocked out! It could have only been the Inquisitor, she was trying to take him to Vader!

"Oh no you don't!" He grunted as he stood up. She'd taken his Guard Shotos. But he had one weapon she didn't know about. Slowly, he reached behind him to the back of his belt, a spot hidden by his coat. His fingers closed around the hilt. "It's time"

##

On the frigates bridge the Inquisitor hurried to plot a course and the ship blasted away from the planet, the Inquisitor entered a communication signal into the main computer. A holographic image of Darth Vader appeared over the command console.

"My Master I have Ezra Bridger" she bowed her head obediently, a smirk playing across her face and her tone prideful. "I also have the location of the Rebel Base"

"Excellent work Grand Inquisitor" The Sith said "Rendezvous with me at these co-ordinates, it has been an excellent day for the Empire"

"Indeed, my Lord" the Mirialan raised her head

"The Shadow has been found as well as the secrets of the Temple of Malachor" you could almost hear pride in Vader's artificial voice.

"Very well Master, I'm plotting your co-ordinates now" The image of Vader disappeared as the Mirialan hurried around the control room adjusting the ships course. Seconds later the frigate was propelled into hyperspace and vanished.

In the hallway behind the closed door to the bridge Ashoka Tano gripped her remaining lightsabre tightly. Thankfully all communications sent from the fleets frigates were encoded and effectively untraceable, so as long as she managed to subdue the Inquisitor the base shouldn't be compromised. Slowly, she reached out, her finger hovering over the button that opened the door. She took a breath.

As the door opened she leapt through the gap, her lightsabre coming to life. In the split second she flew through the air the Grand Inquisitor managed to turn and see her. As Ashoka's single white blade was swung down at the Mirialan, two red blades sprung to life as they flew from their mistress's belt into her open hands. With a screeching crash the two blades grinded against each other. As the two rivals shoved against each other they glowered, each snarling with a mutual hatred.

"Won't you just give up and die?!" The Inquisitor snapped as she jabbed her knee into Ashoka's stomach, knocking the wind out of her and knocking her backwards, sending her sprawling onto the fall. Coughing violently the Togruta rolled to this side to avoid the Inquisitors blades as they struck into the deck plate where she'd been seconds earlier. Taking her single blade in both hands Ashoka slashed at the Mirialans head only to have her foe duck cleanly under it and parry the slash with a blow from one of her lightsabres, knocking Ashoka's blade aside leaving her open. Desperately, Ashoka thrust her arm into the Mirialans chest and sent a telekinetic push into her opponent, sending them both flying in opposite directions. The Inquisitor landed hard on the ground and lid across the bridge, one of her lightsabres flying out of her grip as Ashoka crashed into a control panel. Panting, both combatants slowly got to their feet. "Just like old times" the Mirialan grinned, "Will it end like it did last time?"

"I don't know" Ashoka growled as the two got to their feet and advanced on each other with their single blades raised. "Let's see." Again, they clashed, sparks flying as the crimson and white blades flashed, each carving chunks out of the deck plate sending sparks and chunks of scorching metal flying through the air. The two backed towards the main controls in a whirlwind of light, the Inquisitor grinned wildly, her yellow eyes wide and maniacal, as if the last of her sanity was draining from her. The Togruta somersaulted over the console to avoid the Inquisitors blade, with nothing to hit the blade carried on and sliced into a command console. With a shower of sparks the console exploded and the lights on the bridge dropped to the dull emergency lighting. Her face lit up in the white light of her sabre blade Ashoka panted, a bead of sweat trickled down her temple.

"You can't stop this Ashoka" The Mirialan panted gleefully "Soon we'll arrive at Malachor and I'll deliver you and Bridger to my Master"

"Malachor?" Ashoka panted

"That's right old friend" The Inquisitor grinned "With the power hidden there, the Empire will re-establish dominance in the galaxy!" Laughing the Inquisitor thrust her hand out, Ashoka was thrown against the bulkhead, pinned in place by the Force. "It is you who has failed"

"But I haven't". Startled, the Inquisitor spun around, dropping Ashoka. In the dull light she could see a dark silhouette, shrouded in smoke from the destroyed consoles. With a series of quick hisses, the silhouette was lit up in blood red light. Snarling the Inquisitor launched herself at the dark figure, red blade raised. It was blocked with a shimmering red blade, then swiftly knocked aside, the firgure lurched forwards as if to punch her. A searing agony blossomed through her chest. Crying out she fell backwards, writhing in pain she stared up at the glowing red blade, blades. The hilt was fitted with a knuckle guard, a pulsing red plasma blade ran along the top the guard, that's what had hit her in the chest. Her eyes ran from the hilt of the lightsabre to the hand that held it and then up the arm to the figures face. A demon with the face of Ezra Bridger stared down at her, eyes filled with malice and hatred, but with an insane gleam which permeated them with life.

"What are you?" she whispered in horror.

"I" The demon chuckled "Am Remnous". The blood red plasma blade rose into the air in the darkness. "And I am the future." With a screech the blade swung downwards.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

As the blade sailed downwards everything seemed to slow down. She watched as the burning plasma seared into her old friend, her agonised scream muted in the numb world she found herself in. Then the cold hit her, like a wave it crashed into her leaving her covered in goose bumps and shivering. Her breath hung before her in clouds as she stared at the young man that she had once hoped would help bring light and love to galaxy. Her eyes wide and a single tear running down her cheek as she saw the monster he had become, the creature that Starkiller had turned him into. As Barriss slumped to the deck, her eyes blank, her senses began to return to her and she managed to get to her feet and summon her lightsabre. The hilt flew to her hand and quickly grew sweaty in her grip. Ezra for the most part didn't even acknowledge she was there, as he turned away from the dead Inquisitor he deactivated the strange new lightsabre he was holding and scanned the ships controls.

"Well you certainly made a mess of this" he tutted as he stared disapprovingly at the destroyed controls. "We can't change course or drop out of hyperspace from here". Still not even looking at the stunned Togruta he dialled a few commands into a functioning console "If we kill the hyperdrive we'll stop, but we'll be stranded and we're way too far off Atollon to radio in for a pick up." Ezra looked up at Ashoka for the first time "any ideas?" For her part the Togruta stared at the young human, her eyes wide and distrusting.

"Remnous?" Was all she said, her eyes fixed on his, and the golden glow that shon from them.

##

"Sabine?" She was pulled from her sleep by the sound of her own name. Her eyes flew open and she hurriedly sat up. She'd forgotten she wasn't wearing anything, and as she sat up the blanket covering her fell to her waist.

"Har'Chaak!" She cursed to herself in Mandalorian and grabbed the blanket pulled it back up to her shoulders and turned to see Hera stood in the open doorway of the Shadows interior. The Twi'lek was deliberately looking away, with a look on her face that Sabine couldn't recognise. "What?!" She snapped irritably as she felt her cheeks flush, she was probably orange again. Sabine hurriedly tried to her to her feet, but found Hera's hand on her shoulder before she could.

"Hera, you're not about to give me 'the talk' are you?" Sabine rolled her eyes as Hera sat down opposite her.

"No" The Twi'lek shook her head. Sabine readjusted the blanket and sat up. "Sabine, I now about that night in the Phantom" The Mandalorian looked away and pulled the blanket tighter around her shoulders. "Sabine, are you sure you know what you're doing?"

"Turn around" Sabine said simply, glaring at the Togruta. After a moment Hera nodded and stood up, turning her back. Behind her she heard Sabine scramble for her clothes. "Sabine, you know Ezra isn't in the best place right now, right?"

"I know he's changed if that's what you're saying" she heard the Mandalorian say behind her.

"That's not what I meant" Hera said patiently as she examined the Shadows controls. 'Starkiller must be a hell of a pilot if he could work these' she thought to herself, thinking about the poise and grace the ship had flown with all those months ago when it had disabled them in space. Why Ezra had kept the ship after he'd stolen it was beyond her.

"What do you mean?" Sabine worked her legs into her armours one piece under suit.

"Do you remember what Kanan said?" Hera said, her back still turned. "He said the Ezra we found wouldn't be the one we lost and, he isn't."

"What's that got to do with anything?"

"Sabine, you grew up in a military society" Hera said gently "you were a warrior before you were a person"

"And what's that got to do with Ezra and I?" Hera could hear the annoyance in the Mandalorians voice.

"I think" Hera said slowly "you grew up in a passionless life, one dedicated to honour and the reason you're so drawn to Ezra now is because he's so free with his passions after what happened to him"

"Is that your official diagnosis doc?" The Mandalorians voice was teeming with sarcasm. Hera turned around to see Sabine stood behind her in her armours under suit, her arms crossed across her chest.

"Sabine, you're being so reckless, it's not like you"

"If Ezra can be free to feel why can't I?" Sabine snapped back

"We don't know what this is doing to him!" Hera cried out "He's changed so much already, we may never get the old Ezra back"

"Is that what this is about?" Sabine tilted her head to the side "You miss your little boy?" Sabine shook her head "Hera, our Ezra is long gone, the best we can do is learn to love the one we found. If I can why can't you?"

"This isn't about acceptance Sabine" Hera sighed. Before she could continue Tandi appeared in the doorway, her rifle was strapped to her back and her face was red from running. "Tandi?"

"What is it?" Sabine rolled her eyes and didn't even look at the other woman.

"The Inquisitor's escaped" Tandi panted

"What?" Hera turned to Tandi, a horrified look on her face

"There's something else, Ezra, Galen and Ashoka are missing and one of the blockade runners was stolen."

"Har'Chaak" Sabine murmured quietly.

##

"I have no desire to fight you." Ezra said simply as he strode past Ashoka to another panel. "This isn't the time, neither is it the place"

"Oh, it isn't the time?" Ashoka glared at the young man "I can sense it Ezra, the Dark Side" a shiver ran up the Grey Jedi's spine and she shuddered "even the cold is enough of a give-away"

"It's complicated" Ezra said, still not looking at Ashoka as he worked on the few functioning controls.

"Complicated?!" Ashoka was beside herself. "You killed her!" The Togruta pointed at the still warm body of the Grand Inquisitor.

"She deserved to die!"

"The Ezra Bridger I knew would never take a life."

"Ezra Bridger is dead!" the Dark Apostle roared suddenly, he turned on Ashoka, his fists balled "He died alone, cold and afraid three months ago!" he turned away from Ashoka, his head bowed. The Togruta stared at him, for the first time since Ezra had been taken from them, she truly felt remorse.

"You've been lying" Ashoka said, her voice hollow and her heart cold "About Galen, you, have you told us the truth about anything?"

"That doesn't matter now" Ezra said

"And what makes you say that?"

"Because, we're locked on course, in four minutes we'll arrive at Malachor and when we get there, Vader will be waiting." Ashoka glared at Ezra, then nodded.

"If and when we get through this, I will tell the others"

"If we both make it, I'll gladly tell them myself" he returned the Togrutas glare "I'm sick of hiding anyway."

"Do you have anything resembling a plan?"

"I've got something" Ezra said as he held his hand out and summoned the Inquisitors fallen sabres. "Here." He tossed her one and clipped the other onto his belt "You're better with two". Ashoka caught the hilt easily, she considered telling Ezra to keep it, then decided against it, she was better with two.

"So, what is the plan?" she asked cautiously

"We rig this ship to explode, slip aboard Vader's Star Destroyer, fight our way to the hanger and hope there's something there with a hyperdrive"

"That's not a plan it's a death wish!" Ashoka said, appalled.

"I said something, not a Machiavellian Scheme" Ezra shrugged as he crossed over to the Grand Inquisitors body and fumbled with her belt, quickly retrieving his Guard Shotos and sliding them into their holsters.

"We're both going to die" Ashoka said grimly.

"If I'm lucky" Ezra muttered darkly.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Ashoka snorted "the Dark Side is nothing new to you."

"And I'd rather not be driven mad by it" Ezra snapped at the Togruta "My soul was enough of a price, I'll keep my mind". The decking beneath them rocked as the ship dropped out of hyperspace. A grey planet hung in space, the two stared through the bridges viewport. Even to Ezra, there was something foreboding about it. "Can you feel it?"

"Yes" Ashoka said quietly "So much death"

"Do you know what happened here?" Ezra stared, his eyes wide and unnerved. "I read about it in the Imperial records on the Rogue Shadow, but reading about it and seeing it, they're very different."

"Yes, I've heard about it. But it's mostly lost to Legends" Ashoka said quietly "but it is said about four thousand years ago, a fallen Jedi Knight turned Sith used a terrible and powerful weapon to end a battle in the Mandalorian Wars. In Mandalorian they call it "Ani'la Akaan"- "the Great Last Battle"".

"No" Ezra shook his head "You've got it wrong, Revan hadn't fallen yet, this was what tipped him" The Dark Apostle glanced at the Grey Jedi "the decisions, the sacrifices…. all the things we do to protect others, innocents, enemies and the ones we love". The Togruta didn't respond for a moment, then sighed.

"Ezra Bridger died a hero"

"He deserved better"

"You're right on that one" Ashoka glanced at the twisted mirror of her absent friend and to her surprise, felt, pity. Cautiously, she reached out and gently placed a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry".

"Someone has to be" Ezra shrugged her arm off "Let's go rig the hyperdrive"

##

"Long range scanners can find no trace of the blockade runner" Commander Sato said gravely

"And with all the new stealth upgrades we can't track it" Kanan said bitterly as he paced the length of Chopper Bases command centre. Sabine was also pacing on the other side of the room, Zeb was shuffling restlessly and looked about ready to join them. Kota and Hera were sat together with Commander Sato, you could slice the tension in the air with a knife.

"How'd she take three Jedi prisoner?!" The Lasat snapped suddenly "Galen's fought Starkiller! How'd an Inquisitor get the better of him?"

"I can vouch for my Apprentices ability to match an Inquisitor" Kota said firmly "however, I'm unsure about Commander Tano's competency. She's been emotionally compromised"

"Commander Tano is a professional" Commander Sato snapped, "I can assure you she would approach any combat situation with a cool attitude."

"Tell me Commander" Kota said coolly "Did Commander Tano ever tell you about Barriss Offee?"

"The terrorist from the Clone Wars?" Hera asked

"I suppose you could call her a terrorist" Kota shrugged "To cut a long story short, Commander Tano was removed from the order after Offee framed her, even after her name was cleared she left willingly. Everything that's happened to Commander Tano over the last seventeen or so years was shaped by Barriss Offee's actions"

"The Inquisitor" Hera's eves grew wide as the realisation dawned on her.

"She must've been after revenge" Zeb muttered "Never knew Ashoka could blow her cool"

"Revenge is not the Jedi way" Commander Sato said slowly

"Ashoka's no Jedi" Kanan muttered darkly.

##

An Imperial Star Destroyer orbited the dead planet, as the smaller Blockade Runner appeared on its sensors a communications officer sent a message to a Arquitens Class Cruiser that was leaving the planets atmosphere. After a brief exchange the Destroyer continued its orbit as the Cruiser glided towards the disabled ship. There was no need to risk damage to the Destroyer, the personnel aboard the Frigate would be far more than sufficient to deal with a single, albeit powerful, child.

##

"He's coming" Ezra said simply. "Can you feel it?" The two of them were crouched in the engineering section of the frigate. Ezra had pulled panels and control stations apart and was busily pulling cables loose and turning dials.

"No" Ashoka shook her head "All I can sense is you." The Togruta shivered violently as another wave of cold rushed over her. "How can you live like that?"

"You get used to it" Ezra muttered as he pulled a cable loose from the hyperdrive and plugged it into another socket. "There" he sat back and wiped his human hand off on his coat. "That should create a power loop, once we turn the reactor back on we'll have about ten minutes before it overloads and blows.

"Not a wide time frame"

"Best I can do with the time we've got" Ezra reached behind him for his lightsaber, his head still buried in an open panel in the hyperdrive. His metal fingers groped in the air for a few moments before he turned to look for it. Unable to see it he turned to Ashoka. "Have you seen?" He cut off when he saw her examining the weapon in the dull emergency lighting.

"To be honest, I've never seen anything like this" She said calmly as she turned the hilt over "multiple blade emitters. I recognize the cross-guard element, but the knuckle guard? That's new."

"Thanks" he held his hand out firmly, metal palm open.

"It wasn't a compliment" Ashoka shot back sarcastically. The Togruta ignored the outstretched palm and continued to study the weapon. "Something this specific couldn't have been built as an improvisation, no, this was built from a plan, or an image." She looked up at 'Ezra' "But it's unique, so where did you get an idea this detailed?"

"Is this really the time for this?" Ezra glared at the Grey Jedi, his yellow eyes shining in the low light.

"We might die in a few minutes" Ashoka said calmly "I might not get the chance to ask later." After a pause, Ezra sighed.

"It was in a vision" the Sith Apprentice raised his hand, the hilt caught the low light as it was plucked from Ashoka's grasp and flew towards its master. For an instant, the hilt shone red in the light, and for a moment, it shone sinisterly in the darkness, just like its Masters eyes.

"'Remnous'" Ashoka echoed darkly as Ezra neatly caught the hilt in his right hand, the metal fingers wrapping tightly around the new weapon. "That's where you got the design, and the Sith name." The Togruta shook her head as she stood. "You've seen the future"

"I've seen pieces" Ezra rose to his feet "Fragments. But the future is the future, here and now? That's something we have to worry about" He glared at Ashoka for a few seconds before begrudgingly muttering "I can't take Vader alone, I need your help"

"I don't know if I can either" Ashoka said tersely.

"An Alliance of convenience then?" Ezra crossed his arms over his chest and raised his eyebrow. "If it comes to it I'd like to avoid an actual fight. For now.

"Ah, I see the way of the Sith is still the coward's way" Ashoka snorted as she raised her hands and summoned the two lightsabers from her belt.

"Your arrogant self-righteousness blinds you" Ezra retorted snidely "There are times to fight, and times to be smart."

"A good offense is often the best defense" Ashoka shrugged

"I think he of all people would expect that". The ship rocked slightly, the two stumbled as the deck-plate shifted.

"They haven't locked on to us with a crane arm" Ashoka said quietly "They've only docked with a frigate"

"I'm almost insulted" Ezra muttered dryly. "We'll have an easier time taking it though"

"It'll have minimal crew if they're running a standard boarding operation" The Togruta nodded

"So, we play this smart?" Ezra cocked his head to the side as he strained to hear the sound of metal being cut through echoing through the ship.

"Sneak aboard and cut them off" Ashoka nodded begrudgingly. "Light the fuse, let's get this suicide mission over with."

##

The sun was beginning to come up as he trekked back to the base. Galen had spent all night talking with the Bendu, he had a lot to think about. He'd expected the base to be quiet at this time of the morning. But instead he could hear a thrum of activity as he ascended the hill side, the base teamed with life as dozens of personnel scurried about the landing strip. Bleary eyed and caught unsuspecting he searched for familiar faces in the crowd. He quickly spotted Juno talking with Hera Syndulla and Kota, they all had their backs to him as they surveyed the landing zone.

"What's going on?" He asked as he jogged up to them, taking them by surprised they jumped slightly.

"Where've you been?!" Juno demanded, shoving Galens chest with both hands. "We thought you'd been taken prisoner!" Still glaring, she suddenly threw her arms around him and pulled him close a moment before letting him go.

"Prisoner?" He said numbly "What are you talking about?"

"The Inquisitor has escaped" Hera said gravely "Ashoka and Ezra are gone along with a Blockade Runner. We have to assume they've been taken prisoner." The Twi'lek hugged the data pad she was holding to her chest.

"Do you have any idea where they've gone?" He was awake now, adrenaline had surged through his system as his mind raced.

"All we have is the bearing the frigate was on when it jumped to hyperspace, we've checked the areas of space the course will take it through but there are no known Imperial facilities in those regions. Without a solid lead to follow, Commander Sato has ordered the base to emergency protocols, all the frigates are ready to go and the base has been warned to evacuate at a moment notice until we know the base's location isn't compromised."

"So, you aren't going to look for them?" Galen asked incredulously

"I tried to persuade the Commander to let the Ghost look for them, but he insisted we were needed here" The Captain bristled with annoyance.

"Can I have a look at the bearings at least?" Galen sighed.

"Here, for all the good it will do you" Hera sighed, holding out her data pad. Galen quickly took it, his eyes scanning over the bearings again and again as his mind raced.

"Where have you been Boy?" Kota said suddenly as he 'stared' at Galen with his blank eyes.

"It's a long story" Galen said, not looking up from the data pad. What's out there?! Then, he realized, the solution immediately visible. "I think I know where she went."

"What? How?" Hera was immediately alert at the news. "Where are they?"

"It's complicated Galen said slowly.

"It's complicated?" Hera sighed "Galen I can't authorize a departure based off a hunch". Galen opened his mouth to protest but Hera raised her hand. "But I can turn a blind eye to an unauthorized take off. No offence." The Twi'lek glanced at Kota.

"None taken." The blind man shrugged "I'll be going with you boy."

"No" Galen said quickly. "With Ashoka gone they'll need you more here Kota"

"Your experience will be invaluable" Hera nodded sagely.

"Alright boy" Kota nodded

"Bring my boy home" Hera said darkly

"I promise you I will" Galen nodded "come on Juno" the two turned and ran for the Rogue Shadow

"So where are we going?" Juno asked as they ran

"Malachor"

##

They crept through the dark corridors silently. Occasionally, if Stormtroopers passed, they would freeze, hiding in the shadows and dark alcoves dotted around the corridors. Most of the time the Troopers would pass them by and continued on their search, each time the footfalls of a patrol faded Ezra would offer a silent thanks to the incompetency of the Imperial soldiers. If they were spotted Ezra would wave a hand in their face and they would simply fall over, unconscious. Stepping over a third patrol, Ezra peered around a corner before nodding at Ashoka and beckoning her forwards. Together they slipped around the bend, the corridor split into a junction, they could see the light from the airlock connecting the ship to the Imperial frigate shining through into the damaged vessel.

"Come on" Ashoka whispered as she hurried towards the light, Ezra close behind her. They were almost there when Ezra stopped dead in his tracks. His face contorted with horror he turned around, as a deep, foreboding sound filled the ship.

"He's here" Ezra whispered as Ashoka finally felt the cold. The rasp of Darth Vader's artificial breath was soon joined by heavy foot falls and the hum of a lightsaber as the Sith Lord advanced on them from the darkness, bathed in the red glow of his lightsaber blade. Ashoka glanced behind her only to see a slender figure in jet black armor wielding an Inquisitors lightsaber standing in the light of the airlock, barring their escape.

"Damn, so close" Ezra muttered as he and Ashoka instinctively moved to stand back to back as they drew their weapons.

"It did not expect you to be here" Vader said casually as he came to a halt about six feet away from Ashoka. "But I am glad our long-awaited meeting has come at last"

"I'm glad I've made things more interesting for you" Ashoka drawled sarcastically, behind her she heard Ezra chuckle before he stepped away from her and advanced on the Inquisitor.

"We need not be adversaries" Vader lowered his blade "The Emperor will show you mercy, if you tell me where the remaining Jedi can be found"

"There are no Jedi" Ashoka snapped as she raised her lightsabers and activated the white and red blades. "You and your inquisitors have seen to that." Behind them there was the sound of a lightsaber swinging, them a grunt accompanied by the sound of a fist connecting with armor.

"Then the Empire has of no need of you. But if you will not tell me what I wish to know, perhaps another will." Ashoka turned, Ezra was stood over the new Inquisitor, the Imperials lightsaber in hand.

"I will never give you anything" Ezra growled as he jabbed the blade downwards, stabbing it into the Inquisitors back without even looking at the groaning Imperial. "But I'll take everything from you"

"I see Starkiller has finally made himself useful" Vader remarked simply as he regarded Ezra curiously.

"What?" Ezra raised the Inquisitors blade "What are you talking about?"

"I had hoped to overthrow the Emperor with Starkillers aid, but he has proven himself to be weak and corrupted by the light." The Sith raised his hand, a metal finger pointing at Ezra. "I needed a new disciple and I knew you would be the perfect new Apprentice. I sensed the potential in you on Lothal"

"Did you order Starkiller to turn Ezra to the Dark Side?" Ashoka's eyes narrowed as she tightened her grip on her lightsabers.

"I didn't even have to" Vader's voice glowed with smug pride. "My former Apprentice is untalented in the art of deception. I knew he was plotting against me and knew he would try to take an apprentice and since I had tasked him with infiltration the Rebellion I knew he would choose Ezra Bridger."

"Bastard." Ezra growled.

"I was beginning to think I knew who you were beneath that mask" Ashoka glared at the remains of the man before her "But I was wrong, my Master could never be as vile or cruel as you."

"Anakin Skywalker was weak. I destroyed him" Ashoka closed her eyes as she accepted the final conformation.

"Then I will avenge his death"

"Revenge is not the Jedi way" Vader took hold of his lightsaber hilt in both hands and raised the blade.

"I am no Jedi" The Togruta spat as she leapt at the Sith Lord. Vader raised his blade to block hers and the two locked their lightsabers as they stared into each-others eyes for an instant. Ashoka was the one to break the lock as she ducked under Ezras blade as it sailed through the air the meet Vader's. The two-clashed back and forth as Ashoka darted behind Vader to strike at his back. Caught between the two Vader was forced to thrust his hand out at Ezra, sending a telekinetic push at the boy which threw him backwards and into an opposite wall. As Ezra slumped to the floor groaning Vader turned to face Ashoka's strike head on his red blade blocking her white one. As Ezra climbed to his feet he noticed something strange on Vader's belt, it was a small pyramid crafted with gold and a strange red crystal. Shaking his head Ezra forced himself to focus on the fight at hand. Vader pressed forward with his assault, pushing Ashoka back as his brutal strikes quickly wore down her strength. With a flick of his hand he sent the worn out Togruta tumbling backwards, slowly the Sith Lord turned to face the Sith Apprentice.

"As you can see, the way of the Jedi cannot give you the power to defeat me, and Starkiller is too poor of a teacher to guide you" the Sith offered a gloved hand "Join me, and I will complete your training! With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy!"

"I'll never join you!" Ezra snarled "You have nothing to teach me!"

"Do I not?" Vader advanced, his sabre humming menacingly. "I felt your potential across the galaxy moths ago when you turned onboard that station." The Darth raised his hand to chest height and Ezra choked as he felt a hand close around his neck. "You should have won this duel single handedly, you have more then enough power. Your time spent with the Rebels has made you soft" Vader shook his head and sighed "You must know that Starkiller's ridiculous plan to use the Rebels to bait out and defeat the Emperor will fail. Following it is a waste and disservice to your potential." Ezra spluttered as his empty lungs burned, he dropped to his knees gasping weakly. "Pathetic" Vader scoffed as he released the boy, who fell to the deck-plate, coughing and spluttering as he fought for breath.

"I will kill you!" Ezra glowered up at Sith as he weakly tried to get to his feet, the Inquisitors lightsaber still in hand.

"You can't" Vader gloated "Not until you truly allow Ezra Bridger to die."

"Ezra Bridger is dead!" The Sith Apprentice snarled.

"Is he?" Vader mused "For one who is not Ezra Bridger, you fit into his life remarkably well." The Apprentice grimaced as he finally rose to his feet. "You sleep in his bed, dine with his family and lie with his love." With a howl the Dark Apostle lunged at the Sith, swinging his blade up at his opponent's head. Vader blocked the blow and stepped back, keeping the blades at arms distance, the glare of the blades reflected in the eyes of his helmet. "There it is! The fire and the passion of a Sith Warrior! Let the boy die! Unleash your true rage and strike me down!" Snarling the young man shoved hard against the older Sith's lightsaber, forcing Vader to take a few steps backwards. "Kill the boy!" Grunting the Apprentice snarled as felt the cold spread over his body, numbing him down to his bones. He could feel himself slipping into the bitter darkness, the light and warm of Ezra Bridger he carried in his chest was fading away. Ahead of him, beyond Vader, he could see a massive, dark silhouette.

"Ezra?" The voice cut through the icy darkness, warmth came with it, filling his chest and sending life through him. "You're such an idiot" Sabines voice said softly

"I'm sorry Sabine" he whispered. "I can't hold on to Ezra anymore. I have to kill the past, it's the only way to become what I was meant to be."

"You are Ezra Bridger" Sabines voice whispered in his ear "and you're staying with me"

"I can't" The Apprentice breathed. "It has to be this way" The cold began to invade his fractured soul once again as he eye began to twitch.

"Stay with me" The cold faded away and he gasped as he was brought back into the moment. His blade was locked with Vader's, his arms ached and he was exhausted. Slowly, Ezra closed his eyes and bowed his head.

"I'm sorry Sabine." He sighed, then he brought his foot up and slammed it hard into Vader's chest. The sudden blow sent the Sith stumbling backward. Grimacing, Ezra raised his left hand and summoned all the power he had left through his arm and into his fingertips. Lightning tore through the air and struck the Sith Lord. His animatronic breathing reduced to a wheezing hiss Vader stumbled backwards, right into the path of Ashoka's saber blades as the Togruta leapt through the air at her former Master.

"Argh!" Vader cried out as he sunk to his knees. In a split second of instinct Ezra thrust his hand out and summoned the strange device on his enemy's belt. The small golden pyramid flew through the air into Ezra's battered metal hand. Ashoka landed beside him and turned to glare at the beaten Sith Lord as Ezra advanced, activating his lightsaber.

"I've waited a long time for this" Ezra panted as he lowered the blade to Vader's throat. The Sith Lord kept his head lowered as he breathed heavily, his respirator wheezing. A long gash ran along the front of his mask, an eye piece and chunks of the cheek and forehead had been taken off. Burned and ran skin was just visible as Vader looked away. "I'm almost disappointed" Ezra smirked "I didn't think it would be this soon, or that you'd be a coward in the end." The Apprentice raised the trophy blade. A hand seized his wrist.

"Ezra, no." Ashoka said sternly as she glared at him.

"You want to spare him?!" Ezra spat with disgust as he turned to face the Togruta. "Him! Of all the people in the Galaxy?"

"Not for his sake" Ashoka said simply "For yours, if you strike him down in anger, it will be the end of Ezra Bridger for good"

"How many time do I have to tell you!" The Sith Apprentice snarled "Ezra Bridger is dead! And I have no interest in bringing him back!" Taking the lightsaber in both hands he raised the deadly plasma blade above his head.

"No!" Ashoka yelled. She thrust her hands out and sent him flying backwards towards the airlock. He landed hard on the deck-plate, sprawling out in the light from the Imperial ship.

"Ashoka" Vader's voice was fractured, half artificial and half human. Frozen in place, Ashoka turned to look at the Sith. "Ashoka" the voice was fully human now. He raised his head, giving her a clear look at the gash in his helmet, the eye, blood shot and yellow stared at her. She instantly recognized it.

"Anakin" She whispered, as she starred back into the tragically familiar eye she was overwhelmed with grief. Maybe Starkiller was right, maybe if she'd stayed with the Order she could have saved her Masters soul. "I won't leave you!" She said firmly as the Sith rose to his feet. "Not this time." Vader regarded her coldly.

"Then you will die" the glow of the Sith's lightsaber light up his sickly yellow eye as he advanced on the Togruta. Ashoka grimaced as she raised her lightsabers to block Vader's assault only to have Ventress's lightsaber plucked from her hand. She turned and watched it land in Ezra's outstretched hand.

"Good riddance" The Sith smirked as he stepped through the airlock to the Imperial ship and pulled a lever on a panel next to the doorway, shutting the connecting door and separating the ships. The frigate rocked as it was separated from the Rebel vessel and its doomed passengers. As the deck shook he clipped the stolen lightsaber to his belt next to its twin. "My kill, my Trophy." He muttered.

##

The Star Destroyer had broken its orbit and was making its way towards the Rebel ship and the friendly Arquitens Class Cruiser. They had been ordered to wait for the Frigates return, but sensors had detected the ships had separated and a garbled transmission had been received. Even the ineptest Imperial officer could pick up on the signs that the impossible had happened and the Rebels had taken the Imperial vessel. As the Destroyer loomed over the smaller ships the Frigate suddenly banked away from the Blockade Runner and the Destroyer as it flew away into open space. As the Destroyers crew scrambled to react a handful of escape pods ejected from the frigate and before the Destroyer could be brought about the smaller ship had shot away into hyperspace. On the Destroyers Bridge a communications officers nervously said.

"Captain, the Frigate is gone".

"No matter lieutenant" The Captain gnashed his teeth together in frustration "We still have the Rebel ship, we can use its flight records to find the location of the Rebel base." The bridges viewports were lit up with red and orange light as the Blockade Runner exploded, rocking the Destroyer and sending the tiny escape pods flying through space.

"Captain, the Rebel Ship has been destroyed!"

"I can see that Lieutenant!" The Captain roared "Where is Lord Vader? Was he onboard"

"There are a number of escape pods in the surrounding area sir, he may be aboard one of them" A sensor officer said quickly as he stared at his instrumentation.

"Open a com channel to all of them" The Captain snapped hurriedly. A communications officer tapped a few buttons then nodded at him "Lord Vader?" The captain said loudly "Are you there?" There was a long, tense moment of silence. Then a familiar voice answered.

"Yes Captain. I am alive, prepare to bring me aboard and have a medical team ready."

"Yes, my Lord, it will be done" The Captain sighed with relief "Are you injured my Lord?"

"No"

##

On Atollon Sabine sat on a rock away from the base, watching as the sun sank into to horizon. Kanan slowly walked up beside her and sat next to her, admiring the view with her.

"He's gone again Kanan" Sabine whispered as she stared ahead of her at the sunset.

"I know Sabine" Kanan sighed, his heart was heavy. "But you have to believe he will come back." Slowly, Kanan reached to his belt and unclipped the lightsaber Ezra had thrown away. "Here" he held to weapon out to Sabine and pressed it into her hands. "I want you to have this, and I think Ezra would want that to. Remember him by it, remember how much you love him and he'll be home soon". The Mandalorian stared at the Jedi's weapon in her hands, then she turned to Kanan with determined eyes.

"Kanan? Will you teach me to use it?"

##

"I'll see you soon, I'm sorry" Ezra paused "Remember, I love you." Heavily he flicked a few switches and ended the recording. After a long moment, he pressed another button and transmitted it to Chopper Base. Exhausted he slumped down into a chair on the Frigates Bridge. The crew had quickly abandon ship once they realized who they were trapped aboard it with and he had almost instantly found himself alone. Sighing, he leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes, then he opened the again. There was an itch, something keeping him on edge. There was someone else on board, as he got to his feet something leaning against a console caught his eye. It looked like a walking stick, but half of it was fashioned from metal, it almost looked like an Inquisitors lightsaber hilt. Cautiously he picked up the stick and examined it. If someone is aboard this is probably there's. He thought to himself and if they're still aboard they're probably locked in the brig, which makes them no friend of the Empire. Stick in hand he left the bridge and made his way through the brightly lit corridors of the Imperial Frigate. He checked the locks on each brig cell until he found the one that was locked, eyes narrowed he raised his metal hand and swiped two fingers through the air. With a hiss the door opened, wearily he peered into the cell. The Zabrak that gazed curiously up at him, blinking with surprise certainly did his best to look unassuming and Ezra did silently admit to himself that if he'd met him in low light and he hadn't been able to see the dark tattoos on his red skin he may have bought the act.

"I know this is yours" he sat flatly as he raised his arm and showed the Zabrak the walking stick. "I know what it is and if Vader kept you alive, you're not a Jedi." He crossed his arms over his chest. "Who are you?" The look of curiosity on the Zabrak's face swiftly switched to a look of cold calculation, then a smile spread across the marked features.

"Very well, we shall speak plainly" The Zabrak chuckled as he rose to his feet, as his foot set down there was a loud clank as if metal was striking metal. Taken aback, Ezra glanced down at the Zabrak's foot and gasped when he saw that the Zabrak's lower half had been replaced with a droid pelvis and legs. "I am Maul and I take it, since we are having this conversation I assume you have taken control of this ship?"

"Yes, I took the ship when the Empire boarded mine" he paused, "I left someone behind, she stalled Vader. Maul?" Ezra starred at the Zabrak as he began to remember, yes, PROXY had used a combat module of a much younger Maul a few times, even as the memories returned he was struck by the likeness and he subconsciously scolded himself for not recognizing him sooner. "Darth Maul?"

"Formerly Darth, now just Maul" Maul shrugged "and you are?"

"I'm, Ezra Bridger" Ezra said cautiously

"You look like you're on a dark path Ezra Bridger" Maul inspected the young mans face, his own yellow eyes lingering on Ezras

"I'm no stranger to the Dark Side" Ezra said carefully

"But I sense frustration about you" the Zabrak cocked his head to one side as his eyes traveled to the young Siths belt and all the trophy blades that decorated it. "There is more you wish to learn" Maul frowned "And you carry something very interesting with you." Slowly, Ezra reached to his belt and from a pouch, withdrew the small gold pyramid he had stolen from Vader. "Ah" Mauls eyes widened with delight "Very interesting and very valuable"

"What is it?" Ezra frowned "it looks kind of like a holocron."

"It is a Sith holocron" Maul grinned "It contains the forbidden knowledge of the Sith! It is the key to true power in the Dark Side!"

"You don't say?" Ezra raised his eyebrow as he glanced at the holocron, "so you were on Malachor looking for this?"

"Indeed, I was captured by the Empire and forced to show them the way to the holocron" Maul clenched his fist as he gritted his teeth.

"Well I stole it from them" Ezra smirked as he tossed the holocron into the air and neatly caught it

"Indeed, you show much promise young one, there is much I could teach you, if you would allow me."

"I'm not kneeling for you if that's what you're asking" Ezra scoffed as he stored the holocron in a compartment on his belt.

"No, no" Maul shook his head "There's no need for anything so formal, I only wish to share my knowledge, I am no Sith."

"Alright then" Ezra ran an eye up the Zabrak wearily.

"Where is the ship going by the way?" Maul queried "I assume we are at lightspeed"

"Yeah" Ezra paused, he had been in such a hurry to get away from the Destroyer when he had set the ships course, without a plan he'd simply picked a random planet. "Someplace called Dathomir"

"Dathomir?" Maul looked taken aback "That is some coincidence Ezra, Dathomir is my home". Ezra paused for a moment, considering the Zabrak's words.

"In my experience there's no such thing as a coincidence."

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

His eyes were still heavy when he opened them.

Dazedly Ezra starred around the dull grey cabin he had awoken in. He had left Maul at the frigates controls a few hours earlier after he'd almost collapsed from the effort of trying to stay awake, once Maul had helped him to his feet he had firmly suggested that Ezra get some sleep. Despite his feigned annoyance at the suggestion he had been relieved to have the opportunity to rest; found a cabin and promptly collapsed into bed without even considering the nightmares that undoubtedly awaited him.

It had been a grave mistake.

He'd dreamed he was trapped aboard the blockade-runner; no matter how fast he ran, whenever he looked over his shoulder he could see a dark figure stalking him through the dying ship. No matter how far or fast he ran the figure was always behind him. The ship seemed endless, composed of forever spanning corridors and doors that lead to identical copies of themselves; loops within loops.

He'd spent what had felt like hours fleeing through the labyrinthine passage-ways before he found a door that refused to open; he could run no longer. With dread in his heart he had turned to face the approaching spectre, weakly grasping at his belt for a sabre he knew wasn't there. The dark figure himself seemed to be in no rush, strolling leisurely towards him, head bowed and covered by a large hood. As the gap closed, foot by foot his perspective shifted and he saw the rest of the vision from a third person perspective, his vision just above his own shoulder as the figure reared up before him.

Towering a foot above him the spectre raised a hand to his hood, and, as he did so, the sleeve slid back to reveal a cybernetic prosthesis. Its index finger, middle finger and thumb ending in gleaming blades; and as Ezra starred in horror the hood lowered to reveal the face of Darth Remnous.

"How?" He whispered as Remnous reached for his belt.

"Because it is time for the old you to die" the Sith stated simply as he activated the deadly humming blades of the very lightsabre Ezra had handcrafted in his tower on Lothal. "Severe all link to your past." Forced to watch with a mixture of horror and odd fascination, Ezra stared as Remnous took his lightsabre in both hands and raised it high into the air before bringing it slicing down.

That was when he'd woken up.

"Do your dreams frighten you?" a voice whispered by his side.

"What?" Ezras breath hitched as his head whipped from side to side, eyes searching for the source of the voice. "I must be going crazy" he muttered to himself when no source could be found.

"No young one. Madness does lie at the end of the Dark Path, but you haven't walked far enough along it to lose your mind, yet." The voice spoke again. This time, he managed to find out where it was coming from, which seemed to be, his belt? His gaze lingered on the small pile in the corner where he had un-ceremonially dumped all of his equipment a few hours earlier.
"Do your dreams frighten you?" The voice asked again, more insistently this time.
It was a woman's voice, cautiously Ezra crossed over to his belt and rifled though the storage compartments on it until he found the Sith Holocron. A dull red glow filled the dark cabin, as trembling, he raised it to eye level. For a moment he was lost as to what to say, then he cleared his throat and answered honestly.

"Sometimes"

"And why is that?" The voice wasn't snide nor condescending, instead it was filled with, apparent, genuine concern. "Your dreams bring you visions of what you are to become".

"Because, becoming Remnous, it means the true end of this life."

"A small one" The voice said reassuringly "A life of weakling whose effect on the Galaxy would be minimal to non-existent" The voice paused before continuing, more softly now. "I can see into your heart. Ezra Bridger is dead, yet you still won't truly take the name Remnous, or wield his lightsabre unless you are left with no other choice. Why is that?" Ezra starred at the Holocron in his hands, he was quickly getting over the fact that he was talking to what he had assumed was an inanimate object. At this point he was more surprised that the voice seemed to know him and knew just what questions to ask.

"Who are you?" His eyes narrowed.

"That is a question you should ask yourself." The voice replied simply. "Why won't you embrace your power?"

"I don't know!" Ezra snapped loudly, his frustration had boiled up from nothing and he glared at the golden device in his hands.

"Oh, but you do." The voice said solemnly. "But you won't be ready to truly become Remnous until you discover the answer for yourself." Bristling with annoyance Ezra sat back down on his bunk, still glaring at the holocron. "However," the voice seemed to grin as it continued "That doesn't mean I can't help you find the answer". Slowly, the corners of the holocron turned until there was a sharp click and the holocron began to levitate into the air, sections drifting out into separate pieces. Ezras eyes widened as he starred at the open Sith Holocron, his eyes shining red as he gazed upon the knowledge of the ancient Sith.

"Who are you?" he whispered again, awed by the secrets before him.

"I am an ancient Sith" the voice said proudly. "Master of the Sith Triumvirate, instructor of Revan, Sion and Nihilus, until I was betrayed. I, young one, am Darth Traya". The light of the holocron seemed to shine brighter as the twisted soul within it gleefully stated her own name for what must have been the first time in centuries. "Now, shall we begin?"

##

"Maybe we should call that a day?" Kanan asked cautiously, still warily keeping his softly humming safety blade raised as his eyes tracked Sabine. The Mandalorian had taken to swordsmanship almost as quickly and as effectively as she had taken to marksmanship and painting. Three hours into her first lesson Sabine had all but mastered the poses of Shii-Cho and despite the brutal heat had refused to take a break.

"Why?" The Mandalorian panted as she once again repeated the Form I demonstration, "You getting tired?"

"No" Kanan said slowly as he searched for words. "I just don't want you to collapse from exhaustion and heat stroke". The Mandalorian scoffed and shook her head. She'd re-dyed her hair the night before after a sniggering Zeb had pointed out her roots were beginning to show. At least, that's what she claimed. She'd bleached her hair blond before dying the tips bright pink. Doing her hair must have reawaken some of Sabines artistic flare and she had decided to repaint her armour. Soon the entire ship had wreaked with the smell of spray paint as Sabine worked late into the night. In the morning she had proudly shown off her new colours. The left chest piece of the armour was a deep burgundy, an orange Starbird adorned the upeer left corner of the breastplate which was encircled by three orange cirlces. The work might have been wasted if they were using real blades. The learning curve for lightsabre training was a steep one and Sabine had taken quite a few knocks throughout the morning.

"Heat stroke?" Sabine scoffed as she started another set and then tripped over her own feet. "Alright" She muttered as she sat up "Five minutes". Kanan chuckled as he sat down cross legged next to the Mandalorian as she wiped sweat off her brow.

"You're taking to this well" Kanan smiled as he offered Sabine a bottle of water which the Mandalorian gratefully took, nodding to acknowledge the compliment.

"I looked over the stuff you sent, I think Form II will work best for me, I won't have the Force to fall back on, so I'll have to rely on straightforward swordplay" the Mandalorian wiped her mouth with her right hand and tossed the bottle back to Kanan with her left.

"One step at a time Sabine" Kanan smiled wearily as he neatly caught the bottle. He was glad she had a distraction to dive into. They were still on lockdown, all of Chopper Bases collective efforts were focused on scanning the surrounding space. The Fleet was ready and all necessary and vital equipment was loaded aboard, ready for evacuation at a moment's notice. With the lockdown in place they couldn't leave, Galen and Juno were their only hope of finding Ezra now.

##

As the Rogue Shadow dropped out of hyperspace Galen eagerly peered at the sensors, hoping to find any trace of the Blockade Runner. Both he and Juno knew that the stolen Rebel ship had either been captured or destroyed, but Galen strangely found himself holding out for hope. It was unrewarded. Galen sighed as information appeared on the sensor readings, the Blockade Runner was nowhere to be seen, well, pieces of it could. Silently, Juno and Galen starred out at the blasted wreckage floating through space. Discernible pieces were littered in the debris filed, the rest too blasted to make sense of.

"We're too late" Juno muttered quietly.

"Check the sensors" Galen quickly started tapping commands into the sensor controls, "widen the search, there may be escape pods". Juno nodded and a tense silence slipped over the two of the as they worked.

"I count just over half a dozen escape pods" There was relief in Juno's voice, after a few seconds Galen sighed.

"But no life signs" his voice was flat. "We are too late" Juno sighed and nodded. "Damn it!" Galen barked suddenly, as he slammed his fist into a console, leaving a shallow dent in the metal.

"Wait" Juno was still starring at the controls. "There's something else out there". As if on que the light of Malachor's sun was blocked out and the ship fell into darkness as the mass bulk of an Imperial Star Destroyer rolled over them.

As they starred up at the grey ship, their hands found each-others in the darkness, just for a second, they shared a small comfort as dread flooded through them. Starkillers status in the Empire was tenuous, teetering on none existent really. While he had widely been a secret, there were a few that knew of him in Vader's inner circle but that was it. He didn't have authentication codes or passphrases; Vader's strict policy was to kill all witnesses. That was before Vader had effectively cut him loose to aid the Rebellion.

Now Galen had no idea what to do.

"Master!" Galen glanced over his shoulder to see PROXY hurrying towards them.

"PROXY?" Galen stood to greet the droid "What are you doing up? We didn't reactivate you"

"No sir, you didn't." PROXY nodded "I was activated by a remote over-ride." The droid seemed to shudder "He wants to talk to you. Now." Galen felt as though an icy fist had closed around his heart. It could only mean one thing.

"Vader's on that ship" he whispered hoarsely.

"Most likely Master" PROXY chirped, ever so helpful. "The timing cannot be coincidental" Galen had closed his eyes and was reaching out with his mind, yes. There he was, he could feel the cold beginning to seep into his mind. Galen shuddered and was about to open his eyes, when frowned, there was someone else. They were in bad shape, weak and dying, but somehow growing stronger every second. Hate and pain were flowing off them in waves, each one colder and harsher than the last.

"We better" Galen paused, then took a deep breath. He could feel an intense hatred build up in his chest. He could feel it rushing through him and begin to seep back into his soul. He shuddered, The Bendu's words from the night before echoed in his mind. 'You did not choose this path Starkiller, there is always time to choose a new one. Whether that new path takes you into the light or not; well. That's your decision young one.' "We better receive his communication. Juno, have the ship ready to jump to hyperspace at a moment's notice. Any trouble and we'll blast out from under them." The Pilot nodded and turned back to the controls, but just for a second, Galen caught the look in her eyes. She knew what he was planning, he turned back to PROXY and nodded. The droid shimmered in a spectacular white light for an instant, then as soon as it had arrived the light shut off and the dark stature of Darth Vader stood in its place.

"My Apprentice." The Siths voice was, off. The usual deep tone of the vocaliser was fractured, as if two voices; one, the usual deep tone and the other, lighter and, human. It took Galen a moment to realise it was the voice of Anakin Skywalker. It took a further moment for him to see the gash in Vader's mask, he had to struggle not to stare at the bloodshot yellow eye that stared hauntingly at him.

"My Master" Galen deliberately looked away from the cyborgs split helm. He could feel Vader's cold eyes on him.

"It is a fine coincidence to see you here. So soon after Ezra Bridger evaded almost guaranteed capture." So, there would be no games or presumptions.

"The Rebels sent me to find him after he and Ashoka Tano were taken by your Inquisitor."

"The Inquisitor is dead." Vader's eye bore into the younger man as his voice simmered with rage. "With considerable reason to believe that it was Bridger that struck the killing blow."

"He is powerful for his age" Galen countered casually finally raising his head to look at Vader straight on, his voice betraying nothing. "What of Tano?" Vader didn't answer for a moment.

"We will speak in person." The Sith crossed his arms over his chest. "I am sending you the location of a discrete docking site, remember, the entirety of this ships destructive capabilities is targeted on you." The image vanished leaving PROXY in its place.

"Master" the droid said cautiously "the co-ordinates Lord Vader has sent, well they indicate he wants you to enter the Destroyer through the waste disposal vent."

"In other words, the garbage shoot" Galen sighed as he rolled his eyes.

##

Maul sat alone at the controls of the controls over the Imperial cruiser he stared through the bridges viewport at the red planet that hung in space before them.

"Dathomir" He muttered quietly. "My home." Cautiously he glanced over his shoulder, wondering where the youth that so grudgingly called himself had gotten to. The boy had been exhausted, perhaps he still slept.

##

"The Zabrak will have his uses, for now" Traya said quietly as the light from the open holocron gleamed, casting red light over Ezra's face, setting his golden eyes aflame. "He has, certain items you shall need. But there is little to nothing he can teach you that will gain you the power you desire. He is inconsequential, his ambition limited to mere personal revenge."

"So, we keep him around as long as he's useful?" Ezra smirked darkly.

"Oh no" The holocron spun quickly "I want you to help him complete his quest, I believe you shall find the answers you seek along the way and I think you shall learn a valuable lesson." Ezra frowned and opened his mouth to protest when there was a sharp knock on the cabin door, his eyes darted away from the holocron for the first time in hours to the door.

"Ezra?" The Zabrak's voice called cautiously. The young man rolled his eyes and turned back to the holocron to find it had re-assembled itself and settled itself onto the floor.

"We shall talk later" Darth Traya's voice whispered in his ear. Irritated at the disturbance Ezra grudgingly stood as the door opened. Maul stood in the doorway, his head cocked to one side in curiosity.

"I thought someone else was in here" The Zabrak frowned as he surveyed the campaign, his eyes coming to rest on the Holocron, they narrowed. "I heard voices."

"Yeah" Ezra bristled, "my voice, I was studying the holocron" The Apprentice shrugged "I think out loud." The Zabrak frowned, there was a moment of tense silence, then Maul smiled.

"My mistake my young Friend" Maul gestured to the corridor "We have arrived at Dathomir."

"I'll join at the hatch when I've got my armour on" Maul looked like he wanted to object, his gaze lingering on the holocron. Then he looked back at Ezra and took a half step back on sight of the young man's expression.

"As you say". Ezra took his time putting armour on after Maul left. To say the Zabrak was past his prime would be a tragic understatement. But he still had the sense that even mutilated, Maul had once been powerful.

"Time defeats all" he muttered as he tucked Remnous's lightsabre into its holster on his belt, just below the centre of his back. He'd used his left hand and as he left go of the weapon a shiver ran through him. It happened sometimes, when he touched the lightsabre. He wondered if it was just him, or something else. Shaking his head to clear the idle thoughts cluttering it he stooped to pick up his helmet and quickly turned to the cabin door. The ship was landing.

##

"You found it out in the wastes?" Kanan said, his voice hollow. Sabine sat next to him starring miserably at the dusty, scratched and dented lightsabre the Jedi held, though almost unrecognisable they all knew it was one of Ashoka's.

"A few miles off the perimeter" Rex sighed deeply. Sabine felt awful for him, he and Ashoka had served together and grown close during the Clone Wars, you might have said Ashoka was Rex's dearest living friend.

"How did it get out there?" Sabine wondered aloud. There was a moment of silence, theory's flickered through the minds of those assembled, but none seemed likely. Eventually however the silence was broken by Hera. The Twi'lek hurried into the command centre, Chopper hot on her heels.

"There was a transmission sent to the Ghost, I think it might be from Ezra!" There was a hum of excitement as Chopper projected an image onto a low table. After a moment a figure took shape and a collective mix of a cheer and a gasp went up when Ezra's visage appeared.

"This is Lieutenant Bridger" The holograms voice was echoed slightly "This message contains both a mission debrief; and a personal message" Ezras voice sounded exhausted "I was taken captive by the Inquisitor, she took me by surprise and knocked me out. When I woke up I was onboard a Blockade Runner and I quickly realised what happened and made efforts to escape and over power the Inquisitor. However, by the time I got to the Bridge, Commander Tano had already." Ezra paused and cleared his throat "…. She had already, dispatched of the Inquisitor. She had a look in her eye" Ezra trailed off. "The controls were destroyed in the fight and we left stranded with an Imperial frigate and Destroyer bearing down on us. To avoid capture we decided to destroy the Blockade Runner via time bomb and commandeer the Imperial Frigate. However, Darth Vader was part of the boarding crew, and only I was able to escape." The hologram of Ezra closed his eyes sadly and took a deep breath. "It is my sad duty to report that Commander Tano is missing in action and likely dead." Out the corner of her eye, Sabine saw Rex wipe his eyes. Kanan had told him what Ezra had learned about Darth Vader, it had been a deep blow for the old clone, now this. The hologram flickered.

"This is now a personal message. Please leave this for Sabine Wren." Chopper stopped the message. There was a moment of silence as the assembled rebels turned to look at Sabine. Hera cleared her throat loudly and the silence vanished as there was a scramble to clear the room. Locking eyes with the Twi'lek; Sabine nodded and smiled her thanks. When she was alone with the droid she cleared her throat.

"Alright Chop, play it"

"Hey Sabine." The hologram seemed to be looking at her. "I, I" He chuckled tiredly "I have no idea what to say" He sighed, "The look I saw in Ashoka's eyes, I recognised it, I saw it in a mirror once. I need time, time to work things out and ask myself a few questions I need answering. When I've made sense of things, I promise I'll come home. I'll see you soon, I'm sorry. Remember, I love you." The hologram flickered out and she was left alone with Chopper. She starred at where the hologram had been, her heart heavy. To her surprise, Chopper rolled over to her and gently laid one of his arms on her hand.

"Thanks Chop"

##

Having to climb through the trash ejector annoyed Galen. The squad of Stormtroopers he found when he emerged were unexpected and the empty corridors unnerved him. Masked he was often mistaken for an Inquisitor and could often hide in plain sight in Imperial facilities. Apprehensively he toyed with the idea of escaping back to the Rogue Shadow, then dropped it. He was in too deep now. Surprisingly his escort didn't lead him to the bridge; instead they lead him to the medical bay, the Troopers escorting him didn't follow him in.

He could sense their relief.

As the door hissed shut behind him he got his bearings. The opposite wall was almost entirely taken up by a window, through the glass Galen could see a prone form on an operating table, surrounded by a plethora of medical droids. Clustered around the patient they blocked their face from his view. As he watched, autonomous arms swarmed about, each lowering towards the fated body with a tool or clutching a cybernetic limb, only to detract moments later to seize another item and return to their due work diligently. Tirelessly coaching the patient back to life, no matter how unwillingly.

Galen winced. He could feel the silent cries of agony that rippled through the Force, each washing him with pain. There was a pit in his stomach, he knew exactly what was happening.

Sith Stalkers weren't common in the Empire. But there were enough of them for him to know about them, he'd sort out knowledge out of morbid curiosity. They were disgraced Inquisitors and fallen Jedi, their bodies broken and their wills shattered they had silently hoped for the release of death. The Empire would allow them no such luxury, the procedure varied, depending on the state of the subject but in the end, the result was more or less the same. Kept alive by cybernetic implants and encased in a suit of armour with a masked seared onto their flash, never to see their own faces again. Spurred on by agonising pain and hatred they became Agents of the Empire until after years, sometimes decades, Palpatine finally grew bored of their suffering and allowed them to die. He often thought it was ironic. They suffered the same fate as Vader, yet he was heir to the Empire and they were slaves. He had always smirked at that, at how blind his master was. The Emperor would dispose of Vader, just as he disposed of all of his broken toys.

An arm lowered from the roof, a mask in its grip. Before it dipped out of view he managed to get a good look at the poor bastard's new face. From the forehead to halfway down the nose it was shaped in the style of a human skull. Its eyes filled with lenses, no doubt filled with optical readouts. From the bridge of the nose down to the jaw the mask was blank metal, a gas valve mounted on each cheek. The mask dipped below view and after a moment there was a blindingly flash of light, and another arm, wielding a white-hot flame travelled to join it.

He knew why Vader was making him watch this. It was a warning, no it was more then that, it was a threat.

"Who is that?" His voice was shaky, he paused and cleared his throat before looking over his shoulder. The door had slid open silently, but Vader's artificial breath was never silent, it echoed forebodingly in the cramped space as the Sith starred at him. All signs of the damage to his helmet was gone, all marks of battle removed and replaced.

"No one of consequence" Vader said simply. Galen glared at the Sith.

"I doubt that" He snorted.

"As I have doubted you" Vader still stood in the doorway, barring the exit whilst casting a dark shadow over the younger man. "Did you think I did not suspect you? Your feeble excuses hid nothing from me, I know you were training Bridger to destroy me"

"That is the way of the Sith." Galen shrugged. He knew this moment would come, the conflict had been brewing for almost a decade, for most of his life. "That's why you trained me, to help you overthrow the Emperor."

"I had hoped we would, but now?" The Sith regarded Galen with disgust "I am disappointed" Vader said condescendingly. "I thought I had trained you better Starkiller"

"I'm happy to disappoint you" Galen grinned as he raised his hands, his parent's lightsabres flew into his grip, the yellow and blue blades lighting up the cabin. Vader barely moved as his weapon hissed to life. "For my father". Galen took a Form V stance, blades raised and ready. Vader was the one who moved first, striding slowly forward. That was when Galen struck, with a roar, throwing all his will into a telekinetic push he smashed Vader into the medical bay door and then straight through it, sending the Sith flying into the corridor. Storing his father's lightsabre on his belt he advanced forward, his hand rising again. Vader had crashed into some of the guards, chunks of the door had flown into the others. Vader was getting to his feet, Galen didn't allow it. Lightning shot his fingertips, striking Vader and the troopers, their cries of agony echoed through the Destroyers corridors as Galen grinned. Hatred burned in his heart as the satisfaction of hurting the man who had caused him so much anguish coursed through him. A laser flew past him, inches from his face, he could feel the searing heat on his skin. Breaking off the lightning he leapt away from Vader and down the corridor, his eyes darting to the source of the laser. Stormtroopers were flooding the corridor, soon a hailstorm of laser fire was barrelling towards him. Cursing, Galen turned and ran for the garbage shoot.

##

Juno sat at the Shadows controls, anxiously she scanned the controls, everything was set for a quick get-away. She knew in her gut something was going to go wrong. PROXY was waiting at the airlock, at Galen's assistance he was guarding the ship. That was his way of telling him to keep her safe, she smiled. Despite her insistence that she only stayed with Galen to keep the ship running she knew it was a lie and she was pretty sure he knew too.

"Juno!" Galen's voice bellowed over the com link.

"Here we go." The pilot muttered. "Ready to go." She said quickly as her hands flew over the controls, the ship was filled with the hum of its engines. "I'll need you up here as you get back, sensors count at least a dozen TIE fighters." The com was silent. After a moment, Juno paused. "Galen?" Silence. "Galen?!" Her tone had risen slightly, worry beginning to seep into her system.

Then there was a burst of static, followed by the unmistakable and ear-splitting sound of heavy blaster fire.

"I'm almost there" Galen's voice was barely audible over the din, the blaster fire affixed with the sing of lightsabres. "Go as soon as I'm in"

"Roger that." Juno sighed with relief as she returned her attention to the controls. Despite the situation, she still grinned at the thought of Galen diving into a garbage shoot.

"Captain Eclipse?"

"PROXY?"

"Master has joined us onboard, he strongly advises we leave".

"You've got that" Juno muttered as she disengaged the magnetic seal securing the Shadow to the Star Destroyer and pushed the engines. The ship banked away sharply from the behemoth into open space, within seconds over a dozen TIE fighters swarmed after it, each letting off a gale of green cannon fire. "I need someone of the guns!" Juno yelled, her gaze still fixed in front of her as the Shadow weaved flawlessly through the laser fire. As graceful and effortless it must have looked to an observer, the opposite was true when it came to execution, Juno was wrestling with the controls. Her teeth gritted in an effort strained grin. Behind her a door opened and Galen hurriedly took the seat next to her. "Took your time" She grunted. Galen didn't answer and instead focused on the weapons controls. The two slipped into a tense silence as they waited until they could jump to lightspeed, each working to keep them alive until that moment. After what seemed like an eternity a light on the controls turned green, with a cry of relief Juno practically leapt forward to flip the switched adjacent to the light. With a jolt the Rogue Shadow was propelled into hyperspace.

##

The walls and floor were polished black marble, flaming torches mounted in brackets on the walls filled the room with flickering light which danced eerily upwards into the cavernous ceiling. Despite it's monolithic size the room was mostly bare, only racks of wooden weapons decorated the walls and other than a few wooden benches there was no furniture. Ezra stood in the centre of the room, a wooden training sword in his hand, the blade was speckled with drops of deep crimson blood.

"Pathetic" he scoffed as he glared at the quivering form on the floor before him. Her face was swollen and bloody, one of her brown eyes slowly closing as a black eye formed. She was wearing a loose black Gi and clutched her own wooden weapon in her bruised and trembling hands.

"Master!" she begged tearfully. "Please! Mercy!" she clutched her side "It hurts."

"Suffering teaches wisdom, my Apprentice" he smirked, then cocked his head to the side. "But perhaps you've had enough." Carelessly he dropped the training sword. It fell to the ground with a loud crack, making the girl whimper. The droplets of blood began to pool on the floor, slowly spreading out and joining with others. A crimson puddle began too spread across the gleaming floor as he walked away. They did gleam, the rock was so polished he could see his reflection almost perfectly on the walls, he gave it a casual glance. Then looked back in surprise, as he did the dream started to fade away and he only had a moment to take a fleeting second glance at the intricate black tattoos that adorned his bare arms, chest and back.

He awoke in the abandoned Nightsister fortress without a start. It had been two weeks since they had arrived on Dathomir. With the aid of Traya and to a surprising extent Maul he had learned to accept his visions and allow them to play. Time was difficult, little to no sunlight ever penetrated the depths of the stronghold but Ezra was fairly confident it was still night. Silently, he withdrew the Holocron from it's compartment on his belt.

"Traya?"

"Another vision young one?" The ancient Sith never rested and Ezra had taken to calling on her after he glimpsed the future.

"Yes, I saw, my apprentice"

"You've seen her before" He had told Traya about his flash of his future disciple a week previously.

"But only after her training was complete, I saw it" He rubbed his pal against his forehead, trying to picture the girl again, he'd seen her somewhere before.

"Pain brings wisdom young one, you remember your own training." The red kyper crystal pulsed dull light. "There is a Sith ritual; Sith Pincerbugs are placed upon the skin. Their venom is agonising and leaves permeant markings. I always thought that was poetic, the marks of pain leave an everlasting symbol of new strength. Ezra thought about that conversation long into the next day, he often wondered whether or not Traya could read his mind or at least see his visions, the markings of a Sith Pincerbugs sounded exactly like the tattoos he had seen in his vision the night before. The imagine of them plagued his mind for most of the day. Eventually he decided to ask Maul, thinking of the markings on his skin.

"It is a painful procedure" The Zabrak said gravely, Ezra had found him knelling before a small alcove in the fortress wall, odd designs and incantations in alien languages decorated the stone. "Pincerbug venom is used to make the markings, it's hard to tell what hurts, the bite, or the venom."

"What are Pincerbugs?" Ezra asked cautiously.

"If you are interested I have some I can show you my friend" Maul got to his feet "but may I ask, what's triggered this new interest in you?" The Zabrak raised an eyebrow inquisitively.

"Call it a dream." Ezra said carefully, after a moment of silence Maul nodded understandingly and beckoned for Ezra to follow him. The scale of the Nightsister's fortress never failed to amaze Ezra, even a fortnight after arriving he still hadn't fully explored the vast subterranean stronghold and was still finding hidden passage ways and corridors in the dark stone. Maul lead him to a large alcove carved into the rough stone. Chains hung from both walls, each linked to sturdy cuffs which lay open in the centre of the room, the chain coiling across the floor like a silver serpent. He raised an eyebrow at Maul.

"Entirely necessary" the Zabrak said assuredly "Trust me." Ezra didn't think to question his judgement. A shelf was cut into the stone, a small black box sat on it almost inconspicuously, but the sight of it sent shivers up Ezra's spine. Delicately, Maul retrieved the small cube and set it on a stone stack just in front of where the manacles lay. Hesitantly Ezra reached out to open it, Maul caught his wrist.

"Careful, my friend" the Zabrak warned "I wouldn't open it, not unless you wish to marked." Ezra starred at the box, he could sense the creatures inside it, scuttling about on eight legs, two stingers loaded with venom. As shiver ran up his spine he heard Traya's voice whisper in his ear.

"Yes, young one. You must cut off your link to your past, allow them to adorn you with the markings of Lord Remnous. Come into your own as a Sith."

"I do." He heard his own voice before he had thought of the sentence. Maul gaped at him

"Ezra, the markings are permeant, and the pain…" the Zabrak trailed off.

"I'll scream" Ezra shrugged as he pulled his shirt off and tossed it into a corner.

"My friend" Maul starred as Ezra picked up one of the manacles to inspect it. "It is agony like you haven't imagined, like fire under your skin!"

"I'll scream loudly" Ezra glared at Maul as he clamped the right manacle around his artificial arm and held the left one out expectantly. Shaking his head Maul helped secure the restraint and took a step back and flicked his wrist, there was a cranking sound as gears deep in the stone began to turn pulling the chains tight, drawing Ezra's arms into the air.

"If you're sure?" Ezra nodded. Grimacing, Maul raised his hand. The box levitated slowly into the air, the lid creaking open as it rose above Ezra's head. The Apprentice shut his eyes. Perfectly still, he waited. A bead of sweat ran down his temple as his stomach churned in apprehension. Two dozen sets of sharp insectoid legs dropped onto his bear skin. Teeth gritted, Ezra waited, then screamed. He'd expected the Pincerbugs to start stinging at different times, they all started at once. He was on fire. Howling like a man possessed he thrashed and pulled on the chains. Maul grimaced and looked away, remembering the pain of his own experience all too well.

Hours later, at the fortress entrance; the sound of agonised screams could be heard echoing into the night.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

The late afternoon sun bore down harshly on Atollons surface. Tandi shifted uncomfortably in the heat as she peered through her rifles scope to examine the ever-empty horizon. The Lothal Sniper was perched atop the makeshift sniper tower she had convinced Commander Sato to let her rig up on the main communications tower. It had been four months since Ezras last transmission, four long months of waiting, anxious for some sort of update. But none had come, not for them at least. The Spectres tried to keep up a hopeful façade, but after a while they all started to lose hope.

Galen and Juno had returned to the base without Ezra to a scolding by Commander Sato and the piercing glare of an anxious mother by Hera. Tandi had always had a knack for seeing people. Really seeing them; all the little emotions and thoughts they didn't want people to know they had and she'd gotten a good look at Galen. He did an excellent job of covering it; masking it with disappointment over not finding Ezra, but something had happened to him. Something that rocked him to the core. She could tell, she could always tell. It was why she preferred keeping her distance from people, figurately and in most cases literally.

She had lead the Wraiths, but she had always kept the others at an arms-length, establishing a friendship with those under her command would just make it all the more difficult when they inevitably fell in the fight. She'd experienced loss, to have someone taken from you, the truly numbing feeling of realising someone who means the world to you is gone in the blink of an eye; the horrifying revelation that you'll never see them again. "The worst part though" she often thought to herself, "Is realising you have to live the rest of your life knowing that you have to live, while they'll never experience everything they wanted to, everything they could have." The red head shook her head vigorously, there was no point dwelling on it. Nothing could bring her family back. The best she could do was make sure they were avenged!

"Three, two, one! Good!" The sound of lightsabres clashing helped derail her train of thought. Sabine and Galen were sparring back and forth across the landing flat while Kanan and Kota looked on from the side lines. Time had done little to dull the hostilities between Tandi and Sabine, both of whom did their best to avoid the other. That suited her fine. She wasn't here to make friends.

The Lightsabres safety blades glare was washed out by the suns glow and the pairs shadows were cast onto the tarmac. Tandi had a perfect view of the match and so far, it had been pretty entertaining, Galens superior skill and greater experience were clearly showing. Not that Sabine wasn't putting up a decent fight, the Mandalorian had taken to swordplay annoyingly quickly, wielding Ezras discarded blade as if it were made for her. As if on que, Sabine ducked beneath Galens blue blade as she deactivated her own and as his arm swung about she leapt back straightening upright, her arms bringing the lightsabre hilt up as if it were a blaster. "What is she doing?" Tandi thought only to have the answer come as three blue energy blots flew from the top of the knuckle guard.

Startled, Galen swiped the blade back to block them, that's when Sabine leapt forwards, her blade coming back to life! It was met by Galens yellow sabre. Sabines eyes widened as Galen shoved against her blade with his, sending her stumbling back. As she did Galen leapt over her, bending into the landing he leant his weight into his left leg and swung his right into Sabines. The Mandalorians weight was taken out from under her and she collapsed to the ground, her lightsabre hissing as it retracted. Galen stood, both sabres pointed at the downed fighter.

"And that's three for me." Galen grinned as he panted.

"Nice move" Kanan muttered, "you teach him that Kota?" The older man shook his head.

"I wasn't in any state to teach the Boy lightsabre tricks." On the ground Sabine propped herself up on her elbows and glared at Galen.

"You didn't tell me you were using both your lightsabres!"

"First rule" Galen offered Sabine a hand. "It's never a fair fight."

Tandi snorted, then turned back to the horizon. Her sharp eyes searching wearily until they began to glaze over as the memories of the previous night replayed in her mind.

She'd stayed out late on the watch tower that night, the smog on Lothal blocked out the stars, it had been months since she had seen them and like an addict relapsing she couldn't get enough of them despite the biting desert night chill.

Frozen to the bone, she had just started the arduous process rubbing some warmth back into her limbs to make the climb down when her comm had chirped.

"Tandi? Tandi are you there?" She'd recognised the voice instantly.

"Ezra? Is that you?" There had been a long pause, then Ezras voice had said.

"Yeah, it's me" Tandi had laughed as relief rushed through her.

"Where are you? Are you alright? Why haven't you contacted us?" The pause had been shorter that time.

"Take it easy mom!" She'd heard his smile. "I'm, alright."

"Do you want to talk to the others? Your family?"

"No!" There had been no pause that time. Tandi had paused though, shocked at the force in his tone. "I don't want to talk to them, not yet."

"Oh, alright." There had been a momentary awkward silence. "How'd you get my comm frequency?"

"I remembered it from the asteroid." Ezras voice was absent "How are they?" Tandi had had to take a moment to think.

"They miss you." It was the first thing she'd thought to say, it was true. Other than lightsabre training and the occasional mission Sato ordered her on Sabine never left her cabin on the Ghost, Zeb and Hera actively tried to lose themselves in their work but she could see they weren't fooling themselves. Kanan had taken to completing Galens Jedi training and that worried her, she hoped Kanan had offered to help Galen out of kindness and not an effort to fill the void Ezras loss had left in his life. Before and after he disappeared again.

"They're still on Atollon?"

"Sabine wanted to go looking for you, but Hera talked her into letting you have your time."

"Of course, she did." She could hear his smile, then sadness crept into his voice. "You can't tell them I called, promise me Tandi."

"Of course, I promise." She had instantly regretted making the promise. "Ezra? Tell me about the future you've seen again."

"Once I dethrone Palpatine, I end the war machine, stop the oppression of alien races, shut down the Wookie slave camps. The empire no longer wastes resources making its people fear it, because they follow their Emperor out of love."

"But why do you have to use the Dark Side? I read about the wars the ancient Jedi fought against the Sith."

"The Sith of Old were blind fools" Ezra had said simply. "Same as Palpatine, the Dark Side isn't evil. Evil people have used it. I can use its power to bring true change to the Galaxy. Make it a better place for everyone." Tandi had felt a sense of foreboding and a shiver had run up her spine.

"Why'd you contact me Ezra?"

"I've." Ezras voice had trailed off "I've been alone, I needed to talk to a friend." The line had gone dead after that and Tandi had been left with her promise to remain silent. It wasn't too bad, she honestly wasn't around people enough to tell secrets.

There was a flash of light! It was gone in less than a second but she saw it! Instantly alert she sat up and grabbed her rifle, peering through the scope she focused on the mountainside where the flash had originated. There was a small cliff edge, Tandis eye narrowed and she slowly zoomed in on the rocky outcrop, a cloud of dust was drifting into the sky as if something large had moved very quickly disturbing the desert. Tandi tapped her comm.

"Phoenix Base, I think I've got something in the Northern Sector." A bored voice answered.

"It's probably just some of the local fauna Tandi, nothing's come up on the planetary sensors." The sniper rolled her eyes, then focused back on the cliff edge. Someone was out there.

##

The sniper had cost him several hours, the intruder hadn't known about the nest. His ships stealth systems had managed to dupe the Rebels scans and army of sensor arrays, Mandalorian Death Watch designs were handy that way. But the human eye is sharp and prone to paranoia and he had had to slow his approach to a crawls pace to avoid detection. His objective was simple; get aboard the Phoenix Squadron Frigate and retrieve the Jedi Holocron, it was the only way to gain the answered he so desperately needed. Dressed head to toe in black he was just short of six feet tall, he wore a full length sleeveless hooded robe. His face was hidden behind an intricately crafted mask, modelled in the style of a human face, its features sharp and cold.

He knew their patrol routes, and for the first time the snipers paranoid gaze on the surrounding landscape worked to his advantage; she didn't think to look at her near surroundings. Slowly, he crept about the base, using the crates messily scattered about the landing flat and the growing darkness as cover. As a pair of technicians walked away from the Rebel Frigate pushing the refuelling equipment cart between them, as the intruder was preparing to make the dash to the ships open ramp a Mandalorian with mixed matched orange and purple armour strode down it, she had dyed her hair white blond with bright pink highlights on the fringe, her face was flushed with anger. The sight of her made the intruder pause. A green Twi'lek followed her down.

"Sabine, it's been months! You need to talk about this, we don't know how much longer Ezra will be gone."

"I'm fine Hera!" The Mandalorians voice was shrill, the intruder tilted his head to the side slightly, the argument had been going on for a long time. "He'll be back and I'll be right here when he is."

"Sabine." The Twi'lek's voice was tender but the Mandalorian response was just as frenzied.

"You aren't my mother Hera! You picked me up off the streets just like Ezra! I don't need you to kiss my feelings better! I didn't then and I don't now!" The Twi'lek took a step back, her hand flying to her heart obviously hurt by the Mandalorians words. "Just leave me alone." Sabine turned and e marched away, her face contorted as she fought away tears. Hera stood rigid and frozen to the spot.

The intruder moved as if to comfort the Twi'lek, then froze as if unsure of what he was doing. Angrily he returned to the cover of his crate shaking his head as he scolded himself.

After a long, agonisingly slow moment Hera turned and walked away in the opposite direction Sabine had, her head bowed and her eyes sad. The Intruder waited for the sound of the Twi'lek's footfalls to fade before darting to the ramp and scurrying into the ship.

He found the Jedi's cabin and managed to open the doors without incident. He could feel the Holocron, it wasn't calling to him. He could sense something coming off it though; disgust? Shrugging off the feeling he knelt and found the switch on the underside of the bed, the draw slid open. Cautiously, the thief reached into the draw and removed the Holocron its hiding place.

"Well, I think you've seen quiet enough now, don't you? A gruff voice said behind him, there was recognisable click. "Put you arms up, nice and slow now." Obediently the thief obliged, Holocron still in hand he raised his arms into the air, as they reached head height the Holocron was yanked from his grip. "How'd you know what this is?"

A large hand roughly grabbed his shoulder and spun him around so he was starring into the face of a Lasat.

"Why'd you want this?" The Lasat held the Holocron in the would-be thief's face, who simply opened his palms and thrust his arms forward.

The Lasat was flung out of the cabin and smacked his head on the opposite door. The thief sprinted after him, scooping up the holocron as he went.

All pretences of stealth abandoned the thief barrelled down the Ghosts ramp and out into the base. Cries of surprise rose from shocked rebels as the stranger weaved through the, heading for an idle speeder bike that had been left out.

He'd almost made it when the Lasat tackled him from behind. They crashed to the ground in a mess of struggling limbs. Somehow, the thief managed to land on his back, gritting his teeth under his mask he pushed the flats of his feet into the lasats chest. Using the power in his coiled legs he heaved with all his might and managed to throw the alien off him.

The Lasat growled as he got to his feet, the thief swiftly following suit.

"Silent type ay?" In answer the thief unclipped a curved hilt from his belt. With a sinister hiss, a crimson plasma blade came to life.

"Zeb!" A crowd of armed rebels had surrounded them, the thief caught sight of the Twi'lek; Hera out of the corner of his eye.

"Stay back!" The Lasat unhooked his bo-rifle from his shoulder and shook it, unfolding it into its full configuration, each end lit up with crackling purple energy. There was a tense second where no one moved, then, the stranger, lightsabre firmly held in his left hand bowed respectfully, then took a combat stance, right foot planted firmly forward, left foot back, turned at a ninety-degree angle. Zeb, taken aback bowed in return.

Then the Lasat lunged forward, snarling with fury. The stranger reacted with impeccable timing, dodging backwards while he brought his lightsabre up to counter. The red plasma and the purple energy clashed with a sound akin to nails being dragged down a chalk board.

The Lasat was faster and stronger than him, far more adept with the weapon than his last opponent to use a bo-rifle.

Forced into a defensive form simply to avoid Zeb's bulk he leapt backwards, landing a good ten feet away from the Lasat.

"You can't run away from me!" Zeb surged forward bringing his staff around at the Thief's head. The Thief caught the staff neatly with his right hand, the fingers clenched around the energy emitter.

"What?" Zeb was aghast. The stranger straightened his arm into the air, raising the staff into the air and pulling the Lasat off balance. With a clean swipe of his blade the intruder sliced Zeb's bo-rifle in half and kicked him hard in the chest.

The Lasat landed hard on his back, the broken pieces of his bo-rifle clattering the dirt next to him. The intruder strode forwards, lightsabre rising to strike the death blow.

"No!" There was a cry from behind him, then there was the sound of several lightsabres activating. Slowly, the stranger turned.

Kanan Jarrus, Rahm Kota and Galen Marek stood together facing him, all with their lightsabres activated.

"Three Jedi?" For the first time the thief spoke, his voice filled with pleasant surprise. His red blade retracted, he returned the curved hilt to his belt, then reached behind his back. "Finally." He withdrew a new hilt; a knuckle guard encased his fist. "A fight that might be worthy of my time." A blood red blade came to life. Slightly longer than a standard design, the blade was swiftly joined by a second, smaller cross guard jutting over his arm a final blade sprung to life along the knuckle guard.

Kanans eyes narrowed, he'd heard that somewhere before. Galen on the other hand was sure he'd seen that lightsabre somewhere before. Kota, blind to the whole affair simply waited, his suspicions confirmed.

Galen was the first to make a move. The convert bend hid knees and pushed off, aided by telekinesis he practically soared at the Sith, his parents' blades bearing down on his opponent. The Sith darted away, taking the strange lightsabre in both hands he swung the blade to meet Galens.

As their blades locked the Sith lunged forward, forcing the Jedi to bend his arms into his chest, the blades of his lightsabres edging closer to his face. Grunting with effort as he pushed back against the Sith with all his might.

The Sith ground his lightsabre against Galens, pulling the hilt closer to his body and under Galens guard. With the speed of a Loth cat the Sith sunk the deadly knuckle guard of his hilt into Galens lower ribs.

The smaller blade burned into his skin, howling Galen leapt away, collapsing to the ground clutching his side. The Sith had no time to relish his victory and was forced to duck underneath Kota and Kanans lightsabres, his head nearly touching his heels his arms flung out to balance him.

Spinning upwards to face the Jedi the Sith immediately fell into combat, batting away the Jedi's combined assault, Kota dropped behind, allowing Kana to engage their enemy directly as he moved to outflank him.

"You've come a long way from being tossed around by Inquisitors Dume." At the sound of his real name Kanans eyes widened.

The momentary distraction was all the Sith needed, with his sabre in both hands he raised them to block Kanans off blow, he managed to strike it at just the right angle that the reverberating shock knocked his opponent off balance. As the Jedi stumbled backwards the Sith somersaulted into the air, landing behind the Jedi he dropped low and swept his legs into Kanans stumbling ankles.

Kanan dropped to the ground with a pained grunt, blinking with confusion. Galen had used that move! His thoughts were cut off as the Siths boot collided with his head knocking him out.

The Sith spun his lightsabre in a wide circle as he casually strolled away from the Jedi.

"Perhaps not." He shrugged. "Is it your turn now?" The Sith starred down the blind General, who raised his green lightsabre.

"You don't intimidate me Boy." Kota didn't charge, he had lost the ability to mount a rush assault. No, he had to wait for the boy to come him.

He had to bait him.

"What do you want with the holocron? It's useless to you." The Sith didn't answer, the blank lenses of his mask fixed on Kota.

"You think you can bait me, or stall me." The Sith shook his head. "Are you waiting for Galen Marek to recover from his flesh wound and come to your rescue?" Kota readjusted his weight, his teeth gritted in anticipation. "I see Starkiller took more than just your sight."

"I know who he was." The blind Jedis voice was matter-of-fact. "And I know who you are."

"You know who I was." The Sith snorted, then he paused. "Maybe you do. You never knew Him." He chuckled darkly. "Ah Rahm Kota, I look forward to killing you." The Siths left arm flew up, blue lightning shot from his fingertips.

Kota raised his lightsabre and blocked the lightning. The Sith faltered. Ironically the blind man was the first person he'd ever see block that attack. His thumb found the switch on his lightsabres hilt and deactivated the weapon, returning it to its holster.

Oh no. This simply would not do. He raised his right arm and flexed his gloved fingertips. Purple lightning tore through the air towards Kota. The General was struck on his left side and with a pained cry he dropped his lightsabre. The blue lightning joined the purple, lapping over the Jedis body in a twisted light display, accompanied by Kotas agonised screams, until they died into a muted gurgle.

The Sith stopped, Kota lay still.

"Anyone else?" The Rebels backed away, blasters held slack at their side. "I didn't think so." The Sith turned back to the speeder. He turned back around.

"I knew that wasn't enough to put you down." Galen Marek was on his feet, he wasn't unharmed. The Jedi was hunched on his left side, his body naturally trying to protect the wound on his ribs.

The Jedi. The Sith would have spat with disgust.

"Look at you. Look at what you've become." Galen shook his head fiercely, screwing his eyes shut he focused on blocking the pain blossoming from his left side. Slowly, the pain receded and he was able straighten up. Finally, he could focus on the Siths words. What he had become?

"What are you talking about?" In reply the Sith thrust his arm out. Galen braced himself as the telekinetic force picked him up off his feet and flung him into the air. Ten, twenty, thirty feet, the Jedi landed on his feet. Skidding backwards on his heels he bent his knees forward and thrust his gloved left arm to the ground. As he ground to a halt his mothers yellow lightsabre came to life in his right hand.

The Sith followed closely behind him, his own lightsabre coming to life once again in his left hand. Galen lunged forward, swinging at his opponents open left side. The Sith raised his right arm and blocked the blade with his forearm.

The Jedis eyes went wide with surprise.

"Good isn't it?" The Sith laughed. "Cost me a chunk of flesh, took some getting used to." He ground his arm against the yellow plasma blade and caught it in his hand. The material of his glove disintegrating as the mechanical fingers gripped the lightsabre. "But it has its perks." The Sith yanked the blade forwards, pulling Galen towards him and into his raised boot.

The Siths foot collided with the wound on his side, Galen howled in agony and toppled to the ground his lightsabre dropping to his side.

"One little wound and it's all too easy." The Sith scoffed, suddenly he stamped his foot onto Galens wound eliciting a howl from the downed Jedi. "Oh Starkiller, you disappoint me." Galen starred up in horror.

"Ezra?" The Sith pulled his arm back and swung it forward with all his strength! Striking Galen on the side of the head, knocking him out. Turning away the Sith patted his belt, nodding with satisfaction as he felt the Jedi Holocron, still in its place. He'd taken the fight away from prying ears. But he'd put too much distance between himself and the speeder bike, he had to find a new way out of the base.

"Fan out! Find him!" The Siths head whipped around, the rebels had found their nerve and were looking for him. He needed to be quick, to his left was the rebel supply depo, he ran towards it, slipping out of sight as the first rebels arrived.

##

On her perch high above the base, Tandi lowered her rifle, her eyes wide. Then driven by something beyond her understanding or control, she frantically scrambled for the ladder.

##

Juno Eclipse sprinted to Galen, dropping to her knees and sliding through the dirt towards her unconscious friend.

"Galen!" The Pilot frantically inspected his wounds. "It's not serious, he must have caught him off guard." Hera Syndulla, blaster drawn joined the younger woman, her experienced eyes assessing the Jedis condition.

"He'll be alright, but that begs the question."

"Where's the bastard who did this to him?" Juno growled. There was the sound of a speeder coming to life and a light came on in the supply depo. The Sith took off into the night, quickly vanishing into the desert.

"Damn it!" Hera snapped. "We'll lose him before we can get fighters in the air!"

"We don't need fighters." Juno was looking up, Hera glanced up just in time to see a Mandalorian warrior fly overhead.

##

The wind whipped around him as he tore through the night, fists clenching the throttle the Sith pushed the stolen bike for all its worth. He'd managed to put a decent distance between himself and the Rebel base, his ship wasn't far off. Skilfully he navigated the maze of rocks and mountains until he came to a natural clearing, a sleek ship awaited him, emblazoned with the insignia of Deathwatch. He brought the bike to a screeching halt and leapt to his feet. Grinning, he casually began to stroll to his ship. He had time before the Rebels found him.

The thought had barely crossed his mind when the Mandalorian literally fell out of the sky and landed gracefully before him. She was wearing a jetpack. 'That's new.'

"Not so fast pal" Her voice, the Sith paused for a moment, then shook his head fiercely. "What?" Her tone was condescending. 'That's not how it used to sound.' "Lose your nerve? Did you really think we'd just let you go?"

In response the Sith raised his hand and pulled her blasters out of her holster. The weapons flew through the air, spinning rapidly. They were met by a blood red plasma blade, neatly slicing them in half.

"Well, there goes your plan." The Sith shrugged smugly. The Mandalorian seethed with rage at the loss of her pistols, but she kept her composure.

Slowly she reached for her belt.

"They were never the plan." With a flash a blue lightsabre came to life and the Mandalorian was lit up in the blinding light of the deadly plasma blade. The Sith tilted his head to the side with pleasant surprise.

Then he assumed a combat stance, blade held ready. There was a long moment of tense silence, Sabine took her blade in both hands and readjusted her weight. They both leapt at each other at the same instant. Sabines jetpack carrying her into the air while the Sith boosted himself into the air with a telekinetic push, their blades met in the middle as the two clashed together.

The two dropped to the found, their vicious exchange continuing all the while.

"You're good." The Sith grinned. "How's your footwork?" He stepped forwards, pushing her backwards. Her feet moved nimbly, delicately stepping over each other away from her foe. "Pretty good." The Sith was pleased. "Let's step it up a notch!" The Sith darted forwards, forcing Sabine to leap backwards, activating her jetpack she soared into the air. Her lightsabre hissed away and she brought her hand up firing four blue stun bolts at the Sith. "Truly exceptional." He grinned as he batted away the bolts with his lightsabre. He managed to look up in time to see Sabines boot flying towards him.

Time almost seemed to slow down as he thrust his arm out, pushing out with the Force, flinging her away. But it was already too late.

As she was flung backwards Sabine swung her lightsabre upwards with all her might. The tip of the blade caught the underside of the Siths chin. The blade travelled up the left side of the Siths face, carving through the intricate mask up, shattering the lensed eye, barely missing the real one underneath and skimming up his forehead. One clean, straight line.

The Sith didn't make a sound as he fell, other than a grunt of surprise as he thudded to the ground. Dazedly, his hand drifted to his face, the mechanical fingers tracing the gash on his mask. Then the rage came. Sabine was getting to her feet when she felt a hand close around her neck. Frantically she looked around, the Sith was still lying on his back about ten feet away, his left hand was clenched into a fist. She was yanked roughly into the air as the Sith sat up, his arm raised.

"You're gonna regret that." Her eyes widened under helmet as she heard the venom in his voice. Trembling with fury the Sith rose to his feet, he yanked his fist to his chest and the Mandalorian was pulled towards him, desperately clutching her neck as her legs jerked weakly wheezing as she desperately struggled to breath through her closed throat. Black spots appeared before her eyes and she felt herself begin to slip into unconsciousness.

A green blaster bolt flew through the air, striking the Mandalorians helmet at just the right angle it flew off, revealing her face. The Sith froze. He unclenched his fist and fell to his side as he starred at Sabine. As he let go he rushed to catch her, only to have a second bolt strike him in the chest.

The impact sent him flying backwards, landing roughly on his back on the open entrance ramp to his ship. There was silence. Both the combatants lay beaten. The wind whistled tunelessly through the towering rocks, then the sound of a speeder cut through the breeze.

Tandi brought the bike to a screeching holt and leapt off it. The sniper had made the shot from a distance, she'd arrived just as the Mandalorian had managed to strike the Siths face, pulling her bike to stop she'd struggled to find a clean shot on the Sith, Sabine had been between them and she hadn't had the benefit of altitude.

She'd made a gut decision, based on a gnawing thought in the back of her mind and glanced Sabines helmet off. She'd been right and the Mandalorian was released. She'd still taken the shot. He deserved it and his armour could probably take it.

The red head knelt next to Sabine and gently placed two fingers on her neck, there was a pulse. Her eyes fell on the Sith. She knew what was under that ruined mask. Silently she crept towards him, he was sprawled out on the ramp of his ship, the mask had come askew and she tentatively reached for it.

"Tandi." Startled she pulled her hand back, the Sith reached for his mask, the metal of his fingers scrapping harshly against his mask.

Tandi grimaced as the mask came away.

"Ezra." A deep gash ran from top of his forehead down to his jaw. He'd have one hell of a scar. His hair had grown about four inches and the eyes that starred back at her were an eerie gold. If Sabine was awake; Tandi doubted that she'd recognise him.

She had no idea how she'd known it was Ezra under that mask. His call had been too recent to be a coincidence and he'd been so secretive, insisting she keep it a secret. Now she knew why.

"Why?" Her voice shook with betrayal. "Why did you do this?"

"I need the Holocron" Ezra replied weakly, she barely recognised his voice. "It can give me the answers I need, the future I've seen depends on it." Ezra winced. "Tandi you need to let me go." The Snipers mind spun with confusion, she desperately wanted to believe Ezras stories. But she was a cynic at heart and it all seemed too perfect. Then she looked back at the downed Sith, and saw Ezra looking back at he. "Please." It defied all logic, it went against the Rebellion. But she trusted Ezra Bridger.

She nodded.

"Thank you" Ezra sighed with relief. "This is gonna hurt, sorry in advance."

"What's gonna hurt?" She'd barely said the words when Ezra thrust his arm out and she was flying through the air. She crashed to the ground a ringing in her ears and her head spinning. A she dazedly starred about she was vaguely aware of speeders coming to a screeching halt before her. Then Heras face filled her vison and the world started coming back into focus.

"Tandi? Are you alright? What happened?" Heras voice drowned out the ringing in her ears and she managed to string a sentence together.

"Shot him, thought he was down." She rubbed her head and looked up. Ezras ship was already fading into the sky. "He wasn't"

"Damn it" Hera muttered.

##

As the ship flew through hyperspace; the Sith sat in the medical bay, a droid working on his most recent and most prominent scar. The Jedi holocron was in his hands and he spun it in his hands absentmindedly. His gaze wandered to the Sith holocron that sat on a table across the room, he'd have his answers soon.

The droid beeped and retracted its arm, a second limb raising a mirror. He starred fixedly at his reflection. He looked like a different person, someone he'd seen before.

The Sith holocron lit up as the voice of Darth Traya said warmly.

"It's a pleasure to see you, finally; Remnous."

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

Maul stood at the entrance to the Night Sister stronghold, his arms clasped behind his back a smile playing across his face as he watched the Death Watch ship touch down. 'Ezra' had rejected his offer to accompany him.

"Like I'd trust you with the Rebel Bases location." The young man had scoffed. That had surprised Maul, 'Ezra' was still very much a mystery to the old Zabrak. Even after months of training with the young Sith his motivations beyond the desire to grow stronger were lost on him, night and day he had studied with the holocron restlessly, always keen to gain more knowledge. Yet he still cared enough about the Rebellion to protect the location of its base.

"Very perplexing" Maul muttered to himself as he watched the ships ramp lower. The young man quickly made his way down it, his robe billowing around his feet. Mauls eyes went wide at the sight of his face.

"Ezra, what happened?" A livid scar ran down the left side of his face, over his eye and down his cheek to his jaw.

"One of them got close and lucky." Ezra snapped irritably as he stormed past Maul and towards the fortress.

"Did you get the holocron?" Maul hurried to follow the younger man, who withdrew the small cube from a pocket of his robe and casually tossed it over his shoulder.

"Do you really think I'd be here if I didn't?" Ezra rubbed the black line that ran up the left side of his neck, snaking up from under his collar. Even months later, the venom still burned.

"Excellent" Maul grinned as he caught the holocron. "You're sure you can open it?"

"I said I've got it!" Ezras voice echoed through the empty fortress, reverberating back at them, the annoyance clear. "You ready to do this?" The Sith Apprentice pulled the Sith holocron from another pocket of his robe. "I need some answers."

##

"Sabine?" A spot of bright light moved back and forth across her field of vision. 'No' the Mandalorian thought to herself desperately. 'Not yet'. The galaxy allowed her the smallest grace and she blissfully slipped back into unconsciousness, her mind filled with the memory of the last time she'd seen Ezra.

Sato had thought it was best she got off the base for a while.

"The mission will give you a much needed, distraction." The commander said firmly. "It's nothing too difficult, all you need to do is take some data on Imperial supply lines to an ally cell. Their agent will meet you on Oricon."

She'd taken the mission, if anything just to get off the dust ball planet they called a base and get away from Heras constant inquiries about how she was doing.

She'd taken an A-Wing, due to the design it lacked an astromech unit. She wanted to be alone. Oricon was a small volcanic moon in the outer rim, supposedly an ancient dark side order had used the planet as a base. She'd been disappointed to see all that was left on Oricons' surface was lava, ash and the twisted wrecks of crashed spacecraft, she'd hoped to get a look at a temple, the artwork would have been fascinating to study.

The rebel agent was waiting by the wreck of a particularly large transport, its hull had been seared black by the years of exposure and warped by the planets heat. After a quick exchange the agent had taken the data and flown away in an X-Wing.

Those things were fast, she vaguely wondered when Phoenix Squadron would be sent some. Reluctant to return to Atollon she'd pulled out her pad and set of pencils and started to sketch the wreck of the transport and the landscape around it.

Completely engrossed in her drawing she hadn't heard him approach.

"Sabine?" Her eyes wide with surprise she'd dropped her pencil and turned to see Ezra. He was wearing the same black armour Starkiller had given him, his hair had grown about three inches and his eyes almost had a greenish quality. But she didn't care.

"Ezra!" With a cry of joy, she leapt off the front of the A-Wings wedged shaped body and ran towards him. He charged to meet her and in seconds they met in a tangle of limbs as they hugged each other.

"What are you doing here?" Ezra laughed as they broke apart.

"Sato sent me to deliver info on the Imperial fleet to another cell." Now he was closer she could get a better look at him, he grown even more in the last three months, he was taller than her now and he had to bend slightly as he kissed her.

"Sometimes the odds are kind." He'd smiled as they broke apart.

"Why are you here?" She took his hand and the two walked back to the A-Wing.

"I'd heard an ancient dark side order used this place as a base once, I came to see if any of their culture had survived." Ezra had shaken his had bitterly as they sat down on the front of the A-Wing. "There's nothing left. Even the ruins have been wiped out." Sabine wrapped her arm around his shoulder, she could hear the disappointment in his voice.

She wanted to comfort him, but a foreboding sense of suspicion had set her on edge. Why was he looking for knowledge on the Dark Side? And Why was he so disappointed when he didn't find it? He noticed her silence and turned to look at her, giving her a chance to have a proper look at his eyes. They had indeed turned green, she frowned, 'yellow eyes are an immediate sign of dark side corruption' she heard Kanans words from all those months ago, a shiver ran up her spine.

"Sabine? What's wrong?

"Where have you been Ezra?" she raised an eyebrow "What have you been doing? Why are you so keen to learn more about the Dark Side? It's evil! It hurt you, broke you!" The Mandalorian seized Ezra by the shoulder "It's still tearing you apart now! So why are you doing this to yourself again?" Ezra shook his head slowly.

"Sabine." He stopped, then sighed. "The Dark Side isn't inherently evil. The Sith are evil, the Sith have done abhorrent things. But the Dark Side is nothing more than another perspective, the Sith way is one of many paths to walk down it" Sabines frowned deepened as her head spun.

"I don't know Ezra, Vader, the Inquisitors, Starkiller. They're all cold, cruel people." Ezras eyes went wide and he edged away from her.

"Sabine? Are you afraid of me?" She didn't answer, she simply sat silently as she let her thoughts sort themselves. Was she afraid of him? What he was doing terrified her, his new attitude had excited her at first, maybe Hera had been right. "I will never hurt you." Ezra said firmly. The Apprentice shook his head. "I'm sorry." His tone had softened. "I don't want you to be afraid." Ezra stood, his eyes lingering on her face, he turned to walk away.

Guilt churned to life within her, bubbling up from nowhere as she sat watching him leave.

"Ezra, wait." The Mandalorian slipped off the A-Wing and hurried after him. Ezra turned, surprise in his eyes. "Stay." She smiled as she reached him. How could he ever hurt her? He loved her. "I don't have to be back for a few hours." She smirked as she wrapped her arms around his waist.

"I don't have anywhere to be." Ezra smiled as he leaned forward to kiss her.

##

The Mandalorian gasped desperately for breath, he could feel her windpipe in his hand, he could feel her desperate fear, fear of death.

It was intoxicating.

"Ezra?" He opened his eyes, he was in the Night Sisters fortress, Maul was sat cross legged across from him. The Zabrak was starring at him, his face a picture of confused concern, not for him of course. "Are you sure you can do this?"

"Of course!" He snapped as he clenched his eyes shut again. "I just need to focus. In silence!" He was trying to restore the Sith Mask to fool the Jedi Holocron. Before he'd used memories of Sabine, but now all he could see when he thought of her was what he'd done the night before on Atollon. His left eye began to twitch as he pushed away the thoughts that began to seep into the edges of his mind as he desperately searched for a link to the light.

His parents. His mother.

"Ezra?" It was her voice, it brought the warm glow of home with it, the bliss of the simple innocence of childhood.

He opened his eyes. They were a deep green.

"Alright" He said breathlessly, let's do this." He raised his synthetic hand and focused his will on the Jedi Holocron. The cube rose into the air as the Sith Holocron rose to parallel it. Both ancient devices unfolded themselves. For a moment they hung in the air. Gently spinning, they caught the dull light before the pieces came together and the two were bathed in a blinding purple light.

"It is time young one." Trayas voice echoed around him. Ezras eyes widened with alarm and he squinted through the light. The Zabrak was completely caught up in the light, he didn't seem to hear Trayas voice. "He is oblivious, ask your question young one."

"What must I do to truly become Remnous?" He let his gaze fix on the shining light as he waited for the answer.

"That is simple young one." Trayas voice was grave. "Remnous cannot love what Ezra Bridger died for. As long as you bear an attachment to Bridgers loved ones Remnous will never rise". The light swelled, and he found himself in an Imperial prison cell.

Sabine was strapped into an Imperial torture device. She had dyed her hair bright orange with green highlights and a midnight blue fringe.

"You will give me the plans, you know I have no qualms about killing my loved ones." The Mandalorian glowered at him.

"I never loved you! I loved Ezra Bridger, you're a monster with his face!" The cell faded away and he was floating in an endless black void.

"You were like a son to me Ezra!"

"Hera?" His head whipped from side to side as he searched for the source of the voice.

"You gave me hope, you helped me become a better Jedi, a better man! Now look at you, no better than the Imperials who took your parents."

"Kanan…?"

"You're a damn traitor kid, and I can never forgive what you've done."

"Zeb." His head bowed, his eyes shadowed.

"You did this to me, I will always hate you! Right up until you let me die, or I kill you." The voice was familiar, yet fragmented, laced with a cybernetic edge, twisting the once reassuring voice into a disturbing ghost of itself.

"Ashoka?"

"Do you see now young one?" Trayas voice whispered softly as the glaring purple light faded back into his sight.

"Yes." The young Sith whispered darkly. "I understand." The light disappeared instantly as the holocrons drifted apart and folded back together, gently Ezra and Maul lowered their respective relics to the ground.

"He lives…" Mauls voice was dazed. "He lives!" A laugh crept its way into the daze and the Zabrak grinned, seemingly with relief. Then a sneer crept across the old force wielders face. "He, lives." He growled. "He's on Tatooine, alive and hiding in the dust, like the rat he is!"

"Who?" Ezras voice was empty and disinterested.

"Obi-Wan Kenobi" The Sith looked up, his golden eyes gleaming.

"Now, that is interesting."

##

"So, you've come again Starkiller." The Bendu leaned forward with interest. "What brings you here?"

"You were right." Galen rubbed his ribs and winced. The Rebel medics had used bacta gel to treat his wound and he was on the mend. But his mind craved answers no one in the base could give him.

"Ah, so it was your apprentice I felt." Bendu shook his head. "Then it is worse than I feared."

"What happened to him?" Galen winced as a ripple of pain ran through his side, it was made all the worse by waves of guilt that accompanied it. "He was conflicted when he went missing, but he was nothing like that." The Jedis voice drifted away.

"Much can happen in a short time Starkiller. Think of his initial training, his transformation was rapid and his rise in strength was even more so." The old being examined Starkiller again. "Much like yourself."

"What do you mean?" Galen looked down at himself.

"You are not the same being who first came to me. You have changed. Your bloodlust has been quelled. Why is that?" The Jedi closed his eyes and took a deep breath. His mind flitted through the memories of the trials he had taken in the Jedi Temple, of the Sith warrior he had fought to a standstill. Only to find his own face beneath the mask of his adversary. He thought of Ezra, of what he'd done to him, he saw the hopeful young man he had been, the symbol of rebellion for so many, then he saw the monster he had made him. The cold warrior he'd faced the night before was a complete stranger, even to him.

"I can't take the hatred or the cold anymore. I'll take no more lives in the name of the Dark Side or needless conquest."

"Indeed?" Bendu leaned forward curiously "What will you do instead? What cause will you fight for?"

"I'm going to stay with the Rebellion, I'm going to help them destroy the Empire once and for all."

"For vengeance?"

"No." Galen starred determinedly up at the Bendu. "For justice." Bendu smiled and sat back.

"You are a fascinating creature, Galen Marek."

##

The blistering heat of Tatooines twin suns roasted the desert sands into a flameless furnace. The breezeless air was heavy with humidity, heat shimmering into the cloudless sky.

"Why would a Jedi Master be hiding in a nowhere place like this?" Ezra grumbled as he pulled his helmet off and wiped the sweat off his brow with the back of his hand. He knew the answer of course, not only was Tatooine a barren nowhere with nothing much to exploit, but it was Anakin Skywalkers home. Vader would never come here. It was the perfect place all things considered, well it would have been if it weren't so damn hot!

The Sith fidgeted in his coat. He'd left his speeder bike for a refuel at a run-down power station which the locals called Tosche Station and was making his way into a small town called Anchorhead on foot. He and Maul had split up, each searching on their own to cover more ground, Hours of searching had yielded no results. He'd had a lot of time to think over the visions he'd seen in the holocrons. Of course, it made sense, Remnous couldn't be bound by what had anchored Ezra Bridger in the light and kept him from slipping down the Dark Path.

The more he thought about it the more he came to realise it was the fear of the reaction to his transformation that had stopped him from fully embracing his power, the suffocating light that hung about Bridgers loved ones that had caused him so much pain. A constant reminder of what he'd lost, it was just like Vader had said. 'For one that is not Ezra Bridger you fit into his life remarkably well.'

The Sith shook his head, the galaxy truly was a terrifying place when Vader made sense. He'd made it to the town at this point and the heat was sweltering. He ducked into a shady alley to catch his breath.

"Maul?" He tapped his com link.

"Yes Ezra?" The Zabraks voice had an unhinged edge to it. Ever since they had gazed into the holocrons Maul had grown incredibly erratic, mumbling to himself quietly the entire journey, his eyes had taken on a glazed quality and he was constantly distracted. Ezra vaguely wondered if the Zabrak had finally cracked.

"Civilisation is pretty rare on this dust bowl, I've checked the larger ports in the area and I haven't sensed anything."

"I do not believe will find him in a town" Mauls voice was distant. "Kenobi is smarter than that, yes he is cunning, he will likely be hiding in the wastes." Ezra rolled his eyes at the thought of the endless desert and just how long it would take to search.

"I'll ask about then. An old man, living alone in the wilderness on a planet like this? Someone will have heard something, it's better than searching blindly."

"Good, good yes. You do that…" Mauls voice faded away and the line went dead.

"Crazy old man" Ezra grumbled to himself before he started to put his helmet back on. He'd changed back into the armour Galen had given him, it was much snugger now. He still wore the coat he'd worn when fighting the Grand Inquisitor. It was frayed, burned and torn from the explosion, the right sleeve was gone at the elbow. He knew it was a mess, but he liked it, it told a story. Kinda like his scar, both of them.

"I was right" Startled by the voice the Sith leapt to the other side of the alleyway, his hand darting to his lightsabre. Ezra Bridger was leaning against the alley wall, he was dressed in loose Jedi robes and a dull blue glow hung about him.

"What are you doing here?" The dark apostle hissed venomously. "How can you be here? This is the real world!" Ezra scoffed.

"You Sith, so startlingly blind to anything just beyond what you can see. I told you the last time we met, I'll live forever in the Force." The Sith stared blankly at his former self, then he laughed, a loud, genuine laugh of relief.

"So, you are dead." He grinned, "I am truly free of you, you're nothing but a ghost."

"A ghost that knew what you'd become, knew what you'd do. You hurt Sabine, you nearly killed her." The grinned slipped from the Siths face. "Just like Maris."

"Why are you here Bridger? Come to warn me again? I thought we'd both agreed it was far too late, and that was a long time ago." The Jedi shook his head.

"No, I've moved past altruism for you at this point. I just came to get one last look at you." Ezra tutted disapprovingly. "So much wasted potential." The Ghost faded away, its eyes fixed on the Sith until the moment they were gone.

##

Zeb sat in the Ghosts common area, the broken pieces of his bo-rifle were on the Dejarik table, the weapon was beyond repair and its loss cut deep. The rifle had been his last link to his old home on Lasan, it was the tool that had guided them to Lira San.

"Can't salvage it?" Juno Eclipse was stood in the doorway, Zeb didn't look round.

"Yeah" The Lasat said glumly. Juno made her way into the common area.

"I'm sorry, I know it won't help with the sentimental loss, but I thought you might like this." Zeb turned to see that Juno was holding a bo-rifle.

"Where'd you get this?" The Lasat reached out and hesitantly took the rifle. It was familiar, jet black and modified for close quarter combat. "This belongs to Kallus." Zeb looked up at Juno suspiciously. "How'd you get this?"

"Ezra took it."

"He shouldn't have done that, it belongs to Kallus. It should only be taken on his death!" Juno stared at Zeb in shock.

"Don't you know?"

"Know what?"

"Kallus is dead."

"What?" Zeb blinked, then leaned back in his chair as he ran a hand over his face. "How?"

"Ezra killed him."

##.

He was making his way out of the alley when he collided with a Rodian.

"Watch it kid" The alien sneered, barely glancing at him, then he stopped. "I know you" The Rodian turned back to Ezra. "You're Ezra Bridger"

"I think you've got me confused with some else pal" Ezra muttered as he hurriedly turned to leave.

"Oh, I don't think so." The Rodian grabbed his arm "You're Ezra Bridger, Jabba pays a lot of money for Rebels."

"A bounty hunter?" Ezra rolled his eyes as he yanked his arm away, "trust me, no amount of credits is worth a fight with me. Especially alone."

"Who said I was alone?" The Rodian chuckled, then he raised his voice and called to a group of about twenty other bounty hunters across the street. "Hey! Boys! We got a Rebel for Jabba!" Ezra thrust his arm out and sent the Rodian flying away from him, but the damage was done. The bounty hunters had heard the Rodians call and where swarming towards him.

"Damn it, this complicates things!" Ezra muttered as he reached for his lightsabre. As his fingers wrapped around the hilt a red X-34 landspeeder pulled up next to him out of a side street.

"Get in!" A young man with blond hair was sat at the controls. Ezra stared, he'd seen him before, somewhere. "Get in!" Without another thought, Ezra leapt into the passenger.

"Go!" The young stranger didn't need to be told twice and the speeder sped away from Anchorhead. "Who are you?" Ezra asked as he looked over his shoulder to watch his pursers, they were pilling into speeders of their own.

"My name's Luke. I know who you are, you're Ezra Bridger!"

"Are you with the Rebellion?" Ezra turned to get a better look at Luke, they were about the same age, he'd have to wait until he saw him standing before he could make a guess of his height. At first glance he didn't look impressive, but there was something else, something bubbling just beneath the surface, something powerful.

"I wish." Luke snorted, "I will be, the moment my uncle lets me off this dust bowl." Luke glanced over his shoulder. "Uh oh."

"They following us?" Ezra twisted his body to look behind him and saw a banged-up XP-38 speeder bearing down on them. "I'll handle this." Ezra stood up on his seat and climbed onto the back of the speeder, pulling one of the Grand Inquisitors lightsabres from his belt. The two bounty hunters sat on the back of the XP-38 called out in surprise and drew blasters, while the two in the seats stared in bemusement.

"How are you going to do that?" Luke called ducking to avoid a blaster bolt.

"Just keep this thing steady and at this speed!" The Apprentice leapt into the air, for a few seconds he hung in the air, then he arced downwards towards the bounty hunters speeder, crimson lightsabre coming to life as he landed heavily on their pursuers hood.

"Hey!" The Bounty Hunter in the passenger seat jumped to his feet, fumbling for his blaster. Ezra lunged forwards, stepping onto the speeders windscreen and then the drivers head and onto the back of the speeder, barging one of the bounty hunters off as he went.

"What?" The remaining bounty hunter on the back of the speeders spun to face him, blaster flying up. Ezra dropped smoothly to his knees and swept his lightsabre to the right. In one clean motion he slashed the bounty hunters' knees and through the speeders top engine, taking it clean off. The bounty hunter toppled off the speeder and the engine slid off the back, accompanied by the sound of screeching metal. Before the driver had a chance to react, Ezra deactivated his lightsabre placed his hand on the speeders chassis and sent a telekinetic push through the metal.

The nose of the speeder was forced against the ground and it tumbled over, leaving Ezra just enough time to leap back into the air. Time seemed to slow down as he flew through the air and a pillar of fore rose up to join him. Ezra closed his eyes, savouring the moment. This was the only place he could find peace, in the heat of battle and in sight of deaths door.

The moment ended and he was flying forwards again. He overshot and landed on the hood of Luke's speeder, his metal hand flying out to grab a hold of the windshield for support.

"That was amazing..." Ezra looked up to see Luke staring at him with wide eyes.

"Thanks" He muttered as he climbed back into his seat, grunting with effort as he did so.

"How did you do that?" Lukes voice was filled with awe.

"Training" Ezra said shortly. "Years of it."

"What was that thing you used to slice up their engine?"

"It's called a lightsabre" Ezra rolled his eyes.

"What happened to your eyes? Weren't they blue?"

"Do you normally ask so many questions?" Luke blushed.

"Sorry. So, I guess you don't want to talk about that scar then?"

"No." Ezra glared icily at Luke. They rode in silence for a while, Luke, unsure where to go simply followed the path and waited for direction.

"What're you doing here? Are you on a mission for the Rebellion? Sorry, it's probably classified right?"

"I'm here looking for a great warrior." Ezra rubbed his temples. "A Jedi master named Obi-Wan Kenobi."

"Kenobi?" Ezra looked around his eyes wide.

"You know him?"

"Well, I don't know an Obi-Wan, but there is Old Ben Kenobi, this hermit who lives alone out on the Western Dune Sea." Ezras mind spun, could this Ben Kenobi be the Clone Wars General? Why would he keep the obvious last name? Still, it was better than wandering the desert.

"Can you take me to him?"

"Of course!" Luke grinned and jerked the wheel, taking the speeder off the path and into the desert.

##

Maul wandered the desert aimlessly, searching with his mind rather than his mind.

"Lost." He muttered dazedly to himself. "I am lost" he stumbled forwards into the flat landscape. "Yet I can feel his presence, so close, so close!" The Zabraks voice cracked "I can see him! In my minds eye." Maul looked up suddenly, his face shadowed by his hood "Kenobi?" He called out cautiously. When there was no answer he snarled with frustration. "Kenobi!" The Zabrak dropped to his knees, howling his enemies name at the sky. "Will it end here? Like this?"

A sharp beeping brought him out of his melancholy stupor. The Zabrak fumbled with his belt and found his communicator. Ezra had activated his beacon, it could only mean one thing.

"No" Maul grinned as he got to his feet. "It will not."

##

Luke pulled the speeder to a halt outside an isolated hut, far into the desert.

"Here it is, this is where Ben lives." The two climbed out of the speeder and walked towards the hut together.

"Thank you, Luke." Ezra bowed his head respectfully "you've been a great help." He meant it, but a question still weighed on his mind. "How did you know I needed help? There was no way you could see me." Luke frowned.

"I don't know" he said thoughtfully. "I was picking up some power converters, everything was normal and then, I don't know, I got this weird feeling, like something was really wrong." Luke shuddered, "I've still kind of got it actually." Ezra frowned.

"What did you say your full name was again?"

Luke Sk-"

"Luke!" Both their heads whipped around to see an old man stood in the doorway of the hut.

"Ben?"

"Get away from him Luke!" Kenobi stormed towards them, his hand pushing away his cloak and coming to a rest on an aged lightsabre hilt on his belt. Luke backed away slowly his eyes fixed on Ezra, a new look in them. "Go home. We'll talk about this later."

Luke looked back and forth between them, stunned for a moment. Then he scrambled into his speeder.

"So" Ezra grinned as he crossed his arms over his chest, "now I know why you're on this bust bowl."

"Why are you here?" Obi-Wan glared at Ezra.

"Oh, don't worry" Ezra shrugged "I'm not after the boy." Kenobi raised his eyebrow sceptically.

"Then what were you doing with him?"

"He saved me from some bounty hunters." Ezra tilted his head to the side thoughtfully, "he's quite skilled, brave and very strong with the Force. Our meeting was a coincidence, not that I believe in coincidence."

"Neither do I." Obi-Wan took his hand off his lightsabre and let his cloak fall back across his body, concealing the weapon once again. "Why are you here?"

"I think you know."

"Ah." Kenobi nodded sagely "Maul."

"So, nothing to worry about" Ezra snorted, "he'll be no match for you, even in this state."

"I had hoped to avoid a fight. But I suppose that's unavoidable now. You'll have led him to me."

"Guilty." Ezra shrugged sarcastically.

"So, this is who you've chosen to become." Obi-Wan shook his head. "You're in the wrong place, you've been moved off your path and have been set on a much darker path than the one that was planned for you."

"Fate's funny that way." Ezra waved his hand dismissively. "The fate I abandoned was a small one. A worthy sacrifice for my new destiny."

"New Destiny?" Obi-Wan frowned deeply. Ezra chuckled darkly.

"You're out of the loop old man, I've seen the future, I know I am to rise to power as the Emperor, Darth Remnous." Kenobi was visibly shocked. "That's why you don't have to worry about the boy, I'll need a challenge."

"So, you wish to slay him to prove your power?" Obi-Wan glared.

"I never said the challenge was for me." Ezra grinned. "By the time I'm done, the Jedi will be wiped out and my apprentice will need a trial to prove herself."

"Your apprentice?" Obi-Wan was confused, then it dawned on him. "The girl." Ezra laughed loudly.

"You don't even know her name!" He grinned viciously. "Do you even see the boy as a person? Or is he just a weapon to destroy the Sith to you?" Ezra shook his head, still grinning. "Leia, her name is Leia. But when I'm done she'll have a new name. That's how we'll end this old man. My apprentice against yours, brother against sister, the children of Vader in one last duel to end the war of Sith against Jedi for good."

"I will not allow that to happen." Obi-Wans lightsabre came to life, bathing his weathered face in blue light.

"Don't kid yourself old man." Ezra snorted "We both know you can't beat me, better you live and train the boy." The Sith smirked. "He'll need it." Kenobi glared at him and was about to say something when the sound of a ship coming in to land before them cut him off. The ramp lowered and Maul strode down the ramp, a grin plastered across his face.

"Well done my young friend!" The Zabrak discarded the end of his cane and activated one of his red lightsabre blades. "Congratulations on finding him and you have my most sincere thanks for leaving him to me."

"He's all yours." Ezra grinned as he backed away towards the ship.

"Look at what you've become, a rat in the desert." Maul grinned smugly.

"Look at what I've risen above." Obi-Wan stared down the Zabrak unfazed. Maul scowled.

"I've come to kill you, but perhaps it's better to leave you here, festering in your squalor." The two began to circle each other, both wearily keeping their lightsabres raised.

"If you define yourself by your power to take life, your desire to possess, to dominate. Then you have nothing." The old Jedi countered coolly.

"And what do you have?" Maul snarled as he activated his second lightsabre blade. "Why come to this place? Not simply to hide, no, you have a purpose here, perhaps you are protecting something?" Obi-Wans lips tightened. "No, protecting, someone!" Obi Wan spun his lightsabre gently in his right hand before drawing it back to eye level, his left hand raised, two fingers pointing at the Zabrak, who took his double blade in both hands and readjusted his stance.

Obi-Wan took his own weapon in both hands and waited. There was a moment of tense silence, then Maul leapt. The Zabrak swung his right blade at the Jedi who countered it along with the accompanying strike from the left blade and as Maul crouched to thrust the hilt of his lightsabre into his opponents head the Jedi brought his lightsabre down in a clean slice, cutting Mauls lightsabre in half and carving a gash down his old enemies' torso.

Mauls eyes widened in surprise and he stared at Obi-Wan for a moment before his arms slumped and he dropped to his knees. Obi-Wan stooped to catch him and the old man helped the Zabrak to the ground.

"Tell me." Maul said weakly "Is it the Chosen One?"

"He is." Obi-Wan looked pointedly at Ezra.

"He, will, avenge, us?" Mauls voice trailed off and his eyes went wide, staring into nothingness. Slowly, Obi-Wan reached out and closed Mauls eyes for the last time. When he looked up, the ramp had already closed and the ships engines were coming to life as they prepared for take-off.

"I'll see you again, Remnous" The old Jedi said darkly as he watched the ship take off into the night sky.

##

As the ship flew through hyperspace, Ezra pulled the Sith Holocron from his pocket and examined it, it seemed undamaged.

"Traya?" After a pause the holocron unfolded itself and a dull red light filled the cabin.

"Are you ready to talk about what you saw in the holocrons young one?" The Siths voice was same as ever and Ezra sighed with relief.

"Yes." He took a breath. "It won't be hard for me, destroying the bonds to Bridgers life."

"And why is that?"

"I've hurt Sabine before."

"You've done more than that, you enjoyed hurting her, didn't you?" Ezra closed his eyes.

"Yes. Yes I did, it felt, good."

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

"You will need to hurt her again before this day is out." Traya remarked darkly. The Holocron folded back into a pyramid and the light shining from the Kyber Crystal faded away, leaving Ezra alone in the ships dull light.

"What does that mean?" Ezra shook the Holocron, "Traya?" The relic lay silent in his hands. "Great." The Sith muttered to himself as he stuffed the Holocron into his coat pocket. "What do I do now?" Absently, his mind flitted to Chopper Base and the Spectres, to Sabine…

Angrily the Sith snapped himself out of it. 'Forget her!' Ezra glared as he scolded himself, it wasn't meant to be. That was his old life, it wasn't even his, it was the memories of a dead man rattling around in his skull. It was time to start truly forging his own path, unburdened by the restraints of Ezra Bridger. But a small part of him still craved her, that ached to hold her in his arms again, to have him by his side as he changed the galaxy for the better. He knew she'd love the new order he'd build, a world where they could be together in peace, freed from the restrictions of the Jedi and the bitter war they'd help start. He sighed as he crossed his arms over his chest and sat back, then he frowned and sat forward.

Still frowning, he pulled a small pin shaped device out of the fabric of his right sleeve, a red light flashed at regular intervals.

##

Three Imperial-class Star Destroyers hovered in space, the three behemoths flanked a smaller Interdictor-class Star Destroyer, after the intel provided by the Hutts (for generous compensation) had been verified Darth Vader himself had ordered the four ships to intercept and capture Ezra Bridger and this time he wasn't taking any chances.

The operation was being led and overseen by the newest Sith Stalker to be added to the Empires ranks; Nyria. The tracker indicated he was traveling through hyperspace, it had been Nyrias idea to pull him out with a gravity well rather than pursue him.

"If we give him any space to think we won't stand a chance, we need to draw him into a situation we have total control over." The Stalker had insisted to her new Master. The cyborg had coldly considered his new servant.

"You have more experience with him than I, very well. Bring him to me."

##

The tracker cracked beneath his boot. The bounty hunter must have planted it on him when he grabbed his arm.

"Scumbag Rodian!" The Sith cursed to himself, he had no idea who had the receiver or how close they were. His mind raced, he should drop out of hyperspace and plot a different course, that would shake off any pursuers!

The Sith was hurrying to the controls when the ship lurched and he was flung to the ground. The void of hyperspace turned to a blinding purple light, Ezra gritted his teeth, he knew what was happening. The vessel tumbled out of hyperspace and spun through the darkness of space, Ezra stumbled to his feet and ran to the controls.

"Karabast!" The Sith hissed as he starred out at the four Imperial Star Destroyers that were bearing down on him. "Oh no you don't!" He flung himself into the pilots' seat and seized the controls. "Not today Vader, not in your dreams!"

##

Nyria watched from the bridge of her Star Destroyer, the Huntress, the same ship Vader had gifted to the late Grand Inquisitor. The Stalker was an inch taller than she used to be, her orange skin had turned sickly grey and her right arm had been replaced by a cybernetic prosthesis from the mid bicep downwards, her left armed had also been amputated and replaced just below the elbow; both of her hands had gleaming blades fitted to their index and middle fingers.

A black durasteel chest plate encircled her torso, supporting the respirator system that was fitted to her back, the device had an indentation for her head tail. Two tubes ran from the top of the respirator and up her back to her neck, where they were held in place by durasteel bindings that dug into her flesh. The tubes connected to a pair of gas valves that adorned the cheeks of her mask, which had been seared to the flesh of her face and montrols. The skin of her montrols had been burned and large chunks of it had been replaced with graphite skin grafts.

"Lock on to him with a tractor beam and pull him into a hanger, we wouldn't want to insult him."

"Yes ma'am." The Huntress' captain nodded at the tractor beam operator "he won't escape us this time!"

##

The controls died in his hands and the lights in the cabin faded. With a loud click the emergency lighting kicked in and the Siths face was bathed in red light. They had him in a tractor beam!

"Damn it!" Ezra slammed his fist into the console and glared into space, he could see the open hanger bay approaching. "Alright Vader, I'll play your game." He pulled his lightsabre from its holster on his back. "But I'm not going down without a fight." Ezra grimaced "maybe I'll get to take you with me!"

##

The tractor beam deposited the Mandalorian ship onto the floor of the hanger. Bridger hadn't lowered the landing legs or folded the ship into the landing configuration and the hull scraped loudly against the hanger floor as the ship thudded to the ground and slid towards the fifty assembled Stormtroopers, all of whom flinched, knowing all too well what awaited them.

Nyria looked on from above her clawed hands clenched into fists on the scaffolding railing. She would have her vengeance against the brat.

"Cut it open Inquisitor! He'll have no way out!" The Fifth Brother stood with his arms crossed next to her.

"Of course, my Lady." The Inquisitor sneered smugly, then vaulted over the railing and landed effortlessly on the captured ship. Lightsabre in hand the Imperial climbed onto the cockpit and began to cut a hole in the metal. A few troopers took a hesitant step back, a few fidgeted nervously and a couple were even trembling. Nyria rolled her eyes, they were no ARC Troopers, but there were a great many of them.

The Inquisitor brought his foot down onto the hull and with a high-pitched screech a perfect circle fell into the cockpit, grinning, the Fifth Brother jumped through the hole and into the ship.

"Idiot." Nyria scoffed, she'd been right about the Inquisitors, failures, the lot of them. Right on que the interior of the rebel ship was lit up with a series of blinding crimson flashes, swiftly followed by a surprised cry, then silence.

After a moment of tension there was another red flash and the Inquisitors helmet flew out of the cockpit. It thudded to the ground, bounced once, then came to a spinning halt and rolled over. The Fifth Brothers head was still inside it. The Stormtroopers backed away with an almost unified cry of terror, a few turned to run but quickly fell to the floor clutching their throats.

"I'm only going to say this once." Nyria scowled down at the pathetic excuse for soldiers below her. "Either die to him or die to me." The choking Stormtroopers necks made a sickening cracking sound as they broke. The Stormtroopers stared up at her, then, slowly, they turned back to towards the rebel ship and raised their blasters.

Nyria smirked, fear really was much more effective than loyalty. Bridger seemed to have noticed the troopers slip in moral as he came spinning out of the hole in the cockpit, his lightsabre springing into life. The confused Stormtroopers panicked and only a few managed to fire off a few wide shots at the Sith before he landed in the middle of their ranks and immediately leapt into the air once again, pulling his arms and legs into his body.

A mass of shimmering energy gathered around the young Sith, then he flung his arms and legs out with a scream of rage. The energy was thrown outwards in a deadly wave sending the entirety of the assembled small army flying into the air and sending equipment toppling over. By the time Bridger landed the entire hanger had been swept clean.

If Nyria still had knuckles they would have turned white as she clenched the railing. The boy was grinning! He had grown even more powerful, she could feel his arrogant confidence radiating off him along with a smug pride. It made her want to vomit!

She'd teach the brat a lesson.

##

As Ezra glanced around him to check if the hanger was clear he saw a flash in his upper peripheral vision. Instinct kicked in and he leapt backwards just in time to avoid a red lightsabre blade that slashed into the deck plate where he had been standing.

"Oh great." The Sith rolled his eyes "not another… oh." His voice trailed off as his eyes widened. He'd been expecting an Inquisitor, but the creature standing before him was much more and less than an Inquisitor. As much a machine as she was woman, he could feel her hatred, stronger than anything he'd ever felt before. Then he winced, a searing agony radiated off his opponent, his left eye began to twitched and he flinched as another wave of pain washed over him, whatever she was, it was a miracle she was standing. "What are you?" The Sith could feel her glare from behind the skull shaped mask.

"Don't you recognise me? Your old friend Nyria?" The cybernetic voice was filled with madness, barely recognisable, but Ezra knew it instantly.

"Ashoka."

"Ashoka Tano is dead!" The Togruta snarled as she activated a second, white, lightsabre, "and you're the one who killed her!" Ezra barely had time to duck as she lunged at him, her blades swinging exactly where his head had been seconds earlier.

"Careful old friend!" He taunted he as he leapt backwards and away from her, landing gracefully a good distance away. "You don't want to damage the goods!" The broken woman laughed hysterically as she stalked towards him.

"Why do I care? It's only more pain. On the day you left Ashoka to die, pain and I became the best of friends! That's what my name means now, pain, and I'll make sure you get your fair share!" The Stalker lunged forwards again and Ezra scrambled to parry. She was too fast!

In a whirlwind of light, the combatants backed across the hanger, the cyborg fighting with no care for her own safety and the Sith unable to mount a counter assault, defending himself with gritted teeth. It had been too long since he's fought a superior swordsman, he'd gotten lazy, arrogantly assuming he'd come far enough. This hatred, this drive he could feel seeping off Nyria was beyond anything he had experienced since he had glimpsed the total power of Dark Side when Starkiller had struck down Ezra Bridger all those months ago. He hated it, he hated her! This ghost from his past, taunting him with strength beyond her right to possess! The Sith snarled.

"I'm not even going to kill you!" His voice shook with fury as he locked his blade with both of hers. He couldn't find an angle to surprise her with his knuckle guard. "I'll leave you alive!" The Sith shoved against the Stalker with all his might and she barley moved. "Alive and in agony!" The Stalker raised her foot and slammed it into Ezras chest sending the young Sith sprawling to the ground, his lightsabre slipped from his grasp and skidded away across the hanger floor. The Dark Apostle propped himself up on his elbows, glaring at the Togruta. "You think you're in pain now? I'll force suffering on you like you could never imagine!" Nyria lowered her white blade to the Siths throat.

"You know nothing of pain!" She hissed as she drove her blade downwards. Ezra brought his right arm up and batted the lightsabre away from his throat. The blade cut into his chest plate, carving a deep gash into the durasteel and taking a chunk out of his shirt as it slashed into the deck plate. Nyrias eyes widened behind her mask as she saw the thick black line that ran up the Siths side.

"I know more than you think." Ezra smirked. Nyria ran her eyes up the boys' neck, yes, there were markings there too. She could see them now that ridiculous hair was out of the way.

"You've grown." The Siths smirk widened and his right hand slowly reached for a trophy blade on his belt, cocky bastard! Nyria brought her right foot up and slammed it down onto Ezras chest. Like her arms, her right leg had been replaced below the knee, gleaming claws adorned her foot and the deadly blades sprung downwards, digging into Ezras chest plate and pinning the Sith into place. "Don't even think about it!" She snarled as Ezra gasped for breath. "I'm going to enjoy this!" The Stalker raised her red lightsabre into the air.

"Nyria!" The Togrutas head whipped around, her demeaner shifted instantly, her shoulders slumped and her muscles tensed in apprehension, as if awaiting a blow.

"Master."

"Vader!" Ezra snarled.

##

Galen sat in the meditation chamber of the Rogue Shadow, he hadn't used this room in a long time. He knew he had to tell the Rebels the truth. That Ezra was the Sith warrior that had attacked them two nights ago, that he was the one who had turned him to that monster. He'd have to face the consequences for what he'd done. They'd probably reject his help and send him packing, if they didn't just kill him.

"So, here you are, in the Dark, doing nothing." Galen opened his eyes, Vader was stood over him.

"I'll have to remember to disable PROXYs remote override." Galen said dryly. He glared at his former master. "What do you want?" The Sith stared down at the Jedi.

"You've become so, weak." Galen scoffed.

"You call it weakness? I call it freedom. Freedom from the pain, freedom from you!" Vader shook his head.

"To think I once called you apprentice." Vader glared at the Jedi. "It's fortunate you actually managed to produce something of value." Galens eyes narrowed.

"Ezra."

"Is that what you've been calling him?" Vader scoffed. "Whatever he is, he isn't Ezra Bridger. He's something far darker, he'll be the perfect disciple, once I've broken him."

"You have him." Galen leapt smoothly to his feet, his fists clenched. "Where?" The Sith Lord snorted.

"Why? You don't have the nerve to come get him."

"I have all the nerve I need to right the wrongs I've done. Now tell me. Where is he?!"

"Mustafar." Galen could hear the Siths smirk.

"Your palace." The Jedi nodded slowly, "I'll be seeing you soon, Skywalker."

"Indeed. Marek." The Sith vanished in a flash of light leaving PROXY in his place.

"It's obviously a trap." Juno was leaning against the doorframe, her arms crossed over her chest. Galen nodded.

"I know. But I have to do this Juno, it's my penance." The blond shook her head and rolled her eyes.

"Why? You saw what he did, what he's become." Juno was the only one Galen had told the truth about Ezra. The pilot had grimaced at the news, a look of shame in her eyes, he could still see it. "He clearly doesn't want to be saved."

"Was I any different when we first met?" Galen shook his head. "I broke Ezra, drove him to embrace something he wasn't, I can't let Vader take anymore of his soul, like he took mine." Juno straightened up and unfolded he arms.

"What good will it do killing yourself trying to save him? You can do so much more good for the galaxy here, with the rebellion." Juno sighed. "We both can. I won't fly you to Mustafar Galen. I won't help you kill yourself!"

"Then why are you here? You've flown me into hells on orders. Why stop now?"

"You tell me. Why am I here?" Galen blinked. "You saved me, if it weren't for you I would have been executed for treason, I'm only here because of you!" Junos face was flushed and her chest heaved, it was the first time Galen had seen her let her emotions get the better of her. "So, tell me Starkiller? Why am I here?!"

"I needed someone to fly the ship..."

"We both know damn well you never needed me to fly this ship!" Juno hissed as she stalked towards Galen. "I was never here to fly the ship!" The pilot blinked tears out of her eyes as she glared at the Jedi. "So why am I here?" Tenderly, Galen reached out and cupped her cheek, she couldn't recognise the look in his deep brown eyes.

"Juno, I."

"I told you Master. Impossible to reprogram." PROXY hissed into Galens ear."

"PROXY!" The moment was broken and the two hurriedly backed away from each other. Juno stared at Galen for a moment, then sighed.

"Alright, I'll help you." Galen looked relieved. "But only because this is my fault too, I should have stopped you."

##

As Huntress sped through hyperspace towards Mustafar Ezras agonised screams echoed through its corridors, raising a flinch in everyone who heard them. Everyone except Nyria. The Stalker sat unflinching mere feet from the Sith, her hand resting on the controls of an Imperial torture device. Ezra was strapped to a metal table pitched at forty-five-degree angle, electrodes mounted on extended hydraulic arms were sending waves of electricity into his body, grinning Nyria pushed the lever she was clutching as far it would go.

"Pain is fascinating." The Stalker mused pleasantly. "Natures natural warning sign, an immediate indication of danger." Ezras body shook violently as his eyes rolled into the back of his head. "But the thing about pain, is that once you've had enough of it, you'll do anything, absolutely anything, to make it stop. You'll let it change you, all your "values"? You abandon them in a heartbeat, because when you've suffered enough, all that matters, is the sweet release of death." The Stalker pulled the lever back towards her and shut off the power. Ezra slumped back into his restraints as the hydraulic arms retracted, sweat ran down his brow and dripped off his nose as he took several deep breaths. They'd stripped him of all his equipment, even his shirt. "You never know what the brat might be hiding." Nyria had muttered bitterly, the Stalker got to her feet.

"You must be disappointed." Ezra grunted as he did his best to sit up, glaring at Nyria as she approached. "You must really want to kill me!" The Sith chuckled, it seemed to hurt. "You know, after that whole leaving you to die thing."

"I did die." Nyria snarled.

"Ashoka Tano died." The Sith grinned "She's as dead as Ezra Bridger."

"Because of you!" The Stalker screamed madly, the cyborg seized the edges table next to Ezras head and leaned in so her mask was right in his face. "Which is why I'm glad you're alive. Because now I get to make sure you're in as much pain as I am." Nyria grinned and for a second the Sith could have sworn he saw a hint of yellow irises behind the lenses of her mask.

"Well so far I'm disappointed." Ezra sneered. "I've had worse."

"Yes, you have!" Nyria stepped away from the Sith to take another look at the Sith Markings that adorned her prisoners' body. She'd taken a good look when they were securing him into place, a black line, about two inches wide ran up his spine to the base of his skull. Four thinner lines circled his midriff and ribcage, connecting to the line on his back two similar lines ran up each side of his ribcage. Identical lines ran up both sides of his arms, stopping at his armpits on his under arms and continuing on to run up his shoulders and up the sides of his neck on his upper arms. The Stalker ran the blades of her right hand along the markings on Ezras chest. "This must have hurt."

"Like you couldn't imagine." The Sith ignored the blade on his chest and glared at his former friend.

"I think I have an idea." Nyria chuckled. "My job is to torture you until you crack and submit to Lord Vader's will." The Stalker took hold of the lever once again. "Shall we get back to it?"

"So, he's "Lord Vader" now?" Ezra smirked. You surrendered everything you were and ran back to your old master's side, just to make the pain stop? I thought Ashoka Tano was stronger than that." The Stalker pushed the lever all the way forwards.

"So did I."

##

The rebel command centre was already in uproar when Galen and Juno arrived. Commander Sato and Hera glared at each other, the latter looked ready to kill the former.

"For the final time! It is out of the question!" Sato was red in the face. "I cannot authorise such a mission!"

"You heartless bastard!" Hera glowered at Sato. "He's on Mustafar, you know what they do to Jedi on Mustafar!" Sato sighed and pinched his sinuses tiredly.

"Which is exactly why I cannot allow you to go, if he's on Mustafar, it's already too late." The Twi'lek lunged forwards to slap Sato, only to be restrained and pulled away by Zeb.

"That's my son Sato!" Hera thrashed in Zebs grip. "Don't you tell me it's too late for him!"

"Captain Syndulla..." Sato was cut off as Sabine hit him in the face with a swift right cross. The Commander fell to the floor with a surprised grunt and starred up at the Mandalorian, weakly rubbing his chin.

"Ezra's on Mustafar, we're going to save him." Sabine glared down at Sato. "You can't stop us. So, get onboard, or get out of the way."

"How does everyone know Ezra's on Mustafar?" Galen wondered aloud, Juno shrugged.

"It's all over the Imperial network." The two jumped, startled by the sudden voice and turned to see Kanan eyeing them curiously. "How did you know?"

"Well," Galen paused, "I was meditating…"

"You had a vision?" Kanan raised an eyebrow.

"Something like that." Galen shrugged, Kanan sighed and rubbed the back of his head.

"You'd think that'd make me feel better about this."

"Does it?" Juno asked cautiously.

"No." Kanan shook his head. "What did you see?" Galen took a moment to think, he'd have to keep the lie up until they'd gotten Ezra out of Vaders clutches.

"I saw Ezra on Mustafar, he's in pain." He knew that was true, Sato was getting up.

"Even if I allowed it, it's a suicide mission, no ship can get close to Mustafar without being detected and destroyed."

"The Rogue Shadow can!" Juno hurried towards Hera, shooting an apprehensive look at Galen. "I upgraded its stealth systems myself." The blond grinned proudly. "She'll get to the planet's surface no problem."

"There'll still be an armada of ships, the best pilot in the galaxy couldn't make it through without being seen."

"Captain Syndulla is by far the best pilot I've seen in my life." Juno clapped Hera on the shoulder. "And I assure you, I am every bit the pilot she is. We'll get through." Hera stared at Juno for moment, stunned, both by the claim of being an equal pilot and the sudden, fierce show of support. Then the Twi'lek grinned, first at Juno, then at Sato.

"Looks like you're out of excuses commander." Sato glared fiercely at the two women, then sighed.

"Very well, but volunteers only! And if you're captured, don't expect a rescue mission!"

"Understood." Hera growled

##

'Ezra' had blacked out before they'd arrived at Mustafar. Much to Nyrias disappointment, she would have been happy to stick the brat with some adrenaline and continue, but Vader had intervened.

"I want him alive." The Sith Lord had snapped as Nyria cowered before him. "If he dies, you will not, for a very long time!" So, she had waited, watching over the boy bitterly as he slept in his cell in Vaders fortress. The brat was right, she did want to kill him. The young Siths eyes fluttered, then he blinked, instantly he was awake. Ezras eyes flitted from side to side as he took in the room, a quick test of his capabilities revealed that his right arm was out of commission, still attached, but powered down. His natural limbs were restrained and he couldn't move them an inch. He couldn't hear the thrum of engines anymore, he was on a planet.

"So, this is Mustafar." The Sith stopped and cleared his throat. "I'm not impressed." Ezra lay back and weakly clenched his fist. "Did you bother switching tables? Or did you just wheel me in?" Nyria rolled her eyes.

"You're awake." The Stalker pressed a small button on the inside of her palm, then folded her arms against her chest and leaned back against the wall.

"The service in this place is terrible." Ezra chuckled, then winced, his body ached and he got the distinct impression that they wouldn't be letting up on him now he'd come to, so he might as well get his jokes out while he could. "Do I have to kill to get a glass of water around here?"

"Yes." Nyria snapped harshly, the Sith could feel her gaze fixed on him from behind her mask.

"So, are we just going to sit here? Or are we actually waiting for something to happen?" Nyria didn't answer. "Oh, so Vader's coming." The Sith nodded, then flinched again as another ripple of pain ran over him. The Stalker tipped her head to the side by way of answering. "Got it, get ready for more pain." The Sith sighed as he leaned back in his restraints and did his best to get comfortable, he wasn't in hurry to escape, he could take a tickling. Then his eyes went wide, the Holocron! Traya!

"Easy Young One." The Ancient Sith hissed in his ear. "They have the Holocron, but they won't find me." Ezra was visibly relieved, Nyria frowned and leaned forwards curiously.

"Looks like you've got a horse in this race." The Sith was grinning, rage flooded the Stalkers mind and she glared.

"Who are you talking to?" Ezra scoffed and rolled his eyes at the Stalkers question.

"Wouldn't you like to know? Maybe I'm just mad."

"No" Nyria shook he head "you don't have the look in your eyes, yet."

"Pay her no mind Young One." Trayas voice was filled with amusement "she'll serve you well, I promise you, by the end of today all of this will be yours." The Siths grin widened.

"Good to know."

##

Hera had to admit, despite all the pain the ship had put them through, The Rogue Shadow could really move! The formerly Imperial Ship tore through hyperspace towards Mustafar, Juno was sat in the co-pilots seat talking the Twi'lek through the controls, after an adjustment period they weren't nearly as awkward as she'd thought they'd be.

Kanan was sat cross legged in the corner, trying to send a message to Ezra through the Force, so far it hadn't seemed like he'd had much luck. Zeb was cleaning his new Bo-rifle, meticulously checking and rechecking the weapon. Tandi and Rex were sat with him, the sniper had surprised Hera when she'd almost instantly volunteered along with two other members of the Wraiths, Bran a tall, broad-shouldered young man with ashy blond hair who had an old Z-6 Rotary cannon strapped to his back and Allana, a slim figured, dark haired woman who was barely five feet tall. Her belt was covered in tools and a blaster was belted to her thigh, she also had a holster on her left ankle and a knife in her right boot. 'Nice touch.' Hera remembered thinking, the two of them were stood quietly in a corner having a deep and obviously private conversation, maybe all three of them thought they owed Ezra for freeing them on Lothal, whatever the reason they were glad for the help. Rex had brought along his old ARC trooper armour and was checking his pistols over, a stoic look on his old face, flying into impossible odds to rescue a Jedi? 'This must be dragging up some old memories for him' Hera thought to herself, but she was grateful to the old clone for coming. Galen and Sabine were practicing Form III moves in the centre of the cabin, Hera couldn't read the look on the Mandalorians face, then again, she hadn't had any luck getting through to Sabine in the last few months, she didn't know if she was happy or hurt to see her opening up more to Galen whenever they trained together. The more she thought about it, the more the Twi'lek realised just how much of a blessing Juno and Galen had been to their family.

"Not sure what I've done to earn the smile Hera." Juno shifted in her seat uncomfortably and tried to focus on the controls.

"Thank you." The warmth in Heras voice made her sick, she didn't deserve it, not after sitting by and simply watching as her son faded away before her eyes.

"You don't have to thank me, I'm just righting wrongs, maybe, when this war is over, I'll be back to zero."

"Damn it." Both pilots looked around at Sabine, the Mandalorian was smacking the side of her helmet in frustration. "Something's busted," Sabine pulled off her helmet and glared at Tandi. "Ever since someone shot it!" The sniper rolled her eyes.

"Oh, I'm sorry, for saving your life!" Sabine glared at Tandi who started to get to her feet, glaring back.

"I can fix it!" Allana rushed forwards and gingerly took the helmet from Sabine. "I'll take a look at it, I'll have it working by the time we get there. I promise! It's fine!" Allana was the nervous type and hated to see teammates fight, especially before a mission. Back on Lothal Tandi had always counted on Allana to break any tensions brewing up in the Wraiths, she could also fix or hack anything, it freaked Tandi out sometimes. Bran on the other hand was the muscle and kind of the silent type, never raising his voice, he was the only munitions expert she'd had and a damn good one at that. The redhead smiled at them, she was glad they'd come along. Allana caught her eye and blushed, the two had had a brief fling when she had first joined the Wraiths, it ended a week after their first kiss when they'd suffered their first casualty, a young man named Ello who'd been gunned down by Stormtroopers in a supply raid gone wrong. That was the moment Tandi had withdrawn from personal relationships with the rest of the Wraiths. She wouldn't lose anyone else she cared about, not after Ello, not after the day the Empire came to her family farm and set it ablaze.

"There's…" Everyone looked up to see Galen, still stood in the centre of the cabin. "There's something I have to tell you all."

"About time boy." Kota was stood in the corner, his arms crossed against his chest. "If you hadn't I would've."

"How did you know?" Galen stared at the blind Jedi in awe.

"It was obvious, sight's overrated when it comes to truly seeing."

"What do you need to tell us?" Hera gave Juno a puzzled look, then fixed her gaze on Galen.

"The Sith warrior who stole the Holocron a few nights ago? That was Ezra." There was a moment of shocked silence at Galens words, then they began to sink in, Sabine glared at Galen.

"You're wrong!" Hera Shook her head.

"Impossible." Zeb bowed his head thoughtfully, while Bran and Allana exchanged worried glances. Kanan looked like he'd had his worst suspicions confirmed.

"Galen, the move the Sith used to knock me out, I saw you use it on Sabine, where did you learn it?" Galen sighed.

"Ezra used it on me once." Kanan bowed his head and grimaced.

"I thought so, and he knew his way around the base too well, where the holocron was, the supply depo, even my real name, it has to have been Ezra."

"Why would the kid steal from us?" Rex frowned, "if he needed the holocron so bad why would he attack us and take it? He could have just asked and you would have given it to him."

"Unless he wanted to use it for something we'd never have agreed to." Kota mused darkly.

"How do you know it was Ezra?" Tandi leaned forwards, she'd gone white as a sheet.

"When we were fighting, I could feel a familiar intense hatred, and he called me by my Inquisitor alias" Galen lied smoothly, not a total lie, just an embellishment of the truth. "The only other person who would know that would be another Inquisitor and if it were, they wouldn't have come alone, not if they knew where the base is, they'd come with an armada and take the place by storm." The Jedi frowned, then shuddered. "I've only ever felt hatred like that a few times before, and it felt just Ezra did when we first met."

"You're wrong!" Sabine glowered at Galen, her knuckles white on the hilt of Ezras old lightsabre. "Ezra would never attack us! He would never hurt me!" Tandi bowed her head as her stomach turned over, her mind filled with the image of Ezra, ready to kill the woman who so passionately defended him, the girl who loved him more than life itself. The Lothal Sniper hated the Mandalorian for that, she didn't even know who he was, what he would become, what he would do, as The Emperor, as Remnous.

"Boy." Kota clapped Galen on the shoulder sternly. "We need to talk."

##

Darth Vader strode through the door to Bridgers cell, the Siths delight was entirely obvious, to anyone who knew him he was practically skipping, not that they'd ever say that out loud.

"How has he been?" The Sith Lord glanced at Nyria briefly before striding up to the young Sith and examining him like a land owner examining a litter of new born Puffer Pigs. Vader turned and glared at Nyria from behind his mask. "What did you do to him!?" 'Ezra' was slumped in his restraints, mumbling to himself, his eyes glazed over and his pupils dilated.

"Nothing my lord!" The Stalker cowered away from her Master as he glared at her, she could feel his eyes drilling into her. "He was fine before he passed out, he just started jabbering to himself when he came to!"

"Guys?" Both of them ignored Ezra as Vader rounded on Nyria.

"You incompetent fool! I told you I needed him alive and able to fight!"

"Guys?" Still oblivious, Nyria dropped to her knees, her head bowed. If she could still cry, she would have been sobbing.

"Please Master, forgive me! You only said alive! I thought his mind could take it! Look at the markings! He's no stranger to pain."

"You pushed him too far!" Vader snarled "You still have a leg, don't you? Well that's going to change!"

"Guys!" Both cyborgs suddenly noticed Ezras voice and turned to stare at the young Sith; who was sat up in his restraints, starring at the two with an eyebrow raised in surprise. "Wow, after watching you two, I've truly realised..." Ezra trailed off as he readjusted himself in his restraints, his other eyebrow rising in pleasant surprise. "That I'm really not crazy yet!" The Sith grinned.

"It is curious that you can still make jokes." Vader stepped away from Nyria as if she wasn't there and turned to face Ezra. "Anyone else would have either broken by now or would be mere hours away from cracking." The Sith fixed the older Sith with a pointed stare, his gaze didn't waver.

"That's the thing old man." Vader scowled as Ezras grin grew into a smirk. "I'm already broken. Nothing to do here but start rebuilding and as our mutual friend here proves" Ezra nodded at Nyria smugly. "Eventually, pain just doesn't matter anymore, not when you know what you want."

"And what do you want?" Vader starred at the young Sith before him, for the first time hesitant, unsure as how to proceed.

"I want you dead." Ezra chuckled. "I want everything that's yours and I'll get it!" Vader regarded him coolly.

"I don't believe you." Ezra scowled.

"What are you talking about?"

"You say you are broken, that all that is left for you is to start rebuilding, yet I still sense hesitation in you, doubt, you still waver in your convictions. Still you refuse to embrace your full potential. You are a coward." The Sith Lord smirked as Ezra glared.

"I know who I am, I know what I must do."

"Then why are you here? Wasting time in this dungeon? You haven't even tried to put up a fight!"

"Maybe I'm exactly where I need to be." Ezra did his best to shrug. Vader shook his head.

"You're lying to yourself."

"Just like you!" Ezra grinned, "spending your days wallowing in self-pity when you let everyone around you think you've moved on. Not that you ever can move on from that special someone."

"Silence."

"What was her name Vader? Who broke your heart?" The metal next to Ezras head dented as Vader punched it. Unfazed, the Sith grinned at the furious cyborg. "Touchy subject?"

"Do not speak of her." There was murder in the Sith Lords voice, Ezra stared at Vaders mask, reaching out with his mind. Vader was seething with rage; his guard had slipped.

"Padme."

"Nyria." The Stalker threw the switch and the hydraulic arms shot forwards, Ezra howled as electricity jolted through him. His muscles locked up and his eyes rolled into the back of his head as Vader looked on, taking several deep, steadying breaths, the Sith Lord nodded. Nyria pulled the lever back and Ezra coughed violently as the arms retracted. "You think you're clever." Ezra glared weakly at Vader as the Sith Lord inspected his equipment which was laid out on a table in the corner. "I will give you this." The cyborg picked up Ezras belt and examined the trophy blades decorating it. "You have been busy, you've done a good job thinning the ranks of the Inquisitors."

"You really should get better henchmen." Vader nodded at Nyria; who pushed the lever forward all the way once again, grinning behind her mask."

"You may be a slow learner, but you'll learn." Vader said nonchalantly over Ezras screams "everything I need to break you is on its way."

##

"You're Starkiller." Kota kept his voice lowered, he and Galen were stood in the mediation chamber with the door shut, but it was better to be cautious. Galen grimaced, he should have known Kota would have been the one to work it out.

"How long have you known?"

"I suspected from the beginning." Galen starred at the blind Jedi in awe.

"Then why did you help me?" Kota shook his head.

"In all the darkness in your mind, I saw one bright light, I saw something else in you, sensed a desire for more than a life living at Vaders beck and call" Kota shrugged, "looks like I was right." Galen sighed with relief.

"Are you going to tell the others?"

"No boy, that is your task, by all means leave it until the mission is over but you will need to tell them."

"I understand, I'm sorry Kota." The bind Jedi shook his head.

"Don't be, it's probably the best thing that's happened to me since the Republic fell." Kota cracked a smile, "well, maybe not the best." Galen smiled, feeling an odd weight lift off him at the Jedis forgiveness. Kota frowned, he looked troubled.

"There is something we really do have to talk about boy, what you did to Ezra."

"I'm trying to make it right Kota, I'll get him back." Kota shook his head again.

"There's only one way to make this right, you can't save him." Galen frowned.

"What are you talking about?"

"You created a monster when you turned Ezra to the dark side, something far beyond any of our abilities to control, there's none of Ezra Bridger left. You know that."

"You're not on this mission to save Ezra." Galen realised, his eyes widening. "You're going to kill him."

##

The door to the cell opened and pale, sickly looking man wearing an oversized black robe entered, his red eyes lingered on Ezra for a moment before he turned to Vader.

"My Lord, we have scanned for the specific readings you gave us, we've found it!" Vader set Ezras belt down.

"Excellent, Starkiller has taken the bait."

"Not just him." Nyria tilted her head to the side thoughtfully, "Jarrus is here too."

"And Rahm Kota, I should have known he was alive." Vader rolled his eyes. "No matter, even three Jedi are no match for me."

"Careful with that ego Ani." Ezra chuckled "it might just get you killed."

"Watch him" Vader glared at the younger Sith. "I'll bring his friends back and kill them all one at a time right in front of him." Ezra glared at the Sith Lord as he left, alright, he was getting out and he was going to kill Vader here and now.

"You!" Ezra snapped at the frail servant, who was turning to leave.

"What boy?" The Servant turned to star at the Sith, ignoring Nyria.

"What's your name?"

"My name? My name is Vaneé, why?" Ezras eyes lingered on his belt, a vague look of concentration on his face, the Fifth Brothers lightsabre twitched, then spun into a complete circle and sprung to life. Vaneé dived to the ground as the deadly plasma blades spun through the air, taking Nyria by surprise, cutting one of her respirator pipes in half. The Stalker staggered back, clutching the hissing pipe, wheezing desperately for breath. The lightsabre spun around the room and sliced neatly through the restraint controls on Ezras table, the bindings came free and Ezra leapt down, stretching out his muscles as he did so.

"You really should have seen that coming." The Sith taunted the Stalker as he caught the Inquisitors lightsabre, Nyria unable to reply, glowered at Ezra as he knelt next to her and clumsily retrieved the power cell for his arm from her belt. "That's better. Now, Vaneé." Ezra turned to the terrified servant who was still cowering on the floor. "It's so much easier to threaten someone when you know their name, I'm going to get my stuff together, then, you're going to show me the way out." Ezras eyes shone sinisterly in the dark. "Is that agreeable?"

##

As they trekked through the barren, volcanic wilderness towards Vaders fortress, Sabine did her best to remember Galens briefing on Vaders fortress.

"It's built on the site of an ancient Sith cave, supposedly the first designs were made by the spirit of the Sith Lord Momin, it's Vaders literal fortress, one way in and out, the landing pad is too open to land the Shadow. Our best chance is to have Juno drop us off and make our way there on foot, Vader is here, so no time for stealth, we go in hard and fast, we get Ezra, get out and radio for a pick up."

"Not exactly subtle." Hera had been sceptical, surprisingly Rex was the one who responded.

"There's times to be subtle and times to be loud." Bran grinned at the old clone. "This is a time to be loud." Allana had been true to her word, her helmet was working perfectly and a good thing too, Mustafar was far from hospitable. They'd left Tandi at a high bank that overlooked the Fortress.

"I can see the entrance, and the landing pad." The redhead had said, peering through her scope.

"You can get a shot from here?" Zeb had been impressed.

"It's a narrow window at the entrance, limited line of sight, but I've got it." Frowning, Sabine lowered the scanner on her helmet and looked back at the Sniper, through the enhanced image she could see Tandi, she was entirely focused on the fortress, Sabine rubbed the blaster mark on the side of her helmet thoughtfully. Something was off about the Sniper, she'd somehow grown even more distant than before in the past two days, and the way she'd reacted when Galen claimed that Ezra had attacked them made Sabine suspicious, the redhead knew more than she was letting on.

"Sabine?" Kanan was stood waiting for her, the Jedi had just finished helping Allana scramble up onto the edge of the Landing platform.

"Coming." The Mandalorians gaze lingered on the distant sniper for another second, then she turned and nodded to Kanan before activating her jetpack and boosting up onto the landing pad. It was modestly sized to say the least, as Sabine peaked out from behind could only see space for three ships, two of which were taken up by an Imperial transport and the TIE fighter that had single handily almost crippled the rebel fleet. "Yep, Vader definitely lives here."

"Hold on!" Tandis voice sounded terrified, "It's Vader." The doors to the fortress had opened and Darth Vader, along with fifty Stormtroopers was striding down the walkway towards them, Galen grimaced.

"He's not messing around."

"Well it was obviously a trap, why else would they plaster his arrest all over the Imperial News and Network?"

"I thought they couldn't track the Shadow!" Zeb hissed as he pulled his bo-rifle off his back.

"Are we all forgetting it was Starkillers ship?" Rex muttered sarcastically, the clone beckoned to Bran. "Kid, Kota, Galen and Kanan will cover you out to the centre of the pad. When you get there keep the Stormtroopers pinned down! The rest of us will join you and pick off the stragglers, we can hold them off until Juno gets here."

"Why don't we take the transport?" Zeb glanced over at the Imperial ship, judging the distance.

"It'll never get through the blockade, not fast enough." Her shook her head.

"What about Ezra?" Sabine glared at Rex.

"If Vader's out here, I doubt there's anything that can keep him in there. Focus on staying alive." Bran nodded at Rex' words and swung his rotary cannon off his back. The first of the stormtroopers were almost at the end of the walkway when three of them toppled backwards as their helmets flew off.

"Are you ladies planning on moving any time soon?" Tandi rolled her eyes as she lined up another shot. Through her scope she could see the Jedi and Bran sprinting into place, the Sniper smirked, Bran was loving this, it had been a while since he'd had a chance to use his 'baby'. The barrels began to turn and a few seconds later the approaching Stormtroopers turned to run as the end of the narrow walkway was lit up with laser fire, after a moment the others ran to join them. Things seemed to be under control, even Vader had paused, but it couldn't last forever. Bran would have to reload eventually and if Juno didn't get here soon, they ran the risk of overheating the cannon. The door to the fortress opened, Tandi frowned, sparing a second, she took a glance. Ezra was striding out of the fortress' entrance, the same blood red lightsabre he'd used on Lothal in his hand. "Guys…" The Sniper gulped nervously, "it's Ezra."

The Sith charged towards the walkway, the Stormtroopers, their backs turned, stood no chance. Ezra carved through them without hesitation, sending bodies flying as they fell to his blood red blade into their comrades. As Tandi watched, a cry of panic went up through the Stormtroopers as they scrambled to escape from the butcher behind them. In the chaos Bran stopped firing the rotary cannon and stared in awe as dozens of Stormtroopers were flung from the walkway in a wave of shimmering energy. Vader was left alone, staring down the Sith behind him and the Jedi in front of him, he turned to the Sith.

"Now the canon fodder's out of the way, why don't we pick up where we left off?" Ezra growled as he advanced on Vader, his teeth gritted. The Sith Lords lightsabre hissed to life and he marched forwards to meet the younger man.

"Galen." Hera whispered hoarsely, "you were right." The Twi'leks eyes were wide with horror as she stared at Ezra, she could barely recognise him. The Sith and the cyborg met in a fury of blows.

"You have improved, marginally." Vader admitted begrudgingly as they locked their blades. Ezra smirked up at the older man.

"We haven't even started yet." The Sith thrust his left palm in Vaders chest and sent a telekinetic push through his opponent. The Sith Lord sailed backwards and into the air, his black cloak billowing around him, Ezra leapt after him, his tattered coat trailing out behind him.

The Rebels scrambled as Vader landed in the middle of them, followed swiftly by Ezra, who hurled himself at the older Sith with a howl of rage. Vader thrust his arm out and sent a telekinetic push at Ezra, catching the Sith mid leap and sending him flying across the landing pad towards the sheer cliff edge Vaders fortress was built on.

"Ezra!" Sabine ran after him as Kota charged Vader, his green lightsabre coming to life. Vader caught the General by the throat with the Force and lifted the choking Jedi into the air and slammed him hard into the ground, knocking Kota out. Shaken out of their stupor the rest of the Rebels sprang into action, Kanan leapt at Vader, hoping to catch the Sith off guard. Vader turned just in time to catch Kanans blade with his own and shove against him, as Kanan stumbled backwards Vader flicked two fingers upwards and the Jedi was sent spinning into the air, landing with thud on the Imperial shuttle. Galen stepped forwards to face Vader as the Rebels behind him raised their blasters.

"Guys!" Tandis voice filled the comm channel, "reinforcement Bucketheads incoming!"

"Karabast!" Zeb growled as he turned and saw Tandi was right, dozens more Stormtroopers were flooding down the walkway towards them.

"Hold them off!" Galen glanced behinds him. "I can take him!" Teeth gritted, the Jedi lunged towards his former master.

##

"Ezra!" Sabine was almost at his side when he sat up, she stopped dead in her tracks. A deep scar ran up the left side of his face, one clean, straight line. She should know, she'd put it there.

"It was you." The Mandalorian backed away in horror, she hadn't believed Galen, she'd been so sure she knew the man she loved, but here he was, a complete stranger. Ezra got to his feet, his face blank, then he closed his eyes and sighed. When he opened them, Sabine managed to get a good look, they were an eerie gold. "What have you done to yourself?"

"What I had to." Sabine took a half step back at the sound of his voice, it had changed too, it was deeper, cold and cruel.

"What you had to? You almost killed me!"

"You ruined my face!" Ezra pointed at the scar indignantly. Sabine felt sick, her head was spinning and she could almost feel her heart breaking.

"You attacked us! You stole from us! Why?"

"Sabine." His voice had softened now and he took a tentative step towards her, the Mandalorian backed several away, her hand moving to grip her lightsabre. "I'm so sorry I hurt you I just, got angry, it will never happen again! Please hear me out, I've found a new way to bring peace. I can defeat Vader! I can take his place at the Emperors side and when I've learned all I need to from the old man? We'll arrange an accident, or a coup, it doesn't matter! All that does is that you and I could rule the galaxy together! Remake the Empire into something better!" Ezra offered Sabine his hand. "Join me." Sabine stared at the Sith before her, behind her helmet, tears began to well up in the corners of her eyes.

"I don't know you anymore." Her voice cracked as the tears started to roll down her face. "Ezra, you're breaking my heart. You're going down a path I can't follow!"

"Sabine please!" Ezra took another step towards her, Sabine unclipped her lightsabre from her belt and activated the blue blade, she pointed it at Ezra, who took a step away from her.

"No! Stay away from me!" The Mandalorian shouted at the Sith. "I can never be with you! What you've done? What you plan to do? That's not who I fell in love with, you're not who I fell in love with." Ezras left eye twitched.

"I'm not who you fell in love with?"

"No!" The Mandalorian scowled behind her helmet, she was glad he couldn't see her face. "I fell in love with Ezra Bridger, he was kind, he would never hurt his family and he gave his life for us. You?" Sabines voice shook, her sorrow was quickly turning into rage. "You're a freak, a monster wearing his face. I could never love you."

"But you did!" The Dark Apostle snarled, eyes filled with rage he stalked forwards towards the Mandalorian. "You're right, Bridger did die for you, he died the day Starkiller attacked you onboard that station, do you know what that means?" The Sith batted the blue plasma blade aside with his right arm, glaring at Sabine who began to back away. "You loved me. You haven't forgotten all the times we were together, have you?" Sabine shuddered at the thought. "Just how much you enjoyed it all? How you pined for me?"

"I pined for Ezra!" Sabine shook her head vigorously.

"Was Ezra the one who made you moan and shake? Was Ezra the one who freed your desires? Showed you passion you never imagine?" The Sith Smirked. "No. That was me, it can be like that forever Sabine! You and me, we'll make the galaxy a better place, together! No one will give us orders, or tell us what we can or can't do with our lives! We'll be free!" Sabine starred at him, remembering that night in the phantom all those months ago when he'd first told her he loved her. The way her heart had raced as they'd kissed, the heat that had built between them, and for a moment, she actually considered his offer.

##

Galen leapt into the air to avoid a swipe from Vaders blade, somersaulting over the Sith, the Jedi landed behind his opponent and quickly jabbed both his lightsabres at Vaders back. The Sith Lord spun around, bringing his lightsabre around just in time to knock Galens aside, Vader raised his red blade into the air and brought it down towards Galen in a sweeping arc. Just in time, the Jedi managed to cross his lightsabres together and block Vaders strike.

"Juno." Galen grunted as pushed against Vader with all his might. "Could really use that pick up."

"I'm almost there." Galen sighed with relief, then he heard a familiar tell-tale sound, the Jedis eyes went wide. TIE Fighters! Shoving with all his might, Galen managed to force Vader to take a few steps back and he leapt away from the Sith as he glanced about him. The Rogue Shadow was approaching from his left side, and on his right, Galen gulped. An Arquitens Class light cruiser and six TIE fighters were speeding towards them. As the Jedi touched down the Imperial ships opened fire. "Galen, there are too many of them for me to land! I'm going to have to lead them off! You'll have to stay alive until I get back!" The Shadow banked and flew off into the horizon, four TIE fighters swiftly pursuing it.

"Perfect." Galen muttered, then ducked as Vader swung his lightsabre at the Jedi's head. Galen somersaulted backwards away from his former master only to have a green laser bolt from one of the two remaining TIE fighters strike the ground just in front of him. Galen was flung across the landing pad, spinning like a rag doll he crashed to the ground, groaning weakly as he struggled to get up.

The two TIE fighters hovered over the landing pad while the Arquitens frigate hovered menacingly above them, the Rebels, seeing the fight was over begrudgingly dropped their weapons. Vader swaggered forwards, obviously pleased with himself.

"Now Starkiller." The Sith lowered his red blade to Galens throat. "It is time for you to surrender."

"Starkiller?" Galen grimaced at the sound of Heras voice.

"Didn't he tell you?" You could almost hear amusement in the cyborgs voice as he bent down, seized Galen by the shoulder and yanked the Jedi to his knees so the other rebels could see his face. "Galen Marek was a boy when I killed his father and moulded him into the living weapon Starkiller. However, it appears sentiment has undone many years of good work. He couldn't bear the guilt of taking the soul of an innocent." In his daze, Galen could just about make out the Siths mocking tone and he gritted his teeth in rage. Vader seemed to sense he renewed aggression as he suddenly felt an astral hand close around his throat and hoist him into the air. "Now, my former Apprentice, it is…" Vader trailed off, then suddenly the Sith dropped the Jedi and starred towards the cliff edge. Then quite suddenly, the cyborg rushed forwards. "No!"

##

As Tandi peered through her scope, a gnawing sensation started to churn in her gut. A few seconds later the tell-tale whine of a TIE Fighter cut through the sky. Acting on pure instinct the Sniper rolled to the right for all she was worth. A moment later a laser bolt struck the ground exactly where she'd be lying. The Sniper rolled over once more and settled on her back her rifle swinging around to take aim at the TIE that had just flown over head. Teeth gritted she glared through her scope but couldn't find an angle. Then a curious thing happened, the heat, the fear, it all left her and she was left with a moment of total tranquillity. Someone, something, somewhere was guiding her. Slowly, the barrel of her rifle moved a few inches to the left. She pulled the trigger.

The bolt from her rifle flew into the burning sky as the TIE fighter banked left to make another pass at her. The laser bolt tore through an exposed cable on the fighter's exterior and it suddenly banked sharply right. Tandi starred in disbelief as the TIE spun out and collided with the ground, a column of fire rising into the sky to mark to crash site. The redhead blinked. Somehow, she'd managed to take out the rudder controls.

"I know I'm not that good." The Lothal Sniper muttered to herself as she rolled over onto her belly and took aim at the landing pad once again.

'You sure?" The jovial voice was familiar, frowning, Tandi glanced around her.

"Ezra?"

##

"Join me." The Sith urged the Mandalorian. Sabine closed her eyes, she remembered how his blue eyes had lit up when he heard her say 'I love you too'. That hadn't been Ezra, it hadn't been the boy who marched out to die for her. It had been a monster, a monster she had let herself become obsessed with.

"Never." The Sith sighed, Sabine tensed, waiting for the blow that was surely to follow. But he just starred at her, not even acknowledging the four TIE fighters that flew overhead and after the Rogue Shadow. He simply starred at her, as if trying to memorise every detail about her face. Then he gently pushed passed her and walked towards Vader without a word. The Mandalorian watched him go, dumb founded.

"Don't ignore me!" Sabine roared as she raised her lightsabre and swung it at the Siths neck.

"No!" A force like a wave crashed into her, sending her flying off her feet and into the air, for a second, she hung in the air over the cliff edge, then she fell.

"Sabine!" Ezra scrambled to the edge of the landing platform and starred into the abys, why hadn't she fired her jetpack? His thoughts were cut off as an intense rage flooded his mind. Trembling with fury he turned and glared at Vader.

"Bastard." The Sith snarled as he advanced on Vader, his blood red blade springing to life. Vader sighed.

"Still not enough." The Sith Lord nonchalantly raised both arms as Galen and Ezra lunged for him. Both men halted in mid air as the force sized them. Vader regarded Ezra coldly, then looked to Galen. "It would appear your services are no longer required, Starkiller." Galen rose a few more feet into the air, then Vader thrust his arm forward.

Galen was flung into the air and over the cliff edge, silently, the Jedi tumbled downwards. The rebels watched, stunned into silence, still reeling from the revelation about his identity.

"Now." Vader turned his attention back to Ezra. "What am I going to do with you?" The Sith Lord summoned Ezras lightsabre, which had fallen to the floor, then he released the Sith. "It's clear taking their lives won't push you over the edge. "So, I'll have to threaten yours!" Above the two Sith, the Arquitens class frigate suddenly shook, then began to pitch downwards.

"What are you doing?" Ezra rubbed his throat as he got to his feet.

"Giving you an incentive." Vader brought his hand down in a sweeping motion and the frigates engines fired. Eyes wide, Ezra ran to the centre of the landing pad and flung his arms into the air and thrust out all the will he had. The frigate paused, hanging in the air its engines still burning as Ezra held it back.

"Are you insane?" Ezra grunted as his arms strained. "You'll destroy your own palace!" Vader shrugged.

"I can always build another." The cyborg flexed his wrist and gave the engines more thrust. Ezra, teeth gritted began to slide backwards on the balls of his feet, the frigate slowly inching towards him. "If you want to survive, you'll need more power than that."

"Maniac!" Ezra spat as his arms shook with effort, sweat was gathering on his brow and his left eye was twitching. "You want more power? Then take all of it!" With a scream he let it all out. The fears, the frustrations, the anger he carried all bled out of him and into the force. The frigate wavered, holding its position in the sky for a few seconds, then it began to move forwards again.

"Is that all you have?" Vader mocked. "Perhaps I was wrong." With a wave of his wrist the Sith pushed the frigates engines to their limits, the groaning ship shot forwards and the terrified restrained rebels could almost make out the terrified crew on its bridge. "I know you have more power somewhere, find it, or this is how you end." Ezra dropped to one knee, his arms were trembling and starting to numb, his shoulders ached and sweat was openly running down his face now.

'I can't do this!" A voice in his head said weakly as he bowed his head. 'This is really it isn't it? After everything, this is how I die'

"Who are you?" He knew that voice! The Siths head whipped up. Remnous was stood before him, he looked exactly how he remembered, almost a whole foot taller than he was now, his hair was slightly longer now, but that's where the differences ended. When he looked into the Sith Lords eyes, all he saw was himself. "Who are you?"

"I don't know!" The Sith grunted as his left heel went over the cliff edge.

"Yes, you do!" Remnous strolled forwards and knelt before him. The two Sith starred at each other, one with awe and the other with an odd nostalgia. "You are the heir to the Sith, the rightful ruler of the Empire and the future of the Force." Remnous seized his younger self's shoulder. "This is not how you die, you're better than that, you're better than him, because you're me!" Remnous rose to his feet and stared down at his younger self. "So get up." Teeth gritted the younger Sith rose to his feet. "Now, plant your feet, grit your teeth and seize your destiny!" With a howl the Sith thrust his arms forwards. The Frigate began to move away from the landing pad, Vader grinned at Ezra, oblivious of Remnous. "I'm going to ask you one more time. Who are you!?"

"I AM REMNOUS!" The Younger Sith roared into the sky. Above him the frigate buckled and began to cave in on itself, metal crumpling and warping as he clenched his fists, the engines died and Remnous was left holding the ship in place on his own. Unfazed the Sith began to laugh hysterically. "The Empire will be mine! And from its ashes, I'll build a better galaxy!" Remnous flung his arms out as if he was tearing a piece of paper and the entire frigate was pulled clean in half. The assembled crowd of Stormtroopers and rebels starred in awe as Remnous threw the pieces in separate directions and turned on Vader, grinning madly as his lightsabre flew from the cyborgs grip and back into its Masters hand. "Now, where were we?"

##

Across the Galaxy Emperor Palpatine sat in his throne, his eyes closed. A grin spread across the old mans face as he felt the waves coming through the Force from Mustafar.

"Excellent." The Emperor remarked coyly. "Everything is proceeding as planned."

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

As Remnous stalked towards Vader; waves of cold rippled off him and a shiver ran down the spines of every soul on the volcanic world.

"Oh, that's right!" Remnous cackled as his lightsabre sprang to life, bathing the Siths face in blood red light. "I was that going to kill you!" Face split in a haunting grin, Remnous lunged towards Vader. He moved so fast you would have missed him if you blinked, Vader barely had time to raise his blade to block the incoming strike. The force from the blades colliding sent the cyborg stumbling backwards, knocked off balance as Remnous viciously continued his assault. "What's wrong Ani? I thought you wanted me to embrace my strength?" Vader thrust his palm forward and sent a telekinetic push at Remnous. The younger Sith raised his arms and crossed them over his face, the telekinetic force sent him skidding back on the balls of his feet, grinding to a halt a good twenty feet away from Vader.

"What happened to you?" Vader panted as he starred at Remnous, he'd known the boy had power bubbling beneath the surface, but this was beyond his expectations. The cold radiating off him was pure strength, laced with a hatred he had never even imagined.

"You did." Remnous spun his lightsabre in a wide arc as he started to stroll towards Vader. "You were right about me Ani. I was a coward, afraid of what would happen when I finally embraced my power, terrified of their rejection." The Sith jabbed his thumb nonchalantly at the kneeling Rebels. Hera bowed her head in misery as Zeb sniffed loudly. "But there's no point in fearing the inevitable."

"You were like a son to me Ezra!" Tears ran down Heras cheek.

"Ezra Bridger is dead." Remnous didn't even look at the Twi'lek. "There's no use in pining for a dead man's life, I have to forge my own path and I have a lot to do." The Sith Smirked. "It's funny, I had no idea just how much of a risk I was taking clinging to sentiment like that, not until you showed me just how dangerous hesitation really is. So, thank you Skywalker. Thank you for freeing me."

"Open fire!" Vader pointed at Remnous and for once the incompetent fools that passed for Stormtroopers didn't hesitate. As one they raised their blasters and let loose a torrent of laser fire at the Sith. Remnous leapt into the air, lightning crackled around his left hands fingertips as he flexed the fingers of his right.

"Cheap trick!" The Sith roared as he thrust his arms out; blue and purple lightning tore through the sky down towards the landing pad, lashing over the Stormtroopers and rebels indiscriminately. Remnous grinned as he dropped to the ground amidst the howls of agony, the Stormtroopers toppled over thrashing violently. "That's right pawns!" Remnous grinned. "On your knees." The Sith broke off the lightning and ducked under Vaders blade as the Sith Lord swung at his left arm. "Another cheap shot." Remnous grinned as his lightsabre was pulled from its holster and back into his hand. "Not like you at all Ani!"

"Stop calling me that!" Vader snarled as he lunged at Remnous; who raised his blade to meet Vaders and caught it in a lock.

"Alright" Remnous grinned "dead men don't need names anyway." The Sith shoved against Vader with all his might, the cyborg stumbled. Remnous lunged forwards and slammed his open palm into Vaders chest. "Gotcha." The Sith Lord was sent flying as Remnous sent a telekinetic push into his chest at point blank range. Vader was sent flying across the landing pad, landing in a tangle of limbs, "I'm almost glad your lacky stopped me last time." Remnous mused as he bore down on Vader, "that little taste? It made me want to kill you all the more, and now?" The Sith laughed coldly. "It's going to be so much sweeter!" Remnous raised his lightsabre into the air, grinning ear to ear.

"Ezra look out!" A searing pain blossomed from his arm and there was a loud clatter as the hum of his lightsabre died, stunned, Remnous stumbled a few steps backwards before looking down at his right arm. It had been taken off just above the elbow, the prosthesis lay on the landing pad, his lightsabre still clutched in the mechanical fingers. Remnous dropped to his knees as he clutched his arm to his side in shock.

"Seriously?" There was a crack on the back of his head and Remnous tumbled into darkness.

Nyria scowled down at the unconscious Sith from behind her mask.

"Looks like you'll have to keep waiting." The Stalker shrugged nonchalantly, her respirator pipe had been replaced and she stood proudly in all her terrible glory.

"Very good Nyria." Vader muttered as he got to his feet and dusted himself off.

"Thank you. My Master." Nyria bowed her head respectfully.

"Ashoka?" Nyria and Vader turned to stare at the Rebels, Rex had gotten back onto his knees and was starring in horror at the Togruta.

"Rex." Nyria paused, starring back at the old clone. For the first time in months she felt something other than rage and pain; shame.

"Rex?" Vader strode forwards and stooped to get a better look at the old solider.

"General Skywalker." Rex glared icily at the cyborg. "Well, whatever's left of you in there."

"That name no longer has any meaning for me." Vader sighed wearily, did the whole galaxy know who he used to be? Rex nodded.

"You're right. Traitor's more fitting!" The clone spat in the Sith Lords face.

"Why you!" Vader snarled as he straightened up and slapped Rex hard with the back of his hand and sent the old clone to the ground with a grunt.

"Rex!" The green Twi'lek called out to the clone as she struggled to her knees.

"What did you do to Ashoka?" Rex glowered up as Vader as he spat out a mouthful of blood.

"Ashoka Tano died at the hands of Ezra Brid-" Vader paused "At the hands of, Remnous." The Sith lord glanced behind him at the unconscious Sith. "The one you see now is Nyria. I gave her life and a new purpose"

"You mutilated her!" Vader glanced over at the Lasat who'd also managed to get to his knees.

"Necessary sacrifices to save her life." Vader shrugged as he wiped the spit off his helmet with the back of a gloved hand. "She has no grievances against me. Isn't that right Nyria?" The Stalker, head bowed, nodded.

"I failed my Master in my last life. I won't fail him in this one."

"Ashoka?" Nyria turned to look at Rex.

"I'm sorry Rex."

A green laser bolt flew through the air towards Vaders head, with impeccable timing the Sith Lord raised his hand and deflected the bolt off his open palm.

"Has no one dealt with the sniper yet?" The Sith Lord rolled his eyes behind his mask as he activated his lightsabre and waited for another attack. "Who even is it?"

"Tandi. She's another rebel from Lothal." Nyria starred in the direction the bolt had come from, searching for its source. The answer came a few seconds later as another blot flew out of the wilderness towards her master. "I see her."

"Why didn't the TIE fighter deal with her?" Vader scowled as he batted the bolt away lazily.

"She, shot it down, my Lord." The Stalker and the Sith starred in astonishment at one of the Stormtroopers who'd managed to get back to his feet.

"She shot it down?" Vader sounded impressed as he deflected two more shots. "With a rifle?"

"We believe so my Lord." The trooper rubbed the back of his head.

"Impressive." Vader mused as he casually blocked Tandis next attack. "Bring her in alive. I would very much like to meet this Lothal Sniper." The Stormtrooper nodded before running to relay the orders. "As for the rest of you." Vader turned to the other rebels, lightsabre still in hand. "The Jedi will please the Emperor greatly, the rest of you will die. Nyria." The Stalker didn't move. Vader turned and glared at his slave. "Kill them." Nyria starred blankly back at the Sith Lord. "Now." The Stalker bowed her head.

"Yes, my master."

##

The howl of two TIE fighters filled Tandis ears, there was no sense of danger this time though. Somehow the red head knew they weren't here to kill her, slowly she climbed to her feet and dropped her rifle. Ezra, no, Remnous was down and the rebels were caught, she knew when to call it quits. As the TIE hovered above her, Tandi slowly raised her arms into the air.

"I hope you're right Remnous."

##

Nyrias white and red lightsabres sprung to life as she advanced on the Rebels.

"Ashoka, you don't have to do this!" Rex pleaded.

"I'm sorry Rex. But I do." The former Jedi raised her lightsabres and closed her eyes.

"Lord Vader." Vader spun around to see a withered old man, covered in a heavy black cloak approaching.

"Master?" Vader froze as the Emperor glared at him from beneath his hood.

"You have been busy my friend." Palpatine glanced about the landing pad with distaste. "I would have preferred to have learned of Ezra Bridgers capture from you personally, rather than through the Imperial Network."

"Yes, my Master." Vader took a step forward.

"Silence." Palpatine snarled. "Did you think I did not know what you were doing? I know you were planning to destroy me with Starkiller and now Bridger. You have grown arrogant Lord Vader must I put you in your place?" Vader was silent. "I see." The Emperor shook his head. "Bring Bridger to me at the Death Star, my personal Star Destroyer is in orbit now. I will deal with him."

"Yes, my Master." Vader growled. "What of his friends?"

"Bring them to me. All of them." There was a flash of light and the Emperor vanished, leaving a droid in his place.

##

Galen groaned as he rolled over onto his back, in a stroke of luck he'd managed to land on a small natural rock platform. He'd used the force to break his fall, but the impact had still knocked the wind out him. The Jedi ran a hand over his face as he sighed, he had failed, Juno had been right as always, Ezra didn't want to be saved, he could tell that much now he could sense his former apprentice's true strength unleashed. It dwarfed all of his expectations, he had created a monster, a monster he'd never had a chance of controlling.

"Juno?" Galen tapped his com as he got to his feet, "Vader has the rebels, home in on my signal we're going after them." The Jedi sighed and turned on the spot, then froze. He wasn't alone.

Sabine was sat on the edge of the platform; her helmet was next to her on the ground and Galen could see the look of hatred on her face.

"We have an open com line." Galens heart sunk.

##

The TIE fighter carrying Tandi landed in its docking port aboard the Emperors Star Destroyer. She could see the rebels being led down of the ramp of the Lambda-class T4a shuttle that had been sent to collet them. The sniper could clearly make out Bran and Allana, she could almost feel their fear.

"Move it Rebel!" Tandi looked up, the pilot had opened the hatch and climbed out.

"A bit difficult right now." Tandi raised her bound hands and shrugged. The pilot groaned, he'd obviously not thought of that. Eventually he managed to hoist her out of the fighter and she awkwardly scrambled onto the ladder the deck crew had rolled into place.

"Move." The pilot roughly shoved her and she stumbled down the stairs towards the other rebels. Two Stormtroopers were wheeling Remnous down shuttles the ramp, the troopers were flanked by two men in red robes and matching helmets, the masks were completely featureless save for a black bar across their eyes.

"Who're the red guys?"

"Don't ask questions rebel." The pilot snapped and shoved Tandi forwards again.

"Stand down pilot." Tandi froze, an icy chill had washed over her.

"My apologies Lord Vader." Tandi turned to see Darth Vader towering over her, the Sith Lord regarded her coldly for a moment, she could swear she felt his stare.

"So, you are the sniper." Tandis stomach sunk, there couldn't be a good reason for Vader singling her out. Slowly, she nodded. "Interesting. We must talk." Vader firmly took her by the shoulder and turned her away from the Rebels.

"Tandi?" Allana's voice called after her. "Where are you taking her?" There was the sound of a scuffle, then a loud "Hey!" followed by a loud thud and Allana crying out in pain.

"Allana!" Tandis eyes went wide, Bran hardly ever spoke!

"Allana?" Tandi squirmed in Vaders grip as she tried to turn back to her friend. Vader paused, he seemed to notice her tone. The Sith Lord turned around, Allana was lying on the ground clutching her stomach. "Leave her alone!" Tandi roared as she unsuccessfully tried to free herself from Vaders grip. Bran looked just as enraged as he struggled against the grip of two Stormtroopers.

"Why should he?" Tandi glared up at Vader, she could have sworn the bastard was enjoying this. "She's resisting.

"Allana, Bran, stand down! That's an order! I'll be fine." Vader shook his head.

"Not good enough." The Sith Lord nodded at the Stormtrooper who barely hesitated before kicking Allana hard in the stomach.

"What are you doing?!" Tandi desperately tried to pull Vaders hand off her shoulder. There was a cry of outrage from the rebels and their guards hurried to restrain them. Vader ignored Tandi and nodded at the trooper again. Allanas scream turned to a harsh cough as the troopers' boot collided with her stomach again. The trooper didn't wait for further instruction and continued to kick the dark-haired girl. "Why are you doing this?" Tears ran down Tandis face as she fruitlessly struggled against Vaders grip.

"If you don't like it, do something about it." Vader said simply. The sniper glared at the Sith, do something about it? What was he on about? Tandi turned back to Allana, anger was building up inside her, she could feel it flowing through her, it felt, good.

"Leave her alone!" The Stormtrooper ignored her, Tandi snarled. "I said, leave her alone!" The sniper thrust her arm. The Stormtrooper was thrown off his feet and into the air. There was a moment of stunned silence, panting, Tandi starred at her hand.

"Just as I thought." Vader grinned smugly.

##

Galen grunted in pain as Sabines fist connected with the side of his face, the Jedi was knocked off his feet.

"Get up." Sabine snarled as she cracked her knuckles. "I wanna knock you down again."

"Sabine."

"Get up!" Sabine aimed at kick at Galens side and managed to connect it. Galen gritted his teeth before climbing to his feet.

"Sabine." He was cut off as Sabine hit him again.

"It was you!" Sabine was livid, her eyes burned with an intense hatred as she scowled down at the Jedi. "You took Ezra from me! You turned him into a monster!" The Mandalorian aimed another kick at Galen but he managed to avoid it and get back to his feet. "You tore our family apart!" Sabine pulled her lightsabre from her belt and activated the blue blade. Eyes wide Galen ducked around Sabines enraged strike. "We were happy until you came along! You did this! All of it!" Tears in her eyes the Mandalorian thrust her lightsabre at Galens heart! The Jedi dodged aside and plucked the weapon from her grasp with the force. "Give that back!" Sabine snarled as she lunged forward and landed a blow on Galens chest. The Jedi grunted and stumbled a little but stayed on his feet. "Haven't you taken enough from me?!" Sabine hit Galen in the chest again, the blow was much softer this time as Sabine began to sob. "He's gone." The realisation was beginning to truly sink in, Ezra was gone, dust in the wind, she hit Galen again. "He's gone!" The Mandalorian hit the Jedi weakly one last time before she leaned her head against his chest and began to cry. Grimly, Galen wrapped an arm around her.

"I'm sorry."

##

Hera sat in her cell staring blankly at the opposite wall. Ezra was beyond saving, Galen was the one who had taken him from them, Sabine might be dead and they were about to be delivered into the hands of the Emperor. For the first time she could remember, Hera no longer had the will to fight. It would almost have been better if Ezra was dead, at least his memory would have been preserved. The person she'd seen on Atollon and Mustafar was someone else, someone who honestly terrified her. She'd lived through the clone wars, she'd witnessed the Jedi in action but she'd never seen one rip a whole cruiser apart with their mind alone. Whoever Ezra had become, if he turned against them the Rebellion was doomed. Her despair was made all the worse by Vaders revelation about Galen. She had trusted him, welcomed him and Juno with open arms, all the while he'd manipulated them and given them false hope, false hope always seemed to hurt more when it was taken away.

##

"Sit." Vader guided Tandi to a chair and firmly pressed on her shoulder until she sat down. The Sniper glanced nervously around the office Vader had led her to. "You have a rare gift sniper." Vader sat down in the seat behind the desk and fixed his gaze on the red head.

"My name is Tandi." The Sniper glared at Vader, she could still feel the adrenalin from earlier coursing through her, setting her nerve endings alight.

"You are exceptionally brave." There was almost amusement in the Sith Lords voice, "you are aware of what you are aren't you?" Tandi didn't answer, she was still processing what had happened in the hanger. She'd never even dreamed that she could use the Force. "I see." Vader leaned back in his chair.

"I know about the Force, why do you care if I have it? Don't you want Remnous as your apprentice?" Tandi chose her words carefully, wearily eyeing the cyborg.

"Initially." Vader nodded, "however, it is likely the Emperor will have me kill him to prove my loyalty. Your rebel friends will be publicly executed, painfully." The Sith Lord leant forwards. "However, there is no need for you to share their fate. I will hide you from the Emperor and teach you to control your gift, all you ned do is swear allegiance to me." Tandi scowled.

"Already coming up with a backup plan? I'll never serve you or your Empire! Not after what it's done to the galaxy, not after what it's done to me." Vader sighed and shook his head.

"Did some overzealous officer drive you from your home? Or were your family executed as traitors?" Tandi glared fiercely.

"That's none of your business."

"If only you truly understood the power of the Force, of the Dark Side." Vader leaned back in his seat. "Very well, the hard way it is. Guards." The door behind her opened and two Stormtroopers hurried in. "Take her to the cells with the rest of the rebels."

"Of course, my lord." Tandi was sized roughly by the arms and pulled to her feet.

"You will waver in time." Vader said simply as he spun his chair around to face the window behind his desk. "I'm exceptionally gifted at breaking people."

##

The Rogue Shadow nimbly dodged its way through the Imperial blockade around Mustafar and into hyperspace. Juno sat back from the controls and glanced nervously over her shoulder, Sabine was sat hunched over in a chair, her expression blank. The pilot had honestly expected her to try and kill them both, Galen had her lightsabre clipped to his belt, the sight of it there brought back some old and unpleasant memories of their time on Felucia.

"Are you sure she's ok?" Galen glanced over at her, his expression indecipherable.

"No, no she isn't."

"I get that, but she liable to try and kill us both?" Galen shrugged.

"It's me she hates, not you, not that I don't deserve it."

"You know I can hear you right?" Sabines voice was hallow, she wasn't looking at them. Juno blushed while Galen bowed his head.

"Sorry." Juno muttered awkwardly. There was a moment of tense silence.

"So, where are we going?" Sabines voice was cold and disinterested as if she didn't actually care what their destination was.

"After Vader and the Rebels." Galen answered immediately, Juno shook her head.

"A bit difficult since we don't even know where they're going."

"I'm working on that." The Jedi closed his eyes and leaned back in his seat, the pilot frowned.

"What are you doing?"

"Mediating" Galen frowned. "Jedi can sometimes see visions of the future.

"Have you ever done this before?"

"Not like a Jedi would." Galen shrugged, Juno rolled her eyes and turned back to the controls. A few minutes slipped by in silence, then slowly, objects scattered around the ship began to levitate into the air. Sabine frowned and turned her gaze to Galen.

"No." Galen murmured quietly. "No, Kota!" The objects fell to the floor with a clatter as Galen sat forward his eyes flying open.

"What?" Juno turned away from the controls and back to Galen. "What did you see?"

"A massive…. Space station."

##

Remnous came to on a comfortable bunk in a well-lit room, the walls were a stark white, adorned with large banners, each with the symbol of the Sith emblazoned on them.

"Ok." The Sith said uneasily. "Wasn't expecting this." Dazedly he rubbed his forehead with his right hand, then froze. His right hand? The Sith looked down at his arm and was startled to discover someone had grafted a new prosthesis to the stump of his arm. The black armour plating shone glossily in the bright light. It was perfect, lightweight and dexterous, yet Remnous could sense he could crush bone with it if he wanted to. Perplexed the Sith took a moment to inspect himself and quickly discovered that someone had stripped him out of the worn Mandalorian armour Galen had given him and redressed him in what could only be described as a high-end Imperial Officers uniform. A black double-breasted tunic with matching trousers and a black belt with a shiny silver buckle, he was wearing a black gauntlet on his left arm. In place of bars indicating rank, the Sith symbol was imprinted on the left breast of his tunic. "What is this?" Remnous frowned, where was he? Where was Vader? What was going on? Sabine! The Sith sat up, Vader had thrown her off a cliff, his heart sunk, was she dead?

The door opened and two men in crimson robes and helmets glided in, they both carried staffs.

"The Emperor wishes to see you."

##

"I'm coming with you!" Sabine snarled at Galen, wishing she still had her lightsabre. "They're all I have left."

"Sabine, I have to do this, alone."

"Alone, are you insane?" Juno starred at Galen incredulously.

"Yes!" Galen snapped, then frowned, "yes to the alone part, not to be being insane."

"Galen that's suicide."

"Maybe. But I have to do it." The Jedi turned back to Sabine, "you were right. This is my fault, which is why I have to be the one to rescue them. My life is a worthy trade for theirs." Sabine glared at Galen, then sighed.

"You keep on like that and you just might start to sound like a Jedi, Starkiller."

##

The guards led Remnous through a maze of corridors, flanking him on both sides. The Siths face was a perfect, placid mask. There wasn't even a hint of his excitement on display, finally, it was happening, it was time to take his place in the Empire. His conquest, once a distant pipe dream was about to begin in earnest, he could almost taste the power. A slight smirk played across Remnous's face, breaking his placid expression as his golden eyes gleamed. His escort came to a halt in front of a large door, this was it, he could feel it! One of his guards reached out and dialled a command into the control panel next to the door; it slid open. Still flanked by his crimson keepers Remnous advanced into the Emperors observation dome.

"Welcome my young friend!" The titanic space was dominated by a grand staircase leading up to a great black throne. The Emperor, a withered old man had risen from his seat to great the Sith. Remnous knelt respectfully at the bottom of the stairs, his head bowed.

"My Lord." Palpatine grinned, revealing a mouth full of rotten teeth.

"My, you are a respectful young man, aren't you?" The old man clapped his hands together as he starred approvingly down at the young Sith. "Rise, my friend." Slowly, Remnous rose, his own grin slipping away as he raised his head towards the Emperor. "I have waited a very long time to meet you."

"You have?" Remnous was taken aback, the Emperor had been expecting this meeting?

"Oh yes my friend." Palpatine had made his way down the stairs "I was aware of my apprentices plans to destroy me. When I learned of your transformation, I seriously considered dispatching one of my Stalkers to eliminate you while you were still weak." Remnous raised an eyebrow.

"I get that." The Sith shrugged, Palpatine chuckled.

"How understanding of you my friend, however before I could give the order I was struck with a vision of the future, I saw just how powerful you are destined to become, far more powerful than Lord Vader." The Emperor seemed to relish saying that as he prowled around Remnous, inspecting him from every angle.

"I'm flattered." Remnous grinned as his eyes followed the Emperor.

"I have no need to flatter you." The Emperors tone had changed, it was sharper now. "This is yours?" The old man withdrew Remnous's lightsabre from the sleeve of his robe.

"It is my lord." The Siths eyes narrowed, the mood had shifted, there was danger in the air.

"And you know how to use it?" Remnous smirked. "I see." Palpatine started back up the stairs towards his throne. "Perhaps a demonstration is in order? Guards!" There was a snapping sound as all six red garbed guards stepped forwards, raising their staffs in unison. "Bring me his head." The Emperor smirked, tossing Remnous his lightsabre as he eased himself into his throne, ready to watch the show.

The guards each activated a lightsabre blade on the heads of their staffs and began to advance on Remnous. The Sith grinned, the multiple blades of his lightsabre springing to life.

"Let's break in this new arm."

##

The Rogue Shadow flew through the gargantuan frame work of the Death Star unnoticed. The dark ship came to a halt in mid-air and floated as the ramp descended. Galen Marek carefully made his to the edge of the ramp and peered down into the abys of technology below him.

"Keep the ship cloaked and beyond scanner range." The Jedi turned to Juno and Sabine, who'd followed him part of the way down the ramp. "Sabine, this is yours." Galen unclipped Ezras old lightsabre from his belt and tossed it to the Mandalorian. Sabine neatly caught the hilt and nodded once before turning and heading back into the ship.

"Bring them back."

"She's doing better than I expected." Juno said quietly as the Mandalorian left. "I have a really bad feeling about this."

"Then maybe we're doing something right." Galen smiled at her before turning back to the abys.

"Am I going to see you again?"

"If I can free the rebels, they'll need extraction." Juno frowned at Galens back, the Jedi sighed.

"Probably not, no. Juno," Galen turned to the pilot. "You were right, I never needed you to fly the ship, that was never why you're here." The Jedi cleared his throat, "the truth is, well, the truth is…"

"Oh, shut up." Juno took a few steps forward and grabbed the Jedi by the hips, pulling him in for a kiss. Galen gently caressed her cheek before they broke apart.

"Goodbye Juno." Galen smiled as he spread his arms and pitched backwards into the abys.

##

Remnous kept his head in a constant swivel as the Emperors bore down on him; brandishing their lightsabre pikes menacingly.

"So," the Sith smirked. "How do you guys wanna do this? You want to try coming at me one at a time or are you all come at me at once?" Remnous chuckled. "Either way's fine with me." One of the guards lowered his pike to Remnous's chest height and charged towards the Sith.

Remnous dodged nimbly to the side and neatly sliced the guards pike in half, the Sith allowed his lightsabres momentum carry it downwards as he spun on his heels. As Remnous whipped around he swung his lightsabre upwards, taking the guards head clean off.

"One at a time then?" Remnous grinned, he felt good! Better than good, it was like he'd been wearing armour that was too small but he hadn't realised it until he took it off. For the first time in months he could breath, he felt at ease in his own skin now he was free of the light.

He could feel someone behind him! Remnous ducked backwards as two lightsabre pike blades flew inches passed his face. Remnous spun around and back upright as the guards stumbled forwards, the Sith raised his left hand. Lightning tore from his fingertips, striking the guards squarely in the backs. As the crimson warriors fell to the ground howling in agony, Remnous broke off the lightning and raised his left hand into the air and clenched his fist. One of the three standing guards was pulled into the air; Remnous pulled his fist towards his chest. The guard flew through the air and was impaled on the end of Remnous's lightsabre. Palpatine chuckled to himself as his two remaining guards began to circle the Sith.

"Excellent." There was a loud beeping and a hologram of Galen Marek was projected next to the Emperors throne, the old man sneered. "So, he lives." Palpatine pressed a button on a small control panel on the arm of his chair. "Lord Vader, your apprentice had arrived on the Death Star, deal with the boy." Palpatine pressed another button on the arm of his chair. "Commander, bring the rebels to my observation dome, including the girl Lord Vader is hiding away from me, fool that he is."

##

Galen jogged through the Death Star, after dropping through the station's framework; he'd climbed into the stations massive laser tube and fought his way through its inner workings until he found a colossal round door.

"Juno, I'm close, I can sense Vader nearby." The Jedi raised his hand and focused his will on turning the doors massive lock.

"Yes, the Emperors observation dome should be just beyond that lift."

"I'm ready…" The Jedi squared his shoulders and marched through the doors.

"Then may the force be with you." Galen picked up his pace as he ran through the curved corridor, tensed and ready for an attack, he was surprised he'd met no resistance from the Emperors guards. The door at the end of the corridor opened and Darth Vader walked through it towards him, his lightsabre in hand. Galen slowed to a walk, his lightsabres coming to life.

"I've taught you well, but you still have much to learn." Galen shook his head.

"You have nothing left to teach me."

##

The door of the observation dome opened and the Rebels where led in. Panting, Remnous looked up from the bodies of the Emperors guards, the Sith scowled.

"Why are they here?" Palpatine grinned as he descended the stairs.

"You are powerful young one, but I must judge your conviction, which of the Jedi was your master?" Remnous raised an eyebrow; then he turned and pointed at Kanan.

"Him." Hera and Kanan glanced nervously at each other as Zeb glared at Remnous.

"Can't say 'is name traitor?" the Stormtrooper stood behind the Lasat shoved his blaster into his back.

"Shut it Rebel." Remnous chuckled.

"That's rich Zeb, you don't even know his real name." Zeb frowned and glanced at Kanan.

"What?"

"His real name is Caleb Dume." Remnous scoffed as two Stormtroopers pulled Kanan forward at the Emperors signal. "He left his master to die and deserted the Jedi Order so he could spend years hiding at the bottom of a bottle." The Sith grinned. "He isn't the hero you think he is." Kanan bowed his head as the shame of his failure washed over him. Taking on Ezra as an Apprentice had been his way of repenting, he'd been so determined to protect him, to stop him from making the same mistakes he had. He'd failed, spectacularly, the young man he'd met on Lothal was gone, swallowed up in a sea of rage and pain, never to be seen again.

"Kill him." Hera gasped in horror as two Stormtroopers grabbed hold of Zeb who had surged forwards. Rex grimaced as he felt a hand clap onto his shoulder to hold him in place, the clone glanced over at Tandi, the red head had awkwardly put of her bound hands on Allanas shoulder and was quietly murmuring.

"Look away."

"Kill him now and take your rightful place at my side." Palpatine urged Remnous. The Sith grinned, he'd known this day was coming for a long time now.

"Alright." Palpatine grinned as the Stormtroopers holding Kanan forced the Jedi to his knees. Remnous strolled forwards, the blades of his lightsabre bathing him in blood red light. Kanan starred sadly up at his former Apprentice.

"I failed you Ezra, I'm sorry." Remnous shook his head.

"Tell him when you see him." The Sith raised his lightsabre into the air.

There was a crash as Darth Vader was flung through a window and into the observation dome. The Siths helmet had been knocked off and his armour was in ruins, smoke rose from his cybernetics as he struggled for breath, his respirator wheezing weakly.

Galen Marek quickly followed him, glaring down at the beaten Sith Lord, face lit up in the light of his parents' lightsabres, there was minute of stunned silence. Then Palpatine laughed.

"Impressive, I didn't think you had the power to best Vader as you are." The old man grinned, "you've earned your vengeance, kill him." Galen glared down at Vader, hatred coursed through him as he thought of how Vader had cut down his father in front of him and all the years of suffering the Sith Lord had forced on him. Then he paused, he thought of the vision he'd had in the Jedi temple, the warrior with his face, deformed and monstrous.

"Look at me." Vader raised his head to glare at his former apprentice, Galen took a step back, starring at the broken man before him. His hatred had turned to disgust, both in Vader and himself. The face starring up at him had greyed, its eyes sunken and hollow from years spent in the Dark Side, just as the face of Sith Warriors had been. Vader was barely even a man, what had his rage brought him? Pain and loneliness, a life sealed in a life support suit. Galen realised he didn't had Vader, he pitied him. In that moment Galen reaffirmed his pledge to the light, he would not end up like the broken man before him. The Jedi took a few more steps back and deactivated his lightsabres.

"What are you doing?" Remnous stormed towards Galen, a look of betrayal and disgust on face. "Kill him! You turned me so you could do this and now he's beaten and helpless, you're not going to end him?!" Galen shook his head.

"Look at him." The Jedi pointed at Vader. "He's a sad, broken little man, killing him isn't worth the weight on your soul." Remnous's eyes narrowed.

"You always told me you don't have a soul Starkiller."

"That's not my name anymore, my name is Galen Marek." Galen laid a hand on the younger man's shoulder, he'd grown so much they nearly stood eye to eye. "It's never too late to seek redemption, all may be redeemed in the light." Remnous snorted.

"Converts remorse." Galen sighed.

"Maybe, I'm sorry Ezra, I'm so sorry for everything I've done, to all of you." Galen glanced over Remnous's shoulder at the rebels. Remnous frowned deeply and blinked a few times in confusion.

"You're sorry?" There was a moment of silence, Galen bowed his head. Remnous patted the hand on his shoulder. "You're sorry." Remnous snarled and drove his lightsabre into Galens lower abdomen.

"Galen!" Kota cried out in horror as Galen gasped weakly, he starred down at the blood red blade for a moment before raising his gaze to meet Remnous's. The Sith glowered, his golden eyes shining with hatred.

"Sorry isn't good enough Marek." Remnous twisted the blade raising a cry of pain from Galen. "I don't want your apology Jedi, I want my destiny!" The Sith deactivated his blade, Galen slumped to his knees, dazedly his fingers traced around the hole in his gut before he fell to the ground and lay still.

##

"Galen!" Juno pressed her finger to the com in her ear and tried to hail the Jedi again, they'd left the line and the pilot had heard everything.

"What? What's happened?" Sabines voice surprised Juno, she'd almost forgotten the Mandalorian was there.

"Galen, I think he…" Juno trailed off, "I think he's been…" Sabines eyes widened and she gulped.

"What happened?" the pilot starred weakly up at the Mandalorian.

"Ezra." Sabine grimaced, she should have known.

"Where are they? He'd found the others, we have to get them out or all this was for nothing." Juno nodded slowly.

"Right, he activated his tracker."

##

Remnous, eyes glimmering with rage turned on Vader, his lightsabre springing back to life.

"I've been waiting for this for so long." The Sith thrust his blade forwards into Vaders chest, there was a groaning sound and the rasp of Vaders respirator stopped. Vaders eyes widened with panic as he fought for breath. Remnous knelt next to old Sith, a cruel smirk playing across his face. "Don't fight it old man, you have a nice long sleep, I'll take it from here." Vader glared at Remnous as he struggled unsuccessfully to get a lung full of air. "There's something you should know, before you go." Remnous chuckled darkly. "I've felt your guilt, I know you think you killed her beloved Padme, but you didn't." Vaders eyes widened as the edges of his vision began to go black. "She survived long enough to bare your children." Vader weakly tried to speak, Remnous laughed coldly. "You didn't even know about them!" The Sith shook his head, still grinning. "It's better this way, you won't have to see what I'm going to do to your daughter. Vader gasped weakly one last time, then slumped backwards, eyes staring blankly forwards, the Sith Lord was dead.

"Excellent." Remnous looked up to see Palpatine descending from his throne. "Lord Vader was a broken shadow of his former self. I knew I would have to replace him eventually. There is but one more test." The Emperor pointed at Kanan. "Destroy your ties to the Jedi and you will at last be a Sith Lord!" Remnous nodded and reactivated his lightsabre as he towered over the kneeling Jedi. Kanan allowed a solitary tear to run down his cheek as he stared up at his failure. Remnous raised his lightsabre into the air and gritted his teeth.

There was a muffled boom accompanied by a huge flash light as one of the huge observation windows shattered as a small missile hit it. The atmosphere in the dome began to vent as air was pulled out into space. The blast doors began to slam shut, in the seconds they were moving there was a blur of colour and Sabine flew into the room, her lightsabre coming to life.

The Mandalorian allowed her jetpack to carry her forward as the blast door slammed shut. Remnous grunted as he fell to the ground, his eyes widened as he saw Sabine.

"You're alive!" The Siths face lit up in a relieved grin and he hurriedly got to his feet. "I should have known, if he could survive that fall there was no way you couldn't!" The Mandalorian glared icily at the Sith from behind her helmet and raised her lightsabre. Remnous's grin faded. "Please, don't do this."

"What choice do I have?" The Mandalorian launched herself at the Sith and the two were locked into a brutal duel. The Mandalorian made liberal use of her jetpack, darting out of the Siths reach only to soar over his head and attack him from behind. Remnous snarled, he didn't want to kill her if he could avoid it, there was still time to change her mind and win her back.

"Finish her!" The Emperor snarled as he indignantly picked himself up off the floor, glaring at the intruder. Unnoticed, Kota stretched out his hand and subtly summoned Galens fallen lightsabres. The blind general nudged Kanan, who nodded and neatly caught Galens yellow lightsabre, his own gaze fixed on one of the colossal windows and the Rogue Shadow, which was coming in to land on a small landing pad next to the observation dome.

"You should have joined me!" Remnous snarled as his boot managed to connect with Sabines chest and knock the Mandalorian to ground, knocking all the wind out her. "Now, you'll have to die." Remnous raised his lightsabre, teeth gritted as prepared to strike the death blow, he hesitated for a second.

There was a pained howl as Galen tackled him from behind and sent the them both tumbling to the ground.

"Interfering fool!" Palpatine snapped with annoyance and raised his hands, the air was filled with a static charge as lightning shot towards Galen. Just in time the Jedi rolled away from Remnous and onto his knees; raising his hands to block the Emperors assault.

"GO!" Galen grunted with effort as he rose to his feet. Kota and Kanan activated Galens lightsabres and began to cut the others binders as the rebels sprinted towards the Rogue Shadow. Galen, almost doubled over in pain began to advance on the Emperor, lightning washed over him and power began to built up between the two force wielders. The Jedi gritted his teeth and let out one last defiant scream as his and the Emperors hands touched.

There was a blinding flash of light. Kota paused and looked back for a second, the blind Jedi shook his head sadly before turning and running for the Rogue Shadow.

##

Remnous stumbled to his feet as the light faded away and clumsily made his way over to Palpatine. The Emperor was staring distasteful at Galens prone form.

"He's dead, my lord."

"Then he is more powerful than ever, his sacrifice will only spur the rebels on!" Palpatine shook his head bitterly. Remnous fidgeted nervously.

"My, apologise my lord. I failed" The Emperor shook his head.

"No, my young friend, I could feel your intent, you would have killed them both had he not interfered, you are worthy of my teachings. Kneel." The young Sith sunk to one knee, his head bowed. "You have cast off the links to your past, on this day, Ezra Bridger truly dies. Rise, Darth Remnous, my Apprentice."

Remnous rose to his feet, grinning with gleaming golden eyes.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice
The Rogue Shadow shot away from the incomplete Death Star; pursued by a pack of TIE Fighters the dark ship banked steeply downwards to avoid a barrage of green laser cannon fire. Juno gritted her teeth as she wrestled with the controls.
“Hera, I need a co-pilot up here!” The blond grunted as she activated the in-ship intercom. Below in the cargo bay the Twi’lek hurried to the door as the other rebels collapsed from exhaustion, all of them still reeling from the events that has just unfurled before them. Galen was dead and Remnous had taken Vaders place at the Emperors side, if he hadn’t been interrupted, he would have killed Kanan and Sabine, Ezra was truly lost to them once and for all.
The Mandalorian slumped back against a wall, her hands balled into fists as tears welled up in her eyes behind her helmet. As she began to pull it off her fingers brushed the scanner, it lowered and her headset display was filled with a video feed. Sabine paused, her helmet had limited recording capabilities, but she didn’t remember recording this.
The camera was lying on its side, she could see the Death Watch ship Remnous had flown to Lothal, the Sith was sprawled out on the landing ramp. ‘It must have activated when Tandi shot off my helmet.’ Sabine thought to herself, she saw Tandi pull up on her speeder bike and hurry over to check her own unconscious form, then she cautiously made her way over to Ezra. Sabine’s eyes narrowed as Ezra pulled off his mask, the audio was very faint and she strained to hear it.
“Tandi, you have to let me go.” Sabines eyes widened.
##
The Rogue Shadow spun through space amidst a gale of green laser fire, Hera hurriedly took the co-pilots seat and turned her attention to the controls.
“What do you need me to do?” The Twi’lek glanced over at Juno and supressed the fit of rage that built up in her at the sight of her, this wasn’t the time of that.
“Plot the jump to hyperspace, I’ve got my hands full avoiding this lot.” Juno’s gaze never wavered from the controls. The door behind them opened and Kanan and Kota came in.
“How are we doing?” Kanan glanced worriedly at Hera as he sank into the seat behind Heras.
“It doesn’t look good.” Juno muttered as the ship rocked and the speed dropped slightly.
“What was that?” Kota reached out a hand to find a wall and steady himself.
“They got us,” Hera gulped, “the hyperdrive is shot, we can’t go to hyperspeed!”
“Huh, this is what that feels like.” Juno muttered dryly.
“What are we gonna do?” Kanan rubbed the back of his head nervously. “We can’t avoid them forever.” There was a moment of tense silence. Then Juno thumped her fist on the console and snarled.
“Oh, to hell with this!” The pilot banked the ship sharply to the starboard side and into a wide arc, swinging them back around to face the oncoming TIE fighters. “I’m not going out with my tail between my legs!” Juno looked over at Hera. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry for what I let Galen do to your son. I should have tried to stop it.” Hera sighed, then nodded slowly. The two pilots turned back to the controls.
“You need some help Rogue Shadow?” The holographic image of a fair skinned woman appeared over the console.
“Senator Mothma?” Hera gaped with astonishment, Juno nudged her and pointed out into open space. Half a dozen X-Wings had dropped out of hyperspace, swiftly followed by two blockade runners and a Nebula class B frigate.
“Indeed, Captain Syndulla.” Mothma smiled. “Your crew won’t be dying today Captain.” The X-Wings banked steeply and descended through space, each letting loose a torrent of laser fire at the scattered TIE fighters. The Imperial Ships were caught in a crossfire as the Rogue Shadow also opened fire. Kanan gripped the back of Heras chair and flinched as a TIE exploded right next to them, rocking their ship violently in the void. “Our fighters will keep the Empire busy, but we mustn’t linger, the Empire won’t want the existence of that monstrosity revealed to the populace. We’ve prepared a docking port for you.”
“Thank you, Senator!” Hera sighed with relief. “How did you know we were here? Sato said not to expect a rescue.” Mothma frowned.
“That is a conversation that is best saved for when you are aboard.” The hologram flickered out and a light lit up on the console. Juno frowned and tapped the accompanying button.
“Coordinates and docking codes.”
“Let’s get out of here!” Kanans gazed lingered on the distant Death Star, the Jedi could almost sense Remnous watching them. “This isn’t over Remnous, not by a long shot.”
##
Allana leaned heavily against Tandis shoulder as the Sniper helped her to the Nebulas medical bay. The dark-haired girl had a large, hand shaped bruise coming through across her face and she was clutching her stomach with her free hand, wincing with every other step.
“I’m so sorry.” Tandis voice was filled with regret and shame, but Allana shook her head weakly.
“Not, your fault.” The smaller woman said breathlessly.
“But it is!” Tandi snapped. “I’m the leader, it’s my responsibility to keep you safe.” Allana smiled.
“Don’t think you’re in charge anymore honestly.” Tandi paused and thought about it for a moment, then glared.
“Well you’re still my responsibility, I do outrank you.”
“Whatever you say Lieutenant.” Allana chuckled weakly, then flinched, “ow.” Tandi shook her head.
##
Hera, Kanan, Zeb, Kota and Juno followed the Rebel sent to guide them through the brightly lit frigate to the bridge, Mon Mothma was waiting for them, a life-sized hologram of Sato projected next to her by a nearby astromech with bright red panelling.
“Senator.” Hera warmly took Mothma’s hand in her own. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you in person.”
“Wait, you know Mon Mothma?”
“That information was on a need to know basis Master Jarrus.” Mothma glanced at Sato, “as a Senator my involvement with the Alliance had to be kept a closely guarded secret.”
“Much like my own.” The Rebels turned to see Bail Organa stood in an open doorway.
“Senator Organa?” Kota cocked his head to the side with pleasant surprise.
“It’s good to see you again old friend.” Organa smiled warmly at the blind general.
“Likewise, but what brings you out here?” Organa glanced uncertainly at Mothma and Sato.
“We were hoping you would be of some help with that.” Mothma tapped a few commands into a nearby console, Fulcrums symbol was projected into the centre of the cabin via holographic emitters.
“This is Fulcrum.” The voice was so heavily altered it barely sounded natural, there wasn’t a hint of the messenger’s true voice. “Ezra Bridger has turned on the Alliance, begin the immediate evacuation of the Atollon facility and despatch a rescue party to these coordinates, the Emperor is holding the Spectres aboard an incomplete weapons platform. If you want to have any chance of stopping Bridger, you’ll need the Jedi. Fulcrum out.
“Fulcrum? Wasn’t that Ashoka’s call sign?” Juno looked to Hera for confirmation, Sato answered.
“The Alliance has many operatives that use the call sign Fulcrum, however, what’s curious about this transmission is that is wasn’t sent by any of them.” There was a collective mummer of surprise from the Rebels, Rex felt a spark of hope in his chest.
“Given the sensitive nature of the message we elected it was too dangerous to ignore.” Organa pressed a button on the console and the image faded, Senator Mothma and I contacted Commander Sato and ordered him to prepare the evacuation of Chopper Base while we confirmed the report.”
“Needless to say, what we found was certainly alarming.” Mothma shook her head gravely. “A station that size? It could carry enough fire power to annihilate an entire fleet singlehandedly.”
“And what of the report of Lieutenant Bridger betraying the Alliance? Should I sound the evacuation order Captain Eclipse?” Sato was making an effort to be professional, Hera sighed.
“They’re true.” Mothma closed her eyes, a pained look on her face. Hera continued, “the situation is worse than Fulcrum implied, Ezra hasn’t just betrayed us, he’s become the Emperors new Apprentice.” Bail gasped.
“But what about Vader?” Kota shook his head.
“Vader’s dead.”. The Alliance commanders exchanged worried glances.
“Begin the evacuation of Atollon commander.” Mothma turned to Sato. “If Bridger has betrayed us it’s too dangerous for the Phoenix cell to continue operation. You’ll have to be dissolved and absorbed into other operations.”
“Tell your fleet to scatter into hyperspace.” Organa sighed, “they’ll be sent the locations of their new cells.”
“As you command.” Sato nodded, then looked over to Hera, “you have my condolences.” Sato vanished.
“I’m having the Ghost brought to Yavin.” Mothma turned back to the Spectres, “you’ll be working for me from now on.” The door opened and Sabine burst onto the bridge, her helmet clutched under her arm.
“Hera!”
“Sabine? What’s wrong?” The Twi’lek frowned as the Mandalorian barged passed a technician and started plugging cables from the holographic display systems into the scanner on her helmet.
“You all need to see this.” Sabine dialled a few commands into the projector controls.
##
Tandi sat next to Allana’s bunk and gingerly held her friends’ hand. The medical droid had administered pain killers and given her something to help her sleep. The door opened and Bran hurried in, he saw her and raised an eyebrow.
“She’s going to be fine.” Tandi smiled, “The medic said she just needs time to heal, she’s sleeping.” Bran nodded and sat down in the chair on the opposite side of the bunk, he grimaced when he saw the steadily darkening bruise on Allana’s cheek. They sat in silence for a while, then Bran cleared his throat. “Hmm?” Tandi glanced over the bed, Bran raised an eyebrow and nodded at her. “I’m fine.” Bran scoffed and leaned back in his chair folding his arms over his chest. “I’m fine.” Tandi snapped, “yes, I have the Force, no, I had no idea and have no idea what to think about it and yes Vader was terrifying, but I’m fine.” Bran rolled his eyes and shook his head. “I’m fine.” Tandi turned back to Allana, she looked so small…
The door opened again and three Rebel soldiers followed Sabine into the medical bay, there was a look of total hatred on thee Mandalorians face.
“Get up!” Sabine snapped at Tandi, the sniper cautiously got to her feet. “Lieutenant Thurinos, I’m placing you under arrest. Sabine roughly took Tandis shoulder as one of the soldiers produced a pair of binders. Tandi grimaced, she should have known this was coming. Bran frowned and started to get to his feet.
“Stand down Bran.” Tandi shook her head as she let her arms be secured behind her back.
“What’s this about?” Bran growled lowly as Tandi was led to the door.
“Your friend let Remnous escape on Atollon.” Sabine snarled as she harshly shoved Tandi out the door.
##
Juno sat starring glumly out of a window into hyperspace, the vortex was oddly beautiful, the pilot scowled, nothing had a right to be that beautiful, not now.
“He’s at last one with the Force.” Kota sat down next to her, bitterly wishing he could enjoy the view.
“You always knew who he was, didn’t you?” Juno wiped a tear out of the corner of her eye. Kota smiled.
“I suspected, yes.” Juno frowned.
“Then why did you help us? After all the things we’d done?”
“When he came to me at the bar, among all his dark thoughts, I glimpsed, one bright spot. One beautiful thing he held onto, even at the end.” Juno felt fresh tears start to well up in her eyes.
“What?” Kota smiled and placed a warm hand on her shoulder.
“You.”
##
Tandi hadn’t bother resisting as she was frogmarched to the turbo lift, she knew she deserved what was coming. Sabine had a hand clenched tightly on her shoulder as they rode the lift upwards, the Mandalorian was scowling.
“Why’d you do it?”
“I owed him.” Sabine scoffed and rolled her eyes.
“You saved his life, you were even remember?” Tandi snorted.
“It that why you hate me? Because I saved him while you watched, useless from the side-lines?” Sabine snarled and Tandi winced as the Mandalorians grip on her shoulder tightened.
“Chopper base is compromised because of you! Phoenix Squad is being dissolved, you letting him go cost the Alliance an entire cell and any hope of freeing Lothal.” Tandi shook her head and chuckled. “This is funny to you?!” Sabine snarled.
“Lothal doesn’t need the Rebellion to free it, not now that Remnous sits at the Emperors side.” Sabines eyes narrowed.
“You knew.” Tandi laughed.
“Yes, I knew!” The Sniper grinned, “I knew exactly who he was and who he was going to become. He told me after I saved his life, I guess he trusted me more than you.” The Mandalorian looked just about ready to tear the Snipers head off when the doors to the lift opened. Half a dozen rebel soldiers stood waiting for them.
“Thank you, Commander Wren.” One of them nodded at Sabine. “We’ll take her from here.”
“What?” Sabine blinked in confusion.
“Senators Mothma and Organa would prefer to speak with Lieutenant Thurinos in private.”
“She isn’t a Lieutenant she’s a traitor.” Sabine snarled and glared at the sniper, “alright, you take her from here.” The Mandalorian shoved the Sniper forwards.
“Just you wait and see Sabine.” Tandi smirked, “the galaxy he’s going to build, you should have joined him when you had the chance”. The lift doors slammed shut, and Tandi was led down the corridor and towards the bridge by her escort of soldiers.
The Sniper took a deep, steadying breath as one of the soldiers pressed a button next to a door, she was ushered onto the bridge. Hera sat with the Senators at a briefing table, the bridge was noticeably deserted.
“Sit down Tandi.” Heras voice was grim. “We need to talk.”
##
“This is just another kick in the gut.” Zeb rubbed a large hand over the back of his head and he shook his head. “We aren’t doing well for loyalty, today are we?” The Lasat and Sabine were stood in an alcove just off the corridor that lead to the bridge.
“It’s worse than that.” Sabine sighed, “she knew Ezra was going to betray us.”
“What?” Zeb shook his head, “why would she help him knowing he was just going to turn around and serve the Empire? I thought Tandi hated the Empire.” Sabine shrugged.
“She hated it enough to start her own rebel cell, she was going on about him building a better galaxy.”
“It’s less surprising now we know she has the Force I suppose.” Zeb shrugged, “maybe Ezra’s been teaching her dark side tricks.”
“Tandi has the Force?!” Zeb slapped his forehead.
“Right, you weren’t there for that, on the Emperors Star Destroyer Tandi used the Force to knock out a bucket head that was beating up Allana. She seemed to be surprised as the rest of us but we know we can’t trust her.” There was the sound of a blaster going off and the two Rebels were immediately on edge.
“That came from the bridge!” The Mandalorian and the Lasat ran down the corridor towards the bridge. The door opened before they could get to it and Mon Mothma was forced out of the door, Tandi had an arm wrapped round the Senators neck and was holding a blaster against her head.
“Back up!” The Snipers eyes were frenzied and full of hate. Zeb and Sabine froze, unsure what to do they looked to Mon Mothma for instructions. “I mean it!” Tandi snarled. “Back up or I’ll blow her head off!”
“Do as she says!” Mothma muttered fearfully. Glaring, the two Spectres stood aside and allowed the Senator and the Wraith pass them.
“Don’t follow me.” Tandi glared back. “All I want to do is leave, let me go and you’ll get your precious senator back!”
“Senator?” Sabines hand clenched around the hilt of her lightsabre, she could still take her out with stun bolt.
“Let her go.” Senator Organa was stood in the doorway to the bridge, a large red lump on his cheek. “It’s not worth the risk.” Zeb could have sworn Organa and Tandi made eye contact for a second before the Sniper pulled Mothma into the turbo lift and the doors slammed shut behind her.
##
Tandi pulled Mothma through the ship, her stolen blaster pressed firmly against the side of the Senators guilt. Any Rebels they came across quickly let them pass, she could feel their hatred as they glared at her.
“There.” Mothma pointed, down a corridor. “There’s an X-Wing docked with an airlock at the end of that corridor.” Tandi nodded and released the Senator and backed towards the airlock, keeping her blaster trained on Mothma as she went. “Good luck.” The Sniper nodded respectfully before stunning the Senator and running for the airlock, Bran and Allana were waiting for her. Tandi skidded to a halt, a look a horror on her face. Allana was leaning heavily against Brans side.
“Is it true?” The dark-haired girl drew her blaster from its holster on her thigh. Tandi sighed and nodded.
“Yes.” Bran closed his eyes and scowled with disappointment, “Bran, let me explain.” Bran shook his head.
“Don’t.” Bran helped Allana prop herself up on a pipe on the wall before he drew his own blaster and started to advance on Tandi.
“Bran, don’t make me do this.” The Sniper raised her blaster. Bran grunted as a stun bolt him in the back and he fell forward onto the deck plate. Tandi gaped with astonishment as Allana lowered her blaster.
“Why’d you let him go?” Tandi opened her mouth to answer, then shut it again, unable to from the words. “Do you love him?” Tandi bit her lip, then nodded. Allana sighed. “Then go be with him.”
“They’ll know you let me go.”
“Not if you stun me.” Tandi nodded sadly and raised her blaster.
“I’m sorry.”
“Don’t give in to hate.” A single tear ran down Allanas cheek, Tandi pulled the trigger. Tandi rushed to catch Allana as she slumped and gently lowered her to the ground.
“I promise.” The Sniper tenderly pressed her lips to the smaller girl’s forehead in a final farewell before hurrying to the airlock and dialling a few commands into the console next to it. The doors opened and Tandi hurriedly crawled into the tunnel into the cockpit of the X-Wing.
It took her a moment to familiarise herself with the controls, once she had a basic idea of what she was doing she sealed the airlock and shut the hatch. Gingerly she pulled on the helmet she’d found on the seat and disengaged from the frigate.
The tiny fighter was swept up into the vortex of hyperspace and Tandi gritted her teeth as she tumbled through space, the cockpit filled with blinding purple light. As soon as it had appeared the light dissipated and Tandi was left hanging alone in space, just as promised the Death Stars coordinates were still programmed into the X-Wings navigational computer.
Wearily, the Sniper brought the ship about and activated its hyperdrive, the X-Wing was propelled forwards into hyperspace.
##
On the Nebulas bridge, Hera starred out into the void of hyperspace, Senator Organa stood next to her, they’d just received word that Senator Mothma had been found, stunned, but alive. Allana and Bran had been found unconscious as well, a medical team were looking after them now.
“Did we do the right thing Bail?” The Twi’lek sighed tiredly.
“I certainly hope so Hera.” Organa pressed an ice pack against his cheek. “We’re in the long game now.”

Chapter Text

The Apprentice
*Three Days Before the Battle of Scarif*
Rain lashed down harshly on Kamino while the sea thrashed as waves crashed and broke against each other, roaring into the sky like an imprisoned leviathan. Taun We, administrative aide to the Kaminioan Prime Minister Lama Su stood patiently as Lambda class shuttle finished its descent and came in to a graceful landing. Gases hissed from valves as the loading ramp lowered to the ground, three figures strode into the rain. A tall man led them, he wore a black leather trench coat over a black Imperial Officers uniform with a black peaked cap, the edge of the red Sith symbol just visible on the left breast. As he walked the rain froze in in place, hanging in the air as he passed only to fall as soon as he’d moved away. A deep scar ran down the left side of his face and his golden eyes gleamed coolly.
A woman followed a few steps behind him on his right-hand side. She wore a grey officer’s uniform with black gauntlets and a blood red beret, a pin decorated to look like the crosshairs of a rifle scope was pinned to it, marking her as a member of the Empires most elite sniper unit; The Deathmarks. Her face was covered in freckles and her red hair had been brushed and pinned back into a tight bun, her green eyes were cold. Like her companion the rain stopped in mid-air as it was about to hit her.
A Togruta followed a few feet behind them, cloaked in a heavy black robe and hood, she made no effort to deter the insistent rain and was quickly soaked by the storm and sea spray. The cold didn’t seem to bother her as she strode through the elements, her gait was off and she leaned ever so slightly on her right leg. Taun Su bowed respectfully as the transparent doors opened, allowing the party entrance of the same gleaming white atrium Obi-Wan Kenobi had entered over two decades ago
“Lord Remnous.” The Kaminoan bowed slightly. “You honour us with your presence once again.” Remnous nodded curtly as he pulled off his coat and hat, casually tossing them at a service droid.
“Taun We, I trust there have been no delays.” The Kaminoan shook her head.
“Of course not, my Lord. We have been working none stop to complete your order.” Taun We gestured to a door which opened smoothly as if on que. “If you would like to follow me, Prime Minister Su will answer all of your questions.” Remnous nodded and turned back to his companions.
“Shall we Brigadier?” The Sith offered an arm to the red headed woman who smiled and slipped her own arm through the offered one.
“We shall my Lord.” Remnous glanced at the Togruta.
“Stay out of my sight.” The Togruta nodded under her hood respectfully. Taun We lead them through the stark white corridors of Tipoca. Of course, they weren’t really white, Kaminoans saw light in the ultra-violet spectrum, to them the walls and floors were covered in an array of beautiful patterns made up of bright colours, all invisible to the human eye.
Lama Su rose to meet them as the door opened for them, the Prime Minister looked particularly happy to see the Sith. That wasn’t surprising, after the Empire had phased Clone Troopers out of the military Kamino’s wealth and influence in the galaxy had quickly started to wane, Su was obviously keen to recapture some of Kamino’s old glory.
“Lord Remnous, Brigadier Thurinos” Su bowed slightly to each of them in turn.
“Prime Minister.” Remnous tilted his head respectfully. “I trust you are on schedule?”
“Of course. Please, take a seat.” Su gestured and three more seats descended from the ceiling.
“Two seats are all that’s necessary.” Brigadier Thurinos glanced over her shoulder at the Togruta, her upper leap peeled back slightly in disgust. Su shifted uncomfortably and nodded, the third chair ascended back upwards as Remnous and the Sniper took their seats.
“Now, to business” Su took his own seat. “I am delighted to report that your order is complete, my Lord.” Remnous raised an eyebrow and smiled with pleasant surprise. “Ten Thousand, just as you requested. The finest warriors ever produced at this facility, surpassing even the old ARC Troopers.”
“Very Impressive and the base genome? The last time we spoke you said you were having, ‘issues’, with the samples.” Remnous leaned forwards. “I trust there were no, compromises.” Su shook his head.
“Of course not, my Lord. True, our original samples were, contaminated, but we were lucky, there is one remaining source of the base genome, unaltered, just as the original specimens was.”
“And you secured it?” Remnous frowned, Su nodded.
“He was difficult to track down, but we found him.”
“Him?” The Prime Minister turned to the Brigadier.
“Years ago, when Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas commissioned the original clone army; a bounty hunter named Jango Fett was contracted to supply the genome we used as its template, as part of his payment he requested an unaltered clone for himself.”
“Unaltered?” Thurinos raised an eyebrow.
“Pure genetic replication, no tapering with the structure to make it more docile and no growth acceleration, so while our samples of the original host are unusable, we managed to track down the clone.” Su looked extremely pleased with himself. “Like his father, Fett demanded a substantial fee, but as you ordered Lord Remnous, we spared no expense.” Remnous smiled widely.
“Very good Prime Minister, to have raised so many troops to maturity in such a short time is a truly impressive feat.” Su suddenly looked uncomfortable.
“Yes, we have been, working hard.” Remnous nodded.
“Very hard it would seem.” The Sith chuckled. “Shall we drop the charade Prime Minister? The Emperor isn’t here.” Su cleared his throat loudly.
“I have no idea what you’re insinuating my Lord, but it isn’t appreciated.” Remnous shook his head, smiling humorously at the alien.
“Lama, we both know less than two years isn’t enough time to raise and train ten thousand clones, let alone troops as good as the ARC Troopers.” Remnous sat back in his seat and crossed his arms against his chest. “So, how long have you been making troops, and how many do you really have? Like I said, Palpatine isn’t here.” The Sith snorted. “The old fool doesn’t even know I’m here.” Su regarded the Sith Lord coldly.
“If we are ‘dropping the charade’ I can rely on your continued discretion?”
“Depending on your answer discretion may not be required for much longer.” Thurinos sat forward intently. “How many troops do you have Prime Minister? Not counting the ten thousand Lord Remnous commissioned.”
“One Hundred and fifty thousand.” Remnous chuckled darkly as the Brigadiers face split open in a delighted grin.
“One hundred and fifty thousand? Now that’s an army.” Remnous nodded approvingly, “you’ve been at it for a while then.” Su nodded begrudgingly.
“We’ve been at work for well over a decade. My people do not take kindly to Imperial subjugation.” Remnous nodded understandingly.
“I respect that, you are a proud people.” The Sith leaned forwards once again. “But an armed revolution is ill advised, the Empire would simply throw countless numbers of troops at you until your people’s spirit was broken and their homes destroyed.”
“Why bring down so much suffering upon them?” Thurinos’s voice was soft, her words were spoken gently and quite charmingly. “Change is coming to the Empire Prime Minister, great change,”
“Change?” Sus large grey eyes narrowed suspiciously.
“Tandi,” Remnous tutted disapprovingly. “I thought we’d dropped the charade?” The Sith turned back to the Prime Minister. “Myself and several key members of the Admiralty and Military are, unsatisfied with the current state of Empire and wider galaxy. We believe it is time for a change in leadership.”
“You’re planning a coup.” Su sat up a little straighter “and you want to use our army to support you.” Remnous nodded.
“Correct.”
“Why would I throw in my planets lot with a coup? The Empire would destroy us!”
“They’ll destroy you once they’ve found out about your little private army. A fight with the Empire is inevitable either way at this point. The question at this stage, is if you want to be on the wining side, or the losing side?”
“The new regime will need soldiers of a better quality then those Stormtroopers.” Tandi smiled, she could feel the Kaminoans doubt fading, they had him. “Kamino could be the backbone of the new galaxy.” Sama Su frowned deeply at the two Imperials, then bowed his head.
“You are most convincing, very well, you shall have the full host.” Remnous grinned.
“A most wise decision Prime Minister”
“They will need transport, we no longer have the ships to mobilise such a force.”
“That won’t be an issue.” The Brigadier smirked, “we have a trusted friend in the Admiralty who’ll take care of that.”
“We’ll only be taking the ten thousand with us today.” Remnous rose to his feet, “you’ll receive further instruction when we need the full force.”
“Of course.” Su rose to his feet. “You must be anxious to inspect the troops?”
“That’s why we’re here.” Remnous chuckled darkly.
“Please.” Taun We gestured to the now open door. “If you’d like to follow me.” Tandi rose to her feet and once again took the Siths offered arm.
“How have you guaranteed the quality of the troops?” Remnous asked Su as We lead them along a glass roofed walkway through the cloning facility.
“Our troops are subjected to rigorous training regimes, we are fortunate to have a veteran of the Clone Wars on hand to supervise the process.” Remnous’s pace slowed slightly.
“You have a veteran clone here?” Su nodded.
“Commander Cody of the Seventh Sky Core, he is our head of security.”
“The Commander Cody?” the Prime Minister frowned.
“I was not aware he had a significant reputation.” Tandi rolled her eyes.
“he fought alongside both Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi if I’m remembering correctly.” Remnous nodded.
“I must meet him.”
“I shall send for him” Taun We bowed her head, but Lama Su shook his.
“There is no need for that. I have already requested his presence, I thought you might want to ask questions about their training.”
“Very good.” The group came to a balcony overlooking the cavernous space of the Tipoca Military Complex. Remnous let out a low whistle of appreciation. “Magnificent.” Ten Thousand clone troopers dressed in the white and blue armour of the 501st Clone Legion stood in perfect formation below him, it was if the army were a never-ending sea of soldiers all stood at perfect attention.
“I’m glad you’re pleased with them my Lord.” Remnous turned to see an aged clone was stood at the far end of the banner, unsurprisingly he and Rex shared a strong likeness, but the differences were striking. Cody was lean and fit, like Rex, Cody had shaved his head bald, he didn’t have a beard but his face was covered in a light layer of stubble. He wore a suit of Stormtrooper armour, they could both tell he wasn’t happy about it.
“Commander Cody.” Remnous grinned as he offered the old clone a hand, Cody nodded respectfully as he shook the offer hand, then frowned slightly, noticing the grip. “It is an honour to meet you Commander, your exploits during the war are legendary.”
“Thank you, Sir. But I’m just a solider, all I did was follow orders.”
“Indeed, you did.” Remnous smirked, then he gestured to the assembled legion. “So, you were responsible for their training?”
“Yes Sir.” Cody grinned proudly down at the silent troops. “It was a pleasure to finally work with some real material again.” Remnous noted the clone’s tone.
“Dissatisfied with the quality of your garrison Commander?” Cody scoffed.
“The Stormtroopers? They’re useless.”
“Doubtlessly, if they didn’t notice the production of over a hundred thousand Clone troopers.” Tandi snorted, Cody raised an eyebrow in alarm.
“Relax Commander.” Remnous grinned, “Prime Minister Su and I have already reached an agreement over the matter.” Su nodded to confirm the Siths words. “You see Commander we’re planning to make some, changes, in the Empires management, certain positions will be opened and we shall need an army a cut above anything the Emperor can field, should the transition go less smoothly than planned, but,” Remnous chuckled darkly “that’s unlikely.”
“So, you plan to set yourself up as the Emperor, do you?” Cody crossed his arms against his chest and frowned at Remnous, the Sith Lord shrugged.
“I am Palpatine’s heir.”
“Not officially.” Remnous shrugged.
“I have friends in the Military and the Senate, these are deep seeded plans Commander, and the New Regime will need a Grand General.” Cody raised an eyebrow in surprise.
“You’re offering me the job?”
“I can’t think of anyone better, you know this army better than anyone, you’ve fought alongside some of the greatest warriors of the age and lived to tell the tale.” The Sith shrugged “that’s all I need to know to want you for the job.” Cody frowned.
“I serve the Empire, I’m loyal to the Empire.”
“So loyal you trained an army capable of taking it.” Remnous raised an eyebrow.
“That was different, those troops are to free Kamino.”
“And we will.” Cody raised an eyebrow, “when I become the Emperor, I’ll return Kamino to all it’s glory! You can fight for something you believe in again Commander, with troops worthy of your command! What do you say, General?” Cody frowned deeply, “Palpatine betrayed you, relegated you to guard duty, a solider of your calibre! Help me even the score!” Cody smirked, then saluted the Sith, Remnous grinned. “Welcome aboard, General Cody.” The Sith turned to Taun We “make sure the General is properly outfitted before we depart, he turned back to Cody and gestured to his Stormtrooper armour. “I don’t ever want to see you wearing that junk again, that’s an order.” Cody grinned broadly.
“Yes Sir.”
“Do you mind?” Remnous nodded down at the waiting legion.
“Of-course not my Lord.” Cody gestured to the centre of the balcony. Remnous gripped the balcony railing as he starred down at the ten thousand clones. He had his army, he had the Navy, soon he would have the Empire. Grinning, the Sith thumped his right fist against his chest before raising it into the air.
“Mare-cye!” There was a second of silence, then the complex was filled with the sound of ten thousand clones parroting their Lord.
“Mare-cye!”
To one side, Tandi was introducing herself to Cody.
“It’s an honour General.” Cody returned the salute, subtly checking the rank insignia printed on the Snipers tunic.
“At ease Brigadier.” The clone nodded appreciatively at Tandis beret. “Deathmarks aye?”
“General, this is Brigadier Thurinos, leader of the Deathmarks.”
“It’s a pleasure ma’am.” Remnous turned back to Tandi.
“Brigadier, will you supervise the loading process?” The Sith glanced back at Cody “my ship The Loth Wolf is in orbit, it’s an old Venator class, so you should feel right at home.”
“Of course, my Lord, but wouldn’t you like to do it personally?” Tandi frowned, Remnous had been planning this moment for over a year, she’d expected him to want to want to soak in every moment of it.
“Ideally I’d like to.” Remnous nodded, “but there is one last bit of business I have to take care of with Prime Minister Lama.” The Kaminoan bowed respectfully.
“As you wish my Lord.” Tandis frowned deepened what did Remnous have to do that she didn’t know about, he wasn’t in the habit of keeping secrets from her, but she knew it was best not to question him. He’d made that painfully clear on occasion.
##
The trading outpost known as the Ring of Kafrene teemed with activity. Ships departed and arrived on mass as an ever-constant stream of goods flowed through its ports. The lower levels were a throng of life as creatures from a hundred different species milled about, some urgently, some leisurely, each just trying to get about their business. Captain Cassian Andor, a Rebel Intelligence Officer made a point of not running as he weaved his way through the crowd, first rule of being on the run? Don’t run. Andor turned his face away from a pair of Stormtroopers as he passed them and inconspicuously made his way to an alleyway. He checked to see if he was being followed before hurriedly heading down the alley, he didn’t start running until he was about halfway down the pathway and out of sight.
A foot stuck out of a doorway and tripped him up. Cassian cried out in surprise as he fell to the ground, scrambling for his blaster as he rolled over to face the doorway. A Mandalorian stood in the doorway, her breastplate had been painted bright orange with a deep green symbol of the old Phoenix Squadron painted on the upper left side, she wore a Mandalorian vambrace on her right arm, it and her left arm guard as well as both painted a darker shade of orange with splashes of deep purple scattered across them. Her shin and knee guards were a deep green and she was wearing a jetpack, a missile loaded and ready. Her helmet had a base layer of purple paint with deeper orange highlights accenting the helmets decorations, before Cassian could raise his own blaster the Mandalorian drew a pair of WESTAR-34 blasters from their holsters and pointed them at him.
“Sloppy Andor, very sloppy.” The Mandalorian spun her blasters on her fingers before sliding them back into their holsters and offering Cassian a hand. “You should look where you’re going.”
“Good to see you too Wren.” Cassian rolled his eyes as he took the outstretched hand and let Sabine pull him to his feet. “What are you doing here?”
“General Syndulla sent me, we’ve gotten reports that the intel you’re chasing is linked to the battle station Mon Mothma encountered.”
“I could have handled it.” Cassian shrugged nonchalantly, Sabine shook her head.
“Hey, orders are orders, if this intel is what we think it is, maybe it’s best two of us know it, better chance it actually gets back to the alliance.”
“Speaking of which, should we?” Cassian pointed down the alleyway.
“Oh sure, yeah.” The two Rebels jogged down the alley and around a corner almost colliding with a man wearing an ill-fitting coat and hunching over an wounded arm coming other way.
“Tivik!” Cassian seized the man roughly by the arm and held him in place.
“I have to get back in board!” Tivik fidgeted nervously in Cassian’s grip.
“I came as quickly as I could.” Cassian shot Sabine a sideways look of annoyance. “Back to Jedha?”
“Walk with me, if I don’t get back onboard, they’ll leave without me.” Tivik made another desperate effort to get away but Cassian pulled him back again.
“Easy, you have news from Jedha?” Tivik sighed with exasperation before looking around them quickly.
“An Imperial pilot, one of the cargo drivers, he defected yesterday, he’s telling people they’re making a weapon. The Kyber Crystals, that’s what they’re for!”
“What kind of weapon?” Sabine seized Tivik’s other arm and the two rebels pinned the man against the alley wall.
“Look I have to go!” Tivik made one last desperate attempt to get away.
“What kind of weapon?!” Cassian snarled as he and Sabine pinned Tivik to the wall once again.
“A planet killer! That’s what he called it.” Cassian and Sabine each took a few steps back and gave the other a worried look.
“Planet Killer.” Cassian sighed tiredly.
“I know a station big enough to mount a planet killer on.” Sabine muttered darkly.
“Someone named Erso sent him, an old friend of Saws”
“Galen Erso?” Cassian frowned as Tivik shook his head. “Was it?”
“I don’t know! They were looking for Saw when I left!”
“Who else knows about this?” Sabine glanced worriedly up and down the alley.
“I have no idea, it’s all falling apart! Saws right, there are spies everywhere!” As if on que two Stormtroopers appeared from around another corner in the alley.
“What’s all this?” One of them pointed at them accusingly.
“Come on let’s see some identification.” Cassian sighed as Tivik backed away, Sabines left hand subtly moved to her left holster.
“Yeah sure, just my gloves.” Cassian raised his bare hands and shrugged before turning and bending as if to retrieve something from the alley floor, then spun around and shot the Stormtrooper on the left while Sabine shot the one on the right.
“No!” Tivik gaped at the bodies, “what have you done?!” The sounds of the shots had raised alarm up and down the alley and Sabine heard another trooper say.
“Troopers down! Section Nine!”
“Are you crazy?” Tivik paced back and forth in alarm, “I’ll never climb out of here! My arm!” Cassian caught Tivik by the shoulder and patted it comfortingly.
“Calm down” Cassian pointed the barrel of his blaster at the small of Tivik’s back. “We’ll be alright.” The rebel pulled the trigger, Sabine looked the other way as he toppled to the ground. “We should split up, melt into the crowd and get back to base.”
“No.” Sabine shook her head. “If we split up, we run the risk of the Empire catching both of us, this has to get back to Yavin. I’ll distract them, you run.” Cassian paused for a moment, then nodded.
“Good luck.” Sabine nodded back and activated her jetpack, she soared into the air until she could make out the incoming Stormtroopers. “Here goes nothing.” The Mandalorian mutter as she drew her WESTARs.
##
Taun We led Remnous and Lama Su through the restricted section of the Tipoca Military Complex, a female Kaminoan was waiting for them.
“Lord Remnous, this is Suma Li, the head of the memory research project.” Li bowed.
“It is an honour my Lord” Remnous nodded.
“How’s your progress?” Li straightened her shoulders.
“We have perfected the process of copying and altering memories, however, there have been some issues when it comes to implementation.”
“Issues?” Remnous raised an eyebrow, Li gulped nervously.
“In instances where the memories where implanted on a blank clone subject the memories integrate smoothly, just as you requested their personality is left unaltered and they believe the altered set of memories.”
I’m sensing a ‘however’ here” Remnous rolled his eyes.
“However,” Li took a deep breath, “when the memories are implanted on a subject with pre-existing, contradictory memories, they quickly destabilise, they descend into paranoia and obsession” Remnous sighed.
“Just as I feared, you have my thanks for your work Li, is your team ready to begin work on the next project we discussed?”
“Of course.” Li sighed with obvious relief. “We can begin as soon as we have the necessary materials.”
“I’m in the process of acquiring them.” Remnous glanced around the lab “gather your team and collect all the necessary equipment you’ll be working on Mustafar this time.” Li glanced worriedly at Su and We.
“My Lord, we would prefer to work here.” Remnous frowned.
“I don’t remember asking what you preferred.” The Sith growled “You have already failed to deliver what I asked, I don’t believe you’re in a position to complain.” Li looked like she wanted to argue her point further for a second, then she decided against it.
“Of course, my Lord.”
“Can I see him?” Li glanced at Su again before nodding nervously.
“This way my Lord.” Li lead Remnous towards a large set of blast doors. “He has been in isolation for thirteen days now my Lord, we gave him enough food and water to last, but he hasn’t said a word.” Remnous nodded.
“Leave me, go prepare for our departure,” Li nodded before hurrying away. Remnous raised a hand and the blast doors slid open revealing a large cell with a pit in the centre, the pit was covered by a layer of bars to stop its occupant from leaping out. The occupant, roused from his mediation looked up and glared at Remnous.
“Ezra.” The pits occupant looked and sounded exactly like Galen Marek, his hair had bene kept short and his eyes were still deep brown. “How long this time?”
“Thirteen days in isolation. Impressive.” Starkiller sighed.
“The Force gives me all I need.” Remnous felt his heart sink, it hadn’t worked.
“The Force?” Starkiller glared up at the Sith Lord.
“The Dark Side. My, Master.”
“Come.” Remnous swiped his hand through the air, the bars slipped back and the floor of the pit rose to floor level. Starkiller awkwardly got to his feet and obediently made his over to Remnous.
“Galen Marek’s Jedi Mentor has been captured.” Starkiller frowned
“Rahm Kota.”
“Yes, you will travel to Cato Neimodia and execute him.” Starkiller winced slightly and bowed his head he was hit with a sudden splitting headache.
“Vader thinks he’s turned you, but I sense your future, and he will not always be your master.” The headache receded, Starkiller sighed with relief.
“You are still plagued by visions?” Galen closed his eyes as the image of Remnous driving a lightsabre into his abdomen filled his vision.
“Yes, my, Master. I sometimes smell a forest on fire. I see the General falling, I feel the ground shake as a star ship crashes around me. I hear a woman’s voice when I try to sleep.”
“They are the memories of a dead man. A side effect of the cloning process and the memory flashes used to train you, they will fade.”
“And if they don’t?”
“Then you will be of no use to me.” Remnous flicked his wrist and Starkillers restraints fell away. “Marek’s emotions made him weak, must learn to hate what he loved.” The Sith Lord handed Starkiller a pair of lightsabres then beckoned behind him. A Stormtrooper marched into the room, his hand the shoulder of a young blonde woman.
“Juno!” Starkillers eyes widened with horror.
“Galen? You’re alive!” Junos arms were bound in front of her and she awkwardly struggled against the trooper’s grip. “Help me!”
“Kill her.” Starkiller gaped at Remnous, then he turned back to Juno, he looked down at the plain, black, featureless lightsabre hilts he was holding. The Stormtrooper pushed Juno onto her knees and back away.
“Galen, please don’t do it!” Juno whimpered as Starkiller advanced on her, he glared down at the pilot for a few moments, then spun on the spot, his red lightsabres coming to life as he slashed at Remnous.
“How utterly predictable.” Remnous scoffed as he flicked his wrist and sent Starkiller flying into the far wall. Casually, Remnous activated his own lightsabre and raised the blood red blade into the air.
“No!” Galen could only watch in horror as Remnous brought the blade down on Juno, she screamed, then froze in place, there was a ripple of light followed by a bright flash. Juno was gone, a droid, identical to PROXY lay in her place.
“Disappointing.” Remnous bowed his head. “The accelerated cloning process used to create you is, incomplete, those who came before you went made within months. I believed you would be the first success, but it seems you are to suffer the same fate.”
“What will you do with me?” Starkiller glared at Remnous. The Sith turned to face him, then started to walk towards him, his lightsabre humming menacingly. Starkiller glowered with hatred. Did he really think he would let him kill him? Starkiller waited until Remnous was within striking distance before he thrust his arms out, sending a telekinetic push at the Sith.
Remnous was flung into the air, as he crashed to the ground, he heard surprised cries from Lama Su and Tuan We. Groaning; Remnous slowly got to his feet, Marek was gone.
“My Lord!” Eyes rolling with annoyance; The Sith turned to see the Kaminoan Prime Minister hurrying towards him. “He escaped, should I have security try to stop him?”
“No. Let him go.” Remnous shook his head, Su frowned.
“Why, my Lord?” Remnous smiled.
“Prime Minister I find a game is more fun when your opponent has more pieces, you left the TIE fighter on the landing pad as I instructed?” Su nodded, clearly bemused.
“Plus, I owe him a debt, consider this my way of paying it off.” The Siths coms chirped, Remnous pushed some of his hair aside and tapped his ear. “Brigadier?”
“My Lord, we’ve received a message from the Imperial garrison on the Rings of Kafrene, Sabine Wren has been captured.” Remnous’s face spilt open in a haunting grin.
“Send word to The Loth Wolf, have the captain radio ahead, we’re going to the Rings of Kafrene, make sure the Kaminoans get their equipment set up onboard.”
“Yes, my Lord, as you order.” The Siths com chirped as the line went dead. Remnous grinned at Lama Su.
“Fates a funny thing Prime Minister, sometimes smiles on you.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice
Sabine thrashed in her restraints, snarling viscously as she glowered at the closed door of her cell.
“Just you wait till I get out of here you worthless chakaar!” The Mandalorian was strapped to an Imperial torture device, the hydraulic arms where retraced but the restraints where doing their job far too well. “I’m going to rip all your kriffing heads off!” Sabine put her energy into one final push against cuffs and straps; the Mandalorian slumped back, panting heavily, her energy spent. “Har’Chaak”.
“You kiss your mother with that mouth?” Sabine looked up to see the door had opened, the Mandalorian glowered with disgust.
“Tandi.”
“That’s Brigadier Thurinos to you rebel scum!” The redhead smirked, Sabine sat up best she could in her restraints to get a better look at the turncoat. Tandi was wearing a grey officer’s uniform, a collection of medals decorated the tunics right breast. Sabine hadn’t seen Tandi since she’d held Mon Mothma hostage and turned full traitor.
“Yeah, I heard you got promotion, and a flashy medal to go with it, ‘Champion of the Empire’.” Tandi rolled her eyes. “You must have been so honoured, a big fancy parade on Coruscant on Empire Day of all days.” Tandi shrugged, unfazed by the Mandalorians sarcastic tone.
“Not bad for a Lothal farm girl.” Sabine raised an eyebrow in surprise.
“You grew up on a farm?” Tandi scowled, she clearly hadn’t been thinking of what she’d been saying. The Mandalorian grinned, her eyes shining with delight. “So, at heart, the leader of the most lethal Imperial Sniper unit is just a farm girl who ran off to the big city with a bad boy?”
“You’re the one strapped to the table, rebel.” Tandi glowered at Sabine. “Why are you here? We know there was another Rebel with you, you know we’ll find him. Judging by the state of rebel we found in the alley, there’s no honour amongst rebel dogs, give him up. Your death will be, painless.”
“Fantastic pitch.” Sabine rolled her eyes at the red head as she shook her head. “Do whatever you want to me, I’m not talking” Tandi smirked.
“No, you won’t will you?” The Sniper turned away from the prisoner, “you don’t realise yet, but you will. Change is coming Sabine, I don’t serve the Empire, I serve the New Regime.” The sniper stuck her head out of the cell door and waved at someone at the far end of the corridor.
“New Regime?” Sabine frowned, “is that what the planet killer is for?” Tandi smirked, the Sniper turned back to the Mandalorian.
“Oh no, not at all, Lord Remnous personally thinks the idea is idiotic but the Emperor will not be deterred.” The Sniper glanced over her shoulder at the door, the sound of footsteps was echoing up the corridor towards them. “If you Rebels wanted to damage the Death Star; you’d need it’s schematics and I doubt your little alliance has the strength to assault Scarif.” Sabine frowned as the Sniper caught her eye and held her gaze for the briefest second.
“Brigadier?” The two women turned their gaze to the door, a clone trooper was stood in the doorway, he had a pair of binders in his hand.
“Yes, Captain.” Tandi pushed passed the clone into the hallway, “get her off the table and back to the transport, Remnous is waiting.”
##
Baron Merillion Tarko sat in his private box in Cato Neimodia’s grand arena and sighed tiredly as he ran a hand over his bald head in both frustration and boredom. Below him the blind Jedi Rahm Kota had just finished cutting down the last of the latest wave of creatures that were meant to kill him. Panting, the Jedi pointed his lightsabre at the Barons box.
“You’re running out of executioners Baron!” Tarko glowered down at his prisoner, when the Jedi had first been captured a week ago, he’d been eager to see the famed power of the Jedi, he’d expected the old man to succumb to exhaustion and fall to the endless horde of gladiators and arena beasts. Instead, Kota had spent the last seven days cutting down every foe sent against him.
“Try the Corellian Slice Hounds.” Tarko muttered begrudgingly to his Neimoidian aide, the alien bowed his head obediently and quickly set about executing the order.
“Sir?”
“What?!” Tarko groaned incredulously, one of his other Neimoidian aides was stood worriedly next to this chair.
“My Lord, we’ve received reports that an Inquisitorial TIE fighter has been detected entering the system.”
“That’s not possible.” Tarko rolled his eyes, “no one has seen an Inquisitor in years! No one has even seen Lord Vader in years.” The Baron scoffed, “mystics, they’re an extinct breed.”
“He has clearance my Lord, the ship is registered and has no citations placed against it on the Imperial Network.” The aide bowed his head meekly. “If it is an Inquisitor, perhaps it’s best not to anger him?” Tarko rolled his eyes in defeat.
“Very well, prepare a landing pad for him and send a squadron of Stormtroopers to escort him to me.” The Neimoidian aide frowned worriedly.
“Aren’t you going to meet him personally my Lord?” Tarko shook his head.
“If it were the alleged Lord Remnous who was visiting, I would consider it.”
##
The commuters, merchants and bystanders of the Rings of Kafrene had paused in their tracks to stare in awe at the company of Clone Troopers that was marching through the crowded streets. Mothers pressed their children to the sides of buildings as they stared fearfully at the silent soldiers, the legend of the Clone Army of the Republic still echoed through the galaxy decades after the last time it had been seen on a battle field, it was a haunting sight to those who had lived through the Clone Wars.
A small green Twi’lek, tears running down her face; pushed her way through the crowd and ran up to one of the marching clones. Gingerly, she reached up and pulled on one of his hands. Being fresh from Kamino; the clone had no prior experience dealing with a civilian population and was thus unsure of how to react to the situation. The girl pulled on his hand again more insistently and the trooper made a snap decision, he stepped out of formation and knelt to talk to her, leaning his blaster against his knees.
“What is it little one?” The Twi’lek sniffed loudly as fresh tears began to well up in her eyes.
“I can’t find my Mama.” The Clone paused, then glanced back towards the rest of the company, the formation had paused and the trooper could see the company leader talking to Lord Remnous, uh oh. That wasn’t good, he’d better get back in formation. The Clone turned back to the little girl to tell her he couldn’t help her, then paused, the Trooper sighed once again.
“Come along little one.” The Clone picked up his blaster and stood up, keeping a hold of the Twi’leks hand. “We’ll get you some help.” Remnous was making his way towards them, he wasn’t wearing his helmet and the trooper couldn’t help but notice that several people in the crowd were pointing at him whilst murmuring to each other with shock.
“Care to explain yourself Trooper?” Remnous frowned at the clone as crossed his arms over his chest. The clone cleared his throat, then straightened up slightly, pulling the little girls hand a bit higher into the air.
“She’s lost my lord.” Remnous’s frown deepened for a second, he glanced down at the girl for a moment, then his eyes darted around to look at the crowded street, a grin spread across the Siths face.
“Very good trooper.” The Sith knelt in front of the girl and smiled warmly, “it’s our duty to help the citizens of the Empire, even the smallest ones.” The trooper breathed a sigh of relief, then frowned as there was more insistent tugging on his hand, the clone looked down to see the girl starring worriedly up at him.
“It’s alright little one,” the clone nodded at Remnous. “This is Lord Remnous.” The girl turned her head away from the Sith shyly.
“What’s wrong child?” Remnous said gently, the Twi’lek slowly pointed at the left side of his face, the Siths smile slipped slightly. “The scar?” The girl nodded, Remnous paused, then smiled again. “Do you want to know how I got it?” The Twi’lek nodded slightly. “I got it in a fight with a Mandalorian Warrior!” The girl’s eyes lit up with excitement, her nervousness forgotten.
“Really?”
“Oh yeah.” Remnous nodded sincerely, “do you want to know a secret about that day?” The Twi’lek nodded excitedly, the Sith beckoned her forwards and the girl leaned forwards so Remnous could whisper in ear. “If I hadn’t had help that day, I wouldn’t be here now.”
“Who helped you?” The Twi’lek whispered back, it was a child’s whisper, audible to anyone who was listening closely.
“A very special friend of mine. She always has my back.” The Twi’lek smiled as she wiped her eyes. “Have you lost your mom?” The girl nodded at the Sith who smiled warmly back, “it’s ok, we’ll help you find her.” The Sith reached forward and scooped the Twi’lek into his arms before standing and turning back to the waiting Company Leader. “Commander, change of plans, have the company find the girls mother.”
“Right away sir!” the clone saluted before turning on his heels and marching to relay the orders. The trooper who had stopped to help the little girl hesitantly turned to re-join the rest of the company.
“Stay here trooper.” The clone stopped in his tracks, grimacing under his helmet. “At ease, remove your helmet.” The Clone paused before turning back to Remnous, pulling off his helmet and tucking it under his arm as he did so. Like all of the new batch of clones he was identical to his gene-father Boba Fett, however the clones each made an effort to distinguish themselves as individuals and this one was no exception. Like Cody he had shaved his head, unlike the general however he had grown a goatee. “What’s your name trooper?”
“GT-7480, Sir.” Remnous shook his head.
“I didn’t ask for you number, I asked for your name, I was under the impression you’d al been given names by each other.” The clone nodded, “let’s hear it then.”
“Mel, Sir.” Remnous frowned.
“Mel? The clone shrugged.
“The drill sergeant always said I was too mellow, Sir.” Remnous raised an eyebrow. “They gave me the name Sir.” Remnous chuckled.
“You did well, Mel.”
“Thank you, sir.” Mel smiled as he saluted, Remnous nodded approvingly.
“Stay close, while I work out what to do with you.” The combined effort of a hundred of Kamino’s finest soldiers made quick work of searching the street for the girl’s mother, it took less than ten minutes to find her at the far end of the street, hysterically asking anyone who passed her if they’d seen her daughter.
The girl herself had calmed down immensely and was positively beaming in Remnous’s arms as she examined the Siths lightsabre, Mel kept a watch on her nervously out of the corner of his eye.
“Hera!” Remnous’s head snapped up in alarm, Hera? “Hera!” An adult Twi’lek woman was running towards them, followed closely by two clone troopers who were struggling to keep up, the Sith turned to the child in his arms.
“Your name is Hera?” The girl nodded as she eagerly pressed Remnous’s lightsabre back into his gloved left hand and wiggled her way out of the Siths grip.
“Mama!” Hera ran as fast as she could towards the Twi’lek woman as she could. Remnous smiled as he watched the small family reunite.
“Motherly love, there’s nothing like it Mel.”
“I wouldn’t know, Sir.” Remnous frowned.
“Oh yeah, sorry.”
“Quite alright Sir.” Mel shrugged nonchalantly as the Twi’lek bundled Hera into her arms and shakily rose to her feet, fearfully averting her gaze from Remnous.
“Thank you.” She whispered meekly before turning and hurrying away, Hera waved at them from over her mother’s shoulder.
“Bye Remnous!” The Sith smiled and raised a hand in farewell before turning back to Mel, making sure to take in the sight of the shocked onlookers who were murmuring and pointing with astonishment. Altruism weren’t words often associated with the Empire and the curiosity the clone troopers had stirred up had blossomed into full blown intrigue.
“Shall we move on then?” Remnous grinned at Mel as they company reassembled into formation. “I think we’ve accomplished everything we set out to.”
##
Tarko rolled his eyes with dismay as Kota finished off the latest Rancor to be thrown into the ring with him.
“Send out the Gorog!” The Baron snarled as he leaned forward in his chair fixing the Jedi with a hate filled glare.
“Gorog?” Tarko’s eyes widened with alarm as his vision was filled with a blinding red glare and the hum of a lightsabre filled his ears. I don’t know what a Gorog is, but I’m guessing it’s some huge monster I’ll end up getting dragged into a prolonged fight with, I’ll pass.” Tarko gulped nervously. “On your feet Baron.” Tarko nodded and slowly rose to his feet, trying his best not to tremble as the searing heat of the lightsabre radiated onto his neck.
“What do you want?”
“I’ve come to collect General Kota.”
“Good Luck getting to him, there’s an army between you and him!” There was a humourless chuckle behind him and a hand seized his shoulder.
“That’s why I’m here, someone of your stature can’t mingle with the help, I’m betting you’ve got a private elevator.” Tarko scowled, “I’ll take that as a yes, lead the way Baron, but be careful about it, your life does depend on the next few minutes.”
##
Four refurbished LAATs were waiting for the company when it arrived back at the Imperial facility.
“Get aboard, I’ll send for you when we get back on the ship.” Remnous nodded to Mel as the other clones obediently towards the transports.
“Yes Sir.” Mel nodded to something behind the Sith before saluting and marching away.
“We were expecting you to wait.” Remnous turned to see Tandi and the half dozen clones he’d sent to collect Sabine making their way towards him, the Sith shrugged.
“I decided to take the company for a stroll, let them get some dirt on their armour and a taste of the outside world before the shooting starts.” Tandi nodded understandingly, the stroll had been more for the citizenry rather than the troopers. “Is she onboard?” Remnous looked around the Brigadier at the waiting transports expectantly, Tandi nodded.
“Yes, my Lord.”
“Well then.” Remnous clapped his hands together, a satisfied grin spreading across his face. “Let’s get back to the ship, have her moved to the brig as soon as we get aboard.” The two started to stroll leisurely towards the LAATs, Remnous had had them and dozens of others recovered from innumerable junkyards across the galaxy and restored to fully working condition. The Sith Lords personal ship The Loth Wolf had also been pulled from an Imperial scrapping facility and painstakingly restored in the year Remnous had trained in seclusion under Palpatine’s guidance. The Sith stepped onto the deck of one of the LAATs and offered Tandi a hand. The Sniper looked back across the facility, she watched as the clones patiently waited to board their transport. It would have been easy to mistake the scene as one from the clone wars. War was coming, and once again, it would be fought by the soldiers of Kamino. “Brigadier?”
“Sorry, my Lord.” Tandi took Remnous’s offered hand. “Just taking in the view.”
##
Kota warily kept his lightsabre raised as he panted tiredly. The sound of feet kicking up the arenas dust filled the blind man’s ears; Kota put a second hand on his lightsabre hilt.
“At ease General.” Kota grinned with relief as he lowered his lightsabre.
“By the Force! I knew you were alive!” Starkiller shrugged as he shoved Tarko ahead of him.
“Let’s see how long I stay that way.” Kota chuckled as he shook his head.
“It seems nothing can kill you boy.” The general frowned and tilted his head to the side inquisitively. “You brought a guest.”
“Yeah.” Starkiller rolled his eyes as he shoved the whimpering Baron forward a few more steps. “I’m guessing you already know Baron Tarko?”
“Oh yes.” Kota glared in Tarko’s vague direction. “You were wise to keep him alive boy, he’ll have valuable information for the Alliance!” Galen shrugged casually.
“I just kept him around as a meat shield, figured they wouldn’t shoot the guy who tells them who to shoot. You have a way out of here? I’ve got a TIE fighter, but it’ll be way too cramped if we’re taking this guy us.” Kota scoffed.
“You haven’t changed boy, you never think ahead.” The Jedi rubbed his temples tiredly. “It’s alright though, I have transport.” Kota pulled a signal transmitter from a pocket and held it up for Starkiller to see.
“Good. Let’s get out of here.” Starkiller roughly seized Tarko by the shoulder and roughly turned the Baron towards the arena’s exit. “Come on Baron, you have some talking to do.”
“I can signal the Rogue Shadow once we’re out of the arena.” The two bent their knees and leapt up into the spectators stands, Starkiller tightened his grip on the material of the Barons tunic and pulled the old man with him. Tarko screamed with terror as he flew through the air and cried out in pain as he crashed to the ground in an indignant heap, Kota scoffed.
“Have some dignity in your own kidnapping man.” Kota hauled Tarko to his feet as Starkiller activated his lightsabre and brandished it threateningly at the panicking spectators. They seemed to get his message and stayed relatively still as the two Jedi dragged the Baron towards the arenas entrance.
“You won’t get away with this.” Tarko mumbled fearfully as the afternoon sunlight washed over them. Kota raised his hand and pressed the button on the signal transmitter.
“Look around you Baron, we already have.” There was a moment of silence, then the whine of engines cut through the air as The Rogue Shadow descended towards them, its ramp lowering as it came up to hover just in front of the them.
“After you.” Kota gestured politely to the ramp.
“No, after you and our guest.” Starkiller smiled as he pointed at the ramp with the tip of his lightsabre blade. Kota chuckled as he pushed the Baron forwards.
“Getting ready to sing Baron.” Tarko flinched away from Kota as he hurried towards the ship.
“Alright, just don’t hurt m-” the Baron was cut off as a red laser bolt struck him in the chest. The Jedi could only watch as the old man crumpled to the ground.
“Who was that?” Kota glanced worriedly at Starkiller. The sound of a jetpack firing drew both their attention and Starkiller managed to get of glimpse of the green assassin as he flew away.
“Looks like a Mandalorian.”
“Bounty Hunter most likely.” Kota scowled as he leapt aboard The Rogue Shadow, Starkiller swiftly followed suit, the ramp closing behind him.
“Why would a Bounty Hunter shoot an Imperial Baron?” The ship rocked and Starkiller had to reach out and place a hand on the wall to steady himself.
“Probably to stop him revealing Imperial secrets.” Kota sighed as the door to the common area opened for them.
“Juno?” Starkiller glanced around hopefully as the ship locked onto its coordinates and went into hyperspace. “Where is she?” Kota sat down in one of the chairs and sighed tiredly.
“I don’t know.” The blind man shrugged, Starkillers eyes narrowed.
“What?”
“The Alliance is in chaos, the Empire's come down hard on us, I lost contact with her ship when I was captured.” Kota sat forwards. “The Alliance is stagnating. So many rebel cells together, the leadership has become writhe with bureaucracy. But now that you’re back, we can take the strike to the Empire. A major strike is what we really need in order to rally the troops-”
“I’m not him.” Starkiller sat down in the pilot’s seat heavily, Kota scoffed and shook his head.
“I may be blind, but I’m still connected to the Force-”
“I’m not Starkiller, I’m, I’m a clone. Grown in a vat to take his place.” Kota laughed as he stroked his chin with amusement.
“Is that what Remnous told you?”
“Yes.”
“I don’t believe it, no one can clone Jedi it’s never been done! And I can sense how powerful you are, we can put that power to good use-”
“You have no idea who I am and what I went through on Kamino.” Kota frowned.
“Kamino? The Empire hasn’t used clone troopers for years.”
“That’s what I’m telling you, why else would I have been held there?” Kota shrugged.
“Kamino also has incredible medical facilities, sophisticated enough to bring you back to life.” Starkiller shook his head.

“That’s impossible, I remember.” Starkiller trailed off as he heard Remnous whisper in his ear, ‘I don’t want your apology Jedi, I want my destiny!’ “I remember dying.” Kota frowned.
“If you’re a clone, how can you remember anything?” Starkiller sat back in his chair and rubbed his forehead.
“Remnous said they used memory flashes, whatever those are. I need a place to think this through. To meditate”
“We’re at war and you want a quiet place to think?” Kota got to his feet. “The Alliance will be destroyed while you’re wandering the forests of Kashyk or exploring the caves of Dagobah. You’ll let the galaxy die to go find yourself?” Starkiller frowned curiously at Kota.
“What are you talking about?” Kota looked annoyed, as if he’d let something slip.
“I don’t know. Nothing. Go wherever you want, take the ship it’s always been yours anyway. I’m going to get some sleep.” Kota turned and made his way to door, the blind man glanced back for a moment. “It’s good to have you back boy.” Starkiller sighed as she spun around in his chair to face the controls.
“Dagobah.”
##
Suma Li and her team waited nervously with their equipment in the atrium of The Loth Wolf’s brig. The door to the atrium opened and Darth Remnous swept into the room, his yellow eyes swept the room and settled on the Kaminoans. The Sith smirked as he pulled off his hat, Li nervously straightened herself as the Sith approached.
“Lord Remnous, we are ready to begin.”
“Good.” Remnous nodded as he glanced over the array of equipment that had to be carried by half a dozen clones. “I want to talk to her before you begin.” Li nodded quickly.
“Of course, my Lord.” The Sith pushed the Kaminoan aside and walked down the cell block until he found the Mandalorians cell, Remnous took a breath before opening the door. Sabine glared at him as the door opened, then she froze, a look of horror spreading across her face, she stopped struggling in her restraints and lay still on the Imperial Torture device.
“You.”
“Me.” The door closed behind Remnous as the Sith made his way into the cell, examining the Mandalorian. She’d died her hair bright orange with a midnight blue fringe and green highlights, they’d stripped her out of her armour, which lay on a low table in the corner. “You changed your hair.”
“You’re a tyrant.” Sabine turned her head away, deliberately not looking at the Sith Lord. “You wear the uniform well.”
“Nice new paint job.” Remnous nodded approvingly as he picked up one of the plates and examined it closely. “I’m blushing.”
“It’s got nothing to do with you!” Sabine snarled as strained against her restraints “It was for Ezra.” Remnous scowled.
“You never loved Ezra.”
“I never loved you!”
“You could have fooled me!” Remnous slammed his metal fist into the wall, the Sit took a deep breath before setting the armour plate down and turning to face the Mandalorian. “Sabine.”
“Don’t you come any closer.” Sabine glowered at the Sith, who chuckled dryly.
“Care to stop me?”
“Let me out of this thing and I will” Sabine glared icily, Remnous smiled.
“I’m sure you’d try.” Tentatively, the Sith reached out to caress her check, the Mandalorian lunged forward and attempted to bite Remnous’s hand. “What are you an animal?!” The Sith glowered as he pulled his hand back, starring at Sabine in disbelief.
“Don’t ever touch me!”
“I’ve done far more than touch you before.” Sabine shuddered in her restraints.
“Don’t remind me.”
“Don’t act like you didn’t love every second of it!” Sabine spat at the Sith. Remnous easily avoid it, but the message was clear. “Alright, hard way it is.” The Sith tapped his ear. “Doctor Li?” The Kaminioan answered instantly.
“Yes, my Lord?”
“You may begin.” Sabine frowned, begin what? The Mandalorian had a bad feeling about this, the cell door opened and several Kaminoans entered, followed by several more clones who were carrying a worrying amount of equipment.
“What’s going on?” The Mandalorian struggled fiercely as one of the Kaminoans pulled out a syringe.
“Saito, you assist me with harvesting the physical material.” One of the Kaminoans, presumably Saito, nodded.
“Yes Doctor Li.” Li pointed at the other two Kaminoans.
“You two prepare the scanning equipment.” Li turned the two of the clones and pointed at Sabine. “I need a blood sample, release and hold her arm.”
“Blood sample?” Sabine’s voice had risen in panic. As her hand came free, she aimed at punch at the trooper who’d released it only to have him catch her arm and grab hold of her wrist and elbow. “No!” Sabines eyes grew wide as Li approached with the syringe, her eyes flittered across to the other Kaminoans who were pouring over a strange machine with an odd helmet attached to it with cables. “No!” Remnous smirked as the door to the cell slammed shut down behind him.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice
When Remnous had had The Loth Wolf pulled out of the scrap pile he’d found it in, the Sith had taken painstaking measures in his efforts to have the ship restored to prime condition. That included some upgrades and additions, A year had been spent outfitting the old ship with the newest armour plating and shield generators, the engines and workings had been stripped and meticulously restored piece by piece. Some under hand deals with the Imperial Engineering Corps had secured Remnous with the best hyperdrive the Empire had ever managed to build, The Loth Wolf was a hell of a lot faster than she used to be. As we as the obvious repairs and upgrades, Remnous had had a few features built in for himself.
One of which was the room the Sith found himself now, on one of his rare visits to the dry dock, the Sith had ordered a small section of the starboard bridge be portion off and replaced with a private audience chamber. Remnous had done away with the larger than life holographic projections Vader had favoured and had instead order half a dozen charging booths be install along the far wall of the chamber, each booth housed a PROXY droid. The rest of the room was spartanly furnished, a low couch ran along the wall opposite the booths, a low-set Dejarik board and stool stood next to it, all of them were pitch black to match the walls, floor and ceiling. Dim lights were set into the floor around the seating area, leaving the booths in shadows.
“Begin call.” Three droids advanced on him out of the darkness, each shimmering with blinding light as they activated their holographic projectors. Emperor Palpatine stood in the centre of the three, the old man was shrouded in a long black robe, a hood covering his face. Grand Moff Tarkin stood to the left of Palpatine, he examined Remnous distastefully out of the corner of his eye. Grand Admiral Thrawn stood to the right of the Emperor, the Chiss nodded to Remnous respectfully who knelt in front of the Emperor.
“My Master.”
“Lord Remnous.” Remnous subconsciously relaxed, he had quickly grown adept at reading his Masters tones and moods, there was no danger here. “Rise my friend.” Remnous quickly got up.
“How may I serve thee, My Lord?” The Sith bowed his head humbly, Tarkin rolled his eyes.
“There have been some, complications, with the Death Star project.” Thrawn shook his head as Remnous scoffed, his docile demeanour slipping instantly.
“How am I not surprised?” The Sith turned back to his Master. “What’s Krennics incompetence caused this time?” Thrawn smirked smugly at Tarkin.
“Perhaps it’s best to allow Grand Moff Tarkin explain the situation.” Tarkin glared at the Chiss before begrudgingly turning to face Remnous again.
“There was a leak in Krennic’s operation that compromised the security of the Death Stars secrecy.” Remnous rolled his eyes.
“The Rebels already know about the Death Star.”
“But the wider Empire does not.” The Moff, the Admiral and the Sith all turned to face the Emperor. “We cannot allow its existence to be known by the citizenry until it is operational.” ‘Don’t want them to know about the gun until it’s loaded, eh “master”?’ Remnous raised an eyebrow.
“Of course not, my Master. I will ensure the leak is dealt with.” Tarkin scoffed.
“It has already been dealt with, Sith.” Remnous glanced at Thrawn for confirmation, the Chiss nodded.
“As crude as Grand Moff Tarkins actions were, they were needless to say effective at eliminating the possibility leaks out of Jedha City.” Thrawn glanced distastefully at Tarkin, “since Jedha City no longer exists the likelihood of further leaks is significantly lower.” Remnous frowned.
“What do you mean Jedha City no longer exists?” Thrawn glared at Tarkin again, the temperature seemed to drop slightly.
“I ordered a demonstration of the weapons destructive capabilities, with the source of leaks located in Jedha City it seemed only natural to kill two birds with one stone.” Remnous’s fists clenched as the Sith shook with fury.
“You ordered Jedha City’s destruction?” he turned back to the Emperor. “My Lord, I have insisted from the day I took Vader’s place at your side that the Death Star is a foolish endeavour. Countless credits and lives poured into it and for what?” Remnous shot Tarkin an icy glare. “The Empire would become dependent on the weapon, if it were compromised in any way, we would be left venerable and facing a populace with even more inclination to rise against us.” Tarkin scoffed.
““Us””
“If you have something to say about my loyalties, Grand Moff Tarkin, say it.” Remnous took a deep breath and reminded himself that if he put a lightsabre through Tarkins chest, he’d only be damaging another expensive droid. Tarkin looked as if he was ready to sat more, then he glanced at the Emperor and decided against it. Remnous sighed tiredly as he massaged his temples.
“At least the leaks have been dealt with.” Thrawn coughed, Remnous glanced over at the Chiss for a second before turning back to Tarkin and raising an eyebrow. “They have been dealt with, haven’t they?”
“I have dispatched Krennic to deal with the source of the leak at our research facility on Eadu.” Tarkin glowed with a smug pride, Remnous frowned.
“Eadu? That’s Erso’s facility.” The Sith slapped his forehead with his left palm. “Karabast! The whole project is rotten from the top down!” The Sith glared at Tarkin fiercely. “When Krennic gets back from dealing with the leak on Eadu, I want him removed as director of the Death Star project.”
“I have already relieved Director Krennic of command of the project.”
“You’ve taken control of the project?” Remnous sighed exasperatedly as Tarkin nodded. “Replacing incompetence with more incompetence, that’s about right.” Tarkins eyes flashed.
“How dare you?! You who once fought against us!”
“Enough!” They both fell silent at the Emperors command, Palpatine rolled his eyes under his hood. “Krennic has requested an audience with me to explain himself, I had him redirected to you, Lord Remnous.”
“Why me?”
“It is time for you to start taking a more active role in the Empire my Apprentice, put Krennic in his place and I will have further instructions for you.”
“It will be done, my Master.” There was a flash of light as Tarkin and the Emperor disappeared, leaving Thrawn and Remnous alone in the dark room.
“Grand Moff Tarkin continues to resent your presence it would seem.” Thrawn raised an eyebrow at Remnous, who smiled drily as he turned to the Dejarik table and bent to retrieve the bottle and one of the glasses resting on it.
“Quite understandable really,” the Sith uncorked the bottle and poured a healthy amount of liquid into his glass before setting down the bottle and turning back to Thrawn. “A man of his status can’t enjoy having one of the people directly responsible for his personal Star Destroyers destruction so close by and not being allowed to kill him.” Remnous took a sip of his drink and shrugged. “Either way it’s highly entertaining for me.”
“Quite.” Thrawn smirked. “I trust your trip to Kamino yielded the results we had hoped for?”
“Better.” Remnous grinned as he took a seat on the low couch.
“How many?”
“One hundred and fifty thousand, four cores, as well as the New 501st.” Thrawn nodded with approval. “More than enough to keep any dissenting systems in line.”
“Excellent, when are we moving ahead? I must make preparations for their transport, moving an adequate number of ships to Kamino to ferry them without the Emperors knowledge will take some.” Remnous nodded understandingly.
“We’ll have to wait until the Death Star has been secured before we can make a move anyway, whatever happens we’ll either need the damn thing on our side or destroyed.”
“Perhaps its destruction would better suit our goals, if the weapon were actually used to destroy a planet it will do more to rally systems to the Rebellions aid than the past nineteen years of Imperial rule.” Remnous nodded in agreement.
“Perhaps we can utilize the Rebellion to that end.” Thrawn raised an eyebrow as he smiled with approval.
“Preparing a scheme my friend?” Remnous shrugged as he took another sip of his drink.
“Of course, Grand Admiral, that’s what we Sith do best.” There was a knock on the cabin door, both Imperials glanced at it for a second.
“I shall leave you to deal with director Krennic.” Thrawn bowed his head respectfully.
“Until next time, old friend.” There was a flash of light as Thrawn disappeared leaving a droid in his place, there was another knock at the door as it turned back to its booth.
“Enter.” Remnous rolled his eyes as he reached for the bottle to refill his now empty glass. The door opened to allow Tandi entrance, the Brigadier pulled off her cap as the door shut and bowed her head respectfully.
“My Lord.”
“Tandi.” Remnous’s mood had instantly shifted to one of pleasant optimism, the Sith gestured next to him on the couch. “Please, have a seat.” The Sniper smiled as she tossed her hat onto the stool and took her seat next to Remnous. “Drink?” The Sith poured a second glass and pushed it into the red heads hands before she could answer. “To the New Regime.” Remnous raised his glass, without hesitation, Tandi clinked her against it.
“The New Regime.” The redhead took a healthy swig of her drink, smiling appreciatively at the taste.
“Good isn’t it?”
“Yeah, what is it?” Tandi took another drink.
“Alderaan Ruge Liqueur.” Remnous picked up the bottle and examined it. “I just had three crates of the stuff delivered to Mustafar”, Tandi frowned.
“Why? Alderaan isn’t going anywhere.” Remnous shrugged as he had another drink.
“No idea, just a feeling I guess.” The Sniper shrugged, in her experience it was best to trust Remnous’s instincts.
“What news from the Admiral?” Remnous grinned.
“It’ll take him time to gather the necessary ships, but he’s working on it. How’s Doctor Li progressing?” Tandi shifted uncomfortably in her seat, she had no idea what the Kaminoan had done to Sabine and she didn’t want to ask.
“She and her team finished up about half an hour ago, what do you plan on doing with her now?” Remnous made a face as he downed the last of his drink.
“Well, she is a traitor and traitors to the Empire cannot be allowed to live.” Tandi frowned with concern.
“You’re going to kill her?” Remnous shrugged as he got to his feet.
“Don’t worry, we’ll see her again.” The Sith picked his own hat up off the table and turned to the door, Tandi downed her drink.
“My Lord?” Remnous turned back to Tandi, eyebrow raised questioningly.
“Why rush such a significant moment?” The Brigadier picked up the bottle and refilled both the glasses with her left hand, the right had reached around to the back of her head and was busy removing the various ties and pins that held her bun in place. Her red hair, once frizzy and frayed had yielded to a year and a half of treatments and brushing, it tumbled down her back in a cascade of crimson. The Sniper picked up the glasses and sauntered slowly towards Remnous. “We’ve barely had time to celebrate,” she handed Remnous one of the glasses and held hers up in a toast. “To you, my Emperor.” The Sith Lord smirked as he tapped his glass to hers.
“And to you, my Empress.” The two downed their glasses quickly, Tandi quickly took Remnous’s glass and set it and hers down on the table.
“Hmm.” The redhead wrapped her arms around Remnous’s hips. “Empress? I like the sound of that.” Tandi leaned forwards to capture Remnous’s lips with hers. As they kissed, she subtly typed a few commands into the transmitter on her left gauntlet.
##
The Rogue Shadow set down gently in a clearing on the swamp world of Dagobah. Its ramp lowered and Starkiller made his way down it, he’d changed out of the pilots uniform he’d found in the TIE fighter and changed into the white Jedi robes he’d found in The Rogue Shadows wardrobe. He’d found the trophy blades he’d taken from the Jedi he remembered defeating so vividly and found himself two blue lightsabers, somehow the red ones Remnous had given him just didn’t feel right. The Jedi glanced around the clearing uncertainly, he closed his eyes and reached out with his feelings, something told him he’d need to rely on them to guide him.
Sure enough, he felt a familiar draw in the Force, he opened his eyes. Starkiller glanced behind him at the Rogue Shadow one last time before setting off into the swamp. Mud squelched beneath his feet as he trod through the sodden landscape, life teemed around him, he could sense it in the trees and plants as they pulsed with Force energy. He could hear it in the swamps and ponds as millions of insects chirped around him and the local fauna cried out as they went about their purpose in the grander cycle of life.
He understood why Kota had suggested he come here, the planet had an incredibly powerful connection with the Force. As he stepped over a log, he noticed a cave, nearly hidden by a tangled mess of vines and weeds, a shiver ran down Starkillers spine. As if drawn to it, the Jedi approached the cave, he was at the entrance when he noticed a small green creature stood next to its entrance. Starkiller frowned as he examined the small being, barely taller than two feet, the creature examined the Jedi curiously with its big strange eyes as it leaned heavily on a cane. It was dressed in a dirty robe that looked as though it had been cut from a sack and a its head was covered in wiry white hair.
“You guard this place?” Starkiller gestured to the mouth of the cave. The creature chuckled amusedly.
“No. Only a watcher, am I now.” Starkiller frowned down at the curious little creature.
“Then you’ll let me pass?”
“Brought you here, the Galaxy has, your path, clearly this is.” The creature looked down at his feet as he readjusted his weight on his cane. Starkiller took another apprehensive look at the cave, there was a gnawing sensation in his stomach, he had a bad feeling about this.
“You know what I’m looking for?” Starkiller turned back to the creature, who looked up at the Jedi once again and frowned, the old face wrinkling.
“Something lost,” the tiny creature pointed his cane at Starkillers chest. “A part of yourself, perhaps.” The Jedi gingerly made his way to the cave entrance and pushed aside a cluster of vines so he could get a look inside. “That which you seek, inside you will find.” Starkiller took a deep breath as he walked into the cave, allowing the vines to swing back into place behind him.
The cave was damp and dingy, much like the rest of the planet, the walls were covered in moss and the floors were coated in a slimy substance that Starkiller didn’t even want to think about. There was something just ahead of him, he could feel it. The Jedi pushed passed more vines and emerged into a larger space, a low mist hung above the floor. As Starkiller watched, a luminous figure emerged out of the gloom.
“Juno.” The blond was wearing an alliance uniform and was pointing at something as if she was giving an order. The mist swirled around the pilot, transforming into the bridge of a star ship.
“Admiral Raddus! We’ve been boarded!” Juno had bent over a console and was reading a display with a look of complete horror on her face. There was an explosion and the door to the bridge was blown inwards, dozens of clones poured onto the bridge.
“No.” Starkiller whispered as he watched, a shot caught Juno on the shoulder, the pilot cried out in pain and stumbled forwards, away from the clones and towards him, Starkiller raised his arms to catch her a she fell only to have the pilot melt back into the mist.
“Galen?” Starkiller turned to face the direction the voice had come from, a young man with midnight blue hair and deep blue eyes was stood at the far end of cave.
“Ezra.” Starkiller gaped with astonishment as he starred at him, like Juno he was lit up in an eerie blue glow, he looked much younger than Remnous, in fact he couldn’t be a day older than he had been on the cursed day he’d been turned to the Dark Side. “How are you here?”
“Death isn’t the end.” Ezra said simply as he took a seat on a rock that was protruding from the mist, “I was preserved in the Force where I’ll live forever.” Starkiller smiled as he felt a weight lift off of him.
“So, I didn’t destroy you, you survived.” Ezra shook his head.
“Oh no, make no mistake, what you see before you is a ghost. I ended that day. It just took time for the echo of me to fade from Remnous.” Starkillers heart sank.
“I’m sorry.”
“You already apologised.” Starkiller shook his head fiercely, trying to clear the jumble of thought clotting up his mind.
“No, I apologised.” The Jedi paused and rolled his eyes with frustration. “I think I apologised to the wrong person. It was you I wronged, if it was me who destroyed you.” Ezra frowned.
“I sense much confusion in you Galen.” The Jedi closed his eyes. “I sense deep turmoil in your mind, memories contradicting memories, paradoxes leading to paranoia and pain.” The ghost raised his hands and placed them on each side of Starkillers head. “I forgive you.” Starkillers eyes closed as an odd sensation flowed through him. It was as if warm water were running along his body, washing away all the tension he carried within him. He could almost feel his mind clearing as memories flowed away in the stream, leaving a clear stream of events. “Remember, the Force will be with you, always.” Galen opened his eyes and looked around the cave, Ezra was gone.
“Thank you, my friend.”
The green creature had settled on a rock and was waiting for him when Galen peeled back the vines and exited the cave.
“What you have seen, follow it, you must.” The Jedi glanced back into the cave, taking a moment to commit the experience to memory.
“To the ends of the galaxy if I have to.”
##
Sabine sat quietly in her restraints, he skinned crawled and every so often she would flinch violently as the memory of what the Kaminoans had done filled her mind. After Li had taken her blood the rest of the team had set to their business with a morbid enthusiasm. She remembered how a clone had held her mouth open so Li could swab the inside of her mouth, delicately placing the cotton ball in a sealable bag before picking up another swap to take a second sample Another, she thought it might have been Saito had cut out chunks of her hair while gripping and measuring the muscle density in her left arm. The worst part had been after they’d gotten what they’d need from her body and strapped the strange helmet to her head. Li had sat down in front of her and proceeded to ask her a series of increasingly personal questions, she remembered hearing an odd humming sound coming off the helmet and whenever she refused to answer it had shocked her.
Almost an hour after they’d left, she still had to fight the urge the vomit, she felt completely violated, both by the intrusive examination and the prying questions. The Mandalorian was practically burning with rage. The door opened and Sabine gasped with horror.
“Ashoka?” The Stalker made her way quickly into the cell, it was the first time the Mandalorian had seen the Togruta since she and Remnous had been abducted from Chopper Base. “What did they do to you Ashoka?” The Stalker paused and regarded the Mandalorian from behind her skull shaped mask. It was chilling, seeing someone so filled with life reduced to such a shell of their former self, Sabine desperately wished she could see her old friends face.
“What they had to.” The Stalker raised her hand, the restraints holding Sabine in place released. The Mandalorian starred at the Togruta incredulously as she rubbed her wrists.
“What are you doing?”
“You want to ask questions or do you want to get out of here?” The Stalker offered the Mandalorian a clawed hand, which Sabine considered for a moment before taking. “And don’t call me Ashoka, my name is Nyria.” Nyria helped Sabine bundle her armour and weapons into a canvas bag which the Stalker slung over her shoulder before taking the Mandalorian by the shoulder. “Stay quiet and do as I say.” Sabine nodded and allowed herself to be led out of the cell and down the cell block, the Clone at the control console looked up as the Stalker walked the Mandalorian passed him.
“What are you doing? You don’t have clearance to take her out here, there’s been no orders for a prisoner transfer.” Nyria rolled her eyes behind her mask and waved a hand in the clone’s face.
“You want to let me take her.” The clone relaxed.
“I want to let you take her.” The clone sat down dazedly at his console and starred blankly ahead of him.
“Move.” Nyria shoved Sabine into the turbo lift and tapped a button with a clawed finger, the doors slid shut and the lift shuddered slightly as it started to move. “Are you in a good enough condition to fly a TIE fighter?” Sabine nodded.
“I’m alright, mostly creeped out, do you know what they were doing?” Nyria shook her head, the pipes of her respirator rattling against her breastplate as she did so.
“Remnous isn’t in the habit of telling me what he’s doing, most of the time I’m just an under glorified bodyguard.” There was a chime as the lift came to a halt, the door opened to The Loth wolf’s main hanger bay.
There was thrum of activity as technicians tended to the rows upon rows of TIE defenders that were docked in the fighter bays. No one payed them a second thought as Nyria marched Sabine through the hanger.
“I thought these weren’t in active deployment?” Sabine hissed through her teeth to Nyria, the Stalker shook her head.
“They aren’t, but Remnous has friends in high places.” Nyria guided Sabine to a secluded end of the hanger and helped her up the ladder and into the hatch of a TIE defender.
“Thank you Nyria.” Sabine whispered gratefully as the Stalker passed her the canvas bag. “Why are you doing this?” Nyria considered the Mandalorian coldly.
“I didn’t choose this, I wanted to right the wrongs I’d committed against my Master, not served the man who killed him.”
“Come with me.” Nyria shook her head.
“It’s far too late for that.” The Stalker closed and sealed the hatch before skimming down the ladder and quickly making her away from the Defender. Sabine watched her go sadly.
“Thank you, Ashoka.”
##
Kota was waiting for him, leaning against the side of The Rogue Shadow.
“You finished your soul search boy?” Galen nodded.
“Yeah, I saw what I needed to see. There’s danger on the horizon Kota, I had a vision, I saw Juno. She was on the bridge of a rebel ship, she was talking to someone called ‘Admiral Raddus’, then the bridge was stormed by clone troopers. She was shot, and that’s where it ended.” Kota nodded.
“I know Admiral Raddus. You’re right boy, something dark is coming, I can feel it in the Force.” Galen grinned.
“Well, it’s a good thing I’m back then isn’t it?”
##
Remnous stormed into the throne room of his fortress on Mustafar, the Sith Lords rage was palpable and waves of cold fury rippled off him. Brigadier Thurinos quickly followed behind him, her usually immaculate uniform was slightly askew and her hair, usually brushed and straight and been messily put back into its bun as if in a hurry.
Two Clone Troopers flanked Nyria, the Stalkers hands hand been secured behind her with a pair of binders and her claws had been removed. Remnous paced the length of the throne room as the clones forced Nyria to her knees, the Sith glowered at the Stalker.
“I’m disappointed that I didn’t see this coming.” Remnous took a seat in his black marble. “I should have guess Vaders pet would eventually act out in spite.” Nyria remained silent, starring defiantly over the Sith Lords shoulder. “Do you hate me Nyria?” The Stalker growled lowly.
“You did this to me, I will always hate you! Right up until you let me die, or I kill you.” Remnous sighed.
“Very well, I don’t think you’re in quite enough pain.” Remnous gestured to the clones who hauled Nyria to her feet. “Take her to the medical droids, have them remove her other leg.”
“Wait.” Remnous, eyebrow raised incredulously turned to look at Tandi.
“Wait?”
“My Lord, if you remove her other leg,” The redhead paused for a moment, then her eyes lit up. “You’ll compromise her combat effectiveness, she’s hobbled as she is.”
“Why would I care?” Remnous glared at the Brigadier, who fidgeted nervously.
“If she can’t fight, she might slip up and let some rebel kill her, if that happens, we won’t be able to watch her suffer anymore.” Remnous considered the Snipers words for a moment, before chuckling darkly and turning back to Nyria.
“Do you hear that Nyria? I guess you get to keep your leg, you should really thank the Brigadier.” Nyria stayed silent, her head hung. “I said thank her!” The Stalker looked up at Tandi.
“Thank you.”
“Thank you, my Lady!” The Sith Lords lightsaber flew into his hand, “I can still change my mind.”
“Thank you, my Lady.” Remnous snorted.
“Good dog. Get her out of my sight.” The Clones dragged Nyria from the room, Tandi watched her go. “You must really like watching her suffer.” The Sniper turned back to Remnous, the Sith had settled back in his throne and was watching her with deep golden eyes.
“She’s weak, weakness deserves to suffer.” Remnous smirked, “it does, doesn’t it? Have the Kaminoans started work yet?”
“The clones are helping them set up their equipment, it won’t be long.”
“Good, it’s a good thing we secured all the data and materials before our pet Stalkers little outburst.” One of the doors opened and Vaneé shuffled into the room, tapping on the ground with a cane. Remnous had blinded the old man when he’d claimed the fortress for himself, but allowed him to live and continue on as a servant.
“My Lord? Director Krennic is here.” Remnous rolled his eyes.
“I’d forgotten about that.” The Sith Lord got to his feet “I have to deal with Tarkins mess, I’ll make it quick.” The Sith started to follow Vaneé down a passage, then paused and turned back to Tandi. “I’ll see you in my personal quarters when I’m done?”
“Of course, my Lord.” The redhead started undoing her bun again. “I’ll have them bring up another bottle. Remnous winked at the Brigadier before turning and following Vaneé into the passage way. Tandi waited until the sound of footsteps had faded away before she slumped into Remnous’s throne, sighing deeply with exhaustion.
##
Director Krennic waited nervously for Lord Remnous’s arrival, he was fresh from Eadu and apprehensive about this meeting. Few in the Empire had believed this Remnous had even existed when the rumours of the warrior who had killed Darth Vader started to circulate, many had passed them off a simple fear mongering on the Emperors behalf to keep his subordinates in check in the wake of his attack dogs’ sudden disappearance.
But then then more rumours had come out, they spoke of a Sith warrior that rivalled Vader, carried into battle by an old Venator Class Star Destroyer. The Venator he’d seen in orbit certainly confirmed that rumour.
There was a rumble as the large blast door at the other end of the platform overlooking the scorched landscape began to open, bathing Krennic in blinding light. The Director squinted to get a better look at the figure that was approaching him.
The figure wore a black cloak over a suit of black durasteel combat armour, the symbol of the Sith was stencilled on the breastplate, his right arm had been replaced with a synthetic just about the elbow and the fingers of his artificial hand ended in wicked sharp blades. Krennic squinted to get a better look at his face then gaped.
“Director Krennic.”
“You’re-” The Sith held up a bladed finger.
“My name is Darth Remnous, Director.” Remnous’s golden eyes bore into Krennic. “I don’t appreciate being called anything else.” Krennic gulped and nodded slowly.
“Of course, my Lord.”
“You seem, unsettled.” Remnous paced a circle around Krennic, keeping the Director in his sight at all times. Krennic fidgeted.
“No, just pressed for time, there is, a great many things to attend to.”
“Ah, of course, that’s only natural.” Remnous turned on Krennic glaring fiercely. “You do have a quite a few things to explain.” Krennic sighed tiredly.
“I delivered the weapon the Emperor requested, I deserve an audience to make certain he understands its remarkable.” Krennic paused as Remnous advanced on him menacingly, the Director gulped, “potential.” The Sith scoffed.
“Its ability to create problems has certainly been confirmed. A city destroyed? An Imperial facility openly attacked?” The Sith Lord barged passed Krennic as he strolled to the opposite end of the platform, his cloak billowing out behind him.
“It was Grand Moff Tarkin that suggested the test.” Remnous froze in his tracks and turned back to face Krennic.
“You were not summoned here to grovel, Director Krennic. There is no Death Star, the Senate has been informed Jedha City was destroyed in a mining disaster.” Krennic bowed his head and nodded obediently.
“Yes, my Lord.” Remnous put a hand on his belt and Krennic gaze was brought to the trophy blades that decorated it.
“I expect you not to rest, until you can assure the Emperor that Galen Erso has not compromised the weapon in any way.” Remnous swept away back towards the blast doors.
“So, I’m still in command?” Krennic tentatively called after him, Remnous paused in his step as he rolled his eyes with annoyance. “You’ll speak to the Emperor abou-” Krennic cut off as he felt a hand close around his throat, Krennic frowned as his hand went to his throat, he choked, spluttering, the Director fell to the ground.
“Be careful not to choke in your aspirations, Director.” Remnous released Krennic and swept away, leaving Krennic to wheeze on the floor.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

The Rebel base on Yavin was a rush of activity, sirens sounded as pilots ran for their fighters. Hera Syndulla pushed passed a pair of technicians and peered up at the sky with a pair of binoculars, Kanan hurried up behind her.

"What is it?" The Twi'lek handed the binoculars to the Jedi.

"See for yourself." As Kanan looked skywards; Hera pulled her comm from her belt and held it up to her mouth.

"It's what we thought Senator, a single TIE Defender." Kanan frowned as he lowered the binoculars, the Defender was descending rapidly towards the base, black smoke was pouring out of the ship.

"What's it doing here alone?" Hera shrugged as half a dozen X-Wings rose into the air to meet the TIE, to her surprise however they banked away as soon as they got into visual range, repositioning into an escort formation.

"General Syndulla!" Hera frowned as she activated her comm again.

"What's going on up there Wedge?"

"You're not going to believe this General." Hera could hear the smile in Wedge's voice, "it's Sabine!"

"Sabine?" Hera snatched the binoculars out of Kanan's hands and peered back up at the sky. "She's coming in too steep." The Twi'lek raised her comm again. "Wedge tell her to pull up!"

"Her comm must be down General." Hera frowned at the worried edge in Wedge's voice. "We've tried radioing the Defender but all we got was static." Kanan and Hera watched anxiously as the fighters rapidly approached. Slowly, one by one, the X-Wings pulled out of the dive until only one remained.

"Is that you Wedge?"

"Yeah, what should I do?" Hera grimaced.

"Pull off, you can't help her if her rudder controls are shot too."

"Yes General." The X-Wing banked away leaving the Defender to descend steeply on its own.

"Come on Sabine." Hera muttered as she peered through the binoculars, "pull up, come on. Come on, come on, come on!" A few hundred feet from the ground the Defender pulled up sharply.

"That's our girl." Kanan smiled as he put a hand on Heras' shoulder.

"She's coming in too fast!" Hera grabbed the hand on her shoulder and pulled Kanan to the side as the Defender crashed to the ground, grinding across the stone landing field in a shower of sparks. A small army of technicians and concerned onlookers surrounded the Defender as it came to a screeching halt, there was a moment of tense silence.

Then the canopy was kicked out and a canvas bag was tossed out of the hole, Sabine climbed carefully after it.

"Sabine!" Hera dropped the binoculars as she and Kanan ran to greet the Mandalorian, Hera was beaming with joy as she pulled Sabine into a fierce hug. "You're alright!" The Twi'lek laughed as she ran a hand through the girl's hair, then frowned as she felt several uneven patches. "Did someone cut your hair?" Hera broke the hug and held Sabine at arm's length, examining the Mandalorians head inquisitively. Sabine squirmed uncomfortably, Kanan frowned, something was wrong.

"Did something happen Sabine?" The Mandalorian sighed as she looked back and forth between the Twi'lek and the Jedi.

"I saw Ezra." The effect was instant, Hera let go of Sabine and took a few steps back in shock, Kanan sighed and bowed his head.

"Are you alright?" Hera took Sabine tenderly by the shoulder, "what did he say?" Sabine shook her head as she shrugged off the Twi'leks hand and stooped to pick up the canvas bag.

"Nothing." The Mandalorian pushed passed Kanan and started walking towards the old temple. The Jedi and the Twi'lek exchanged worried glances before they hurried after her.

"Did he hurt you?" Sabine shook her head, trying to ignore Hera's insistent questioning. The Twi'lek was undeterred, "Sabine!" Hera caught hold of the Mandalorians right arm. The Mandalorian winced and pulled her arm away, Hera frowned. "What's wrong with your arm?"

"It's fine, they just took some of my blood." Kanan frowned.

"What? Ezra took your blood?" Sabine rolled her eyes and nodded.

"Yeah, him and some weird fish people." Kanan's eyes narrowed suspiciously.

"Did they have long necks?" Sabine looked uncomfortable.

"I don't want to talk about it." The Mandalorian pushed passed Hera and hurried away, the Twi'lek turned to the Jedi and raised an eyebrow.

"I think I know what happened." Kanan rubbed the back of his neck nervously, "I don't think you'll like it."

##

Thrawn sat behind his desk in his office aboard his flagship, the Chimaera. A light lit up on his desk, the Chiss casually pressed the corresponding button.

"Yes?"

"The secure line you requested has been established Grand Admiral," Thrawn smirked with satisfaction.

"Very good Captain, send it through." The lights in the office dimmed slightly as several holographic projectors activated, each casting the image of seven of the twelve Grand Admirals of the Imperial Navy into the room. "Gentlemen." Thrawn nodded respectfully.

"Thrawn." Rufaan Tigellinus stood in the center of the group, he was unique among the Grand Admirals as he was also a Grand Moff, giving him far more influence than any other member of the Circle of Twelve. Not to say any of them lacked influence, combined the eight people present controlled three-fourths of the Imperial fleet. "Is this connection secure?" Tigellinus glanced at the other holograms.

"Of course, Grand Admiral Tigellinus." Thrawn rose to his feet and leaned on his desk, fixing the other Admirals with a pointed stare. "Gentlemen, I requested this meeting to discuss something we are all eager to see addressed." The Admirals exchanged glances, Thrawn had spoken to them all individually, but none of them were sure just how much the others knew. "I speak of course, of the current state of the galaxy and the leadership of the Empire." One of the Admirals, a thick-set man with a sharp nose and brown hair that was beginning to grey at the temples snorted.

"That's bold of you Thrawn." Thrawn frowned at the Admiral as the others whispered amongst themselves.

"Indeed, it is Grand Admiral Grunger, however, I have recently been persuaded that bold action is what is required at this time."

"Persuaded by whom?" Tigellinus crossed his arms over his chest as his hologram flickered slightly. Thrawn smirked as he took his seat behind his desk.

"Colleagues, you have all heard the rumors about the Emperors new Apprentice; Darth Remnous, correct?" There was an uneasy silence as the Admirals exchanged worried glances, they had indeed, the few who had met Remnous shifted uncomfortably. "I know at least some of you have met him."

"I have." Another Admiral, a stern man with blonde hair said darkly. Thrawn smirked, indeed Remnous had met Zaarin, of course, Zaarin wouldn't want the rest of the Circle to know that Remnous had actually discovered Zaarin's own plans of treason. The Sith Lord had traded keeping Zaarin's secret for the Admirals loyalty.

"And what is your verdict Zaarin?" A larger man with a fat face and grey hair glanced over at Zaarin, he wore the symbol of the Sacred Way on a necklace, his name was Peccati Syn.

"He is powerful and terrifying." Syn frowned, he glanced at Tigellinus with surprise on his face.

"You believe he has the strength to best the Emperor?" Tigellinus's gaze moved curiously between Thrawn and Zaarin, the Chiss nodded.

"It is more than a question of strength Tigellinus, Remnous has the vision to lead Empire forward, to re-forge it into a New Regime its people can be proud of." Thrawn paused, he took a moment to carefully analyze his colleague's faces. They were all ambitious men, power tended to breed ambition and they were all intrigued by the notion Thrawn had put forward, he could see their minds working behind those guarded expressions. Like the Empire, the New Regime would monopolize the greed of its supporters. "Every day, the Rebellion strengthens, discontent has spread throughout the Empire like a plague and how does Palpatine respond? By locking himself away in his palace, delegating the execution of the Civil War to us while he tinkers with his magic, searching for ways to prolong his own life."

"Lord Vader never rose against Palpatine, what makes Remnous capable of something Vader never tried?" Grunger crossed his arms over his chest and frowned at Thrawn.

"Lord Vader, whilst powerful, was crippled. Palpatine ensured he would never have the strength to rise against him, Remnous is bound by no such restraints." Zaarin nodded to confirm Thrawn's words.

"Remnous has a unique vision, and an unorthodox view of war, as a former Rebel he is versed in their tactics as well as ours."

"Remnous was a member of the Rebellion?" Syn starred incredulously at Zaarin, Thrawn smirked.

"Oh indeed, Grand Admiral Syn. Quite a high profile one at that, I believe you are all familiar with the Rebel Jedi; Ezra Bridger?" There was a collective murmur of shock amongst the Admirals.

"I thought Bridger was dead." Grunger blinked with surprise as Tigellinus chuckled dryly.

"Bridger is dead, Remnous is, an entirely separate person." Grunger rolled his eyes.

"More mystical metaphors." Syn shook his head indignantly at the other Admiral.

"It's no metaphor." Syn turned back to Thrawn, "why are you following this Remnous Thrawn?" Thrawn paused, frowning slightly as he considered Syn's question.

"You are all aware of Lord Vaders disappearance, but none of you know what happened to him." The Admirals frowned at each other nervously, the subject of Vader's disappearance had been discussed in great detail on all levels of the Empire, but no one knew exactly what happened to the Sith Lord. "He was killed in single combat, by Lord Remnous," Thrawn smirked at the look of shock and fascinated horror on the other Grand Admirals faces.

"Why aren't the others here?" Zaarin frowned suspiciously at Thrawn, "where are Declan, Pitta, Takel, and Il-Raz?" Thrawn snorted dismissively.

"Declann is too close to the Emperor, I believe he has hopes of becoming his new Apprentice, if we bring him into the fold, he will likely betray us in an attempt to accomplish this ambition. Pitta," Thrawn paused. Pitta was a member of an alien species; however, he concealed this fact and rabidly supported the Empire's anti-alien policies. "Pitta's integrity cannot be trusted, as for Takel, he is a Spice addict and unreliable, with some manipulation his forces can be taken over without him joining our cause. As for Il-Raz?" Thrawn shook his head, "like Declann he is too loyal to Palpatine and will not turn against him. That leaves us." The Chiss examined the seven other Admirals with an intense stare. "The only question is: Are you willing to take a stand and truly take steps to ensure the Empires dominance over the Galaxy once and for all?"

##

Sabine hurried through the old temple the Alliance had built their base in, she did her best not to make eye contact with anyone. The base was a thrum of activity, Sabine vaguely wondered what was going on, she was so caught up in thought she bumped into someone.

"Sorry, Sabine?" The Mandalorian looked up to see Juno.

"Oh, hey Juno." The Pilot frowned at Sabine curiously.

"Are you ok? You look off." Sabine rolled her eyes.

"If one more person asks me that." The last year and a half had been unbearable, news of Ezra's betrayal had spread through the Rebellion, and news of their relationship, which had already been a popular thing to gossip about amongst the Rebels agents of Phoenix Squad seemed to have spread across the Rebellion with the scattered squadron, now every Rebel across the galaxy knew she was the woman who'd had been betrayed and left heartbroken by Darth Remnous.

It had been impossible to escape the constant pity.

"What's all the fuss about?" Juno frowned, then glanced around them to check if anyone was listening.

"Don't you know?"

"I only just got back."

"The council met to decide if we should move to attack Scarif."

"Scarif?" Sabine frowned, Tandi had mentioned Scarif.

"Your friend Cassian? He and Galen Erso's daughter found out there's a weakness in the Death Star, we need the schematics to find it and according to Erso they're on Scarif."

"Tandi said if we wanted to damage the Death Star, we'd need the plans." Sabine raised an eyebrow, "she said we didn't have the strength to assault Scarif." Juno's eyes widened.

"She said that?" Sabine nodded as she cast her mind back to her meeting with the traitor.

"She's a Brigadier now, I think she'd have access to that information." Juno grinned.

"That corroborates Erso's report, Admiral Raddus will be happy to hear this, come on." The pilot turned and marched back towards the landing flat, Sabine hesitated for a moment before following her.

"What was the councils' decision?" Juno rolled her eyes.

"The same as it always is, an impasse, they couldn't agree on what to do so we're doing nothing."

"I have to talk to the council, where's Cassian? We can go back together and make them listen." Juno shook her head and stopped in her tracks, turning to face Sabine.

"We can't, even if you did talk to them; I doubt they'd trust Tandi's word, they didn't trust Erso's." Sabine shook her head and sighed tiredly, Juno glanced around them, then leaned in towards Sabine. "Cassian and Erso have gone to Scarif, they rounded up volunteers and stole a ship."

"I'm surprised you didn't go with them."

"I wanted to, but I stayed behind to rile up Admiral Raddus, he controls most of the ships in the fleet, if he goes to Scarif; the rest of the Alliance will have to follow." Juno grinned victoriously, "and you just gave me what I needed, let's go!" The pilot turned and ran towards the temple's exit, Sabine hung back. The Mandalorian glanced over her shoulder, then shrugged.

"Oh, what the hell?" Sabine ran after Juno.

##

Vader's fortress had been significantly altered in the time Remnous had called it home, additional landing platforms had been constructed as well as barracks for the new 501st. The place still gave Tandi the creeps, the Sniper hurried through the dark corridors, pausing to receive salutes from patrolling Clones.

Nodding at yet another patrol, Tandi dialed a few commands into the controls next to a door; it opened and Tandi gratefully stepped through it, sighing with relief as it closed behind her. Military procedure exhausted her and now the Legion had been garrisoned it had been almost to find a moment of peace. Taking the first spare second she'd managed to get, she slunk away, only high-ranking officers were allowed in Remnous's personal quarters, she could relax here.

She'd walked into a lounge; a collection of low-set black couches and stools were arranged around a table. The furniture matched the jet-black walls and stood out strikingly against the blood red floor, a black cabinet stood against the far wall. The Brigadier hurried over to it and pulled open one of the glass doors to retrieve a glass and one of the multitudes of bottles inside it.

"Say what you will about the Empire." Tandi uncorked one of the bottles and poured out a glass as she sunk onto one the couches. "But it doesn't cheap out where its officers are concerned." The redhead took a long drink.

She paused halfway through refilling the glass and cocked her head to the side curiously, there were voices coming from the other room.

##

Sabine stood on the bridge of Admiral Raddus's flagship the Profundity watching Yavin shrink into the distance. A huge amount of the Rebel fleet was following them away from the planet after the news that Raddus was going to Scarif had circulated ships pilots had run to their ships in droves to follow him into battle.

The Mon Calamari had taken his seat and was bellowing orders to the bridge crew.

"Prepare for the jump to hyperspace!" Raddus pressed a button on the arm of his seat and opened a comm channel to the whole fleet. "All hands, this is Admiral Raddus, if the Rebellion is to stand any chance of defeating the Empire, we must succeed in this critical mission! The Galaxy is depending on us, so may the Force be with you." Raddus closed the comm line and spun around in his chair to face Juno and Sabine. "To your station Captain Eclipse."

"Yes, sir!" Juno grinned at Sabine before she hurried to her station, Raddus beckoned to Sabine.

"Commander Wren, I have a particular task for you." Sabine hurried over to the Mon Calamarian.

"What do you need me to do?"

"I was tasked with escorting Senator Organa's daughter to Tatooine, however as we have no choice but to divert to Scarif, she must come with us, I'm entrusting her safety to you." Sabine paused, then nodded, slightly annoyed that she wouldn't be able to directly participate in the battle.

"Yes, sir."

##

The Rogue Shadow shot through hyperspace, Galen sat at the controls, a steely look of determination in his eyes. Kota was sat in the co-pilots seat, the blind man frowned as he leaned back in his seat.

"What did you see in the cave?" Galen glanced over at Kota and raised an eyebrow.

"What I needed to." Kota nodded understandingly.

"You still convinced you're a clone?" Galen shook his head.

"No. My mind is clear now, I know I'm Galen Marek."

"Good, that's all that matters." A light on the console started to flash, the two Jedi glanced at each other, Galen pressed the corresponding button and leaned over to read the display.

"It's ordered from the Alliance, they're taking the fight to the Empire."

Where do they need us?" Kota sat up a bit straighter in his seat.

"Looks like we're going to Scarif."

##

Remnous was sat casually behind his desk, he'd put his feet up on the desktop, one leg casually thrown over the other. The Sith was wearing his Imperial uniform, his hat was resting on the table.

"All of them?"

"Indeed, my friend." Thrawn grinned at the Sith Lord, Remnous couldn't help but marvel at the detail the droid's holographic projectors were capable of displaying, it was like the Chiss was stood there in the room, why these droids weren't standard issue on every Imperial ship was a mystery to him. "They were, most receptive, to your vision of the galaxy."

"Excellent, that gives us the majority of the fleet!" Remnous swung his legs off the desk and got to his feet, a grin spreading across his face.

"And the strength to easily overwhelm the remaining Imperial loyalists."

"You've done well Thrawn, how go the arrangements for the Clone Army's transport? All we need to do now is get them into position and wait for our opening." Thrawn shook his head.

"Patience my lord. We must bide our time, and there is still the matter of the Death Star." Remnous scowled.

"Yes, that blasted thing, maybe it's best we let the plans fall into the Rebels hands if they find a weakness it would spare us the trouble of taking it over ourselves."

"That is perhaps our best course of action." Thrawn nodded. "If we were to seize the Death Star it would be far too easy for Palpatine to frame us as terrorists and criminals."

"Not to mention the cost of taking it." Remnous rolled his eyes at the thought, the Death Star was garrisoned with four hundred thousand Stormtroopers as well as countless TIE fighters. "It would take the entire Clone Army, with high casualties." There was a beeping sound and both men turned to see another PROXY droid walking towards them, a light flashing on its forehead.

"Another communication?" Thrawn frowned at Remnous. "Who could it be?"

"I don't know." Remnous shook his head and sighed. "End your transmission, best not take any chances." Thrawn nodded and vanished in a flash of light, leaving the droid in his place. Remnous turned to the other droid. "Begin call." With a flash of light; Emperor Palpatine appeared in the room. "My Master." Remnous hurriedly sunk to one knee, Palpatine waved off the formality.

"Rise Lord Remnous, you must be quick, the facility at Scarif has been attacked by the Rebel fleet, take your ship and reinforce our forces."

"It will be done, my Master."

##

Admiral Raddus peered grimly out into space at the chaotic battle that had broken out between the Rebel fleet and the Imperial defenders. The Empire had closed the shield gate shutting Scarif off from the battle after the first few members of Blue Squadron had slipped past the point defense guns and into the planet's atmosphere, that cut off any way of getting the plans off the planet. Fortune had not abandoned them however, Gold Squadron had carried out a successful bombing run, disabling one of the two Star Destroyers the Empire had sent against them.

"Is there anyone out there? This is Rogue One, come in? Over!" There was a murmur of surprise on the bridge as the faint voice appeared on their comm channel.

"This is Admiral Raddus Rogue One! We hear you." Raddus slid his chair out to the center of the bridge and peered down at the planet below.

"We have the plans!" There was a pause as the messenger composed themselves. "They found the Death Star plans, they have to transmit them from the main communications tower. You have to take down the shield gate! It's the only way they'll get through." Raddus leaned back in his chair and frowned at the dead Destroyer.

"Call up a Hammerhead Corvette." Raddus's seat turned around to face the bridge. "I have an idea."

"Yes, sir." Juno dialed commands into her station. "Lightmaker? Have you finished evacuating all none essential personnel? I've got a job for you Oquoné." Raddus grinned at the former Imperial, he had been the one to vouch for her after Galen Marek's true nature had been exposed, he was glad he'd welcomed her to his crew, she was a fine soldier and her experience was invaluable.

"Don't worry Rogue One, we'll take care of it."

##

Hera banked the Ghost sharply to the port side, arching steeply around the Profundity in pursuit of a TIE fighter, its cannons blazing.

"Don't get me wrong." The Twi'lek said casually as she gripped the controls. "I'm glad we're here, Raddus really did the Alliance favor, but I wish Sabine had let us know she was going before she ran off with Juno."

"Ah what can you do?" Zeb muttered on the comm. "She was never exactly chatty to begin with." The Lasat grinned with pride as one of his shots found its mark and a TIE fighter exploded.

"Given what she just went through I'd say running off is the most normal thing she could have done." Kanan glanced over at the Twi'lek from the co-pilots seat, Hera frowned and shuddered at the thought, she really hoped the Jedi's theory wasn't true.

"What's the Lightmaker doing?" Rex paused from firing the forward canon to frown up at the hammerhead corvette. "I thought Raddus had ordered it to the rear guard?" The Lightmaker had pulled away from the rear guard and was barrelling towards the Star Destroyers Gold Squadron had disabled.

"No, they can't be serious." Kanan chuckled as the Lightmaker crashed into the Star Destroyer, rocking the goliath ship in the void.

"I think they are." Hera blinked with surprise as the corvette fired its sub-light thrusters to maximum and slowly started to push the Destroyer down towards its companion.

##

Jyn Erso didn't see the spectacular explosion as the two ships collided, neither did she see the wreckage tumble towards the shield gate, crashing through it and destroying the shield. As Cassian kept his blaster trained on the motionless director Krennic she hurried over to the transmitter controls and pulled the control lever back. There was a second of silence as she stared at the display, then the transmitter began to hum gently.

"Transmitting." Exhausted, Jyn turned and grinned at Cassian, the rebel spy grinned back. "Transmitting."

##

"Admiral?" Juno looked up from her display, grinning ear to ear. "We're receiving a transmission from Scarif." Raddus peered down at Scarif, they'd done it! "We have the plans!"

"She did it!" Raddus leaned back in his chair and took a deep breath. They had the plans, perhaps there was still hope for the Galaxy.

"Sir?" Raddus glanced up at Juno, the blond was frowning nervously at the console. "We're detecting a massive object exiting hyperspace." A stunned silence fell over the bridge of the Profundity as the bridge crew rose to stare at the Death Star; rising over Scarif's horizon like a new moon.

"We're detecting a massive energy build up." One of the Mon Calamarian officers was still paying attention to his terminal, as the Rebel fleet watched as a massive beam of green energy was shot from the station's main dish towards Scarif.

"Rogue One," Raddus paused, awed by the explosion he could see spreading across the planet. "May the Force be with you." There was a moment of silence on the bridge, not out of fear or shock, but respect for the fallen heroes of Rogue One. Raddus hit the button on his armrest and opened a channel to the fleet. "All ships, prepare to jump to hyperspace." The Rebel fleet disengaged from the shattered remains of the Imperial defense and turned about, one by one, ships started to blast off into hyperspace.

A Venator emerged from hyperspace directly in the fleet's path. Forced to scatter, some of the fighters failed to pull away sharply enough and collided with the Star Destroyer.

##

The Ghost banked away from the Clone Wars era ship and arched back towards the fleet.

"Is that a Venator?" Zeb sat back in the gunner's seat and starred in awe at the old ship.

"Yeah, it is," Rex said quietly.

"Isn't that?"

"Yeah." Kanan sighed as the fleet struggled to reorganize under the sudden barrage of the Venators cannons. "That's Ezra's ship."

##

Remnous watched from the bridge of The Loth Wolf as Rebel ships began to break apart under the intense barrage he had ordered. Brigadier Thurinos stood slightly behind him, her face an expressionless mask as she watched the destruction unfold before her.

"My Lord." Remnous turned to see Cody, redressed in the armor of the new 501st. "The Rebel flagship has been disabled, but it has received transmissions from the surface."

"Prepare a boarding party."

##

The Rogue Shadow shuddered as it dropped out of hyperspace, Galen grimaced, it didn't look good. The Death Star hung imposingly over the remains of the trapped rebel fleet as Remnous's flagship fired on it.

"This isn't good."

"A little context boy?" Kota rolled his blank eyes with annoyance.

"Oh right." Galen shook his head, it was easy to forget the old man was blind every now and then. "The Empire has most of the fleet pinned, that's Remnous's flagship, so he's here."

"What about the Profundity?" Galen glanced down at the controls.

"It doesn't look good; its key systems are disabled and it's taking a pounding."

"That's where the pans would have been transmitted, we need to get aboard that ship and secure that data." Galen frowned, he could feel a familiar presence.

"Juno?" Kota nodded.

"Yes, she'll be aboard too, how did you know she was working for Raddus?" Galen shook his head.

"It doesn't matter, let's go." The Rogue Shadow flew towards the Profundity.

##

There was chaos on the bridge of the Profundity, smoke spewed from shattered consoles and the lights had gone out, replaced by weak red emergency lighting. Juno waved the smoke away from her face as she peered through the gloom at one of the few remaining functional consoles.

"Main power's offline." Juno paused to cough up smoke, she weakly continued. "Weapons and shields are disabled, we're dead in space Admiral."

"Have the plans moved the Tantive and order them to launch, it will be up to the Princess and Commander Wren to get the plans into Rebel hands."

"Yes, Sir." Raddus turned to one of the Mon Calamarian officers.

"Sound the call to abandon ship, I shall remain here and do what I can with the available power." Raddus glanced around at his still living crew. "You are all to abandon ship, is that understood?" There was a moment of silence as the grew starred back at Raddus, dumbfounded. "Abandon ship, that is an order."

"Sir, with respect." The Mon Calamarian Raddus had ordered give the evacuation order turned and dialed a few commands into his terminal, the evacuation siren began to sound up and down the ship. "We aren't going anywhere." Raddus sighed as he sat back in his chair.

"Captain Eclipse?" Juno shrugged.

"I don't have plans for tomorrow."

"Very well, if you insist on staying, you may." The bridge rocked and a shower of sparks was sent through the air as one of the consoles exploded. Juno clung to her terminal for support.

"We've been hit!" The Pilot looked up to see flames rising from the ruins of the destroyed console. "Someone put that out!" Juno pointed at the console as she took another look at her display. Her heart sunk. "Admiral Raddus, we've been boarded!" The bridge rocked again as one of its doors was blown in. Soldiers dressed in the white and blue armor of the old 501stclone legion began to pour onto the bridge.

"What the hell?!" Juno blinked with confusion before a laser shot flew past her face and she scrambled over her console and drew her blaster. "Get down Admiral!" She called to Raddus over the noise of the blasters.

The bridge's other door opened, for a few seconds, nothing happened. Then in a blur of motion two Jedi darted through the door, blue lightsabers came to life as the Clones, taken by surprised faltered for a second. The bridge was once again lit up with fantastic and deadly light as the roar of battle swelled to a deafening level. Juno pressed herself against the console she was hiding behind and willed herself to be still until the lights had faded and the noise had died down. Juno peaked over her console and gasped.

"Galen?" The Pilot stood and stared in astonishment, "is that you?" The smoke parted as Galen strode through it.

"Hello, Juno." The Pilot let out a sound that was somewhere between a sob and a laugh and rushed forwards towards Galen. The Jedi flung his arms around her and hugged her fiercely.

"You're alive! It's really you!" Juno squeezed Galen tightly as if she were afraid, he would vanish if she let go.

"It's me." Galen almost choked as he pulled Juno still closer.

"Ahem…" The two broke apart to see Kota stood behind them, his arms crossed over his chest. "As touching as this reunion sounds, I have to point out we're still in a dead ship under fire."

"Right." Galen nodded, squeezing Juno's hand. "Admiral Raddus, where are the plans?"

"They're being copied to a disk and transferred to the Tantive docked with the ship." Galen turned to Kota.

"I'll go make sure the plans get to the Tantive, you get Raddus and his crew to the Rogue Shadow." Juno frowned.

"No, you've only just got back, I'm not letting you out of my sight now!" Galen put a hand on Juno's shoulder.

"I'll be alright Juno if it comes to the worst, I'll take an escape pod." Juno sighed.

"It's not like I could ever stop you anyway."

"That's all well and good." They all turned to Raddus who was sat back on his seat, his arms crossed indignantly over his chest. "But I have no intention of abandoning my ship." Kota rolled his eyes with exasperation.

"Not this, 'the captain must go down with the ship' nonsense."

"Admiral," Galen strode towards Raddus. "You've won a great victory today, the Rebellion will need you, it's one thing to secure the schematic, it's another thing to see this through to the end." Raddus frowned at the Jedi. "Please, Admiral; live to finish the fight." Raddus sighed.

"Very well Jedi." Galen turned back to Kota and Juno as Raddus got to his feet.

"Make sure they get out alright." Galen ran to the door, taking a second to pause and look back. "I'll see you soon."

##

"All ships." Hera listened eagerly to the radio as the Ghost weaved through a torrent of cannon fire. "All ships that are capable of hyperspace are to jump to hyperspace. The Profundity crew is abandoning ship. This concludes all sanctioned broadcasts from Rebel command." The Line was silent for a few minutes before the message began to repeat.

"You don't have to tell us twice," Hera muttered as she swung the Ghost about.

"What about Sabine?" Rex called up from the main gunners' seat.

"If we stay here, we'll be shredded, Sabine will be fine, she's with Princess Organa, her ship still has a hyperdrive."

"I hope you're right," Kanan muttered as the stars stretched around them and the Ghost blasted into hyperspace.

##

Alarms howled aboard the Profundity, a rebel soldier hunched over a console, anxiously waiting for the Death Star plans to transfer onto a portable data disk. The soldier sighed with relief as a light lit up on the console, signaling that the transfer was complete.

"I got it!" The rebel grabbed the disk. "Let's go." He along with the other surviving soldiers ran down a long, white and red corridor towards the connecting door to the Tantive that was docked to the Profundity. "Hurry!" One of the other rebels got to the door first and tried the controls, the door started to open, then jammed part way. There was a cry of panic as the rebels desperately tried to get the door open, the one holding the plans banged on the window, calling for help.

The lights in the corridor suddenly died, slowly, one by one, the rebels turned to face the other end of the corridor, all of them raising their blasters nervously. The far end of the corridor was lit up in blood-red light and the rebels were left to stare in horror as a demon with the face of Ezra Bridger stalked towards them out of the darkness. The rebel clutching the plans backed up against the door as he gaped with fear.

The door opened and the rebel fell backward into his back, blinking dazedly, he starred up to see a Jedi, face lit up in the glow of his blue lightsabers stood over him. The Jedi glanced down at him and nodded once before stepping over him and into the corridor.

"Get the plans out of here." The Jedi glowered at Remnous. "I'll keep him busy." There was a stunned second of silence, then the rebels scrambled for the door, leaving the Sith and the Jedi to square off against each other undisturbed.

"So, my wayward science project has come wandering back." Remnous chuckled dryly as he advanced on Galen.

"You can drop the act." The Jedi rolled his eyes. "I know I'm not a clone." Remnous scowled.

"You worked that out far too quickly." The Sith Lord rolled his eyes. "Yes, alright I admit it. You're the original Galen Marek"

"What did you do to me?" Galen snarled, Remnous laughed cruelly.

"You should thank me. I saved your life, bringing you back was a costly and time-consuming undertaking, but we managed it. We kept you in a medically induced coma while worked out how to duplicate your memories, once we had them it was a simple matter to alter them, change your personality to something more suiting the man you used to be. But it failed, you refused to accept the new memories." Remnous shrugged as Galen trembled with fury. "I'm honestly impressed, Li was convinced you'd have gone insane by now."

"Is that why you let me escape? Just left a TIE fighter with a hyperdrive sitting there for me? You thought I'd be too crazy to put up a fight?" Remnous chuckled as he shook his head.

"No, I let you go, because I owe my existence to the man you used to be." Remnous glared at the Jedi. "But you've used the last of his favors now Marek." Galen glared.

"Fine by me." The Jedi bent his knees and leaped towards Remnous.

"Oh, there is one more thing you don't know." Remnous grinned, not making a move to defend himself. Galen halted in his strike as a crimson lightsaber blocked his blue one, Remnous wasn't holding it. "I lied when I said the cloning process was incomplete." Galen felt a hand on his chest, the next thing he knew he was flying through the air, he crashed against an opposite wall and slid to the ground. He looked up to see a hooded figure stood before Remnous, the figure raised a hand and pulled his hood down. Galen starred in horror at his own face.

"Who are you?" The clone smirked.

"I am the true Starkiller!"

"I'll leave you two to play," Remnous smirked as he swept past the clone and towards the door. Galen stumbled to his feet and aimed one of his lightsabers at the Siths back.

"Eyes on me!" Galen was forced to break off his attack and bring his lightsaber about to block Starkillers crimson blade. Smirking; Remnous stepped through the door and walked through the short connecting tunnel to the docking port. The Sith Lord wiped his hand through the air and opened the airlock. The Tantive was already fading into the distance.

"Blast." Remnous tapped his comm. "General Kota, I want every gun we have trained on that Tantive, make sure it doesn't jump to hyperspace!"

"It's too late my Lord." Remnous could hear the annoyance in Cody's voice. "It's already jumping to hyperspace." There was a clatter behind him and Remnous turned in time to watch Starkiller dump a groaning Galen to the floor before him.

"Well done Starkiller." Remnous grinned at the clone, who smirked back as he pressed his boot into the small of Galens back. The Jedi groaned in pain as Remnous knelt next to him.

"Out of luck Marek." Remnous stood and raised his lightsaber. There was a cry of rage behind them; Remnous turned, raising his lightsaber to block Kota's blue lightsaber blade. "Rahm Kota." Remnous sneered as he took a step back, keeping his lightsaber locked with the blind Jedi's.

"So, the boy was right, you can clone Jedi." The blind man 'glanced' over at the Starkiller clone.

"Kota? I told you to-" Galen tried to get up, only to have the clone press more weight onto the small of his back.

"The Rebels are safe boy, it was you I was worried about, for good reason, it would seem." Starkiller glanced uncertainly at Remnous, he could remember Rahm Kota, but not this way, the Kota he remembered was a broken drunk, barely capable of stringing a sentence together, let alone hold a lightsaber.

"Cloning is such an ugly term," Remnous chuckled darkly. "I prefer to think of it as creating the best version of a person." Kota broke the lock and swung his lightsaber at the Sith Lord's legs, Remnous parried the blow, locking their blades once again. "Unburdened by compassion, loyal to a fault!"

"Loyal because he knows nothing else," Kota grunted as Remnous pushed him back. "Do you think he'd serve you if he had a choice?"

"Why take the risk?" Remnous grinned. "I've been looking forward to this." The Sith Lord broke the lightsaber lock and spun around on the heel of his right foot, bringing his elbow up and into the blind Jedi's face.

As Kota stumbled backward; Remnous's guard shotos rose from their holsters on the Sith Lords thighs. With a flick of the Sith's finger, the shotos activated and shot forwards, burying themselves in Kota's chest.

"No!" Galen howled with horror as Kota gasped weakly as his lightsaber deactivated.

"Remember, Galen." The hilt slipped out of Kota's hand. "The past doesn't define you." Remnous gestured to the shotos and they were pulled out of Kota's chest, returning to hang in the air at the Sith Lord's shoulders.

"So, where were we?" Remnous turned back to Galen, a cruel smirk spreading across his face. Galen pressed the flats of his palms to the deck-plate and sent a telekinetic push downwards through the floor. The Jedi and Starkiller were sent flying into the air, Galen twisted through the air and sent another telekinetic push through the air propelling himself towards the space the Tantive had hung in. As he fell; he exhaled as hard as he could, emptying the air from his lungs, flicked his fingers; deactivating the hangers ray-shield.

##

Juno breathed a sigh of relief as the Rogue Shadow banked away from the Profundity and soared away into open space. A light started to flash on the console.

"What is it?" Raddus peered at the light from one of the passenger seats.

"It's Galen's beacon." Juno frowned at the display. "This can't be right, according to these coordinates he's…" Juno trailed off as her eyes widened with panic. "Out in space." The Rogue Shadow banked back towards the Profundity, sticking close to the ships damaged underbelly as it searched for Galen.

"There he is!" Raddus pointed out of the cockpit into space. A lone figured thrashed desperately in the vacuum.

"Yep, that's him." Juno sighed as she flipped a switch to open the loading ramp. "Easy." She muttered she guided the ship forwards gently. "Easy."

##

Darkness crept across Galen's vision as he lungs burned and his legs kicked weakly in the empty void of space. As he began to feel the cold slip its icy embrace around him there was a blinding light and a blur of color.

The next thing he knew he was pinned against a wall as a loading ramp closed behind him. The Jedi collapsed to the ground, coughing violently as he gratefully filled his lungs with air.

"Thanks, Juno."

##

Captain Raymus Antilles hurried through the stark white corridors of the Tantive, quickly giving orders to a rebel soldier.

"Make sure you secure the airlock and prepare the escape pods!" The rebel nodded and hurried down a corridor as Antilles opened the door to the bridge and stepped through it. A Mandalorian in orange and green armor was leaning against the wall in the corner. Antilles could feel her stare despite her helmet. "Commander Wren."

"Captain Antilles." The Mandalorian nodded, Antilles turned to the young woman who was stood in the center of the bridge. She was wearing a loose white robe.

"Your Highness." Antilles held the plans out. "The transmission we received." The princess turned and took the disk from the Captain, examining at it as she turned back to the controls. "What is it they've sent us?" Leia Organa smiled.

"Hope." The star blurred around the Tantive as it blasted into hyperspace.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

The Tantive IV flew through space, firing it canons at the pursuing Venator class Star Destroyer. The shots were intercepted by the Venators shields, causing no damage. The bigger ship returned fire, striking the Blockade Runners engines, rocking it violently in the void.

On the Tantive's bridge, Leia Organa grimaced as the hum of the ship's engines died, they were dead in space.

"Your Highness!" Captain Antilles re-adjusted his helmet, which had been knocked askew in the turbulence, "what are your orders?"

"Send troops to the hatch and prepare the escape pods, we have to get the plans off the ship." Antilles shook his head.

"Your highness, the Empire will blast any pods with life signs aboard before they can get close to the surface, we'd never get an operative down to the planet safely.

"Then don't send a person." Leia and Captain Antilles glanced over at Sabine Wren, the Mandalorian was stood in the corner, she had a sombre but determined look on her face as she checked one of her blasters. "Send a droid."

"A droid?" Antilles glanced at Leia with obvious disbelief, "you want to trust the fate of the Rebellion to a droid?"

"The Empire always ignores droids." Sabine shrugged as she put her helmet on. "They'll probably assume the pod shorted out and ignore it if there are no life signs aboard." Leia nodded.

"Alright, I don't like it, but I don't see what other choice we have given the situation." The Princess turned to Antilles. "Captain, have your men hold the Empire as long as they can, I'll find a suitable droid and get them to an escape pod."

"Yes, your Highness." Antilles bowed his head stiffly before hurrying away, Leia sighed as she turned back to Sabine.

"What do you think our chances are?" The Mandalorian shook her head.

"Depends on the droid, got a particular one in mind?" Leia grinned.

"Oh, I have just the droid in mind."

##

Rebel soldiers gathered at the Tantive's airlock, doom hung in the air and each man was grimly aware that the approaching firefight would likely be their last.

A red lightsaber blade stabbed through the airlock and began to cut through the metal, a ripple of fear ran through the Rebels as they glanced with each other with worry, none of them ran though, there was no where left to run to.

The lightsaber withdrew from the door and there were a few tense seconds where nothing happened. Then the airlock was blown inwards with so much force it flew the full length of the corridor, colliding with several of the Tantive's stunned defenders on its journey. The confused rebels opened fire as a blur of black and red leapt through the hole in the airlock, laser bolts flew back at the rebels, striking many of them and spooking the ones they didn't into a retreat.

Smoke hung in thick clouds as the Starkiller clone surveyed the corridor with cold yellow eyes, the clone was dressed in a jet-black hooded, sleeveless robe over a black suit of clone armour, the robe was belted at the waist with a tactical harness which was littered with an array of equipment. Starkiller sunk to one knee as two Clone Troopers stepped through the hole in the airlock and took up positions on either side of the doorframe. Darth Remnous smirked down at the kneeling clone as he boarded the Rebel ship.

"Well done my friend." The Sith Lord gestured for Starkiller to stand, "this isn't the time to kneel, take a dozen troopers and find the rebels leaders."

"It will be done my Lord."

##

"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope." Leia bent forwards and switched off R2's recorder, the droid waited patiently as Leia slotted the data disk into one of his storage compartments. "You take good care of this Artoo." Leia patted the side of the astromech affectionately as he beeped out a reassuring response.

"Artoo-Detoo where are you?" Leia glanced up to see a gold protocol droid stood at the far end of escape pod bay, the princess glanced over at Sabine.

"We need to get moving your Highness, it's best we're as far away from here as possible when they find us."

"Right." Leia nodded at the Mandalorian before smiling down at R2 again. "Good luck little guy."

##

The fighting had died down, surviving rebels were either making their last stand or were being herded towards the centre of the ship by Clone Troopers. Remnous couldn't help but marvel at the efficiency of his legion, why Clones had ever been phased out was still a mystery to him. A pair of Clone Troopers marched a group of rebels passed him, one of them paused and turned to the Sith Lord.

"The Death Star plans aren't in the main computer, sir." Remnous nodded to the trooper before turning to face Antilles. The rebel captain was suspended several feet in air, weakly grasping his throat as he struggled in vain for breath.

"Where are the plans, Antilles?" The rebel glowered at the Sith.

"Go to hell." The words were spluttered and half formed, but filled with venom. "Traitor." Remnous rolled his eyes and closed his mechanical hand into a fist. There was a sickening crack as Antilles fell to the ground.

"Tear this ship apart until you find those plans, and bring me the passengers, I want them alive!"

##

Sabine kept her blasters raised as she led Leia down a corridor towards the engine room, Leia suddenly froze in her tracks.

"Leia? What's wrong?"

"Don't you feel that?" Sabine frowned as she glanced up and down the corridor, they had to keep moving.

"Feel what?"

"The cold." Sabine's eyes went wide as she glanced up and down the corridor again, a figure in a hooded black robe was stood at the far end of the corridor behind them, Sabine gulped.

"Get behind me." The Mandalorian shoved Leia behind her as she holstered her blasters.

"What is it?" Leia shivered as another wave of cold ran over her, she glanced down, her arms were covered in goose bumps.

"A Sith." Sabine grimaced as she unclipped her lightsaber from her belt, the blue blade came to life as she started towards the Sith. "Stay back, don't try to help, run if I die." The Mandalorians walk turned into a jog as she gathered speed. The Sith Assassin activated a crimson lightsaber blade and marched forward to meet her.

Sabine broke into a run as she deactivated her lightsaber and raised the hilt, four stun bolts flew from the top of the knuckle guard. The Assassin halted in his tracks as he raised his lightsaber to block the stun bolts. Taking advantage of her enemies' confusion; Sabine dropped to the floor, she allowed her momentum to carry her as she slid through the Assassins legs, spinning back onto her front and onto one knee.

The Assassin turned to face the Mandalorian, his face still hidden by his hood, Sabine activated her jetpack. The Mandalorian flew at the Sith, her lightsaber coming back to life. Her opponent took a few steps back and raised his hand. Sabine froze in mid-air, her jetpack straining as it tried to carry her forwards.

"That's impossible." Sabine gaped as she hung in the air, the Assassin chuckled.

"You have no idea what's possible." Sabines eyes widened under her helmet.

"It can't be, Galen?" Starkiller thrust his arm upwards and Sabine was sent flying into the ceiling. The Mandalorians cry of pain and surprise was cut short as all of the wind was knocked out of her, replaced by a startled grunt. Overhead lights exploded and a shower of sparks rained to the ground as Starkiller brought his arm down, smashing Sabine into the deck plate.

The Mandalorian groaned and weakly tried to ger back to her feet, only to feel the Force seize her and once again yank her into the air. Starkiller smirked as the Mandalorian crashed into the ceiling, he held her there for a second before letting her go.

Sabine blinked dazedly a few times before surrendering to the creeping darkness and blacking out. Starkiller smirked down at the unconscious Mandalorian.

"You've come a long way since Lothal Sabine, but if you reuse the same trick too many times it gets predictable." Starkiller whipped around and raised his hand as the sound of a blaster going off reverberated up and down the corridor.

Just in time, the Sith Assassin managed to deflect the bolt off his hand. Leia gaped with terror as Starkiller chuckled.

"Shooting a man in the back? Not very ladylike of you your Highness."

"I know that voice." Starkiller pulled his hood back, Leia gasped.

"You." The clone shrugged.

"Sort of, still getting yourself into trouble I see." Starkiller deactivated his lightsaber and gestured with his raised hand, Leia's blaster was plucked from her hand and sailed through the air into Starkillers waiting grip. "I would have thought a princess would be kept as far away from the frontlines as possible."

"I fight for those that cannot." Starkiller rolled his eyes.

"Spare me the sanctimonious speech Princess." The Clone raised his hand and Leia was pulled into the air. "You're coming with me, Lord Remnous is very eager to meet you."

##

The Loth Wolf hung over Tatooine, Remnous had taken inspiration from Grand Admiral Thrawn's flagship The Chimera and had had the profile of a Loth Wolf's head emblazoned across The Loth Wolf's underside. Though not as imposing as an Imperial class Star Destroyer, it still was a chilling sight for her enemies.

Tandi stood on the refurbished Venators bridge, her arms clasped behind her back as she surveyed the planet below her. Any other Imperial Officer would be baffled by the Rebels decision to flee here of all places, but Remnous had told Tandi who was hiding in the wastes below them. How like the Rebels to run to a Jedi when the going got tough.

"Ma'am?" Tandi turned to face one of the gunnery officers. "An escape pod has been launched from the rebel ship."

"Any life signs?"

"No Ma'am, might've shorted out, should we target it?" Tandi frowned, an escape pod launching couldn't be a coincidence, it had to be a droid.

"No, the Empire has expended more than enough on the Rebels today."

##

Two clones carried Sabine's prone form into the Tantive's bridge, each keeping one of her arms wrapped around their shoulders. Remnous beamed when he saw her.

"Oh Sabine." The Sith pulled off the Mandalorians helmet and gently caressed her cheek. "Was it really even worth escaping in the end?" The Sith pinched Sabines cheeks and raised her head, tilting it from side to side as he examined her face. "No noticeable damage, good job." The Sith let go of Sabine, letting her head loll forwards. "Take her to the brig."

"Yes Sir, right away." Remnous turned to Starkiller as the clones dragged Sabine away.

"What else do you have for me?" The clone smirked.

"You're going to love this." Starkiller snapped his fingers on his right hand, after a moment of silence the door opened and two more clones marched in, Leia Organa's eyes narrowed with fury when she saw Remnous.

"So, it's true then?" Remnous smirked with pure delight as he stared at Leia. "The great Ezra Bridger really did turn traitor."

"I would never have called Bridger great." Remnous's eyes ran up and down Leia, drinking in the sight of her, it was eerie seeing her a Bridger remembered her, he was used to seeing her as the Sith Warrior he would re-forge her into. Leia fidgeted uncomfortably under Remnous's gaze. "You feel it, don't you?" The Princess rolled her eyes.

"Feel what?" Remnous snorted.

"You don't even know what you are." The Sith Lord shook his head, "what?" Didn't Bail ever tell you who you really are? Where you really came from?" Leia felt her breath catch in her throat as her eyes widened. "I'll take that as a no." Remnous shook his head as he rolled his eyes. Leia stayed silent, her mind was racing, she had faint memories of her mother. She had no idea how, her adoptive parents had told her she'd come to live with them as a baby, she hadn't been old enough to remember her mother.

But she could still see her face when she closed her eyes. She had been a very beautiful woman; beautiful, but sad. She had been crying, and somehow, nineteen years after their ever so brief meeting, she could still feel her mother's pain.

"Do you know who my mother is?"

"Yes." Remnous smirked, he knew full well who her mother was, he also knew her twin brother was hidden away on the planet below them, but a wise Master doesn't reveal all of his secrets at once. Leia rolled her eyes impatiently, Remnous couldn't help but admire her nerve. She had a long way to go, but he was glad to see he was going to be building on strong foundations.

"Well? Who is she?"

"Cooperate and you just might find out." Leia scowled as Remnous laughed cruelly. "Take her away." The Clones pulled Leia out of the bridge as Remnous turned to Starkiller. "Did you find the plans?"

"They aren't onboard." Starkiller shrugged. "We can go through with a scanning crew but I doubt we'll find them."

"You're right, Sabine would have made sure to get the plans off the ship." Remnous tapped his comm. "Brigadier?"

"Yes, my Lord?"

"Has the Rebel ship made any transmissions?"

"No, my Lord, but an escape pod was launched in the fighting, no life signs were aboard."

"Droids."

"I thought so too my Lord." Remnous turned back to Starkiller.

"The plans are on the surface, no doubt the droids have been tasked with finding Kenobi."

"It should be a simple matter to deal with him, an old man alone in the desert?" Starkiller grinned, relishing the thought of killing the real Obi-Wan Kenobi. "It will be child's play." Remnous shook his head.

"Kenobi isn't alone, if the old man was wise and followed my suggestion, he has an Apprentice, I want the boy unharmed. I have greater plans for him."

"Of-course my Lord." Starkiller bowed his head and placed his right hand on his chest.

"There's a race of creatures that scavenge droids and other tech from the surface, start with them. Put on a good show, terrorise some locals, burn a few houses, all in the Empires name of course." The clone smirked.

"Of course."

"But the plans must leave the planet and find their way into the Rebellions hands." Remnous grinned. "This presents an excellent opportunity to remove the Death Star from play."

"Let the Rebellion do the legwork." Starkiller nodded at the Sith Lords words. "An excellent plan my Lord, what will you be doing?" Remnous rolled his eyes.

"Until the Death Star is neutralised, we can't make a move on the Emperor, I must maintain the illusion I'm Palpatine's loyal lap dog until we can strike." The Sith Lord and the Sith Assassin left the bridge and started making their way back to the Loth Wolf. "I'll take Sabine and the Princess to the Death Star, Tarkin can waste time interrogating them." Starkiller gave Remnous a worried look; the Sith Lord shook off the concern. "They're strong, they won't give up the Rebellion."

"If you think it best my Lord, but what of the Clones?"

"I do. I can pass off the Clones as the personal guard Palpatine granted me permission to create." There was a hard edge to Remnous's tone. "Take the Scimitar and go to the planet, return to The Loth Wolf when you have completed your task."

"As you command." Starkiller bowed his head as Remnous swept away, the Sith paused and looked over his shoulder.

"Do not question me again."

##

The base at Yavin IV was in chaos as the Rogue Shadow set down, most of the fleet had been wiped out at the Battle of Scarif, the bigger cruisers and most of the corvettes were gone, a healthy number of fighters and a few larger ships had slipped through, but the Alliance's capacity to operate in space had been crippled. It would take time for them to rebuild their strengths, and time was something they were sorely lacking.

The Shadow's loading ramp hissed downwards, a squad of rebels lead by General Syndulla hurried to meet the crew. Juno was the first one down the ramp, followed closely by Admiral Raddus, his bridge crew and the few other crew members they'd managed to save brought up the rear.

"It's good to see you all alive and well." Hera grinned, "Where's General Kota?" The Pilot shook her head.

"He didn't make it."

"Damn it." Hera shook her head, the war as taking a toll on them, losing Kota was a heavy loss. Raddus cleared his throat.

"General Syndulla, has Princess Leia returned with the plans yet?" Hera turned to the Mon Calamarian with a look of horror on her face.

"You don't have the plans?" Juno grimaced.

"The Profundity was too damaged to jump out of the Scarif system, we had the plans transferred to Princess Leia's ship, she got them away from Scarif." Hera slapped her forehead with an open palm.

"Karabast!" Juno cleared her throat and nervously readjusted her weight.

"There's, something else we have to tell you." The Twi'lek raised an eyebrow, then frowned, she glanced up at the Shadow, the frown slipped away.

"You." Galen Marek strode down the loading ramp, the Jedi wouldn't meet Hera's glare and bowed his head slightly. "You son of a bitch!" Hera brought her fist up and thrust it with all her strength into Galen's face.

"General Syndulla!" Raddus put a hand on Hera's elbow and held the enraged Twi'lek back as Galen thudded to the loading ramp. Juno dropped to his side as the Jedi tenderly pressed two fingers to his cheek.

"Like Mother like Daughter."

"Are you alright?" Juno helped Galen sit up, the Jedi nodded, he'd been expecting this.

"How are you even alive?" Hera took a deep breath as she shrugged Raddus's hand off her shoulder. "Kanan said he felt you die."

"I did." Juno took one of Galen's arms and helped the Jedi to his feet. "It isn't the first time."

"What?!" Hera's hands balled into fists.

"You'd be amazed what the Empire can put back together." Galen sighed. "I came to on Kamino a few months ago, I spent most of them in isolation." Hera frowned at the mention of Kamino.

"Go on."

"Remnous tried to brainwash me, he had the Kaminoans replicate and alter my memories, but it didn't work."

"How'd you get out?" Hera crossed her arms over her chest, Galen shook his head.

"I didn't, Remnous let me go."

"Why would he let you go?" Juno shook her head, "if the brainwashing didn't work why didn't he just kill you?"

"He said he owed Starkiller." Hera snorted.

"So, he owed you?"

"I'm not Starkiller!" Galen's tone hardened. "Not anymore. Especially now."

"What's so special about now?" Galen grimaced.

"There's something else I have to tell you."

##

"Thank the Maker! This oil bath is going to feel so good!" Luke Skywalker didn't pay the golden protocol droid any mind as it descended into the oil bath. The young Padawans mind was focused on a small titanium ball bearing resting on the work top in front of him. "I've got such a bad case of dust contamination I can hardly move!" Luke rolled his eyes, training would have to wait.

"It just isn't fair!" The boy got to his feet "Biggs is right, I'm never going to get out of here!" The Padawan knelt next to the blue astromech that was stood next to the oil bath and began to clean it.

"Is there anything I might do to help?" Luke glanced back at the protocol droid and scoffed.

"Not unless you can alter time, speed up the harvest or get my uncle to treat me like an adult?"

"I don't think so sir, I'm only a droid and not very knowledgeable about such things, not on this planet anyway." The droid paused, then looked around the workshop curiously. "As a matter of fact, I'm not even sure what planet I'm on."

"Well," Luke paused to think for a moment. "If there's a bright centre to the universe, you're on the planet it's farthest from."

"I see Sir."

"You can call me Luke." Luke got up and retrieved a new tool from a worktop.

"I see Sir Luke." The Padawan chuckled.

"It's just Luke."

"Oh, and I am See-Threepio, human cyborg relations." Threepio gestured at the astromech as he rose out of the oil bath. "And this is my counterpart, Artoo Detoo." Artoo beeped friendlily.

"Hello." Luke frowned, "you got a lot of carbon scoring here, looks like you boys have seen a lot of action."

"With all we've been through I'm amazed we're in as good condition as we are, what with the Rebellion and all." Luke jumped to his feet.

"You know of the Rebellion against the Empire?!"

"That's how we came to be in your service sir, if you take my meaning."

"Were you in many battles?"

"Several, I think." Luke looked at Threepio expectantly, the droid shrugged. "But I'm only an interpreter and not very good at telling stories, well not at making them interesting anyway." Luke sighed.

"I met a Rebel agent once, well I thought he was a Rebel, he turned out to be something else." Luke turned back to Artoo, one of his storage compartments was blocked up. "Well my little friend, you've got something jammed in here?" Luke but the point of his screwdriver against whatever it was and tried to leaver it out. "Were you on a star cruiser and-" Luke was cut off as the point of the screwdriver slipped and he lost his balance, Artoo's holographic projector activated as he toppled over.

"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope." The image of a young woman wearing a lose white robe hovered over the floor next to Luke.

"What's this?" Luke got to his feet frowning at the projection, Artoo beeped mischievously.

"What is what? He asked you a question, what is that?"

"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope." The woman looked over her shoulder, then bent forwards as if to end the recording. "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope." Artoo let out a low series of beeps and chimes.

"He says it's nothing sir, old data."

"Are you sure?" Luke got to his feet, "because I know Master Kenobi, and if someone needs his help…" Artoo let out an excited string of beeps as the projection shut off, his third leg descended and the astromech began to roll around Luke in a circle. "Ok I guess it's important." Luke chuckled as he starred down at Artoo.

"He says you must take him to him immediately, apparently it's very important to the Rebellion." Threepio shook his head. "I'm not sure what he's talking about sir, with all we've been through this little Artoo unit can get a little excitable."

"No, Master Kenobi should see this." Luke had opened a trunk and was hurriedly emptying its contents, he stopped when he found a small bundle. The Padawan got to his feet as he unwrapped the lightsaber Obi-Wan had given him. "Come on!"

##

Sabine's cell door opened, the Mandalorian felt a wave of hatred as Remnous walked in.

"Oh great, you again." Remnous scowled, he was starting to resent Li's failure to successfully reprogram a living subject. "I'm not talking." The Mandalorian lay back on the torture device she'd woken up on a glared defiantly at the Sith Lord.

"The night is young," Remnous smirked as he descended the short flight of stairs into the cell.

"What did you do to me?" Sabine's fists clenched as she strained against her restraints. "Why did you need my blood?" The Mandalorian flinched at the memory of their last meeting. "And everything else you too?" Remnous chuckled darkly.

"I wouldn't concern yourself by thinking about it, you won't be alive long enough to see why." The Mandalorian snorted.

"You can't kill me." Remnous's smirk slowly turned into a scowl.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Exactly that." Sabine sat up straighter in her restraints. "You had your chance to kill me on the Death Star, but you didn't."

"Only because Marek interrupted." Sabine laughed.

"We both know you had more than enough time before he tackled you. All you had to do was bring the saber down and that would have been it, but you hesitated." Remnous flicked the middle and index fingers of his mechanical hand to the side, the electrodes mounted on the device shot forward and sparked to life.

Sabines body went rigid as her muscles reacted to the electrical current flowing through them and locked up. Remnous rolled his head around on his neck and took a deep breath as Sabine howled with agony. The Sith Lord cocked his head to the side and frowned, it was only just occurring to him that he quite liked the sound of her pained cries. The Mandalorian let out a loud gasp followed by a fit of coughs as the electrodes retracted.

"You will give me the plans, you know I have no qualms about killing my loved ones." The Mandalorian glared at him.

"I never loved you, I loved Ezra Bridger. You're a monster with his face!" Remnous's left eye twitched.

"You keep saying that, but we both know it isn't true. Bridger would never have survived the training that created me. He would have come back to you a broken husk, he could never have told you how he felt." The Mandalorian shook her head fiercely.

"Shut up!" Remnous smirked cruelly.

"Have I touched a nerve?" The Sith Lord chuckled. "Admit it, you miss the passion, the rush, you miss me." Sabine bowed her head, Remnous grinned with triumph. Tentatively, the Sith reached out with his robotic arm and gently caressed the Mandalorians cheek. Sabine flinched away slightly, then relaxed and allowed the Sith to take her chin between his thumb and fingers and tilt her head up to look at him. "There's my girl." Remnous leaned forwards, Sabine closed her eyes and let out a long breath. Just as their lips were about to meet; the Mandalorian thrust her head forwards into Remnous's nose.

The Sith Lord stumbled backwards with a startled grunt, his metal fingers flying to his face. Sabine laughed.

"You actually fell for that?" The Mandalorian snorted. "Don't ever touch me agai-" Her words were cut off as Remnous flicked two fingers upwards. Sabines chin was forced upwards, smacking the back of her head into the metal table.

Sabine blinked dazedly a few times as stars danced before her eyes, then her head slumped forwards her eyes closed.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice
Luke heaved Artoo off the back of his speeder to the rocky ground, the padawan patted the droid on the top of his dome.
“You alright little buddy?” The astromech beeped out a cheerful response, Luke glanced over at Threepio for a translation.
“He says he is fine and asked if this is the dwelling of Obi-Wan Kenobi?” The protocol droid gestured at the hut they’d pulled up outside of, Luke nodded.
“Yep, this is Master Kenobi’s place, come on.” The Padawan had to help Artoo over a few rocky patches on the way to the door. “Master Kenobi?” Luke knocked as loudly as he could, Obi-Wan had a habit of drifting away into deep mediation. After a moment of silence, Luke heard movement behind the door, then it opened.
“Luke? What’s wrong?” Obi-Wan Kenobi peered curiously at his Padawan, then he saw the droids. “Ah.” The Jedi sighed, as if he’d known this day was coming and had been dreading it. “You best come in, all of you.” Obi-Wan stood aside and allowed Luke and the droids to pass him. Artoo paused in the doorway and tilted backwards to get a better look at the Jedi’s face, the droid beeped softly. Obi-Wan smiled. “It’s good to see you too old friend.”
“He has a message for you.” Luke sat down as Artoo rolled into the hut. “I saw part of it, and he says it’s from the rebellion.” Artoo activated his projector and the image of the woman in white robes was projected onto a low table.
“I seem to have found the rest of it.” Obi-Wan sunk into a seat and stroked his chin as he watched the message play.
“General Kenobi, years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret I am unable to present my fathers request to you in person, but my ship has fallen under attack and my mission to bring you to Alderaan has failed.” Obi-Wan grimaced, he’d felt a familiar presence not long ago, it looked like Remnous had his hands on the other Skywalker. “I have placed information vital to the survival of the Rebellion into the memory systems of this Artoo unit, my father will know how to retrieve it. You must see it safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is out most desperate hour, help me Obi-wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” The woman glanced over her shoulder, then leaned forwards to shut off the recording, the hologram vanished. Luke glanced over at Obi-Wan.
“Who is she?”
“Her name is Leia Organa.” The old Jedi sighed. “Luke, it is time.” Luke sat up straighter.
“Are you sure? Am I ready?” Obi-Wan shook his head.
“No, but events have forced our hand, it’s time for us to join the fight.” The Jedi Master got to his feet. “We must go to Alderaan.”
“Alright.” Luke got to his feet, “I’ll have to tell my Uncle and Aunt.” Obi-Wan shook his head.
“That is unwise, they will attempt to stop you.”
“They raised me Master, they’ve been good to me, they at least deserve to know I’m going.”
##
“Luke?” Owen Lars stepped out of his front door and glanced worriedly about. Luke hadn’t come to dinner and when he hadn’t been in the workshop. “Luke?” Owen cupped his hands around his mouth and called out into the wilderness. “Luke? Luke!” The moisture farmer sighed and turned back to the house.
A figure in black armour barred the entrance. Owen took a few steps back out of surprise. “Who are you?” The figure turned to face him, his face was hidden behind a mask, the sunlight reflected brightly off its T shaped visor. “What do you want?” The stranger tilted his head to the side, then pulled something off his belt, Owen’s eyes widened with horror as a crimson lightsaber blade came to life. “You’re one of them! You’ve come for Luke!” The stranger laughed.
“No, I just had a lovely chat with some Jawas about some droids they claim to have sold you.” Owen frowned, the droids? What did he want with the droids? His thoughts were cut off as he was pulled off his feet and into the air, he gasped weakly as he felt a hand close around his throat. “Where are the droids?”
##
Remnous followed Tarkin through the corridors of the Death Star, both men were obviously unhappy about the situation, though a small measure of smug pride could be seen in the Grand Moff’s eyes.
“Remember Sith.” Tarkin glanced over his shoulder. “The Emperor has placed you at my disposal, so watch your tongue.” Remnous scowled at Tarkin, he truly hated the man, resisting the urge to drive his lightsaber through the old man’s heart was truly challenging test of will. “Well?”
“As you wish.” The doors to the Death Star conference room open for them as they approached, Remnous made a point to enter a few steps behind Tarkin, General Cassio Tagge seemed to be in the middle of some sort of point.
“The Rebellion will continue to gain support in the Imperial Senate-”
“The Imperial Senate will no longer be of concern to us.” Tarkin made a point to catch Tagge’s eye as he made his way to his high-backed chair. “I have just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the Council permanently.” Remnous frowned ever so slightly as he took his place behind Tarkin seat, Palpatine had told him of his plans to dissolve the Senate, but he hadn’t known they were being put into action so soon. “The last remnants of the old Republic, have been swept away.” Tarkin grinned smugly as he took his seat.
“Impossible, how will the Emperor maintain control without the bureaucracy?” Remnous noted Tagge’s tone, the general might prove useful in the future.
“The Regional Governors now have direct control over their territories,” Tarkin countered coldly. “Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station.”
“What of the Rebellion?” Tagge wasn’t done yet, the General glared at Tarkin “If the Rebels have managed to obtain a complete technical readout of this station, it is possible, however unlikely they might find a weakness and exploit it.” Tarkin’s eyes narrowed as he glared at Tagge, he wasn’t used to being undercut by his subordinates.
“The plans you speak of will soon be returned, isn’t that correct Lord Remnous?”
“We’re working on it.” Remnous rolled his eyes, Admiral Motti leaned forwards.
“Any attack made by the Rebels against this station would be a pointless gesture, no matter what technical schematics they have. This station is now the ultimate power in the Universe!” Tarkin raised an eyebrow at the Admiral as he sat back in his chair. “I suggest we use it.” Remnous scoffed.
“You aren’t actually foolish to destroy a planet with this thing, are you?” The Sith Lord shook his head. “If the weapon is used to destroy a populated world the fall of the Empire is all but inevitable.” Tarkin glowered at Remnous as Motti snorted dismissively.
“Don’t presume to lecture us ‘Lord’ Remnous, why the Emperor humours you will always elude me. What good has your defection done for the Empire? It has been of no help in the search for the stolen data tapes, or provided the location of the Rebel fort-” Motti words were cut off as he felt a hand close around his throat, the Admiral choked.
“You talk too much.” Tarkin rolled his eyes.
“Enough of this, Remnous, release him!” Remnous didn’t move, his gaze lingered on the spluttering Imperial. “Now!”
“As you wish.” Motti fell slumped forward onto the conference table as Remnous released him.
“This bickering in pointless.” Tarkin scowled at Remnous as the Sith Lord stepped away from the table. “Lord Remnous will provide us with the location of the Rebel base before this station is operational.” Tarkin shot Remnous a piercing glare to punctuate his point. “We will then crush the Rebellion with one swift stroke.”
##
Luke gaped in horror as the speeder came to a halt outside his house, smoke poured into the sky and the hut was covered in scorch marks.
“Uncle Owen!” Luke scrambled out of the speeder and ran towards the house, “Aunt Beru? Uncle Owen?” Luke came to a halt. Two charred skeletons lay in the doorstep, they were dead.
“There’s nothing you could have done Luke.” Luke turned to see Obi-Wan stood at his shoulder. “You would have been killed too, and the droids would now be in the hands of the Empire.” Luke bowed his head and closed his eyes as smoke billowed up into the sky.
##
Zeb, Kanan and a squad of Rebel soldiers escorted Galen through the Rebel Base, his lightsabers were clipped to Kanan’s belt and his hands were secured in front of him with binders.
“This isn’t necessary.” Juno did her best to push passed one of the soldiers and get to Galen, “he saved my life. Admiral Raddus is alive because of him, you can’t just lock him up!”
“It’s ok Juno.” The Pilot gaped incredulously at Galen. “If they need to do this to feel safe, I accept that.”
“But Galen, you gave your life for them!”
“Raddus will need your help. Talk to the council, that’s how you can help me.” Their eyes met for a second, Juno sighed.
“Alright.” As Juno hurried away; Zeb muttered to Kanan.
“I’d feel a lot better about this if he weren’t being so cooperative, you sense any dark vibes comin’ off ‘m?” Kanan shook his head.
“Nothing, but we can’t take that as proof, not after Ezra.” The Lasat nodded sombrely as he ducked under a doorframe into a secluded area of the temple the Rebellion had converted into a make shift cell block. Hera was waiting for them outside the Jedi’s cell.
“Hera.” Kanan frowned, “I thought you were at the council meeting?” Hera nodded.
“I slipped out, just to make sure the job was done right.” Zeb took Galen by the shoulder and led him into his cell, The Lasat fumbled with the Jedi’s binders until they clicked open.
“Thanks.” Galen sat down on his bunk as he rubbed his wrists.
“No problem,” Zeb paused, “thanks. For what you did on the Death Star.” Hera activated the ray-shield as the other Rebels left. The Twi’lek scowled at the Jedi before turning to follow them.
“Hera?” Hera froze in her tracks and turned back to Galen, the Jedi flinched when he saw her glare.
“Don’t you dare apologise now! Not after what you’ve done! We took you in! We trusted you! Kanan trained you as a Jedi! And all the while you were the one who tore our family apart! Who took my son from me!” Hera’s hands balled into fists as tears. “You don’t get to be sorry!”
“I know.” Hera was taken aback.
“What?”
I know, I don’t deserve forgiveness.” Galen sighed and got to his feet. “I was a monster Hera, I’ve killed so many people.” The Jedi paused and took a deep breath, Hera frowned. “That’s why I came back, so I can use this new chance I’ve been given to redeem myself by finally fighting for a just cause.”
“How can we be sure you won’t betray us again?” Galen sighed.
“You can’t, all you can do is trust me when I say I’m not the man who wronged you anymore.” Hera raised an eyebrow sceptically.
“Kanan must have rubbed off on you a little, you almost sounded like a Jedi there.”
##
Leia sat with her knees drawn up to her chest in her cell aboard the Death Star. Her mind was a mess of questions, did Remnous really know who her Mother was? What did he mean when he ‘cooperate and you might just find out’? Did he really expect her to betray the rebellion to find the answer? The door of her cell hissed open and Remnous stepped over the threshold.
“And now, your highness, we will discuss the location of your hidden Rebel Base.” Leia’s eyes widened as a black spherical droid floated into the cell, she recognised it as an IT-O interrogation droid. The door slammed shut as Remnous advanced on her.
##
Luke sat gloomily at the bar in the Mos Eisley Cantina; staring vacantly at his glass of weequay pirate brew. He hadn’t exactly been close with his aunt and uncle, but they were the only real family he’d ever had. There was a tap on his shoulder, the Jedi glanced up.
A thuggish Aqualish grunted at him in a language he couldn’t understand, Luke rolled his eyes and turned back to his drink. There was another tap on his shoulder, Luke ignored it this time. A hand seized his shoulder and roughly turned him around, Luke did a double take. The human who had grabbed his shoulder had horribly disfigured face, his right was completely missing and his nose looked as if it had been split in half.
“He doesn’t like you.” Luke sighed.
“And?” The human puffed himself up indignantly.
“I don’t like you either.” The human pointed at himself. “You best watch yourself, we’re wanted men, I have the death sentence on twelve systems!”
“Alright.” Luke raised his hands in mock surrender, “why don’t I get you both a drink?” The Aqualish snorted, then went for his blaster. Luke’s lightsaber flew from his belt and into his hand. The bartender dived to the ground as the blue blade came to life.
“Code Black! Code Black!” Luke deflected the few shots the Aqualish managed to fire before neatly slicing off the alien’s arm. The human roared with rage and charged the Padawan only to receive a slash across the chest. There was a moment of silence as Luke deactivated his lightsaber, then the band began to play again and conversation resumed. Luke turned to Obi-Wan as he clipped his lightsaber back to his belt.
“I’m sorry Master.” Obi-Wan shook his head.
“You handled that situation as well as I would have.” The Jedi gestured to the Wookie that was stood at the other end of the bar. “Chewbacca here, is first mate on a ship that might do for us.” The two Jedi followed the Wookie to a secluded booth at the back of the bar. The three took a seat to wait for Chewbacca’s captain, the Wookie examined the Master and Apprentice closely. Luke shifted uncomfortably, most of the locals had no idea what a lightsaber was, but he couldn’t shake the feeling this Wookie knew exactly what they were.
“Han Solo.” Luke breathed a sigh of relief as a man with deep brown hair; wearing a white shirt and a sleeveless black jacket slid into the booth. “I’m captain of the Millennium Falcon. Chewie here says you’re looking for passage to the Alderaan system?” Obi-Wan nodded.
“Yes indeed, if it’s a fast ship.” Solo scoffed.
“Fast ship? You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon?” The Jedi Master shook his head.
“Should I have?”
“It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.” Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow and nodded. Solo pointed at his chest.
“I’ve outrun Imperials, not the local bulk cruisers mind you, I’m talking the big Correllian ships now. She’s fast enough for you, old man. What’s the cargo?”
“Only passengers, myself, the boy, two droids.” Obi-Wan fixed the smuggler with a pointed stare. “And no questions asked.” Han smirked.
“What is it? Some kind of local trouble?”
“Let’s just say we’d like to avoid any Imperial Entanglements.” Solo sat back and glanced at Chewie.
“Well, that’s the real trick isn’t it, and it’s going to cost you something extra; ten thousand, all in advance.”
“Ten thousand? We could almost buy our own ship for that!” Luke glanced at Obi-Wan incredulously.
“Yeah, but who’s going to fly it kid? You?” Luke glared indignantly at Solo.
“You bet I could, I’m not such a bad pilot myself!” Obi-Wan raised a hand, Luke trailed off.
“We can pay you two thousand now.” Solo shook his head and sat back in his seat. “Plus.” Solo cocked his head to the side curiously, “fifteen, once we reach Alderaan.”
“Seventeen?” Obi-Wan nodded, Han smiled, “alright, you guys got yourself a ship. We’ll leave when you’re ready. Docking bay ninety-four.” Obi-Wan nodded.
“Ninety-four, come on Luke.” Han waited until they were out of ear shot before grinning broadly and clapping his hands together.
“Seventeen thousand! Those guys must really be desperate.” Han turned to Chewie. “Get back to the ship, get her ready to go.” Both smugglers got to their feet, but as Han attempted to leave a Rodian stepped out of the crowd and pulled a blaster on him.
“Going somewhere Solo?”
“Yes Greedo.” Han took a seat in the both as the Rodian sat down opposite him, his blaster still trained in him. “I was just going to see his boss, tell Jabba I’ve got his money.”
“It’s too late, you should have paid him when you had the chance. Jabba’s put a price in your head so large every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be looking for you.” The Rodian chuckled as Han rolled his eyes. “I’m lucky I found you first.”
“Yeah, but this time I’ve got the money.” Han threw a leg up onto the table.
“If you give it to me and I might forget I found you.”
“I don’t have it with me, tell Jabba”
“Jabba’s through with you!” Greedo snapped, Hans right hand wrapped around the grip of his blaster. “He has no time for smugglers who drop their shipments at the first sign of an Imperial cruiser.”
“Even I get boarded sometimes, do you think I had a choice?” Hans eyes narrowed as he slowly began to draw his blaster.
“Tell that to Jabba, he might only take your ship.”
“Over my dead body.” Han raised his blaster under the table.
“That’s the idea.” Greedo chuckled. “I’ve been looking to this for a long time.”
“Yes, I bet you have.” Both men raised their blasters, but Han shot first.
##
“You have failed, ‘Lord’ Remnous!” Tarkin scowled at the Sith Lord, who simply shrugged.
“Her resistance to the mind probe is considerable. It will be some time before we can extract information from her.” Tarkin rolled his eyes at the Sith as Admiral Motti cautiously approached them, he was making a noticeable effort not to look Remnous in the eye.
“The final checkout has been completed, we are fully operational. What course shall we set?” Tarkin stroked his chin thoughtfully.
“Perhaps she would respond to an alternate form of persuasion.”
“What do you mean?” Remnous’s eyes narrowed as he turned to face Tarkin.
“I think it is time we demonstrated the full power of this station, set your course for Alderaan.” Motti grinned.
“With pleasure.” Remnous separated himself from the crowd of officers and found a secluded corner of the command deck. The Sith tapped his comm.
“Cody?”
“Yes, my Lord?” Remnous glanced around to make sure no one was watching.
“I need you to bring half a dozen of your best troops to the Death Star, I think Tarkin is going to do something stupid.”
##
“What a piece of junk.” Luke stared, unimpressed, at the Millennium Falcon.
“She’ll make point-five passed light speed.” Solo smiled up at the ship affectionately. “She might not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts kid. I’ve made a lot of special modifications myself, but we’re a little rushed, so if you would just get on board we’ll be on our way.” The smuggler ushered the droids and the two Jedi up the loading ramp, the kid was really starting to get on his nerves.
“Piece of junk.” Han scoffed as he patted the ships underside affectionately. He was engrossed in a last-minute check on some exposed cabling when he noticed something out of the corner of his eye. Han looked up to see an armoured warrior stalking towards them, he had one of the laser swords the kid had, but crimson. “What the hell?!” Solo drew his blaster and let off a few shots as he ran to the loading ramp. “Chewie! Get us out of here!”
Starkiller batted the laser bolts away as the Falcon’s ramp hissed upwards into place. The freighters engines flared to life and the battered Correllian ship rose into the sky, Starkiller leapt after it and managed to cling onto the ship for a few seconds before letting go and landing neatly on the edge of the docking bay. The Sith Assassin looked down at the device in his hand, the tracker was live.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

The Death Star came out of hyperspace next to Alderaan, Tarkin and his officers were gathered on the command deck, the Grand Moff smirked, it was fitting that Alderaan would be the first planet to be destroyed by the Death Star. Its politicians had done an excellent job at keeping their involvement with the Rebellion a secret from the now dissolved Senate, the bureaucracy couldn't keep them safe now. There was a murmur of shock behind him, Tarkin frowned and turned to see what was going on. Half a dozen troopers wearing Mark. II clone armour had marched onto the command deck, Remnous stood at the head of them with Princess Leia.

"What is the meaning of this Lord Remnous?" Remnous shrugged. The Stormtroopers posted around the command deck exchanged worried glances.

"These are soldiers from my personal guard, as this is a matter of utmost importance, I thought it best to ensure soldiers of a better quality than a standard Stormtrooper escort the prisoner." Leia scowled as she glanced at the troopers that were stood at her sides.

"Very well." Tarkin scowled, how the brat had somehow managed to convince Palpatine to let him create his own elite force still eluded him. "I was unaware you had clones in your personal guard."

"My Master granted me permission to build an elite force to fill my Venator's garrison, he never specified where those troops could or couldn't come from." Remnous smirked, thinking of the eight thousand other clones waiting for his orders back on Mustafar and the greater still army that awaited him on Kamino.

"Governor Tarkin," Leia ran a disgusted eye over Tarkin. "I should have expected you to be holding this traitor's leash." The Princess wrinkled her nose. "I recognised your, foul stench when I was brought on board."

"Charming to the last." Tarkin smiled dryly. "You don't know how hard I found signing the order to terminate your life." Tarkin reached out and pinched Leia's cheeks between his thumb and forefinger.

"I'm surprised you had the courage to take the responsibility yourself." The Princess shook Tarkins hand off her face.

"Princess Leia. Before your execution, I would like you to be my guest at a ceremony that will make this battle station fully operational." Tarkin spread his arms and gestured proudly to the command deck. "No Star system will dare oppose the Emperor now!" Leia smirked and shook her head.

"The more you tighten your grip Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

"Not after we demonstrate the power of this station. In a way," Tarkin smiled at the Princess as he paced across the command deck. "You have determined the choice of planet that will be destroyed first." Tarkin smirked down at Leia. "Since you are reluctant to provide us with the location of the Rebel Base, I have chosen to test this station's destructive power on your home planet of Alderaan." Leia's eyes widened as she saw Alderaan out of the Command Deck's main view port.

"No! Alderaan is peaceful. We have no weapons! You can't possibly-"

"Don't play innocent Princess, we both know Alderaan has been sneaking ships to the Rebellion for years, but would you prefer another target? A military target?" Leia frowned, then nodded. "Then name the system!" Leia stared out at her home. "I grow tired of asking this, so it will be the last time. Where is the Rebel Base?" Leia bowed her head with defeat.

"Dantooine. They're on Dantooine."

"There," Tarkin smirked at Remnous. "You see 'Lord' Remnous? She can be reasonable." Tarkin turned to the gunnery officer. "Continue with the operation. You may fire when ready."

"What?!" Leia stared at Tarkin with utter horror on her face.

"You're far too trusting." Tarkin smirked as he turned back to Leia. "Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration. But don't worry. We'll deal with your rebel friends soon enough."

"Belay that order!" There was moment of stunned silence, then everyone on the command deck turned to face Remnous. The Sith Lord had activated his lightsaber and his clone troopers had raised their blasters.

"What is the meaning of this!" Tarkin glowered at the Sith Lord.

"I won't allow this Tarkin." The gunnery officer looked back and forth between the Sith and the Grand Moff, unsure of who's order to follow. Remnous pointed his lightsaber at him. "If you give that order, I swear that I will not only kill you, I will hunt down and destroy every single member of your family, and I'll make sure they know it was your actions that damned them!" The Gunner Officer stared at Remnous in horror for a few seconds before standing and running from the command deck.

"Coward!" Tarkin roared after the poor man. "What has possessed that arrogant mind of yours Remnous?"

"I've warned you and the Emperor countless times, if you do this the Rebellion's ranks will swell a hundredfold!" Tarkin snarled.

"You, prideful gnat! I've seen Jedi like you, so sure of their strength, so sure of the mighty force! Guards!" There were a few seconds of nervous silence, then the Stormtroopers around the command deck slowly raised their blasters.

"Easy boys!" Mel took a few steps forward, "you really don't want to do this."

"It's a pity they don't have much of a choice." Tarkin smirked. "Destroy them!" Pandemonium broke out as the command deck was lit up in deadly lights display. Remnous seized Leia by the arm and pulled the Princess out of the firing line as his clones opened fire. They were outnumbered two to one but their superior training showed as they made quick work of the dozen Stormtroopers.

In the breath firefight however, Tarkin managed to get to the Gunnery Officer's station and bellow "Commence primary ignition." Into the microphone. In the bowels of the Death Star, the colossal energy weapon came to life. The command deck was lit up with a blinding green light as an enormous energy beam flew from the station towards Alderaan.

Remnous and Leia gaped in horror as the planet exploded, their faces lit up in the light that extinguished millions of lives. Tarkin grinned smugly as he dusted off his uniform.

"There, that will keep the systems in line!" Remnous trembled with fury, Tarkin made a choking sound, then the Grand Moff was pulled off his feet; into the air and was flung hard against the far wall, pinned in place by the Force.

"You fool!" Remnous's roar shook the deck-plates. "You've just inspired an army to rise against us, and when they come for us do you know what their cry will be?" Tarkin weakly shook his head. "For Alderaan!" Remnous released Tarkin, letting the old man fall painfully to the floor. "Mark my words Tarkin, you have doomed the Empire today."

The Sith Lord took Leia by the shoulder and marched her off the command deck, followed swiftly by his clone troopers. Remnous stayed silent while they waited for a turbo lift and for most of the trip towards the detention level.

"Burn, Locket, take the Princess back to her cell." The doors to the turbo lift opened onto the detention block.

"Yes Sir." Burn took Leia's arm and led her out of the lift.

"Wait." The Clones looked back, Leia didn't. "I'm sorry." The Princess took a deep breath.

"I won't thank you."

"Not yet." The doors slammed shut and the lift started upwards, Remnous reached out and pressed a button on the control panel, stopping the lift in it tracks.

"What's the plan Sir?" Remnous rubbed his temples as he sighed tiredly.

"Same as before Mel, this doesn't change things." Mel shook his head.

"With all due respect Sir, after the altercation on the command deck, I don't think it's safe for us to remain here much longer. We should take the Princess and go." Remnous shook his head

"We can't leave until we're sure the Rebels have the plans and Tarkin has the location of the Rebel Base, it's the only way to be sure the Rebels will have a chance to destroy this blasted station."

"If you're sure my Lord." Mel certainly didn't sound sure, Remnous nodded.

"I am, once the Rebels have the plans the threat of attack will be perfect motivation to get them working, we just need to…" Remnous trailed off and stared vacantly ahead of him.

"My Lord?" Mel glanced worriedly at the other Clones who shrugged in reply. "Lord Remnous?" Remnous blinked a few times.

"I sense something, a presence I've not felt since…" The Sith tapped the comm button on the lift control panel. "Tractor beam control, this is Darth Remnous, have you captured any ships recently?"

"Yes, my Lord." The voice on the other line sounded highly taken aback. "We just captured a Correllian Freighter that was attempting to destroy one of our TIE fighters." Remnous smirked.

"Have it pulled into a hanger bay."

"Yes Sir…" The Sith turned to Mel.

"Have Burn and Locket meet us there, I believe the solution to all our problems just fell out of hyperspace."

##

The Scimitar dropped out of hyperspace next to the Loth Wolf, Starkiller tapped his comm.

"Loth Wolf, this is Starkiller requesting docking permission."

"Permission granted Starkiller, main hanger bay doors opening." Starkiller brought his ship about as the colossal dorsal blast doors along the spine of the Venator opened to allow him entrance. The Sith Assassin tapped his comm again.

"Lord Remnous?"

"Starkiller, I presume the mission went well."

"Just as you commanded My Lord. The plans left Tatooine onboard a-"

"Let me guess, a Correllian Freighter that looks at least a century old and has probably had more owners than a Hutt slave girl?" Starkiller frowned as he brought the Scimitar into land.

"How did you know?"

I'm looking at it." Starkiller paused in the act of deactivating his engines.

"That means Kenobi is aboard, should I fly over?"

"No, Kenobi will likely attempt to deactivate the stations tractor beam alone, I will ensure he does so then deal with him."

"What of his Apprentice?"

"Kenobi will have ordered him to hide, if he has any sense he will."

##

Luke, Han and Chewie rode the turbo lift towards the detention level, Luke was busy undoing Chewie's binders. Han had to hand it to him, his crazy plan had worked, thanks to their stolen Stormtrooper uniforms no one had looked twice at them on the walk from the control centre, but he had a sinking suspicion their luck was going to run out. The smuggler groaned, why was he doing this? Then he remembered, a rich princess needed rescuing.

"This is not gonna work."

"Why didn't you say so before?"

"I did say so before!" Luke shook his head, there was a moment of awkward silence, then the rear door of the turbo lift opened onto the detention level. The commanding officer stared perplexedly at Chewie.

"Where are you taking this, thing?"

"Prisoner transfer from cell block one, one, three, eight." The Officer frowned.

"I wasn't notified, I'll have to clear it." He gestured to the two guards, both of whom drew their blasters and advanced on Chewie. The Wookie waited until the Imperials were in striking distance before pulling his hand free of the binders and grabbing one of the Imperials.

"Look out! He's loose!" Han cried out melodramatically as Chewie tossed the Imperial into the air.

"He'll tear us all apart!" Luke passed Chewie a blaster, the detention level was lit up in a firefight. Han, Luke and Chewie made sure to blast the security cameras in the confusion which ended as soon as it had started.

Luke pulled the Commanding officer off the control panel as Han began skimming through data logs.

"We gotta find out what cell your Princess is in." Luke frowned, he could sense something nearby, the padawan glanced around the detention level and noticed a panel had come loose, exposing a space behind it.

"What's this?" Luke pulled the panelling back to expose the space behind it.

"Probably a lock up for the prisoner's weapons." Han didn't look up, as Luke started to rifle through the lock ups contents.

"It can't be." Luke muttered as he pulled a lightsaber out of the locker, he recognised it, it used to be Ezra Bridgers, the Padawan glanced back into the locker. After a pause he hurriedly retrieved the blasters and helmet it had been stored with. "Are there any other rebels here?"

"Well, the Princess is in cell two, one, eight, seven, there's a Sabine Wren in the cell across from her, you go get them. I'll hold them here." Han pulled off his helmet and tapped one of the buttons on the console.

"Everything's under control here, situation normal."

"What happened?" Han glanced up at Chewie who shrugged.

"Uh, we had a slight weapons malfunction here, but everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now. Thank you." Han shook his head bewilderedly "How are you?"

"We're sending a squad up." Han grimaced, then leaned back towards the communicator.

"Negative, negative. We have a reactor leak here now!" Chewie glanced incredulously at Han as the smuggler continued to babble on. "Give us a few minutes to lock it down. Large leak, very dangerous!"

"Who is this? What's your operating number?" Han glanced around, then he noticed his blaster.

"Uh." The smuggler grabbed his blaster and shot the communicator. "Boring conversation anyway, Luke we're going to have company!"

Luke found Leia's cell and hurriedly opened the door, the Princess sat up ran an unimpressed eye up and down Luke.

"Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?"

"What? Oh, the uniform." Luke pulled off his helmet and tossed it away. "I'm Luke Skywalker, I'm here to rescue you."

"You're who?" Leia frowned as she got to her feet.

"I'm here to rescue you, I've got your Artoo unit, I'm here with Obi-Wan Kenobi."

"Kenobi? Where is he?" Luke gestured to the door.

"Come on, we have to get Wren." Luke and Leia ran cross the corridor and opened the door to Sabine's cell. The Mandalorian looked up tiredly, her eyes widened with surprise.

"Leia? How did you get out?" Leia gestured at Luke.

"This is Luke Skywalker, he's here to rescue us." Sabine frowned as she tried to readjust in her weight in her restraints.

"Skywalker?"

"Yeah." Luke swiped two fingers through the air, Sabines restraints opened on their own. Leia and Sabine stared at Luke.

"You're a Jedi?" Sabine hopped down off the torture device.

"I'm learning to be one." Luke shrugged as he held out Sabines helmet and weapons, the Mandalorian nodded her thanks as she holstered her blasters. "Is that your lightsaber?"

"It was a gift." Sabine clipped the weapon to her belt and pulled on her helmet. Luke unclipped a large white cylinder from the back of his armour, the padawan unscrewed one end and retrieved his own lightsaber from inside the cylinder.

"Mine too."

"I hope I'm not interrupting anything!" Han poked his head into the cell, "but we could use some help!"

"Some rescue." Leia snorted, Luke handed her his blaster and ran to door, his lightsaber hissing to life.

"What's your plan kid?" Han glanced at Luke, the Jedi took a deep breath, he would be fine, it would be just like practicing with a remote.

"You'll see." Luke stepped out into the corridor, with impeccable timing, he raised his lightsaber to block the incoming laser bolts. Han starred in awe as Luke advanced a few steps down the corridor, his lightsaber constantly moving.

"Looks like you cut off our only escape route." Leia rolled her eyes at Solo.

"Maybe you'd like it back in your cell, your highness." Han snapped back. Sabine frowned at the side of the corridor, the Mandalorian drew her blasters.

"What are you doing?" Han stared at Sabine as she took aim at a grate mounted on the side of the wall.

"Let her work!" Leia snapped. "Someone has to save our skins." Sabine blasted the grating open and turned to the rest of the Rebels.

"Alright you lot! Into the garbage disposal!" Without a second thought, Leia dived headfirst into the chute. "Fly boy! You and the Wookie go after me, Skywalker, cover us!" Luke glanced over his shoulder and nodded as Han shook his head indignantly

"Don't call me Fly boy!" The Mandalorian rolled her eye sunder her helmet.

"Whatever you say, laser brain." Sabine dived after the Princess into the chute. Han glanced incredulously at Chewie.

"All Mandalorians are the same."

"Hurry it up guys!" Luke panted as he backed towards the chute. "This isn't exactly easy!" Han shoved Chewie towards the grate, the Wookie howled out a protest.

"Get in there, you big fury oath!" Han gave Chewie a shove in the back. "I couldn't care less what you smell!" With a final insistent push, Chewie disappeared down the chute. "What have you gotten me into kid?" Han jumped after Chewie, Luke batted a few more laser bolts away before deactivating his lightsaber and diving headfirst into the chute.

##

Obi-Wan crept through the corridors of the Death Star, he had managed to deactivate the tractor beam and was making his way back to the Falcon, he was sure Luke had disobeyed him and left the control centre, he was very much like his father in that regard. Obi-Wan slowed as he felt a familiar presence in the Force, the Jedi activated his lightsaber.

Darth Remnous appeared from around a corner, the Sith Lord was dressed in black durasteel combat armour, his belt was covered in trophy blades.

"I've been waiting for you Obi-Wan." Remnous drew two guard shotos from holsters on his thighs and advanced on Obi-Wan. "We meet again at last."

"I should have expected to find you at the heart of this technological terror you've constructed." The Jedi took his lightsaber in both hands as Remnous shook his head.

"I did what I could to prevent Alderaan's destruction, needless destruction for destructions sake." There was an icy chill to Remnous's voice. "The one's responsible will be dealt with in time." Obi-Wan nodded understandingly.

"Ah, so you are no longer content to dwell in Palatines shadow." Remnous shrugged as he activated his guard shotos.

"It's awfully hard to get things done in the dark." Remnous let go of his guard shotos, instead of falling however, they rose into the air on either side of Remnous, rising into a combat position to defend the Sith Lord. "Soon I shall be the Master of the Sith and what better final test is there, then slaying the only Jedi who bested Darth Vader?" Remnous raised a hand and pointed at Obi-Wan, the guard shotos flew through the air towards Obi-Wan.

The Jedi Master raise his lightsaber and parried the oncoming shotos, Obi-Wan began to back away as he fended off the floating lightsabers. Remnous followed, a wolfish grin spreading across his face as he did so.

"I will give you this old man, you're marginally stronger than you were the last time we met, it seems teaching is astounding training." The Sith Lord chuckled darkly, "I can't wait to give it a try."

"You can't win Darth, if you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."

"You should have stayed in the desert!" Remnous's shotos dropped to the ground as the Sith Lord lunged at the Jedi, his blood red lightsaber coming to life in his mechanical hand.

##

Han and Chewie came to a halt behind some crates in the hanger were the Falcon was being kept, they'd been separated from the others after Luke and Sabine had cut through the garbage crusher's door. They'd left their Stormtrooper suits in the crusher, they'd lost their helmets and the whole station was on high alert, it was no good trying to blend in now. Han rolled his eyes as he saw the Stormtroopers guarding his ship.

"Can't we just leave this party?" Chewie growled lowly in agreement. There was the sound of heavy footfalls down the corridor, Han and Chewie raised their blasters just in time to see the Mandalorian lead Luke and the Princess around a corner. "Where have you been?" The Mandalorian shrugged.

"We ran into some old friends." Luke glanced over the crates at the Falcon.

"Is the ship alright?"

"She looks ok, as long as we can get to her, I just hope the Old Man got the tractor beam out of commission." There was an odd clashing sound out in the hanger, Luke frowned, then they heard the sound again. Luke and Sabine glanced at each other, it was the sound of lightsabers connecting. The Stormtroopers abandoned their posts and ran across the hanger. "Now's our chance, go!" Han ran for the Falcon, the others followed him but Luke quickly fell behind.

"Master?" Across the hanger, Obi-Wan and Remnous were locked in a brutal dual, the two locked their lightsabers glaring at each other before they broke apart. Panting, Obi-Wan glanced over at the Falcon and saw look. A small smile spread across the Jedi's face, he turned back to Remnous and closed his eyes, raising his lightsaber as he did so. Remnous took his own blade in both hands and leapt forwards, driving the blade towards Obi-Wan's heart. As soon as the blade made contact; the Jedi vanished, his cloak and lightsaber fell to the ground.

"No!" Remnous's head whipped up to glare at him, the Sith Lord's eyes passed over him, then settled on Leia. The Stormtroopers who had been watching the fight turned and opened fire, blinded by rage, Luke activated his lightsaber and began to deflect the bolts back.

"Kid it's too late!" Sabine called from the Falcons loading ramp, Leia ran to the padawan and grabbed his arm.

"Luke come on! We have to go!" Leia froze in place as she turned to run to the ship, "I can't move!" Luke turned just in time to see Leia being pulled off her feet and into the air.

"Leia!" The Princess hovered for a second before she began to drift away from the Jedi and across the empty loading platform shaft. "Hold on!" The Padawan thrust his hand out and tried to focus on the Princess, a laser bolt grazed his left cheek sending Luke toppling to the ground.

Leia gasped with horror as she saw who was awaiting her on the other side of the hanger, Remnous had his hand outstretched towards her, he gestured and she was pulled through the air towards him. Luke looked up just in time to see Leia land in Remnous's waiting arms, over the din of the blasters he could have sworn he could hear Obi-Wan say.

"Run Luke, run!"

"You didn't think I'd make it that easy, did you?" The Sith hissed into the squirming girl's ear. Leia twisted around in Remnous's grip to get a look at the Falcon just in time to see Luke charging up the loading ramp as it hissed shut. The Freighters engines flared to life as it took off. "Your friends have abandoned you, your planet is no more, I'm all you have now, Princess." Leia shivered in Remnous's arms as the Falcon flew away from the Death Star.

"My lord," one of the Stormtroopers had rushed over to them. "We'll deploy TIE fighters to pursue them immediately!" Remnous shook his head.

"I think not."

"My Lord?" Remnous rolled his eyes as he pulled Leia's hands behind her back and unbuckled a pair of binders from his belt.

"I had an agent place a tracer on that ship, it'll lead us straight to the Rebel base." Leia gasped as Remnous secured her hands behind her back. "Don't be so melodramatic Princess, your friends have the plans, the Alliance may find a weakness in this thing after all."

##

Sabine nudged Solo as she finished setting the course to Yavin IV into the Millennium Falcon's navigational drives.

"Course is set, I hope this thing is as fast as you claim Solo." Han rolled his eyes at the Mandalorian as he activated the hyperdrive, the Falcon was propelled into hyperspace. Chewie excused himself to make a dew repairs, Sabine sunk into the co-pilots seat and pulled off her helmet, Han caught himself staring. She hadn't taken her helmet off while there were aboard the Death Star, it was his first time seeing her face, he'd never admit it to her face, but she was beautiful.

"I'll get you to your base, then I'll be on my way." Han adjusted a few dials on the console. "We were lucky we got out of there before they could send TIEs after us." Sabine shook her head.

"Luck had nothing to do with it, they're tracking us." Han scoffed.

"Not this ship sister." Sabine rolled her eyes and leaned back in her chair, Han glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. "I'm sorry about the Princess and the Old Man." Sabine sighed and rubbed her forehead.

"My mission was to protect her, I failed, at least the data inside Artoo is intact."

"What's so important? What's he carrying?"

"The technical readouts for that battle station, I only hope Erso wasn't lying and there is a weakness built into it, it's not over yet." Han frowned.

"It is for me sister, I ain't in this for your revolution, I expect to be well paid! I'm in it for the money." Sabine scoffed.

"Don't worry about your reward, I know a mercenary when I see one." The Mandalorian got to her feet and turned to leave only to bump into Luke in the doorway.

"Sorry." Sabine shook her head.

"It's alright kid, how's the cheek?" Luke had a bandage strapped to the left side of his face with adhesive tape, the wound was likely to leave a scar.

"It'll be fine, I just wish I could have done more for Leia."

"Hey. If I know Jedi as well as I think I do, you'll be blaming yourself, let me put a pin in that right now, you did everything you could." Sabine sighed and shook her head. "Kid, something you have to know is that in war, not everyone comes home. The real test of character comes after they're gone." The Mandalorian patted the Jedi comfortingly on the shoulder before pushing passed him and out of the cockpit.

"Thanks, I guess." Luke shrugged as he took Sabines seat, he glanced over at Han. "So, what do you think about her?"

"I'm trying not to." Luke raised an eyebrow.

"Hmm." The Jedi turned back to the console, Han frowned and glanced over his shoulder.

"She does have spirit, you think a Mandalorian and a guy like me could have a shot?" Han glanced questioningly over at Luke, the Jedi smiled.

"Yeah, I could see that happening."

##

"You allowed them to escape?!" Tarkin slammed him fists onto the conference table as he glowered at Remnous. "You knew the plans were aboard the freighter and you let them slip through our fingers, explain yourself!" The Sith Lord rolled his eyes and sighed exasperatedly.

"Because, you short sighted fool, I had a tracer placed aboard the Millennium Falcon, all you need do is follow it to the Rebel base and destroy it." Tarkin froze as the realisation dawned on him, the scouts had reported the Rebel facility on Dantooine had been abandoned long ago, Remnous's plan could work.

"I'm taking an awful risk here Sith."

"Yes, you are." Tarkin scowled.

"What of the Princess? I was told you managed to re-capture her."

"I saw to her execution personally." Tarkin nodded.

"Very well, we shall pursue the Rebel vessel and destroy their facility." Remnous snorted as he turned on his heel.

"You will." Tarkin frowned as he rose to his feet.

"Where do you think you're going?" Remnous glanced over his shoulder.

"I've had my fill of your incompetence Tarkin, I'm taking my ship back to Mustafar."

"The Emperor put you at my disposal until the mission is complete, you can't just walk away from me!" The Sith rolled his eyes, weak men were so desperate to cling to every piece of power they got their wretched hands on, he snapped his fingers. The door to the conference room opened, Starkiller strode through the open doorway, clad in his jet-black armour and helmet, red lines highlighted the lines of its T shaped visor.

"This is my Assassin; Starkiller." Tarkin slowly sunk back into his seat as he stared at Starkiller. "He will serve in my stead until the Rebel threat is dealt with." Remnous marched away before Tarkin had a chance to object, Mel and Locket were waiting for himself outside.

"The shuttle Sir?" Remnous nodded.

"The shuttle, Mel." The Clone Troopers took their places on either side of the Sith Lord as the three of them walked away from the conference room. "Has our passenger made any trouble?" Mel shrugged as they stepped into a turbo lift.

"Nothing my boys can't handle, Sir."

"Good man." Remnous grinned broadly as they rode the lift downwards, Mel glanced over at Locket, the other clone shook his head. "If you have a question, feel free to ask it. I won't ask you to serve me blindly."

"The boys were wondering Sir, why did you save her Sir? What do you have planned for her?" The lift doors opened onto a small hanger bay, Remnous's Lambda Class shuttle stood ready for them.

"That's a good question." Remnous glanced over his shoulder as Mel and Locket followed him out of the lift. "The Force is strong with her, I plan to put that power to good use." The shuttles ramp hissed shut behind them.

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

Luke followed Sabine down the Falcon's ramp and onto the Rebels landing field, a small crowd awaited them.

"Hera!" Sabine broke into a run when she saw a green Twi'lek, Luke was taken aback and glanced at Han, it was the first time either have them had heard any warmth in the Mandalorians voice. Hera seemed just as surprised as them as the Sabine threw her arms around her.

"Hey." The Twi'lek smiled as she pulled Sabine closer, "it's alright, your home now." Hera frowned over Sabines shoulder. "Where's Leia?"

"Ezra got her." Hera sighed as they broke apart, "we feared the worst when we heard about Alderaan, the Galaxy takes far more than it gives."

"I have the plans." There was a collective gasp of relief from the Rebels, "but we have to be quick, they tracked us here." Hera grinned.

"That means we know exactly where it's going to be and when, if we can find Erso's weakness we might just have a chance at destroying that thing." Hera frowned as she glanced over Sabines shoulder. "Who are your friends?" Sabine glanced over her shoulder, Luke waved nervously back as Han sighed exasperatedly, Chewie growled a greeting.

"The kid is Luke Skywalker, the other two are a couple of mercenaries he and Obi-Wan hired to help get the plans to the Rebels."

"Mercenaries who want to be paid." Han muttered sarcastically, Hera rolled her eyes.

"We'll see to that." The Twi'leks gaze lingered on Luke, then she glanced at the tall man who was stood next to her, Luke glanced at his belt, his eyes widened when he saw the lightsaber attached to it. "I think you two should have a word." The Twi'lek turned to Sabine. "Come on, we have to analyse the data." Sabine nodded.

"Right, come on Artoo." The astromech whistled merrily as he pushed passed Han and rolled after Sabine and Hera, Threepio hurried to keep up.

"Exciting is hardly the word I would have used." The droids followed the Twi'lek and the Mandalorian into the base.

"How's the fleet?" Hera shook her head.

"We have about thirty fighters that are in fit state to fight, we're still waiting for reinforcements from the Inner Core so we can't evacuate." The Twi'lek glanced over at Sabine, "Anything else happen?"

"Galen's alive." Hera froze in her tracks and turned to face Sabine.

"How did you know?" Sabine frowned.

"He attacked Leia's ship, how did you know?" Hera shook her head.

"He's locked up here." Sabine looked confused.

"Seriously? How did you catch him? Did Ezra send him to attack the base?" Hera shook her head.

"He arrived with Raddus and Juno after the battle and willingly surrendered himself." Hera raised an eyebrow. "He might actually have been telling the truth."

"The truth about what?" Hera gave Sabine a sideways look, then sighed tiredly.

"He claims Remnous cloned him, Kanan said he felt a disturbance in the Force at Scarif and Galen can't have been in two places at once, Raddus and his crew swear he's been with them since they abandoned the Profundity." Sabine frowned and rubbed the spot on her arm where Li had drawn blood.

"Do you think we can trust him?"

"Admiral Raddus certainly seems to think so, and he's doing a good job of convincing the council."

"But what do you think?" Hera pursed her lips as she thought.

"I don't know, I believe that he's changed, maybe I can learn to trust him, but I'll never forgive him."

##

The Death Star came out of hyperspace next to the Yavin system. In the conference room, Tarkin kept a wary eye on Starkiller as he felt the deck-plates shudder slightly, signifying they'd dropped out of hyperspace. The Assassin hadn't said a word or removed his helmet, he'd simply stood quietly to one side, Tarkin far preferred his company to Remnous's. The intercom on the conference table beeped, Tarkin pressed a button to answer it.

"We have arrived at the planet Yavin, the Rebel base is on a moon on the far side, we are preparing to orbit the planet."

##

The pilots the Rebels planned to send against the Death Star had been hand picked by the Rebel leadership and included some of the finest pilots to serve in the Alliance, including Dutch Vander, Wedge Antilles, Garven Dreis and Keyan Farlander. Blue Squadron had been annihilated at Scarif, so the burden would have to fall on Red Squadron and Gold Squadron.

General Hera Syndulla lead the briefing, Luke squirmed uncomfortably in the front row, he felt more than a little out of place. Kanan had insisted to Hera that he be assigned to the attack, the Jedi and the Twi'lek had had a quiet conversation to one side and to Luke's surprise, Hera had agreed to let him join the mission.

"The battle station is heavily shielded and carries more firepower than half the Star fleet." Behind Hera, a screen came to life, showing a three-dimensional projection of the Death Stars schematics. "The Empire designed this things defences with a direct large-scale assault in mind, meaning a one-man fighter can get through the flak field of its turbo lasers." In the corner Chewie glanced at Han, the smuggler knew what the look meant, the Falcons hyperdrive gave it speed comparable to an X-Wing, they could get through too. Han shook his head and nodded at the screen.

"Ugh, pardon me for asking General." One of the pilots raised a tentative hand.

"You don't have to raise your hand Wedge." A quiet chuckle rippled around the briefing room, Wedge put his hand down.

"What good's a snub fighter going to do against that thing?" Hera smiled.

"I'm glad you asked that, we analysed the data Commander Wren brought us and found the weakness Galen Erso built into the Death Star." The screen zoomed in on a section of the stations hull. "According to the schematics, there's a thermal exhaust port at the end of this trench that is linked directly to the main reactor." The screen showed a reconstruction of the trench. "The target area is only two meters wide and ray shielded, so only proton torpedoes will be able to get through." The pilot next to Luke shook his head.

"That's impossible, even for a computer." Luke nudged him on the arm with his elbow.

"It's not impossible, I used to bullseye wamp rats with my tee-sixteen back home and they're not much more than two meters across."

"If there are no other questions?" Hera glanced questioningly around the room, after a moment of silence the Twi'lek nodded. "Then man your ships, and may the Force be with you."

##

Tarkin strode onto the Death Stars command deck, Starkiller followed a few steps behind me. Admiral Motti glanced up from his console and raised an eyebrow.

"Am I correct in assuming the venerable 'Lord' Remnous has taken his leave?" Tarkin smirked and nodded.

"Indeed, his Assassin is far better mannered than his Master." The Grand Moff frowned and glanced around the command deck. "Where is General Tagge?"

"I assumed he was with you Sir." Tarkin stroked his chin.

"No matter, this is a Naval matter, best left in the hands of the Admiralty, how goes our progress?" Motti gestured to one of the terminals.

"We are orbiting the planet at maximum velocity, the moon with the Rebel Base will be in range in thirty minutes." Tarkin smirked.

"This shall be a historic day for the Empire."

##

"All pilots to your stations. All pilots to your stations." Luke jogged down a small flight of steps into the fighter hanger, the padawan grinned as he took in the rows of X-Wings and Y-Wings. The smile slipped as he saw Han and Chewie loading metal boxes onto a speeder, the boxes were full of precious metals. Han had insisted on a payment equal to what Luke and Obi-Wan had promised despite the pleas from the Rebel leadership, they were desperately short on funds and materials as it was.

"So, you got your reward and you're just leaving then?" Han set a box on the speeder before turning to Luke.

"Yeah, that's right." The smuggler picked up another box. "I've got some old debts I've got to pay off with this stuff." Hand set the box down on the speeder and picked up another one. "Even if I didn't, you don't think I'd be foolish enough to stick around here do ya?" Luke rolled his eyes as Han set down the box. "Why don't you come with us? You're pretty good in a fight, we could use ya."

"Come on. Why don't you take a look around?" Luke gestured around the hanger, "you know what's going to happen, what they're up against." Han scowled and picked up another box. "They could use a good pilot like you, you're turning your back on them."

"What good's a reward if you ain't around to use it? Besides, attacking that battle station ain't my idea of courage, more like." Han made a face as he thought for a moment, stupid wasn't the right word. "Suicide." Luke nodded.

"Alright. Well, take care of yourself Han." The Jedi turned on his heels, "I guess that's what you're best at." Han looked up as Luke was walking away.

"Hey Luke." The Jedi paused and looked back. "May the Force be with you." Luke took one last look at the smuggler before walking away, Chewie growled lowly. "What are you looking at? I know what I'm doing."

Kanan was waiting for him next to his X-Wing, the Jedi Master was having a spirited chat with Artoo as the astromech was fitted into the fighter.

"Master Jarrus?"

"Kanan's fine." The Jedi examined Luke curiously.

"I wanted to thank you again for getting me onto this mission." Luke glanced up at the X-Wing, "it means a lot." Kanan shook his head.

"If you're half the pilot your father was, they'll need you up there."

"You knew my father?"

"Only by reputation." Kanan rubbed the back of his head, "listen, Luke, there's something you need to know about you father…" Luke frowned curiously.

"What?" Kanan sighed and shook his head.

"I'll tell you when you get back, you'll need a clear head up there."

"Alright…" Luke shrugged as Kanan patted his shoulder.

"May the Force be with you." One of the technicians fitting Artoo glanced down at Luke as Kanan left.

"Hey, this Artoo unit is pretty banged up, you want a new one?" Luke shook his head.

"Not on your life, that little droid and I have been through a lot together, you alright Artoo?" The astromech beeped merrily in response. Luke was starting to climb the first few rungs of his loading ladder when a voice behind him called out.

"Luke!" Luke glanced around for the source of the call, he grinned when he saw who it came from.

"Biggs!" He jumped off the ladder as Biggs ran to greet him

"I don't believe it, how are ya? You coming up?"

"I'll be right up there with you and do I have stories for you!" Biggs grinned.

"I bet, how you got your uncle to let you off that dust bowl must be quite the tale." Luke's smile slipped.

"Actually, Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru were…" Biggs's smile vanished in an instant.

"I'm so sorry to hear that." Luke shrugged. "Hey, we'll hear all your stories when we get back." Biggs slapped Luke on the arm. "It'll be just like old time Luke, they'll never stop us."

##

Red and Gold Squadrons flew through space towards the Death Star. Garven Dreis opened his comm line to the squadron.

"All wings report in."

"Red Ten, standing by."

"Red Seven, standing by." Biggs adjusted a few instruments on his dash board.

"Red Three, standing by." Porkins grimaced as a readout appeared on one of his computer screens.

"Red Six, Standing by."

"Red Nine, standing by." Wedge gulped nervously as the Death Star filled his cockpit's view port, this time in the Imperial flight academy had taught him the cold truth about the Empire's tyranny, but he'd never imagined they'd be cruel enough to build something like this.

"Red Two, standing by."

"Red Eleven, standing by."

"Here we go Artoo," Luke readjusted some of his instrumentation and readjusted himself in his seat. "Red Five, standing by."

"Lock s foils in attack position." The upper and lower wings of the X-Wings separated, locking the fighters into their namesake position. "We're passing through the magnetic field, hold tight!" The fighters rocked violently as their pilots struggled to hold them steady. "Switch your deflectors on, double front!"

"Look at the size of that thing!"

"Cut the chatter Red Two." Dreis's voice was stern. "Accelerate to attack speed, this is it boys!" The fighters banked downwards towards the Death Star.

"Red Leader, this is Gold Leader." A squadron of Y-Wings flew alongside Dreis's X-Wing.

"I hear you Gold Leader."

"We're starting for the target shaft now."

"We're in position, alright Red Squadron, you're on me, let's keep those batteries busy." The X-Wings and the Y-Wings broke off from each other as each squad went about their task. The lighter, more manoeuvrable X-Wings banked downwards, drawing the fire of the turbo laser batteries as the slower Y-Wings approached the trench.

"Heavy fire boss, twenty-three degrees."

"I see it Red Two, stay low."

##

"What is the meaning of this!" Tarkin roared at the command deck, "what is the point of all of this," Tarkin gestured around the room, "if we can't crush thirty tiny fighters?!" Motti shook his head.

"They're small and fast enough to evade our turbo lasers." Tarkin scowled.

"Well what do you propose we do about it?" Motti thought for a moment, it looked like a lot of effort.

"We'll have to destroy them ship to ship, I'll order the pilots to their fighters."

##

"Cover me Porkins." Biggs banked sharply to the starboard side, Porkins in close pursuit.

"I'm with you Red Three!" The two X-Wings banked towards one of the turbo-laser towers, both let off a volley of canon fire. The shots struck the base of the tower, which smoked profusely for a few seconds before exploding. Porkins frowned as he felt his fighter shudder. "Hey, I've got a problem here." Biggs glanced over at Porkins X-Wing.

"Eject!"

"I can hold it."

"Pull up!"

"No, I'm alright-" The words were barely out of Porkins mouth before his cockpit was filled with sparks. Biggs pulled away as his X-Wing exploded. Luke and Biggs fell into formation together as they descended on the battle station to make another attack run on the gun batteries.

"Luke, trust your feelings." The Jedi frowned and glanced around his cockpit, Obi-Wan?

"Squad leaders?" Hera's voice filled the Rebels headsets. "We're picking up incoming signals, enemy fighters." Luke frowned at his instrumentation.

"My scopes negative, I don't see anything." Dreis adjusted his scanners.

"Pick up your visual scanning." Biggs adjusted his own scanner and glanced around nervously. "Here they come!" Dozens of TIE fighters descended on the Rebel Squadron, Red Nine was quickly caught in the cross fire and destroyed. Luke swung his fighter around.

"Biggs you got one on you!"

"I can't see him!" Biggs broke away from the formation and weaved through the gun batteries, the TIE fighter followed closely behind him. "He's on me too tight, I can't shake him!"

"I'll be right there!" Luke banked sharply downwards and dived towards Biggs and his pursuer, drawing up on their level, the Jedi opened fire.

##

"Grand Moff Tarkin." Motti frowned as he looked up from his instrumentation. "Several fighters have broken off from the main group."

"I'll deal with them." The crew of the command deck turned to stare at Starkiller, it was the first time he'd said anything. The Sith Assassin, unfazed by their stares, swept off the command deck.

##

"Red Leader, this is Gold Leader, we're beginning our attack run." Three Y-Wings rolled over gracefully in space down into the trench. "The exhaust port is marked and locked in." Turrets up and down the trench swivelled into attack position and began to fire on the three old fighters. "Switch all power to front deflectors, how many guns are would you say Gold Three?"

"I'd say about twenty, some on the surface some on the towers." The Y-wings flew up, their speed and size allowing them to avoid the laser fire.

"Red Leader, this is Gold Leader, I'm switching to targeting computer."

"Computer's locked, getting a signal." Gold Three peered at his instrumentation, then frowned and looked up, all at once the gun turrets had stopped firing. "The guns, they've stopped."

"Stabilize your rear deflectors and watch out for enemy fighters." Gold Leader glanced down at one of his consoles as he aimed with his targeting computer.

"They're coming in. Three marks at two-ten!" Three advanced TIE fights were advancing up the trench towards them. "Hold formation boys."

"It's no good, I can't maneuverer." The head TIE fighter opened fire, Gold Three was quickly picked off.

"Stay on target!" Gold Leader shook his head

"We're too close."

"Stay on target!" Gold Five glanced over at Gold Leader just in time to see his Y-Wing explode.

"Gold Five to Red Leader, lost Tiree and Hutch." Dreis grimaced, Red Squadron had taken a beating too, they were down to six fighters.

"I copy Gold Leader."

"They came from behind!" The newly anointed Gold Leaders signal was cut off as his Y-Wing exploded

##

Aboard the Death Star, Moradmin Bast hurried onto the command deck. Grand Moff Tarkin stood calmly in the centre of the room, his gaze fixed pointedly at Yavin IV. Bast discretely made his way to Tarkins shoulder.

"We've analysed their attack sir, and there is a danger." Tarkin scoffed and rolled his eyes. "Should I have your ship standing by sir?"

"Evacuate? In our moment of triumph?" Tarkin shook his head. "I think you overestimate their chances."

"Rebel Base three minutes and closing."

##

Dreis sighed heavily as he thought through his options, Gold Squadron had been entirely destroyed or routed, that left the mission up to Red Squad. He'd have to divide the six fighters he had left into two wings, that way they'd get two shots at the exhaust port.

"Red boys, this is Red Leader. Rendezvous at mark six point one."

"This is Red Two flying towards you."

"Red three standing by."

"Luke, Red Two and Three are with you, hold up out of range and wait for my signal to start your run." Red Leader descended into the trench, followed closely by Reds Ten and Twelve. "This is it!" The lighter X-Wings had an easier time dealing with the turrets than the cumbersome Y-Wings had, but as they had before, the guns shut off. "Keep your eyes open for those fighters." Red Ten glanced down at his scanners.

"There's too much interference, Red Five, can you see them?" Luke and his squad hovered over the battlefield, surveying the trench from above. Luke craned his neck to get a better look.

"No sign of any, wait, coming in point three, five." Red Twelve glanced upwards.

"I see them."

"Activating targeting computer." Dreis squinted through his computer as the three advanced TIE fighters came in behind them. "Almost there." The centre TIE fighter opened fire with its cannons, Red Ten was caught in one of the engines and spun off into the trench wall, exploding in a shower of debris. Red Twelve swerved into the centre of the trench to protect Dreis. "Almost there!"

"I can't hold them!" The TIE fighter on the right-hand side managed to clip his fuel line in a volley of laser fire, the tanks ignited and the fighter went up in flames just as Dreis let off his proton torpedoes.

"It's away!" Red Leader pulled up in time to narrowly miss crashing into the trench wall, Biggs grinned.

"It's a hit." Dreis shook his head.

"Negative, it didn't go in, just impacted on the surface." Dreis gritted his teeth as the lead advanced TIE fighter bore down on him.

"Hang on Red Leader, we'll cover you!" Luke flipped a few switches and prepared to swing his fighter around.

"Negative, prepare for your attack run, I just lost my-" The signal cut off, static filled the comm line, Luke took a deep breath.

"Biggs, Wedge, let's close it up. If we're going in, we're going in full throttle, that should keep those fighters off out back."

"Right with you boss." Wedge sunk his fighter around and matched Luke's speed.

"Luke, at that speed will we be able to pull out in time?" Biggs glanced over at Luke as he pulled up alongside him.

"It'll be just like Beggars Canyon back home." Biggs chuckled as the three pilots pitched over and down into the trench.

"We'll stay far back enough to cover you." Wedge frowned down at his controls.

"My scope shows the tower, but I can't see the exhaust port. Are you sure the computer can hit it?"

"Just worry about those fighters, I'll worry about the unreliable technology." The three X-Wings barrelled along the trench, like before the towers cut off as the TIE Fighters approached. The leader of the pact instantly let off a gale of cannon fire, but something was different; the shots weren't connecting. At best they'd graze the X-Wings, but they wouldn't come close to finding a kill shot, Biggs frowned.

"Something's up, he had no issue picking us apart before, what's going on?"

"Are you really looking a gift Wookie in the mouth right now?" Wedge glanced over at Biggs incredulously. "Just focus on staying alive." Oblivious to the background chatter, Luke activated his targeting computer and peered through the screen.

"Use the Force Luke." The Padawan glanced around his cockpit, then he looked back to his computer. "Let go." Luke gritted his teeth, then deactivated his targeting computer.

"Luke, you've switched off your computer, what's wrong?"

"Nothing, I'm fine Biggs." Luke reached out with his mind, his breathing slowed and the fear of the moment left him. It was just him and the ship, their speed was irrelevant, all that mattered was the port in front of him Luke closed his eyes. Behind him, Wedge's X-Wing buckled as its engines were struck.

"I'm hit, I can't keep up."

"Get out of here Wedge, you're not going to do any good back here." Biggs gripped his controls tightly.

"Sorry," Wedge pulled out of the trench leaving Luke and Biggs alone.

"Hurry Luke, I don't know how long I can hold them." There was a beeping sound in the cockpit as he was locked onto. "Hurry Luke! Hurry!" Buggs clenched his teeth as he tried to break the block, but he was to boxed in, he didn't have the space to move!

The right-hand TIE fighter exploded.

"What?" Biggs looked up just in time to see the Millennium Falcon swooped in from above, its cannons letting loose a hailstorm of fire on the TIE Fighters. The lead fighters' pilots must have seen the freighter coming because he'd already pulled back, leaving the left-hand TIE to be shredded.

"You're all clear kid, now let's blow this thing and go home!"

Luke took a deep breath and opened his eyes; the port was right ahead of him.

He fired.

##

Across the Galaxy aboard the Loth Wolf Remnous staggered slightly and reached out for a wall to steady himself. Tandi blinked a few times and leaned heavily against the opposite wall, the Sith grinned at the Sniper.

"Did you feel that?" Breathlessly, Tandi nodded.

"What was that?" Remnous smirked.

"The plan."

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

Thrawn appeared in Remnous's ready room in a flash of light, the Chiss frowned at the Sith Lord, it had been mere minutes since Remnous had felt the disturbance in the Force the news of the Death Stars destruction had yet to spread across the galaxy.

"Lord Remnous, I was under the impression you were aboard the Death Star, the reports Tarkin has submitted to the Imperial Network are troubling." Remnous waved off Thrawn's concern.

"Never mind Tarkin's reports, they're irrelevant now."

"They're irrelevant?" Thrawn shook his head. "My friend, as much as you disrespect Tarkin you cannot underestimate his ability to sway the Emperor."

"Tarkin is dead." Thrawn's eyes widened.

"Dead?" Remnous smirked as he nodded.

"What have you done?"

"I've done nothing, I simply gave the Rebellion a fighting chance."

"The Death Star has been destroyed?" Thrawn raised an eyebrow, Remnous chuckled.

"Mere minutes ago," the Sith Lord fixed Thrawn with a pointed stare. "It's time."

"Remnous, it will take weeks just to arrange the armies transport," Remnous shook his head.

"It has to be now Thrawn, there's been a disturbance in the Force, Palpatine will be off balance and irrational, this is the time to act." Thrawn rubbed his chin as he considered Remnous's words.

"Vey well, I shall reassess our options. How should we proceed?"

"I'll need to win Palpatine's favour, chances are he won't be pleased with me for abandoning Tarkin." Thrawn nodded.

"How do you propose to do that?"

"I've had the Loth Wolf drop out of hyperspace, we're plotting a course to Yavin IV now. I'll drive the Rebels from their base and shatter their spirit." A chiming filled the ready room as another droid stepped out of its charging station, Palpatine appeared in a flash of light.

"Lord Remnous." The Emperor regarded his apprentice coldly, his yellow eyes flitted over to Thrawn before returning to Remnous. "Normally I would punish you for disobeying my orders to remain with Tarkin until the Rebel Base was destroyed." Remnous took a deep breath as Palpatine paused. "However, given the circumstances, I'd be foolish to not send you after the Rebels." Palpatine finally turned to Thrawn. "Grand Admiral.

"My Emperor." The Chiss nodded respectfully.

"It is curious you chose to contact a member of the Admiralty before me in the wake of the Death Star's destruction, Lord Remnous." Remnous straightened his posture.

"I was requesting additional ships; The Loth Wolf is already preparing to take the fight the Yavin." Palpatine raised an eyebrow.

"Is that so?" The Sith Lord paused and thought for a moment. "No reinforcements, I think." Palpatine grinned, "I gave you that ship, now show me you can use it."

"As you command, my Master." The Emperor shot Thrawn one last suspicious glance before vanishing in a flash of light.

"No reinforcements?" Thrawn shook his head. "You will forgive me for saying so, my friend, but The Loth Wolf is an old ship, are you sure she is capable of successfully completing the assault alone?" Remnous stroked his chin as he pondered the Chiss's question. "I have a ship in the vicinity, The Belmont, I can have her redirected to Yavin."

"No." Remnous shook his head, "The Loth Wolf might be old, but she has just as much punch as an Imperial Class Star Destroyer and the compliment of Defenders, she'll hold up."

"If you're sure." Remnous nodded.

"Most of the Rebel fleet was decimated at Scarif, I saw to that myself and their assault on the Death Star will have cost them dearly." The Sith Lord readjusted his breastplate. "You focus on getting the ships we need to Kamino, we have a very narrow window of opportunity and we must take it!"

##

"I want those A-Wings in the air now!" Hera barked at a group of technicians as they hurriedly worked on repairing the damaged fighters. Most of the fighters sent to fight the Death Star had been destroyed in the attack, they knew the Empire was coming for them and they'd need air support when it arrived. Hera pulled her comm from her belt. "Wedge, are you and Darklighter in the air yet?"

"Taking off now General." Hera nodded as she glanced skywards, sure enough, two X-Wings were rising into the bright sky.

"Good, keep a sharp eye out for us."

"You got it, General." The Twi'lek sighed tiredly as she rubbed her back, it was killing her.

"Solo?" Han, Luke, and Sabine were hurrying out of the Temple, the smuggler nodded his greetings, he and Luke were still wearing their medals. "You sticking around?" Han frowned, then glanced at Sabine.

"Yeah, I'll help out." Hera rolled her eyes, then sighed, help was help.

"Good, how much equipment can your ship carry?" Han shrugged.

"How much do you need carried?" Hera smirked.

"Right answer, Luke you go with him and help."

"Yes General." Luke smiled at Sabine before running to catch Han.

"What do you need me to do Hera?" Sabine crossed her arms over her chest as she glanced over her shoulder at Han.

"I'll need you to…" Hera trailed off, then took a few shaky steps backward as she was hit by a wave of nausea.

"Hera!" Sabine darted forwards and took the Twi'lek by the arm. "Are you alright?" Hera nodded weakly as Sabine helped her sit down on a crate, the Twi'lek rested a hand on her stomach as she stared across the landing flat at Kanan.

"Yes, I'm absolutely fine." Sabine frowned as she glanced back and forth between the two, then her eyes widened.

"Does he know?" Hera shook her head.

"The medical droids only told me this morning, with everything that's going on right now I haven't found a spare moment to tell him." Sabine smiled and patted Hera on the shoulder.

"General Syndulla!" Mon Mothma was hurrying towards them, a communicator clutched in her hand.

"Senator." Sabine helped Hera get to her feet, Mothma shook her head

"The Senate's gone, I'm not a senator anymore." The former senator held out the communicator. "We just received this." Mothma tapped the center of the device, a holographic projection appeared.

"This is Fulcrum. We are what remains." Sabine and Hera glanced nervously at each other. "Remnous is on his way to Yavin now. You have less than two hours. Fulcrum out." Fulcrums image faded away.

"Is it authentic?" Mothma nodded.

"The same signal frequency that told us where to find the Death Star."

"Then our timetable just went up an hour." Hera turned to Sabine. "Help get those A-Wings in the air." Sabine nodded before running towards the small fighter squadron, as she ran, a pair of yellow eyes watched her from the jungle's foliage.

##

Thrawn sat back in his chair and grinned with amusement. The Chiss had been mistaken when he had speculated that it would take some time to gather an armada large enough to ferry the Clone Army from Kamino. The projections he had been working off had neglected to include a large number of old Republic era ships that were still in use within the Imperial Navy. All of which were assigned to specifically none combat roles in the far reaches of the Galaxy.

True, it would take a few days for them to be mobilized to Kamino, but there was a reason Palpatine had ordered that those ships be sent to the far reaches of space. The Emperor wanted them forgotten, and Thrawn knew that if Palpatine wanted something forgotten, he would simply have put it out of sight and out of mind, he wouldn't be monitoring their movements unlike the rest of the fleet which worked to their advantage.

The ships crews and captains would also be easy to win over, Palpatine often dealt with troublesome members of the Admiralty he couldn't justify killing the same way he dealt with ships he wanted to be forgotten; sent to live out their careers in irrelevancy at the far reaches of the galaxy. There were many former Republic captains among them who were eager to see changes in the Empire, the rest? Thrawn smirked, the rest simply wanted an elevation in their status, one way or the other.

##

"Home One, this is Yavin IV, come in Home One." Hera paused and waited for a response, the Twi'lek frowned with concern when none came. "Admiral Ackbar? Are you there?" Another tense few seconds of silence slipped by, then a voice appeared on the other end of the line.

"We're here Yavin IV, receiving you loud and clear." Hera sighed with relief as she glanced over at Mon Mothma, the former Senator nodded and gestured for Hera to continue.

"Admiral, we've just received word from Fulcrum, Remnous is on his way." There was a pause, then Ackbar's voice crackled back over the comm line.

"Acknowledged, we're on our way. Our estimated time of arrival is forty-five minutes can you hold out until then?" Hera glanced over a Sabine, the Mandalorian shrugged.

"We've got the A-Wings airworthy, the tech crews are working on the rest of our damaged fighters, but I don't know what they'll do against Ezra's TIE Defenders."

"What if we take the fight straight to his ship?" Mothma glanced back and forth between Hera and Sabine, Rex cleared his throat.

"Not possible I'm afraid, if Remnous was flying an Imperial Class Star Destroyer it might have worked, but not with a Venator, too many point defense guns, the fighters would be shredded before we could get close."

"Then we keep the fight inside the atmosphere. We'll have the home turf and our own point defense cover." Hera glanced around the room to see if there were anyone wanted to challenge the plan, when no objection was raised the Twi'lek turned back to the comm. "Message received Home One, we'll hold out as long as we can." There was a mummer of agreement as Hera set down the receiver. "Alright people, let's get this going." The Twi'lek took a seat and tried to catch her breath as the Rebels went about their task, before long she and Kanan were left alone. The Jedi frowned.

"So, are you going to tell me what's going on, I sense something, different about you." Hera smiled, she should have known it was impossible to keep the secret from Kanan.

"Sit with me." Hera patted the spot next to her on the bench. Kanan cocked his head to the side cautiously, then took a seat next to the Twi'lek. "Kanan," Hera took the Jedi's hand. "Something wonderful has happened." Hera rested the Jedi's hand on her stomach. "Kanan, I'm pregnant." The Jedi's eyes widened with surprise, then a delighted grin spread across his worn face.

"That's," The Jedi paused as he searched for words. "That is wonderful."

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have told you until we were out of danger." Kanan shook his head.

"We're always in danger Hera, so let's not worry about that now, let's just enjoy this moment." Kanan caressed Hera's cheek with his left hand as he rubbed her stomach with his right. "a moment that happens to be the happiest of my life." Hera smiled as she leaned into the Jedi's embrace.

"I love you."

"I love you too."

##

A cold smirk spread across Remnous's face as the Loth Wolf dropped out of hyperspace.

"We have arrived at the Yavin system my Lord." Tandi glanced up at the Sith Lord from one of the navigational terminals. "There's no sign of any resistance."

"Of course not." Remnous chuckled coldly. "They would have thrown everything they had at the Death Star, I guess Tarkin was useful for something after all." The Sith Lord spun on his heels to face Cody. "Are the troops prepared?"

"Ready and waiting my Lord." The old clone straightened up slightly. "They're looking forward to putting their training to good use."

"I bet they are." Remnous glanced over his shoulder at Mel. The clone had rarely left the Sith Lord's side since their meeting at the Rings of Kafrene. "Mel, you go with the General and help him het the boys riled up, I'll join you shortly."

"Yes Sir, right away." Mel hurried to Cody's side as the General thumped his right hand to his chest and held it out to the Sith Lord.

"You're leading the ground forces personally?" Remnous glanced over at Tandi after returning the salute and the clones hurried away.

"Why not?" Remnous shrugged. "It's my legion." Tandi frowned.

"My Lord, is it wise to risk your life on the front lines? There are three Jedi down there." Remnous scoffed.

"Three half-baked Jedi who haven't even completed basic training. I'll be fine."

"My Lord, you did this, all of it, you brought the Admirals together against Palpatine and secured the loyalty of the clone army. It all rides on you, if something goes wrong down there, the coup, the New Regime, it all dies with you." Remnous paused, he could hear something else behind the Brigadiers professional concern.

"It's alright Tandi. I'll be back." Tandi but her lower lip nervously.

"But Remnous."

"Shh" Remnous waved off the Brigadiers concern as he pressed a metal finger to her lips. "I'll be fine." The Sith Lord reached behind his back and drew his lightsaber from its holster. "Look after this for me." He pressed the weapon into Tandi's hands before leaning forward and stealing a quick kiss. "I'll be back before you know it." Tandi ran a hand over her lips as Remnous swept away, then paused in his tracks and turned back to Tandi. "Bring Leia to the bridge." Tandi frowned.

"The Princess? Why?" Remnous smirked.

"I think she should watch, don't you? Helplessly watching her friends die will be a fine first lesson."

"My Lord." One of the communications officers had risen to his feet. "We're detecting two X-Wings in the lower atmosphere."

"So, the Rebels know we're here." Remnous grinned. "Good, they'll put up a good fight."

##

"General Syndulla, they're here." Hera grimaced as she peered up at the sky with a pair of binoculars, sure enough, the Loth Wolf was clearly visible in the sky.

"Get down here Biggs, you won't be able to do any good up there."

"Yes General." Hera turned on the spot and cupped her hands around her mouth.

"Alright, everyone get to your fighters, or take cover, we need to hold out until Ackbar and the reinforcements get here!" The Twi'lek glanced around the landing field as the fighter teams ran to man their ships. "Where's Kanan?"

##

Galen opened his eyes, Kanan was stood on the opposite side of the ray shield his arms crossed over his chest, a slight dark-haired woman stood next to him, her head buried in the shield controls.

"What's going on out there?" Galen got to his feet.

"The Empire has come for us." The Jedi Knight warily eyed the younger man. "Can I trust you?"

"I'm done with the Dark Side, and I don't want anything to do with whatever Remnous is selling." Galen drew himself to his full height. "You have my sword. Now and always." Kanan glanced at the dark-haired woman, she shrugged.

"Good enough for me." Kanan frowned at Galen, then sighed.

"Alright Allana, lower the shield." Allana nodded and threw a switch, the shield shut off. "I hope whatever Ezra did to your mind didn't affect your ability with one of these." Kanan unclipped Galen's lightsabers from his belt and held them out to the other Jedi. Galen grinned.

"Oh no, not in the slightest."

##

The restored LAATs stood ready and waiting as Remnous strode into the Loth Wolf's lower hanger bay. Cody quickly noticed the Sith Lord and hurried to his side.

"We're ready to go my Lord, the boys are loaded, all we need to depart is your word."

"It's given. Which one's mine?"

"This way Sir." Mel appeared at Remnous's other side. The Sith Lord nodded to Cody before thumping his right fist to his chest and held it out to the old clone. Cody returned the gesture before hurrying towards his own transport.

"So, I'll be riding with you, will I?" Remnous chuckled as he and Mel made their way to their LAAT, the clone grinned as he pulled his helmet on.

"Let's just say we're all eager to see what a Sith Lord can do on the battlefield." Remnous laughed loudly.

"You're all in for a treat then."

##

Tandi stood on the Command Bridge as the Loth Wolf's dorsal hanger bay doors opened. The Brigadier let out a long sigh as the entire TIE Defender wing filed out into space. She had a very bad feeling about this. Her comm chirped.

"Brigadier?"

"Yes, My Lord?"

"Begin the barrage. We wouldn't want them to get too comfortable, would we?"

"Of-course not my Lord." Tandi tapped her comm to shut off the signal and pointed at the gunnery officer. "Prepare the begin the planetary bombardment. Let's keep the Rebels on edge."

"As you command, my Lady." Tandi frowned, 'my Lady', it still didn't sound right, but Remnous had insisted that that was how she was to be addressed so 'my Lady' it was.

"My Lady?" Tandi rolled her eyes as she turned on the spot to see two clone troopers, Princess Leia stood between them, a look of pure hatred on her face.

"Ah, you brought the Princess, good." The Sniper turned back to the planet. "Keep her out of sight and mind, she's here to watch. Nothing more."

##

The relative calm of Yavin IVs late afternoon was broken as a hailstorm of laser fire rained down on the Rebel Base.

"Everyone! Take cover!" Hera and Rex dived behind a stack of equipment as the last of the Rebel fighters rose into the sky. A few were shredded by the barrage, but most of them managed to weave between the blasts and escape into the air. "They aren't taking any chances, are they?" Rex shook his head and pointed upwards.

"No, they are not." Hera followed Rex's finger, her eyes widened as she saw the forty LAATs descending on the base.

"All fighters! Your priority is the troop transports! Don't let those bastards get to the ground!" The Twi'lek drew her blaster as she adjusted her comm signal. "The rest of you, get to cover and get ready for the fight of your life!"

##

Remnous's LAAT rocked violently as it descended through Yavin IV's atmosphere, the Sith Lord glanced behind him. The clones stood ready and unflinching behind him, he grinned with pride, you would never have guesses this was their first battle.

"Pilot."

"Yes Sir?"

"Open a comm channel to the rest of the carriers.

"Yes Sir, right away." The pilot tapped a button on his control console. "It's open Sir." Remnous nodded his thanks and turned back to his men.

"Boys." The clones snapped to attention. "Today is the first strike in the establishment on a New Regime, today, the legend of the Clone Army of the Republic is solidified for all eternity." Remnous took a moment to look each solider in the face. "Each of you is a living legend. The legacy of the greatest fighting force in history. Today you write your own legend! Today you show these Rebel scum the strength of Kamino!" There was a unified roar of approval from the assembled troops, Remnous thumped his fist to his chest and held his arm out to his soldiers. "Mare-cye!"

"Mare-cye!" The LAAT shuddered as it came to a stop, there was a tense moment of silence, Remnous pulled a trophy blade off his belt and pulled on his helmet. The blast doors rolled open, light flooded the carrier as the scream of laser fire washed over the troops.

"To victory!" Remnous leapt out of the carrier and charged towards the Rebel lines. With a roar the clones poured after him and onto to Rebel landing field.

##

Rex's eyes widened under his helmet as he peaked out from behind the crate he and Hera were hiding behind.

"It can't be." The old clone gaped as soldiers dressed in the garb of the 501st Clone Legion poured out of the LAATs and onto the landing field. Seconds later; he was forced to duck back behind the crate again as a hailstorm of disciplined laser fire flew out to meet them. "What's he done?"

"Friends of yours?" Hera called over the din of the clone's blasters and the Loth Wolf's barrage.

"Never seen 'em before in my life, look like a bunch of Shinys to me."

"No wonder Galen woke up on Kamino!" Hera took a few pot shots over the top of the crate. "Blast! We're pinned down!" The Twi'lek tapped her comm. "We need air support!"

"That's a bit difficult right now General!"

"What's going on Wedge?"

"Look up!" The clone and the Twi'lek glanced skywards, their jaws dropped. In the pandemonium of the barrage they'd completely missed the squadrons of TIE Defenders that were descending on them from above, as they watched, one of their A-Wings was hit, the smoking wreckage spun out and soared downwards, a column of fire rising out of the jungle to mark the crash site.

"Karabast! We can't do anything while this damn barrage is pinning us!" As if on queue the barrage stopped. Rex and Hera exchanged confused glances. Rex shrugged.

"Never look a gift Wookie in the mouth?"

##

Tandi scowled out into space, Rebel reinforcements had arrived; a Mon Calamarian MC80 cruiser and a familiar Quasar Fire Class carrier, formerly known to Rebels across the galaxy as Phoenix Home.

"Blast!" Tandi strode the length of the command bridge. "Recall half the Defenders, I want all available auxiliary power diverted to the shields!" The redhead gnashed her teeth together as she scowled at the Rebel ships, already a steady stream of X-Wings was pouring out of the carrier, some dipped downwards towards the planet, the majority however maintained a straight line towards the Loth Wolf. "Point defence, I want full flack curtain, now!" The sound of laughter cut through the tension on the bridge. Glowering, Tandi turned to Leia, the Princess smirked at the Brigadier.

"Not how you envisioned this attack?" Tandi rolled her eyes.

"Would somebody shut her up?"

##

Without the barrage to cover them the clones progress across the landing ground had dragged to a halt. Remnous, Mel along with a dozen other troops threw themselves behind some crates as he tapped his comm.

"Where's the barrage?!"

"Rebel reinforcements have entered the system my Lord, we can't bombard the moon and hold them off at the same time." Remnous rolled his eyes, leave it to the Rebels to pull off something completely unexpected.

"What's the plan sir?" Remnous glanced at Mel, then frowned.

"I'll clear a path, wait for my opening!" The Sith Lord paused in the act of vaulting over the crates, he grinned at the clones. "You're about to get that show you wanted!" The Fifth Brother's lightsaber in hand, the Sith Lord leapt over his cover, crimson blade coming to life. The effect on the Rebels was instantaneous, blasters lowered and jaws dropped. They'd all read the reports, but none of them had truly believed Ezra Bridger had turned traitor. The few that had kept their wits about them raised their blasters and opened fire on the Sith Lord.

Mel and the other troopers stared, awestruck as Remnous deflected the Rebel assault. They'd been raised on the legends of the Grand Army of the Republic and their Jedi Generals. Seeing Remnous in action made it clear he was no Jedi. The Sith Lord was a blur of movement as he weaved between laser bolts, and somersaulted over obstacles.

"Cody, they've left their left flank open!" The Clone General peaked out from behind his cover to see the Sith Lord was right, with their attention drawn to Remnous; the Rebels had left themselves open.

"You men!" Cody waved to a handful of troops. "You're on me!"

##

The Rebels were forced back across the landing field towards the Temple's entrance as the Clones slowly advanced towards them.

"We got some coming up our flank!" Rex ducked out of cover and took a few pot-shots at the approaching clones as he and Hera ran for fresh cover. "We need to start the evacuation!"

"They have too much air support!" Hera slotted a new power cell into her blaster. "The transports would be shredded before they left the atmosphere and we haven't even loaded half the equipment yet! We'd be starting from scratch!" The Twi'leks comm chirped.

"Yavin IV? This is Home One, we have arrived in the system and have engaged the Imperial Forces in orbit." Hera glanced up, sure enough; TIE Defenders were pulling away from their dog fights and into the upper atmosphere.

"Receiving you Admiral, you need to put more pressure on them, there's too much air traffic down here, we'll never get our transports off world!"

"Acknowledged, don't worry General Syndulla, we'll give them something to worry about. Can you hold them off?" Hera pursed her lips.

"Rex, take Bran and hold our flank." Rex nodded.

"You've got it." The old clone cupped his hands around his mouth. "Bran!" Bran's blond head popped up from behind a stack of crates behind them, an eyebrow inquisitively. "You're on me! We gotta sure up our flank." Hera grimaced as the two ran off, even if they held out against the clones, they still had to hold off Ezra. Two shadows fell across the landing field, Hera glanced up at the Temple entrance.

Kanan Jarrus and Galen Marek ignited their lightsabers and charged headlong into the fray. The battle seemed to pause for a few seconds as the Jedi took their places on the frontline. Hera glanced at Ezra, he couldn't see his face, but she could almost feel his intense glare. The Sith Lord barked an order to one of the clones behind him before he advanced menacingly on Kanan. Hera laid a hand on her stomach.

"Be safe love."

##

Galen gave Kanan a sideways glance as Remnous advanced on them, Kanan glanced back.

"Why so nervous?"

"Well he did kill me." Galen muttered as he took up his fighting stance, lightsabers raised and ready.

"He took you by surprise, this time we'll take him together." Kanan raised his yellow lightsaber. "For Kota." Galen smiled.

"For Kota." Remnous broke into a sprint, the two Jedi exchanged a final nod before charging at the Sith Lord. The three force wielders met in the middle in a fury of lightsaber blows.

"Traitors and cowards, working together." The Sith Lord ducked under Galen's slash and countered Kanans blow, locking their lightsabers. "It's almost poetic." A second crimson blade shot from the bottom of Remnous's lightsaber hilt, countering Galen's blue blades as the Jedi slashed at the Sith Lords legs. "Not very honourable Marek." Remnous scoffed as he broke the saber lock and leapt gracefully away from the two Jedi. Galen's grip tightened on his lightsaber as he fought to supress a fit of rage.

"You've made a mistake coming here alone Remnous, you can't take both of us at once." The Sith Lord laughed darkly.

"I killed Obi-Wan Kenobi, you two won't be much of a challenge." Kanan's eyes widened, the two Jedi exchanged a nervous look. "Didn't you know? I would have thought the boy would have told you." Remnous shook his head. "It's never easy, watching your master die right in front of you." Galen snarled and leapt at Remnous, the Sith Lord was ready for him and brought his lightsaber up to meet Galen's. "Tell me Marek, how did watching the drunk die make you feel?" Galen gritted his teeth as he ground his lightsaber against Remnous's. "Does thinking about it make your blood boil with rage?" The Sith Lord ducked under Kanan's yellow blade and brought his foot up, slamming it hard into Galens chest. The Jedi fell to the ground with a startled grunt as Kanan and Remnous backed across the landing field, all the while exchanging vicious blows. Galen climbed to his feet, the Jedi took a few seconds to compose himself, he could feel a cold sensation spreading up his lower back. He had to keep his emotions in check, it was too easy to let himself slip back into the darkness, the hairs on the back of his neck stood up; there was someone behind him! The Jedi flung himself to the ground as a pair of crimson lightsabers slashed through the air where his head had been seconds earlier.

"You!" Galen glowered as he got back to his feet. The Starkiller clone laughed coldly as he sized up his counterpart.

"Did you really think I died aboard the Death Star? Oh no Jedi, not while we have a score to settle!" The Jedi and the Sith Assassin lunged at each other as Remnous and Kanan locked their lightsabers.

"It's over Jedi!" Remnous grinned viscously as he pushed Kanan backwards. "The Rebellion dies today!"

##

The Loth Wolf rocked violently; Tandi gripped the edge of a console as she struggled to keep her balance. The Rebel reinforcements were proving to be a greater challenge than anticipated, the Venators flak curtain was doing a decent job at keeping the Rebel bombers away from the Loth Wolf, but the Mon Calamarian cruiser was proving to be a meddlesome thorn in their side. While the Imperials were struggling to keep the carrier's fighter compliment at bay; the cruiser had stayed on the edge of the battle, pounding the Loth Wolf with its canons from afar. The barrage was starting to wear down their shields.

"Report!"

"Shields are down to forty-five percent power my Lady!"

"Auxiliary power is falling! We have to divert power from the canons!" The Sniper scowled as the ship rocked again. Diverting power from the canons to the shields would leave the Loth Wolf exposed to the Rebel fighters and with only half their fighter compliment on hand it was a coin flip on whether or not the ship would hold together. "What should we do, my Lady?"

"Recall the rest of the Defenders and redivert power to the shield generators! I'm not losing Lord Remnous's ship to these Rebel Scum!"

"Look at that." Tandi rolled her eyes as she stalked towards Leia. "The Rebel Alliance has you on the ropes." Leia grinned proudly as Tandi pulled off her beret. "That must sting your pri-" Tandi stuffed her beret into Leia's mouth.

"Do I have to everything myself?!" The Brigadier sighed incredulously as she turned back to the battle.

"The Defenders are recalled my Lady, Lord Remnous isn't going to pleased we withdrew his air cover."

"I think he'd be less pleased if we let the Rebels destroy his ship!" Tandi scowled at the officer. "But if he isn't, I'll be sure to tell him it was your idea." The Officer gulped.

##

Luke shot a glance upwards as he helped Han pushed a cart stacked with fuel tanks towards the Falcon. The Jedi frowned.

"Is it just me, or are the Defenders leaving?" Han glanced up, the smuggler raised an eyebrow.

"Huh, I think they are." Sabine hurried down the Falcon's loading ramp and joined them.

"Ackbar must be putting up a hell of a fight if they have to recall their fighters." The Mandalorian tapped her comm. "Hera, the Defenders are leaving, it's now or never!" Luke shivered as a cold sensation ran down his spine, the Jedi frowned and glanced back across the landing field.

"It's Remnous, he's here." Without even realising he was doing it, the Jedi gripped his lightsaber. Han and Sabine exchanged a worried look.

"Don't even think about it kid!"

##

Rex nodded once to Bran, the Wraith nodded back and swung his rotary canon off his back.

"On my word." Rex held up three fingers. "Three." The clone gripped one of his pistols tightly. "Two." Bran primed the canon. "One." Both men emerged from cover and opened fire. The advancing clones' broke formation and scrambled for cover, with the acceptation of the commander; who picked up speed and sprinted towards Bran. Rex was ready for him though and quickly interposed himself between them. Rex grunted as the commander tackled him around the middle and sent them both crashing to the ground. "Don't worry about me Bran! Keep them pinned." Rex scrambled back to his feet, his opponent seemed to pause at the sound of his voice, taking a second to examine his battered 501st armour. "This is what a real solider of Kamino looks like Shiny." Rex snarled as he raised his fists.

"Rex?" Rex paused, no, it couldn't be. The commander pulled off his helmet.

"Cody?" The two battle brothers stared at each other incredulously as Rex pulled off his helmet. "What are you doing here?" Cody scoffed as he ran an unimpressed eye up and down Rex.

"I could ask you the same question, you got fat."

"Retirement does that to you." Rex glanced down at his gut. "So, this is where you've been all this time, training Remnous's new army." Cody shrugged.

"It didn't start of that way, but plans change." Rex shook his head.

"You can't be serious."

"I am, he's promised to restore Kamino to power, he'll restore the legend of the Clone Army of the Republic."

"By serving the Empire? That's not what we fought for Cody!"

"Well, none of us really got what fought for did we Rex?" Cody glanced behind him. "You could join us Rex, fight alongside your own kind again."

"And be a foot solider in an uncaring army again?" Rex shook his head. "Never."

"You wouldn't be a foot solider Rex, a New Regime is rising, Lord Remnous needs Generals." Rex scoffed.

"Lord Remnous? Why don't you ask your Lord about Ezra Bridger? I think he'll have a few interesting stories to tell you." Cody frowned as Hera's voice filled Rex's ear.

"All troops, the Defenders are withdrawing, get to a transport, abandon any unloaded equipment, we don't know how long Admiral Ackbar can keep them occupied." Bran glanced over his shoulder at Rex, the old clone nodded once at the Wraith.

"Don't be stupid Rex." Cody raised his hands as he took a few cautious steps towards Rex. "You don't have to die here."

"I don't plan on it. Now Bran!" Too late, Cody spun the spot, only be struck on the back by a stun bolt. "Good work." Bran shrugged, then gestured to a nearby Hammerhead Corvette. "Yeah, good idea."

##

Fighting Starkiller was like sparing against a mirror. Every blow was countered perfectly and he could tell exactly what move his opponent would use next, they were too evenly matched to beat each other one on one. Starkiller seemed to have come to the conclusion, he could see it in the look of disgust on his clone's face as they locked their lightsabers.

"I will destroy you!" Starkiller glowered at Galen as he strained to push the Jedi back. Galen stood his ground, pushing back against the dark mirror of himself.

"You can't." The Jedi grunted. "But I can destroy you, I've done it before!"

"You abandoned your destiny!" Starkillers yellow eyes almost lit up as the Sith Assassin glowered with hatred at the Jedi. "You could have ruled the galaxy!"

"Do you really think Remnous will let a glorified science experiment sit by his side?" Galen laughed harshly as the clone's face twisted with anger. "He'll toss you aside once he's found a suitable apprentice." Galen frowned as a look a realisation spread across Starkiller's face for a few seconds. "He already has, hasn't he?"

"Enough!" Starkiller broke thee lightsaber lock and slashed at Galen, the Jedi leapt backwards away from the Sith Assassin as Juno's voice filled his comm line.

"Hera's ordered the evacuation, stop playing with yourself and get to the Rogue Shadow now!" Galen scoffed as he ran an eye up and down Starkiller, then he froze, his father's lightsaber was dangling from the clone's belt.

"That lightsaber!" Galen felt his blood heat up as he pointed at the Sith's belt. "It belongs to me!" Starkiller smirked.

"Come get it!" Galen gritted his teeth as he charged at Starkiller, the clone smirked as he raised his lightsabers. At the last possible second; Galen deactivated his lightsabers and somersaulted over Starkiller, dropping to his knees as he landed. The Jedi swept his right let into Starkiller's. Galen pulled his father's lightsaber off the Sith Assassin's belt with the Force as he sunk to the ground.

Lightsaber in hand, Galen sprinted away from his clone towards the Rogue Shadow.

##

Kanan panted as Remnous drove him back, the Sith Lord had disappeared for a year, now Kanan knew what he had been doing with the time.

"Palpatine is a good teacher." Remnous scoffed.

"Better than you, but I still don't like taking orders from him." Kanan frowned as Ezra laughed. "I much prefer giving them."

"What are you planning Ezra?" Remnous scowled.

"Don't call me that. It's not my name." The Sith Lord broke their lightsaber lock and leapt into a spin kick, the heel of his right foot connecting with the side of the Jedi's face. Kanan was sent spinning through the air, landing in a painful heap. "I wouldn't concern yourself with my plans Jedi. You won't be around to see them through." Remnous raised his lightsaber. "I honestly thought there would be more ceremony to this moment." Kanan looked up just in time to see Remnous's crimson blade descend on him.

A blue lightsaber blade intercepted Remnous's, the Sith Lord's head whipped upwards. Luke Skywalker stared back at him, teeth gritted with effort as he struggled to keep the lightsabers locked.

"You won't be killing anyone else!" Luke thrust his arm into Remnous's chest. "Not today!" The Sith Lord was sent flying backwards, Kanan took advantage of his confusion and thrust his own arm out. Remnous's lightsaber was plucked from his hand a tossed across the landing field. The Sith lord thrust his arm out and summoned the hilt back as he got to his knees.

Luke was ready for him, he took his own lightsaber in both hands and slashed at the hilt. Remnous scowled as the ruined remains landed in his hand, the Sith Lord looked up to see Kanan Jarrus stood over him, yellow lightsaber in hand.

"Go on then." His voice was full of hatred and venom. "End it!" He tossed his destroyed lightsaber hilt aside and spread his arms. "Kill me Caleb!" Kanan took the lightsaber in both hands and raised it over his head. The Jedi gritted his teeth as he stared down at his former Apprentice, he lowered the lightsaber.

"No." Remnous glowered.

"No?"

"If I kill you, then we're not better than you are."

"You could end my reign of terror right here and now." Remnous goaded Kanan. "If you spare me, every drop of innocent blood I spill from now on will be on your hands." Kanan shook his head sadly.

"Look at yourself Ezra."

"I am Remnous! This is who I was meant to be!" Kanan bowed his head.

"You're wrong Ezra. You gave me hope, you helped me become a better Jedi, a better man! Now look at you, no better than the Imperials who took your parents." Kanan deactivated his lightsaber. "Come on Luke, we're done here." Remnous gaped as the two Jedi turned and walked away.

"Don't you turn your back on me Jedi!" The Sith Lord raised his hands. Blue and purple lightning tore through the air towards the Jedi.

"No!" Luke stepped into the lightnings path and raised his hands. The Jedi Padawan was sent skidding backwards on the balls of his feet as the lightning pulsed around his fingers. The young Skywalker took a deep breath and thrust his arms out. The lightning rebounded at Remnous, striking the Sith Lord. Kanan stared at Luke in awe at Luke as Remnous howled with agony.

"How did you do that?" Luke shook his head as he stared at his hands.

"I don't know."

Remnous twitched a few times as the lightning dissipated, teeth gritted; the Sith Lord forced himself to his knees as he stared at the Jedi's retreating back.

"So, the old man was right." Remnous winced as he chuckled. "He is the Chosen One."

##

"Alright you lot! On board now!" Sabine stood at the foot of the Millennium Falcon's ramp ushering fleeing Rebels into the ship. The Mandalorian took one last sweeping look at the landing field as the last of the Rebels scurried up the loading ramp. The rest of the surviving Rebels were boarding other transports, some of which were already taking off. Sabine tapped her comm as she started up the ramp. "We're good to go Solo, get us out of here." Sabine froze in her tracks as she reached the top of the loading ramp, across the battlefield, she could see Ezra staring at her. She glared back as the ramp hissed into place.

##

Hera was waiting for them as Luke and Kanan made their way up the Ghost's loading ramp.

"You two took your time." Hera joked as Luke, hurried past her and aboard the freighter.

"Sorry about that Love." Kanan joked as he glanced after Luke. "We had an unexpected surprise. Are we good to go?" Hera nodded.

"We're just waiting on Chopper, I told him to download and wipe the base's databanks.

"Smart move." Kanan scanned the battlefield for the astromech. "There he is." Chopper was speeding towards them as fast as he wheels could carry him.

"Come on Chop!" Hera cupped her hands around her mouth. "It's time to go!" Kanan smiled.

"Grumpy bucket of bolts." The Jedi and the Twi'lek chuckled, then froze as they heard a haunting sound; Chopper crying out. Hera turned back to her old friend just in time to see a second laser bolt strike Chopper on the side and knock him over, parts and scrap metal flying out of his broken chassis.

"Chopper!" Kanan seized Hera around the waist as she desperately tried to get to the droid.

"Put me down!" Hera thrashed in the Jedi's grip as he dragged her back into the Ghost.

"It's too late Hera! We have to go now!"

"But Chopper!" Kanan hit the button to close the loading ramp.

"I know, but you aren't risking just your life anymore!" Hera grimaced, she knew Kanan was right.

"I'm sorry Chop."

##

The Rebel fighters withdrew from their dogfights with the Loth Wolf's Defender compliment as the Rebel transports left Yavin IV's hanger. Tandi breathed a sigh of relief as the Rebel fleet formed up and started to blast off into hyperspace.

"Damage report."

"The reactor is undamaged, but we have damage to the armour plating on decks fourteen through thirty-four."

"How's the hyperdrive?" Tandi did her best to ignore Leia's muffled laughter.

"The primary hyperdrive is down, but the emergency drive is still functional."

"Good, we can get back to a space dock for repairs." The Brigadier massaged her temples. Remnous would not be pleased.

##

Remnous kicked a blaster across the landing field as he surveyed the abandoned Rebel Base, Mel cautiously approached the Sith Lord.

"My Lord?" Remnous sighed.

"How were our casualties?"

"Light, it looks like our armour did its job." Remnous nodded.

"That's good." There was a moment of awkward silence.

"What do we do my Lord?" Remnous shot the clone a puzzled look.

"What do you mean?" Mel cleared his throat.

"What are you going to tell the Emperor my Lord? The Rebel fleet escaped."

"What do you see Mel?" Remnous spun on the spot, taking in the whole Rebel base in one gesture, Mel frowned.

"Dead Rebels, my Lord." The Sith Lord smirked.

"Exactly. Dead Rebels and an entire base of abandoned equipment, true a few ships got away, but they've lost more than they've saved, it will take them years to rebuild after this." Remnous but his hands on his hips and grinned smugly. "This is a victory my friend, not a great victory, but a victory none the less."

"If you say so my Lord." Mel shrugged, he wasn't sure Palpatine would see it the same way, but he'd leave that to Remnous.

"Did we manage to salvage anything from the Rebel Databanks?" Mel shook his head.

"I'm afraid not, my Lord, the Rebels must have wiped them before abandoning the base." Remnous shrugged.

"That's to be excepted…" Remnous trailed off as he noticed something on the other side of the landing field, without a word he broke into a sprint. Mel struggled to keep up.

"What is it my Lord?" Remnous skidded to a halt next to the blown-out wreck of an astromech.

"Chopper." Remnous knelt to the droid and ran his metal hand over the damaged chassis. "I'm sorry Pal."

"My Lord? It's just a droid." Remnous scowled at Mel over his shoulder, the clone took a few steps back.

"Just a droid." Remnous scoffed as he poked at Chopper's damaged inner workings, the Sith sighed with relief after a few tense seconds of silence. "His memory core is still intact." Remnous stood up and wiped his metal hand off on his cloak. "I want him loaded onto our LAAT, have our best engineers fix him up, the best parts and a new paint job." The Sith Lord paused and thought for a moment. "But leave the memory core unwiped."

"Unwiped my Lord?" Remnous nodded.

"He's an old friend."

##

The Ghost, Rogue Shadow and the Millennium Falcon stood next to each other aboard Quasar Fire Class carrier which had been renamed the Loth Cat by Commander Sato after Phoenix Squadron had been dissolved. All three ships lowered their landing ramps and a stream of Rebels spilled out into the carrier. Hera and Kanan waded through the Rebels, Luke and Zeb following closely behind them. Luke glanced around the hanger, then grinned at the sight of Han and Chewie. The smugglers followed half a step behind Sabine.

"So, you with us?" Luke extended a hand towards the Correllian, Han considered the hand for a moment before taking it.

"I'm with you." Han glanced at Sabine out of the corner of his eye. "For now." Hera ran an eye up and down Solo, she could read his intentions perfectly. Zeb rubbed the back of his neck.

"I think we owe Fulcrum on this one, if they hadn't contacted us when they did, we mightn't have been ready for them when they arrived." Sabine pursed her lips and nodded.

"We do." Kanan frowned as he rubbed Hera's lower back, the Jedi and the Twi'lek exchanged a worried glance.

"What's wrong Sabine?"

"Who is Fulcrum? There's almost no trace of Ezra in the Imperial Network, so how do they know where he is?"

"I had an idea about that." Allana had appeared at Sabine's shoulder, Artoo in tow. "Show them Artoo." The astromech activated his holographic projector, two copies of Fulcrums symbol hung in the air. "The one on the left is the original one Mon Mothma received, the right hand one is the message that arrived just before the attack."

"What's your point Allana?" Hera sounded on edge.

"Look at the vocal pattern." Allana pointed at the audio lines bellow each projection. "It's completely different. Sabine raised an eyebrow.

Which means?"

"Whoever sent us the message today, it isn't the same person that warned the Rebellion about Ezra defecting to the Empire. It's someone completely different."

##

Tandi shoved Leia into her cell, two clones hurried after the Princess and lead her to the cell's bench before taking her binders off. Leia glowered as she pulled the Snipers beret out of her mouth.

"How do you live with yourself." Tandi shrugged.

"It's easier than you'd think."

##

"Begin call." Remnous poured himself a large glass of wine as he waited for Thrawn's image to clear up. The Chiss frowned with concern when he saw the Sith.

"My friend, are you -" Remnous looked terrible. His armour had lost its shine and his hair stood on edge as if he had been electrocuted.

"I'm fine Thrawn." Remnous took a large sip of wine, it was made with Jogan fruit. The taste always gave the Sith Lord an odd sensation, he paid it no mind. It was the echo of a dead man's life, nothing to concern himself over. "We drove the Rebels from their base, they put up a more of a fight than I expected, but they had to abandon most of their equipment. They won't be a threat for quite a long time." Thrawn nodded.

"That is fortunate, as I have excellent news." Remnous raised an eyebrow as he drained his glass of wine.

"Well? Let's hear it." Thrawn's brow furrowed slightly as the Sith Lord poured himself another glass of wine; but decided against commenting.

"I have assembled a fleet capable of transporting the Clone Army." Remnous grinned as he set the bottle down.

"That is excellent news. We can proceed as planned, here's what I need you to do."

##

Palpatine leaned back in his throne as a holographic projection of Darth Remnous appeared before him. The Sith Lord looked haggard.

"Lord Remnous, I trust the Rebels gave you no trouble?"

"No more than expected my Lord, they have been driven from the system and their will has been broken."

"Excellent." Palpatine considered his Apprentice for a few moments. "Return to Coruscant, we must discuss how to handle the Death Star's destruction, in person." Remnous bowed lowly.

"As you command My Master." Remnous vanished.

"Do you trust him?" Palpatine glanced over at the cloaked figure that stood in the corner of his office.

"Only a foolish Sith Lord trusts his Apprentice." The Emperor grinned. "But that's why I have you, my dear Mara."

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

The Loth Wolf eased itself into a dry dock on Coruscant, the Venator's battle with the Rebel fleet had taken a toll on the old ship, Remnous patted the wall of the bridge fondly as he admired the view of the city.

"You held up well old girl." The Sith Lord muttered to himself quietly, he knew the Loth Wolf was outdated. He could upgrade it with the newest shields and weaponry, but it would always be a step behind any of the Empire's newer ships. He'd make do, the Venator's symbolic power spoke for itself.

"My Lord?" Tandi was stood behind him.

"Brigadier?" Tandi straightened up slightly.

"We've received word that Grand Vizier Mas Amedda will be waiting for you at the Imperial Palace."

"Ah, Palpatine sent his best man I see." Remnous rolled his eyes. "You know what you have to do?" Tandi nodded. "And you're sure the Deathmarks are loyal?"

"The Deathmarks are mine, my Lord." The Brigadier smirked pridefully. "They'll do as I say."

"Good, I can always count on you, gather them and await my instructions."

"Very well, my Lord." The redhead turned on her heels and walked away, Remnous smirked as he turned back to the city. The Venator had sunk into a dockyard at this point, Remnous tapped his comm.

"Mel?"

"Yes, my Lord?"

"Meet me at the at the lower hanger bay." The Sith Lord turned on his heels and marched off the bridge. "It's time to jump into the Rancor pit."

##

Mas Amedda was waiting for them at the entrance to the Palace Precinct.

"Lord Remnous" The Chagrian bowed his head slightly.

"Grand Vizier." Remnous glanced over his shoulder and rolled his eyes at Mel and the other dozen clone troopers that had accompanied him to the palace. "Where will Palpatine be receiving me? The Audience Chamber? The Throne Room?"

"Perhaps you would like to freshen up first?" Amedda wrinkled his nose as he glanced down at the Sith Lords armour. "The Emperor would prefer to meet you without the stink of battle still clinging to you." Remnous's eyes narrowed.

"Very well then, tell Palpatine I'll be up to see him as soon as possible." The Sith Lord pushed passed the Chagrian as he strode through the colossal doors of the former Jedi Temple, his clones following closely behind him. Remnous glanced over his shoulder to make sure Amedda was out of earshot before turning to Mel. "When the time comes, kill him first."

"With pleasure my Lord."

##

The Imperial Palace had once been the Jedi Temple, of course, all traces of the traitorous order had been stripped out of the Palace. Gone were the statues, mosaics and tapestries that had decorated the ancient building in the time of the Jedi. Much of the palace had been left bare in their absence, though a few tapestries emblazoned with the symbol of the Sith had been draped over a few of the walls. It suited Palpatine's ego perfectly, he hadn't been content with simply destroying the Jedi Order as it had stood for Millenia, he had to gut their most sacred temple and turn it into his home.

"What a waste." Remnous scoffed as he dialled his security code into the control panel next to the door to his quarters. Mel and his other troops had been granted quarters in the palace, there were still an abundance of dormitories left over from the Palace's days as a Temple. Instinct told him it wasn't a good idea to separate from his men, but the Emperor wouldn't receive him if he had a dozen armed clones hanging over his shoulder.

The door hissed open, his quarters were much more modest than they were in his palace on Mustafar. Palpatine had granted him an apartment on the top of the palace's right most spire, huge circular windows made up the walls of the large single room. Much like his own palace, he had kept the room spartanly furnished; a large bed stood in the centre, a few chests lined the walls along with an armour stand displaying the Mandalorian Armour Starkiller had given him all those years ago, it still had a large gash running down the breastplate. A fresh uniform had been laid out on the bed for him, Remnous unfastened his cloak and dropped it, a servant would see to it later, the Sith Lord glanced over his shoulder and smirked.

"I know you're there." Silence answered him, Remnous drew his lightsaber from its holster and slowly turned on the spot. "You may as well come out." There were a few more seconds of silence. Remnous spun around and activated his lightsaber, raising it just in time to counter Mara Jade's crimson blade. "Ah, there you are Mara." Remnous smirked as he took a half step back, keeping the blades locked.

"Did you miss me Remnous?" Mara grinned ear to ear as their lightsabers screeched, Remnous broke the lock and swung his leg up, knocking Mara's lightsaber out of her hand. Mara smirked and thrust her arm out; Remnous's lightsaber was plucked out of his hand and flew across the room. "Silence? You wound me, my Lord." Jade raised her fists and lunged for the Sith Lord; Remnous raised his arm and blocked Mara's punch.

"It's good to see you too." Remnous laid his hand on Mara's chest and sent a telekinetic push through the Emperor's hand. Mara flew backward and thudded hard against the opposite wall, Remnous leapt after her. The Sith Lord seized both of the redhead's hands and pinned them on either side of her head. "I win." Mara panted as she shook her hair out of her face and grinned at Remnous. "Again."

"You can claim the spoils if you like." The Hand muttered huskily as she stared into the Sith Lords golden eyes. Remnous rolled his eyes as he released her hands and stepped away from her, Mara pouted. "What's the matter?" Mara walked two fingers along the Sith Lord's shoulder blades. "Are you still traipsing around with that other redhead?" Remnous glared harshly at Mara, the redhead raised her hands in mock surrender. "Oh, don't worry, your secret is safe with me." The Sith Lord snorted.

"Surprising, since it's the only secret of mine you've managed to get your hands on." Remnous raised his hands and summoned his and Mara's lightsabers. "We found another one of your spies on my ship a few weeks ago."

"I was wondering why Geela never reported back to me." Mara giggled as Remnous tossed her back her lightsaber. "Is she dead?" Remnous smirked as he slotted his lightsaber back into its holster.

"Brigadier Thurinos saw to the execution herself. It was carried out via a firing squad if I'm not mistaken."

"My Lord." Mara tutted as she clipped her lightsaber to her belt. "You're going to have to give me something, The Emperor is growing more and more impatient, if I don't bring him something soon, I may have to tell him about your pet Brigadier." Remnous scoffed as he loosened the straps of his breastplate. "How do you think Palpatine will react when he hears you've been hiding a Force Sensitive under his nose this whole time?"

"Not particularly well I'd imagine. Tell Palpatine I keep killing your spies, it's the truth and he can't blame you for lack of trying." The Sith Lord eased the breastplate over his head, wincing slightly as he set it down.

"You're hurt." Mara's eyes widened. "I haven't seen you hurt since." Mara paused as she savoured the memory. "Well, you know." Remnous smirked as he rubbed his side where his own Sith Lightning struck him. "Those were good times." Mara made sure to add an obvious sway to her hips as she advanced on Remnous. "We trained together." The redhead took Remnous's left hand in her own and turned his arm over. "We spared together." Mara kept her attention focused on the Sith Lord's arm guard as she unbuckled the straps. "And did, other things, together." Mara smirked as she tossed the arm guard away.

"Yeah, that was fun." Remnous seized Mara's left wrist with his mechanical hand and spun her around on the spot, wrapping the black metal of his right arm around her neck as he pulled her against his chest. "A lot of fun!" Mara let out a long sigh as she leaned back against Remnous.

"What are you planning Remnous?"

"You'll see soon enough."

##

Tandi rode with her LAAT's blast doors open, the Brigadier closed her eyes and took a deep breath, taking a moment to appreciate the cold wind on her face. It reminded her of the winds on Lothal, before the Empire had carved it up like a hunted beast. Tandi sighed, sacrifices had to be made, if Remnous had no interest in preserving Lothal she had no way of convincing him otherwise.

She had been very young when the Empire had driven her and her family off their land, so young she had difficulty remembering her life before they had lost everything. Her mother and Father had been taken prisoner for resisting, her sister, Tandi didn't even know what had happened to her sister. They'd both been taken into Imperial custody and quickly separated.

She had been enrolled into the Imperial Academy on Lothal, that's where she'd met Bran, he didn't like talking and she had nothing to talk about. They'd gotten on like a house on fire, sticking together through their decade in training, Tandi mastering sharp shooting and Bran specialising in heavy weaponry. When the whispers of Rebellion had begun to make their way into the Academy, she and Bran had taken their chance, with Ello and a handful of other cadets by their side, they raided the Academy armoury and supply depo before vanishing into the night. A few nights later the Wraiths raised their first supply shipment. A week after that first raid, she'd met Allana, a small smile spread across Tandi's face for a few moments before it slipped away, no use dwelling on the past, she honestly never expected to see the dark-haired girl again.

"My Lady?" The Sniper jumped slightly as Locket tapped her lightly on the shoulder, "we've arrived."

"Thanks Locket." The Brigadier straightened her uniform. "I was lost in thought."

##

Remnous's personal Lambda class shuttle flew through hyperspace. Leia sat in the passenger section, her hands secured in front of her with a pair of binders. General Cody sat opposite her, absorbed in a data pad. The Princess sighed, they'd been traveling for hours.

"Are you going to kill me?" Cody glanced up from his data pad and raised a white eyebrow.

"I haven't been given orders to terminate you, your Highness."

"That's a relief." Leia joked dryly, Cody shrugged and returned to reading his data pad. "What are your orders?"

"I am to escort you to Mustafar and that is all I'm at liberty to tell you." Leia rolled her eyes as she sat back in her seat. The Princess ran a bored eye up and down her captor.

"You're older than the other clones." Cody paused and glanced up at Leia momentarily.

"I prefer to say experienced."

"You fought in the Clone Wars?" Cody nodded, Leia frowned. "What's your name?"

"Commander Cody of the Seventh Sky Core."

"The Commander Cody?" Cody shook his head.

"Don't ask questions you don't want the answer to Princess." Leia rolled her eyes as she sighed. 'Just as things were getting interesting'. She thought to herself bitterly. Cody frowned at the Princess, he couldn't stop thinking about what Rex had said 'Why don't you ask your Lord about Ezra Bridger?'

"May I ask you a question?" Leia shrugged.

"Why not? It might break the monotony."

"You were in the Rebellion, weren't you?"

"I am in the Rebellion." Leia glared at the old clone.

"So, you've heard of Ezra Bridger?" Cody set his data pad down and leaned forwards, Leia blinked with surprise.

"Have you not?" Cody shook his head.

"I've been on Kamino for the last nineteen years, we don't get much news out there." Leia nodded sadly.

"I met Ezra Bridger, a long time ago."

"Who was he?"

"A Jedi who fought for the Rebellion, he wasn't much when I first met him, young, brash, fond of complaining." Leia smiled. "He was actually quite sweet, but sad, so very sad"

"Did you know him well?" Leia shook her head.

"No, I only met him the once." Cody frowned and sat back in his seat.

"So, what's he got to do with Lord Remnous?" Leia sighed.

"He is Remnous, or was at least." Cody shook his head.

"Remnous was in the Rebellion?" Leia scoffed.

"He was our symbol of hope; his words brought the first few cells together." The Princess said bitterly.

"So, what happened to him?"

"That's a very long story." Cody shrugged.

"You have anything else to do?" Leia shrugged.

"Well, if the reports are to be believed, it all started when the Ghost was attacked by Darth Vader's rogue Apprentice."

##

The Loth Cat flew through hyperspace alongside the rest of the surviving Rebel fleet, it had been a year and a half since the last time Sabine had been onboard the carrier and she had vowed to herself that she'd stay away from the one place she knew she shouldn't go. She'd broken that vow.

The Mandalorian was sat in the room where she'd found Ezra after he'd broken down and fled the bridge after sending out his second transmission. She'd been so sure that her Ezra had come back to her, damaged, but alive and in love with her. If only she'd known who he really was, what he had become. The Mandalorian sniffed loudly as she fought to hold back tears, instinctively, she typed a few commands into her vambrace. A holographic image appeared in the air in front of her, Chopper had given it to her. The Astromech had recorded her and Ezra's reunion and had transferred a few still frames to her vambrace after the Death Star incident. She lost the fight and tears began to slide down her face as she stared at the image, how she missed those blue eyes.

"Sabine?" The Mandalorian wiped her eyes and hurriedly got to her feet, Han was stood in the doorway, an odd look of concern on his face.

"What do you want Solo?" Han jabbed his thumb back into the corridor.

"I was looking for Chewie, are you alright?" The smuggler pointed at her as he raised an eyebrow.

"I'm fine." Han scoffed.

"You don't look it." The smuggler frowned when he noticed the picture. "Hey, isn't that?"

"It's an old picture!" Sabine glowered as she deactivated the holographic projector. Han tilted his head to the side curiously.

"Why are you here? Most of the Mandalorians I've met are clan orientated, nothing else matters to them, yet here you are serving in the Rebellion."

"Well I can't exactly go home, so here I am." Han chuckled.

"Come on, what could you have done that was so bad your clan wouldn't take you back?"

"I betrayed them." Sabine sat down and ran her hands over her face, sighing deeply.

"Oh."

"Yeah, what's your story? Why'd you leave Corellia?" Han chuckled sadly.

"I grew up in the slums, all I ever wanted to be was a pilot so I could fly away, so I did, first chance I got. I was always gonna go back though." Sabine snorted.

"Why would anyone go back to the slums of Corellia?" Han shrugged.

"The oldest reason in the Galaxy."

"Ah." Sabine smiled slightly as she leaned back against the wall and glanced at Han out of the corner of her eye. "What was her name?" Han smiled sadly as he sat down next to the Mandalorian.

"Qi'ra. We were going to buy a ship and fly away together; the Galaxy was going to be ours for the taking." Sabine frowned, she'd heard that tone before.

"What happened?" Han sighed.

"The Empire got in the way, we were separated and by the time I found her." Han paused, the bitterness clearly visible in his eyes. "It was too late, she got in deep with the Crimson Dawn and couldn't leave it behind." Sabine frowned, it sounded like Solo had genuinely been in love, that surprised her, she'd honestly thought he was just another heartless mercenary.

"I'm sorry."

"Eh it's alright, I got Chewie and the Falcon, it's not so bad." Han glanced down at his boots. "I'm sorry about you and Remnous."

"His name was Ezra" Sabine sighed sadly. "He wasn't always a monster." There was a moments silence, then Han scoffed.

"Love's just the worst." Sabine cracked an actual smile.

"You got that right Solo."

##

Remnous took a deep breath as the door of the turbo lift opened onto Palpatine's audience chamber. The Emperor was seated in his throne on the far end of the huge room, the chairs back was turned. Two red garbed guards stood on either side of the throne and another two stood at the bottom of the stairwell leading to it. Remnous could feel their intense stares as he sunk to one knee at the foot of the staircase.

"My Master." Palpatine's throne spun around.

"Lord Remnous." Palpatine surveyed his Apprentice wearily from under the hood of his robe. "Congratulations are order it would seem. You did good work on Yavin IV."

"It was my pleasure to serve you, my Master." Palpatine smirked, like many of the Sith before him, Remnous had a silver tongue, he always knew exactly what to say.

"Rise, my Apprentice, we have much to discuss." Remnous gracefully rose to his feet and placed his arms behind his back.

"What are your instructions, my Master?"

"We must re-establish control over the Star Systems Lord Remnous, the destruction of the Death Star has left us vulnerable."

"Yes, my Master." Remnous did his best not to roll his eyes. If Palpatine hadn't been so pig headed and disbanded the Senate; control wouldn't be as much of an issue. "How do you suggest we do that my Lord?"

"The Empire must display a show of force and crush any dissent before it grows into a wider rebellion. There have been reports of widescale riots on Corellia. I want you to take the Executer and remind the population what happens to systems that Rebel." Remnous frowned, Palpatine raised an eyebrow. "You disapprove?"

"My Emperor." Remnous chose his words carefully. "There are other ways to appease the mob, ones that don't involve bloodshed."

"Is that so? How would you go about, 'appeasing' them?" Remnous kept his face expressionless.

"Master, the Galaxy is still reeling from the destruction of Alderaan, emotions are running high and right now we look vulnerable. If we go about this all stick and no Jogan we'll inadvertently drive more systems to the Rebellion's aid."

"I have already instructed you in the ways of fear and the power it grants us my Apprentice. It has been an effective tool in the Empire's creation." Remnous nodded.

"Indeed Master, but power built on fear is brittle. We can't hold a Galaxy that longs to see us dead." Palpatine frowned as he considered his disciples words.

"What would you do if you were in command, my Apprentice?"

"I would begin by reforming the Senate, grant the masses the illusion of control." Palpatine scoffed.

"I have only just ridded myself of that accursed Senate, I will not reform it now." Remnous bowed his head.

"Of-course my Master, as you wish. If you will not reform the Senate, then perhaps it's best we create a scape-goat. Give the people a villain to blame." The corners of Remnous's mouth twitched upwards. "Tarkin would make an excellent candidate, after all, he was the one who gave the order." Palpatine frowned as he leaned back in his throne.

"That may work, but simply passing the blame along won't keep the peace for long." Remnous nodded.

"That's why we should give them a hero too." Palpatine smiled humourlessly.

"And how would we do that?"

"That's simple my Master, you declare me as your heir."

##

"Luke, it's time we talked about your father." Kanan took a deep breath and glanced over at Galen, Kanan and Luke were sat in the communal area aboard the Rogue Shadow. Galen had his head buried in a crate as he searched for a holocron. Luke nodded sagely.

"Obi-Wan didn't tell me much, all I know about him is that he was a great pilot and a cunning warrior."

"That he was." Galen sighed deeply as he sat down next to Kanan, one of the Holocrons he'd retrieved in his travels as Starkiller in his hands. "But there isn't much we can tell you about him during the war. Kanan was just a Padawan and I was an infant." Kanan nodded.

"We can tell you what happened to him though." Luke frowned.

"Obi-Wan told me he was betrayed and murdered by Darth Vader." Kanan shook his head while Galen frowned and ran a hand over his head.

"That's kind of true, from a certain point of view."

"A certain point of view?" Luke looked back and forth between the two Jedi uncertainly. Kanan sighed.

"Luke, you'll find many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view."

"What does that mean?" Galen rolled his eyes.

"It's difficult to say it out loud, and you won't like it when you do."

"I won't like what?" The annoyance was clear in Luke's voice now.

"The truth." Kanan grimaced. "I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but your father didn't die at the end of the Clone Wars." The young Skywalker's eyes widened.

"He's alive?" Galen shook his head.

"No, he died a year and a half ago, he didn't die as Anakin Skywalker."

"What are you talking about?"

"In the later years of his life, your father had a different name, Darth Vader." Luke sat back dazedly.

"No, that can't be true." Kanan sighed sadly.

"Search your feelings Luke, you know it's true."

"But he betrayed and murdered my father, Obi-Wan told me." Kanan put a hand on the Padawans shoulder.

"Your father was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force, he ceased be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader, in that moment, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So, what Obi-Wan told you was true." Luke scoffed.

"From a certain point of view." The Padawan frowned. "Wait, but that means…" Galen sighed.

"Yeah Kid, Remnous killed your father."

##

The Chimera hung over Coruscant; Thrawn admired the view of the planet's surface from his office. It been some time since Thrawn had visited the capital. Long range communications made in person meetings mostly redundant, the time was better served on the frontlines. However, this was a special occasion, Remnous's scheme was bold, but as the Sith had told Thrawn on their first meeting; "Bold actions are necessary in times of war Admiral."

Thrawn and Remnous's first meeting had taken place in this very office, it had been a year after the disappearance of Lord Vader, Thrawn had been ordered to redirect his ship to Mustafar to pick up an Imperial agent. Palpatine had ordered Thrawn to allow the agent to accompany him on his mission so the agent could familiarise himself with Imperial Naval protocol. The agent had stalled when he had arrived and it had been over an hour before his Lambda Class shuttle had settled in one of the Chimera's hangers. To Thrawn's surprise however, he wasn't onboard, instead, a redheaded woman wearing a colonel's insignia had met Thrawn at the foot of the landing ramp.

"Where is the agent Colonel?" The redhead had smiled.

"Lord Remnous departed some time ago, I believe he's already aboard." Thrawn frowned and glanced back at the Chimera's captain. He'd shrugged as the Colonel chuckled.

"I'd scan for an advanced TIE fighter." Thrawn rolled his eyes.

"Captain, would escort Colonel?"

"Thurinos."

"Colonel Thurinos to her quarters and order a scan of the area. I shall return to my office until you have tracked him down."

"Yes, Grand Admiral." Thrawn nodded to Thurinos, then paused as he felt the redhead's eyes linger on him, the Chiss couldn't help but feel that the Colonel was sizing him up.

The search hadn't been necessary, Remnous was waiting for Thrawn in his office. The Chiss had noticed him out of the corner of his eye in his small art gallery. The Agent had his back turned to Thrawn as he examined the painting of the old Phoenix Squadron symbol. Thrawn had drawn his blaster and advanced on Remnous, levelling the blaster at the back of his head.

"How did you get in here?" Remnous had scoffed and raised his hand, Thrawn's blaster was plucked from his hand and flew into Remnous's metal fist.

"What do you make of this?" Thrawn's eyes narrowed, he knew that voice.

"It is the symbol of Phoenix Squadron, a beautiful piece by the Mandalorian Rebel Sabine Wren." Thrawn stroked his chin as he stepped up next to Remnous to admire the painting.

"Quite poetic don't you think?" Remnous's eyes stayed on the painting. "A creature of flight, rising in flames, symbolic of their commitment to victory." Thrawn raised an eyebrow, he was impressed.

"Indeed, I believe this piece is influenced by Janyor of Bith's protest pieces." Remnous smiled humourlessly.

"Janyor of Bith is one of her most prominent inspirations, though, this piece is far simpler than his work on Bith."

"Though simplicity has its own elegance to it. Don't you think?" Remnous chuckled and glanced at Thrawn, looking away from the painting for the first time since Thrawn had entered the room.

"Call it what it is Grand Admiral, derivative." The young man handed Thrawn his blaster and moved on to inspect another painting. "Quite a collection you have here, all of them fine pieces." Thrawn smirked as he got a good look at the agents face. It was unmistakable, even with the piercing golden eyes and the livid scar running up the left side of his face.

"To defeat an enemy, you must know them, not just their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy." Thrawn spread his arms and gestured to the gallery. "Art."

"Wise." Remnous glanced over his shoulder at the Chiss. "It is a pity your people are such isolationists; your world would be an invaluable member of the Empire." Thrawn frowned.

"You know of my world?"

"Oh yes Grand Admiral. I did my research on you." Remnous paused in front of a painting of the Lothal Landscape by the legendary artist McQuarrie. "One of the only none human's in the Empire to rise so high up the ranks on his own merits. A master strategist and a Machiavellian Schemer. I've followed your recent career with great interest."

"I am flattered, but I'm afraid you've caught me at a disadvantage as I know little of you." Remnous smirked and finally turned to face the Admiral.

"Use that famed intuition of yours Thrawn, what can you tell by looking at me?" Thrawn paused as he considered Remnous.

"Your face and voice belong to a Rebel Jedi named Ezra Bridger, curious as he was officially declared dead a year ago, you make casual use of the Force and somehow managed to slip aboard my personal Star Destroyer undetected." Thrawn kept his eyes focused on Remnous as he walked a circle around the younger man. "Palpatine simply said you were a trainee agent, perhaps on of his future Hands. But given the planet we are currently orbiting and those markings on your neck." Remnous rubbed the side of his neck as he grinned at Thrawn. "I would say you are far more than a Hand, when you factor Lord Vader's mysterious disappearance over a year ago into the equation? I would say you are the fabled Darth Remnous, Emperor Palpatine's new Apprentice." Remnous smirked.

"Impressive, Grand Admiral, I see your skills are not exaggerated." The Sith Lord extended his metal hand. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you in person."

"Likewise." Thrawn took the offered hand and shook it. "Tell me, are the rumours of Lord Vader's demise exaggerated?" Remnous raised an eyebrow.

"What do the rumours say?"

"That you slew Lord Vader in single combat." The Sith Lord smirked.

"They are not."

"A bold entrance into the Empire my young friend."

"Bold actions are necessary in times of war Admiral."

##

"Name you my heir?" Remnous could hear the disbelief in Palpatine's voice. "Would you care to justify this blatant grab for power, my Apprentice?" Remnous bowed his head.

"I mean no disrespect Master." Remnous started up the stairs towards Palpatine's thrown, the two guards stood at either side of the Emperor stepped forwards, their lightsaber pikes activating; Remnous paused in his stride as he looked to Palpatine. The Emperor raised a hand and the guards stepped back. The Apprentice nodded his thanks before continuing up the stairs. "There is one asset I possess we have yet to utilize." Palpatine frowned.

"And that would be?"

"My former identity as Ezra Bridger." Remnous climbed the last of the steps and stood on Palpatine's level. "The galaxy knows and trusts the face of Ezra Bridger, he's a known and beloved simple of Rebellion, cut down in his youth. His power as a martyr of the Rebel cause is substantial, in one fell swoop we would destroy a symbol of Rebellion and impose a new symbol of Order."

"And how does naming you my heir help us secure the Empire, my Apprentice?" Remnous could hear the annoyance in Palpatine's voice.

"My Lord, few in the Empire know of our true nature, the ignorant masses believe you to be an old man in his waning years." Palpatine glowered at Remnous from under his hood. "They know not of your plans to obtain immortality or that it is even possible, they believe you will die soon and they will be far less willing to fight if they believe there is a softer successor coming in a few years." Palpatine raised an eyebrow, Remnous's words did make sense. "While the masses are placated, we can consolidate our power, reinforce garrisons and tighten our grip on an unsuspecting Galaxy." The Emperor nodded slowly.

"There is reason in your words, Lord Remnous, but how do I know you will not just simply slay me and take my throne?" Remnous sunk to one knee before the old man.

"My Master, I have only been your Apprentice for a short time, I still have much to learn." Palpatine smirked down at Remnous.

"In other words, you still need me." Remnous nodded.

"As you need me." Palpatine frowned.

"Naming you my heir does grant you a great amount of power."

"A purely symbolic role my Master, I can play the part of a kind-hearted altruist in the Imperial ranks while we secure the Galaxy. By the time the people see through the deception, it will be too late. The Emperor regarded the younger man coldly.

"Very well." The barest hint of a smirk twitched at the corner of Remnous's mouth.

##

Kanan, Galen and Luke walked through the turbo lift doors onto the Loth Cat's bridge. Most of the rebel leaders were waiting for them along with Sabine, Zeb, Rex, Allana and Bran.

"What happened?" Kanan wrapped and arm around Hera's shoulder and glanced at Mon Mothma. Mothma typed a few controls into a console.

"We've received a new transmission from Fulcrum, according to the trajectory it was sent from Coruscant itself." Fulcrums symbol appeared over the console.

"This is Fulcrum, we are what remains." The voice, though heavily altered sounded on edge. "Remnous is planning a coup against Palpatine. I have included a data package with the details of his plans in this transmission. If you time it right you'll be able to raid Imperial supply depot and rebuild your fleet undisturbed in the wake of the New Regime's rise. Fulcrum out." There was silence on the bridge.

"Cody did say something about a new regime." Rex glanced over at Hera uncertainly, Sabine sighed.

"So did Tandi." Hera raised an eyebrow at the mention of Tandi. Galen scoffed.

"Remnous certainly is bold, Vader waited for years before he even began to put plans against Palpatine into play."

"If Fulcrum has sent it, we have to assume the information is authentic." Hera glanced over at Mon Mothma. The Former Senator nodded.

"Indeed, we need to analyse the data, this could prove to be a lucrative opportunity for us."

##

A light lit up on the communications terminal in the Tipoca space monitoring tower, the Kaminoan technician frowned as he examined his instrumentation. According to the scanners, a huge fleet had just exited hyperspace over Kamino. A voice crackled over his headset as he adjusted his comm signal.

"This is Admiral Coltish of the New Regime, we're here to collect Emperor Remnous's army."

Chapter Text

The Apprentice
“You call that a stance?” Dhara Leonis scowled at a young trainee Inquisitor. “Legs wider, not that wide!” Dhara ran a hand over face as she sighed exhaustedly. The Inquisitorial Academy on Coruscant was filled with life as trainee Inquisitors sparred and practiced Force techniques. Lord Remnous had more or less wiped out the standing Inquisition, but the Sith Lord had taken steps to rebuild the Order. Personally, hunting down and ‘recruiting’ suitable candidates for entry, it would take years, but a new Inquisition would rise from the ashes of the old, loyal to Remnous above all other Imperial agencies.
“You’re fitting into your role well I see.” Dhara spun on the spot to see Remnous stood in the doorway.
“Lord Remnous.” Dhara started to sink to one knee.
“Get up, this is no time for kneeling.” Dhara frowned as she rose to her feet again. “How many of the recruits are ready?”
“My Lord, none of them are really ready.” Remnous rolled his eyes.
“How many of them can hold their own in a fight?” Dhara scratched the back of her neck uneasily.
“Four.” Remnous sighed and ran a hand over his face, he’d really been hoping for more.
“They’ll have to do.” The Sith Lord glanced around the training centre. “Have them armed and armoured, it’s time they were knighted, Grand Inquisitor.” Dhara took a half step backward.
“Grand Inquisitor? Me?” Remnous rolled his eyes.
“Who else would I choose? You’ve been here the longest, you’re practically running the place and you were trained by the first Grand Inquisitor personally.” The Sith Lord fixed Dhara with a pointed glare. “You’ll do your duty, is that understood?”
“Of-course my Lord.” Dhara nodded uneasily, Remnous turned to go. “Lord Remnous?” The Sith Lord glanced back at her and raised an eyebrow. “Has there been any word of my brother?”
“Zare?” Remnous nodded. “He graduated from the Officers Academy with honours, he was to get his pick of commissions but I had him assigned to The Loth Wolf.” Dhara’s eyes widened and something resembling a smile spread across her face.
“Can I see him?” Remnous smiled coldly.
“Of-course.” Dhara sighed with relief.
“Thank you my L-”
“After the job is done. Until then, consider him my hostage.” Dhara’s smiled faded.
##
Tandi glanced cautiously over her shoulder, the Sniper couldn’t shake the feeling she was being followed. Locket seemed to notice her concern.
“What is it my Lady?” Tandi frowned as she took another look around the atrium of the Naval Intelligence Headquarters, the redhead pursed her lips.
“Have your men keep their eyes and ears open. We’re being followed.”
Above Tandi and her Clone escort, Mara Jade crouched in the rafters of the atrium ceiling, her green eyes fixed on the Brigadier. Mara couldn’t shake off an odd sense of familiarity whenever she looked at Remnous’s pet.
“What’s so special about you?” Mara muttered to herself. “Why does he keep you around?” Tandi had potential with the Force, but it was mostly untapped. True; Remnous had taught her a few rudimentary techniques, but they were the equivalent of a pin hole in a dam. “You aren’t his Apprentice, you aren’t even his Assassin, what are you to him?”
Tandi’s eyes narrowed, she turned and stared up into the rafters, just for a second, she could have sworn she saw a flash of scarlet, the exact same colour as her hair.
##
“Pick up the pace boys! We’re shipping out to Coruscant!” Cody watched as a steady stream of Clones filed out of Remnous’s fortress and towards the Acclimator class assault ship that Thrawn had dispatched to ferry the rest of the legion to the capital. Only a single company of Clones were staying to guard the Palace and the Princess.
“General Cody?” Cody turned to see a dozen troopers pushing a gurney, a Togruta was strapped to it, or, whatever was left of the Togruta under all those cybernetics and armour. Cody’s eyes lingered uneasily on the alien’s skull shaped mask. “We’re ready to load Nyria.” Cody nodded.
“Good, make sure she doesn’t cause any trouble.” The old clone glanced back at the Togruta; he couldn’t shake off an odd sense of familiarity. “Do we know each other?” The Togruta turned her head away from him.
“No.”
##
Thrawn leaned back in the chair behind his desk his office was filled with holograms. The seven other Grand Admirals he’d convinced to join the New Regime quickly took shape alongside Brigadier Thurinos and Lord Remnous. The Sith Lord ran an eye over each of the other Admirals before nodding once to Thrawn.
“Gentlemen. It is a pleasure to finally meet you all.” Remnous bowed slightly. “You honour me with your allegiance.” Tigellinus snorted dismissively.
“My ‘Lord.’” Tigellinus glanced at the other Grand Admirals, “we were not notified of your, youth.” Remnous bowed his head graciously.
“I admit, I’m not quite the seasoned warrior you are. That is why I have chosen to enlist the aid of such esteemed commanders.” The Sith Lord smiled charmingly. “You can temper my youthful idealism with your years of experience, to the Galaxies benefit.” Thrawn subtly smirked as Tigellinus and the other Admirals puffed their chests out, the Sith Lord’s silver tongue always astounded him.
“You honour us my Lord.” Thrawn’s smirk faded when he heard Syn’s grovelling tone. Remnous however seemed quite pleased with the Admirals attitude, the Sith Lord caught Zaarin’s eye.
“Grand Admiral Zaarin, it is, good, to see you again.” Zaarin respectfully met the Sith Lord’s gaze, but stayed silent. Once defanged, a snake is cautious to strike again. “Gentlemen.” Remnous clapped his hands together. “We have all come together to serve a single purpose; to tear Palpatine from power and remake his failing Empire into a New Regime.” A hush fell over the room, the whispered schemes and hushed meetings had blossomed into full blown conspiracy in the space of a single sentence. Remnous seemed to notice the shift in tone. “Make no mistake gentlemen, by the merits of having this conversation, we are committing high treason, but fortune favours the bold, and as Grand Admiral Thrawn can attest.”
“Bold action is what is required at this time.” Thrawn nodded to Remnous as the other Admirals quietly murmured amongst each other, the Chiss cleared his throat. “Continue, Lord Remnous.”
“As I’m sure you are all aware, I have recently convinced Emperor Palpatine to name me as his heir.” Grunger snorted.
“One day, I would like to hear how you pulled that off, Lord Remnous.” The Sith Lord smiled humourlessly.
“A fine tale indeed Grand Admiral Grunger, but one for another time I think.” Grunger nodded and motioned for Remnous to continue. “As I’m sure you have noticed, only Declann, Il-Raz, Pitta and Takel have been recalled to Coruscant to take part in the ceremony.”
“A clever move.” Tigellinus muttered begrudgingly. “Drawing the loose ends to you.”
“I thank you Tigellinus.” Remnous bowed his head respectfully. “Brigadier Thurinos and her Deathmarks shall see to them when the moment comes.” The leader of the Deathmarks nodded smugly.
“And what part are we to play in this Lord Remnous?” Grunger gestured to the other Admirals.
“I’m glad you asked, I have arranged to have the loyal Grand Admirals fleet’s scattered throughout the galaxy, once their leadership has been cut out from under them, we will take advantage of their confusion.” The Sith Lord glanced at Grunger. “Grand Admiral Grunger, you will co-ordinate with Grand Admirals Grant, Makati and Batch, the four of you will hunt their ships down one at a time while they’re isolated and alone, your priority will be to convince them to join us willingly.” Remnous paused as he frowned his hologram flickering slightly. “Depending on the ship’s fleet of origin the difficulty of that task will vary significantly, Takel’s men see him for what he is, a Spice addled fool, many within his ranks are already plotting to overthrow him, they won’t be difficult to win over. Il-Raz’s fleet will be a different matter, he is fanatically loyal to Palpatine and has ensured everyone under his command shares his devoted allegiance, much of his fleet will have to be destroyed.”
“And what purpose do you have in mind for our fleets Lord Remnous?” Syn gestured to himself, Tigellinus, Zaarin and Thrawn.
“Your fleets will supress any violent uprisings and ensure worlds vital to the war-machine remain within our influence.” Remnous nodded to Thrawn. “The Seventh fleet shall hold Coruscant. The rest of you will divide your forces and deploy them where they are needed most.” Syn frowned.
“That will spread our forces very thin, if the Rebels take advantage of the situation, we will be unable to mount a sufficient counter attack.” Remnous scoffed as the Brigadier shook her head.
“The Rebels are completely unaware of our plans, Grand Admiral.” Tandi crossed her arms over her chest. “By the time they realise what’s happening it’ll be too late for them to take advantage of anything.”
##
Rex sat in an observation room aboard the Loth Cat, Wolfe and Gregor sat across from him, frowning uneasily.
“Wolfe, Gregor.” Rex nodded to each of his brothers. “It’s good to see you again.”
“You too Captain.” Wolfe nodded solemnly.
“What’s gotten under your skin Rex?” Gregor glanced at Wolfe. “You look… edgy.” Rex sighed.
“You two weren’t at the evacuation of Yavin, so I thought it was best I told you.”
“Told us what?” Wolfe fixed his good eye on Rex.
“Ezra’s made himself a Clone Army, they wear the colours of the 501st.”
“A new clone army?” Gregor’s eyes widened. “New Shinys?” Wolfe frowned at Rex.
“What else? I can tell when you’re holding something back Rex.” Rex sighed
“Cody is leading them”
“The Commander?” Wolfe sighed tiredly. “Should’ve guessed he would have turned up eventually.”
“I thought you two should know, before you met them on the battlefield, they’re clones like us, which makes them our brothers.”
“Well.” Gregor chuckled. “They are a new generation; I’d say they’re closer to our nephews than our brothers.” Wolfe raised an eyebrow at Gregor sceptically, then he began to laugh.
##
An XJ-6 airspeeder pulled up to the docking port of the Galaxies Opera House. Darth Remnous climbed out of the speeder and nodded his thanks to Mel.
“Should I accompany you Sir?” The Clone started to get up.
“No.” Remnous shook his head. The Sith Lord was dressed in his Imperial uniform and his hair had been pulled back into a ponytail, revealing the markings on his neck. “I doubt I’ll need armed assistance to take in the Opera.” Mel chuckled.
“If you insist Sir.” Remnous nodded.
“Go back to your troops and prepare for tomorrow, I’ll find my own way back.” Mel nodded and activated the speeders engines. Remnous took in the rich opera house as Mel flew away, he ran an eye over its patrons. The privileged few, the elite who had picked through the Republic’s corpse and set themselves up comfortably in the new galaxy. Remnous scoffed, ‘high society’ there was no such thing.
The Sith Lord strode confidently up the deep red carpeted stairs, a path cleared before him as more patrons began to notice him. Darth Remnous was still largely an enigma in the Empire, a name used to frighten insubordinate officers and small children, they didn’t know who he was. But his manner spoke for himself, they saw a battle scared officer of the Empire that radiated silent power.
That was enough.
Remnous put a bit of a swagger on as he navigated the curving corridors of the Opera House, the whole building was built around the grand circular stage, a single one of the busts on the walls probably cost more than his entire house back on Lothal.
Palpatine had maintained a private booth with the best view in the house long before the rise of the Empire, the Emperor almost seemed amused as Remnous was allowed passed the guards stationed at the door.
“You wanted to see me, my Master.” Palpatine glanced over his shoulder.
“Ah, Lord Remnous.” Palpatine glanced over to Mas Amedda who was sat on his righthand side. “Leave us.” The Chagrin frowned, then nodded and stood to leave, shooting Remnous a dirty look as he and the rest of the Emperor’s retinue left the box. “Take a seat.” Remnous frowned as he took Amedda’s empty seat.
“Is there a particular reason you wanted to see me my Master?” Palpatine smiled humourlessly as he shook his head.
“You are about to become a man of great influence, Lord Remnous, and men of great influence should take in the higher forms of art.” Remnous shifted uncomfortably, it had been the first time he and Palpatine had been in close proximity since Remnous had convinced Palpatine to name him his heir a fortnight earlier. “Am I, inconveniencing you?”
“Of-course not my Lord.” Remnous shook his head quickly. “I’m simply pressed for time, there are a great many things to attend to before the ceremony tomorrow.” Palpatine chuckled.
“My friend, something you will learn very quickly when you take your place as my official heir; is that the logistics of running an Empire can be largely left to your underlings. I’m sure your Brigadier Thurinos is capable of handling putting the finishing touches on the ceremony.” Remnous bowed his head.
“I’m certain that she is, my Master.”
“Then there is no harm or foul.” Palpatine turned back the opera. Remnous settled into his seat and did his best to lose himself in the performance, he didn’t succeed.
“Master? May I ask about your Hand?”
“I have several Hands my Apprentice.” The Emperor kept his eyes on the stage, a young woman had emerged and had begun to sing a soprano solo set to a soft melody, unfortunately, she was singing in Bith and Remnous couldn’t understand a word she was saying. “You’ll have to be more specific.”
“Mara Jade.”
“Ah, yes.” A genuine smile crept across Palpatine’s face, not one of kindness or fondness, it sent a shiver down Remnous’s spine. “Dear Mara, what of her?”
“You took her at a young age, I was curious, where was her home world?” Palpatine frowned as he paused for thought.
“Her home world? I believe I found her on Lothal.”
“Lothal?” Remnous raised an eyebrow. “Are you certain?”
“I am, Lothal is your home world, is it not Lord Remnous?” Remnous nodded, a different redhead on his mind.
“It is, and it makes sense that it’s hers too, I thought she had a familiar complexion.” Palpatine frowned thoughtfully at Remnous for a moment before turning back to the opera. A male Twi’lek had joined the woman and had begun to accompany her with a low baritone, the two voices melded together into a beautiful, yet haunting song.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Remnous nodded.
“Stunning, my Master.” He meant it, the music was beautiful, even if he couldn’t understand a word of it. More instruments joined the voices and the music swelled to fill the opera house, Remnous felt his heartrate rise with it. “Master?”
“Hmm?” Palpatine kept his eyes on the stage.
“How did you do it? How did you convince the Galaxy to willingly give up its freedom?” Palpatine smirked.
“Ah, a fine story indeed my young Apprentice, perhaps it too shall be told in song someday in the future.” Remnous subtly readjusted the neck of his tunic. “My master, Darth Plagueis laid the foundations, a few well-placed bribes and assassinations secured me the position of Senator of my home world of Naboo, years of manipulation of taxation law and trade routes followed, when the time was right, I convinced the Trade Federation to invade Naboo.” The Emperor smirked pridefully. “After that it was a simple matter to convince the newly elected Queen to call for a vote of no confidence in Supreme Chancellor Valorum, the oppression of my home generated a great deal of sympathy, that along with a few more well-placed bribes won me the Supreme Chancellorship.” Palpatine paused as the song reached its peak, ringing out over them, Remnous could swear he could feel his teeth vibrating in his skull. Palpatine continued once the music and applause had died down. “I spent a decade quietly feeding the corruption at the heart of the Republic, sewing discontent and breathing life into the Separatist movement, I had my Apprentice at the time, Count Dooku, take up the leadership of the movement, he did as he was told.” The Emperor chuckled coldly. “In the end however, my victory was secured by a weak minded Gungan, Jar Jar Binks, he convinced the Senate to grant me Emergency Powers and begin the Clone Wars. The only obstacle left in my way was the Jedi. As the war dragged on, the reputation of the Jedi was slowly destroyed. They were blamed for beginning the war and made the perfect scape goat. Once I had lured Lord Vader to the Dark Side of the Force, I had the perfect weapon to destroy them.” The Emperor smirked coldly. “It was all too easy, I told the Senate the Jedi had attempted to assassinate me, the fools believed me, the Jedi’s attempt on my life was their last hope for liberty. Liberty died to the sound of thunderous applause.” Palpatine leaned back in his seat as the second act of the Opera began. “Never underestimate the power of the ignorant mob Lord Remnous, it shall prove to be your most effective tool.” Remnous adjusted his collar as music filled the hall once again.
“Magnificent.”
##
Sabine emerged from underneath the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive.
“When was the last time you had this thing serviced?” Han shrugged.
“No idea.” Sabine scoffed as she pointed at one of the many tool boxes that was scattered around the cabin, Han picked his way through the assorted tools, holding each one up for Sabine to see.
“That makes sense, not that one, no, no!” The Mandalorian rolled her eyes. “The Blissl Tuner!” Han retrieved the tuner and tossed it to Sabine. “It’s amazing that we actually got away from the Death Star.” Sabine neatly caught the tuner and slid back under the hyperdrive. “This thing must break down more than it works.” Han chuckled dryly.
“Something like that.” Sabine sighed as she got back to work.
“Where’d you even get this thing?”
“Won it in a game of Sabacc.” Sabine snorted.
“And here I was convinced you’d stolen it.” Han grinned and feigned an injured tone.
“Do I really come across as a thief?”
“I would have said scumbag first.” Sabine shrugged. “Definitely scruffy looking.”
“Who’s scruffy looking?” Han frowned. “Scumbag I’ll take, but scruffy looking?”
“Change your jacket every once in a while.” Sabine chuckled as she slid back out from under the hyperdrive and wiped her hands off on a rag. “I’ve made a few tweaks, but she’ll need a dockyard if you want her running smoothly again.” Han shook his head.
“That’s not exactly possible, thanks the fact I’ve thrown in my lot with your Rebellion, there’s a price on my head so large I won’t be able to go anywhere near a civilised system in the Falcon.” Sabine frowned.
“Why would you help us if it meant having a price on your head that big?” Han frowned; the smuggler paused as he mulled over his words.
“Well, I couldn’t let the kid have all the glory.” Sabine shook her head as she stood up.
“No, that’s not it, why are you here Han?”
“I…”
“Sabine?” Hera poked her head around the door.
“General Syndulla!” Han spun on the spot, obviously pleased to see the Twi’lek. “Sabine’s right here I’ll give you two some privacy.” Hera blinked with surprise as Han practically ran from the room.
“What was that about?” Hera jabbed a thumb over her shoulder as she, Kanan and Galen stepped over the threshold and into the engine room. Sabine shrugged.
“No idea, what can I do for you?” Hera sighed uncomfortably as she glanced at Kanan, the Jedi cleared his throat.
“We need to talk about what Ezra did to you.” Sabine’s eyes hardened.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” The Mandalorian glanced distastefully at Galen. “Why’s he here?” Hera glanced at Galen out of the corner of her eye, her own distaste clearly on show.
“He has something to say you’ll want to hear.” Galen fidgeted uncomfortably.
“Sabine, can you describe the aliens that took your blood?” Sabine glanced at Kanan uncertainly, the Jedi nodded slightly.
“They looked like they evolved from an aquatic species, long limbs and a very long neck.” The Mandalorian shuddered involuntarily as she recalled the incident. “They had these, big, glassy eyes.” Galen grimaced.
“They’re called Kaminoans, they specialise in cloning.” The Mandalorian’s eyes widened.
“Cloning?” Galen nodded grimly.
“You can thank them for Remnous’s clone army and my evil twin.” Sabine sat down heavily on a crate as she remembered her encounter with the new Starkiller.
“The clone had your memories, he knew me, how I fight with a lightsaber.” Galen sighed as his fists clenched tightly.
“Remnous told me they used me as a test subject to work out how to copy and alter memories, Starkiller knows us as well as I do.” Sabine shuddered as she felt the weight of the strange helmet the Kaminoans had strapped to her head.
“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?” Galen nodded sadly.
“I think Remnous is creating a clone of you too.”
##
Rain lashed harshly down on Coruscant’s lower levels, Remnous, the hood of his leather trench coat pulled up, paused outside of a dive bar, the Sith Lord took a long look up and down the street before entering.
The bar was filled with deafening music and Spice smoke, scantily clad Twi’leks danced on table tops to the delighted jeers of the watching crowds. Remnous was truck by the stark contrast between the lower levels and the height of culture he had just left in the upper levels. It was almost impossible to believe he was on the same planet.
“Hey there stranger.” The Sith Lord was pulled out of his thoughts as a young woman approached him. “Care to buy a girl a drink?” Remnous smirked and absently tossed her a credit chip.
“Have five.” The Sith Lord pushed through a particularly rowdy crowd of drinkers and strode confidently towards a quieter corner of the bar. A man in battered green Mandalorian armour was sat waiting for him in a private booth.
“Ah, Lord Remnous.” The Mandalorian raised his glass when he caught sight of the Sith Lord. “I trust my sons are doing you proud?”
“Better than I could have ever imagined Boba.” Remnous chuckled as he slid into the booth, seconds later a server had appeared.
“Can I get you a drink?”
“I’ll have a glass of Corellian Brandy.” Remnous smiled charmingly. “Aged fifty years if you have it.” The server hurried away as Remnous pulled a large pouch from a pocket of his coat. “Five hundred thousand, as we agreed upon.” The Sith Lord set the pouch down in front of the bounty hunter, who nodded appreciatively as he opened to the pouch to inspect the credits inside. “You did well taking out Tarko.”
“It feels a bit heavier.” Fett raised an eyebrow as he weighed the pouch in his hand, Remnous smirked.
“I added an extra fifty, consider it a bonus and a down payment for your next assignment.” Fett grinned.
“In that case, the first round is on me.” Fett tossed a few credits at the sever who had just reappeared with Remnous’s brandy. “I added a nice tip.” Fett winked at the server, she blushed and murmured her thanks as she gathered up the credits. “So, I hear you’re moving up in the Galaxy.” Remnous smirked as he took a large swig of brandy.
“One day you’ll tell me where you get your intel.” Fett scoffed.
“Not likely, so, soon I’ll be doing business with the Emperor himself.” Remnous smirked as he swirled his brandy around in its glass.
“You will indeed, if all goes well, which brings me to your next assignment.” The Sith Lord leaned in towards Fett. “I need you to take a message to Jabba the Hutt.” Remnous slid a data disk across the table.
“And what are the contents of this message?” Fett raised an eyebrow warily. “I wouldn’t want to anger Jabba and end up being fed to the Sarlacc.” Remnous smirked.
“It’s an offer of amnesty, make sure you give it to him after I’ve made my move.”
“How will I know when that is?” Remnous chuckled dryly.
“Trust me, you’ll know.” Fett picked up the data disk and examined it wearily.
“Amnesty with the Hutts eh?” Remnous nodded.
“The New Regime will be spread thin in the beginning, we’ll need the Hutts if we hope to stand any chance of holding the Outer Rim. Do this for me and there’ll be far more in it for you than credits, how do you feel about being my Hand?” Fett smirked and raised his glass.
“I’ll leave right away.” Remnous grinned and tapped his glass against the Bounty Hunters. “After you get the next round of-course.” Remnous laughed loudly, then raised a hand to beckon over a server.
##
“I see the problem.” Allana squinted through an open panel into the Rogue Shadow’s inner workings. “I can fix it if you have the tools.” The dark-haired girl glanced over at Juno inquisitively, the blond raised an eyebrow.
“Just like that?” Allana nodded.
“It looks like some of the more recent upgrades are stressing the hyperdrive, I’ll have to take some of them out wholesale.” Juno sighed.
“I told Kota it was too much.” Allana shook her head sadly.
“He was a solider, not a pilot or an engineer.” Juno smiled glumly as she hauled a tool box over to Allana.
“And one of the best men I’ve ever known.” Allana nodded her thanks as she pulled a wrench out of the box and got to work.
“How are you and Galen doing?” Juno blushed. Allana smiled gently as she worked. “That’s cute.” The pilot cleared her throat as she tried to get some of the colour out of her cheeks.
“What about you and Bran? What’s going on there?”
“Bran?” Allana laughed warmly. “He’s sweet, but not my type.”
“Wrong build?”
“Wrong gender.” Juno took a half step back, Allana shook her head humorously.
“I see.” Juno paused awkwardly. “You had many girlfriends?” Allana’s smile faded.
“Just one. She’s, well, she’s on the other side now.” Juno’s eyes widened.
“Wait, you and Tandi were a couple?” Allana kept her head buried in the Rogue Shadow.
“Not for long. We lost someone and caring hurt her too much.” The dark-haired girl sighed sadly. “That’s why…” Allana trailed off, then returned to her work.
“Why what?” Juno’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. Allana glanced around the Loth Cat’s hanger before leaning in towards Juno.
“This is in confidence, right?” Juno nodded. “That’s why I let her go.” Juno blinked with surprise.
“You let her go?” Allana nodded.
“I’m the one who stunned Bran.” Juno paused as she tried to process the startling revelation.
“Why?”
“Because I love her and she loves Remnous, I wanted her to be happy.” The dark-haired girl glanced down. “Even if it was with someone else.” Juno frowned as she processed Allana’s words.
“Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me.”

Chapter Text

The Apprentice
Remnous typed the code into the lock on his quarter’s door and stumbled slightly over the threshold.
“Lights on!” The Sith Lord swayed gently on the spot as the lights came up. The ‘next round’ had turned into four, Corellian Brandy really had a kick to it. “Never try to match drinks with a Mandalorian.” The Sith Lord muttered to himself as he pulled his coat off and tossed it into the far corner of the room. His eyes swept the length of his quarters and landed on a large object covered by a sheet; frowning, the Sith Lord stumbled over to it and yanked the sheet off. Remnous grinned. “Chopper!” The droid looked brilliant, his chassis gleamed and his new red and black paintjob was particularly striking in the room’s dull light. “Looking good buddy!” Remnous ran a hand over the astromech’s dome until he found the on switch.
Chopper shuddered as he came back online, then his arms extended and his dome spun around as he took in his surroundings, the droids gaze settled on Remnous.
“Hey Pal.” Remnous smiled hazily. Chopper let out a loud series of beeps and rammed into the Sith Lord’s knees. Caught off balance, Remnous fell over backwards. “Hey! Take it easy Chop!” Chopper rested one of his limbs on the side of his chassis as if he were putting a hand on his hip and pointed his other limb at Remnous, the droid let out an accusatory chime. “I’m the heir to the kriffing Empire!” Remnous’s words slurred slightly. “I’ll have a few Force damned drinks if I feel like it!” Chopper grumbled lowly. “Hey! At least I had the decency to salvage you and put you back together, you’re welcome for the matching leg by the way!” Chopper did pause to admire the set of matching legs Remnous’s engineers had equipped him with. “See? I’m not all bad.” The Sith Lord climbed shakily back to his feet. Chopper snapped harshly at the Sith Lord, slapping the side of his leg with one of his limbs. “Yes, I’m a traitor, but did any of you ever give me the chance to explain myself? I’m not a monster, I could have wiped your memory and avoided putting up with your attitude, but I didn’t.” Chopper grumbled dismissively and waved a limb at Remnous, the Sith Lord blinked with surprise. “You downloaded the entirety of the Yavin IV base’s databanks?” Chopper slapped the front of his dome. “Huh, that might be useful.” Remnous shook his head and ran his hands over his face. “Look Chop, I’m staging a coup, by this time tomorrow, Palpatine will be dead and we’ll be ready to re-forge the Empire into something better.” The Sith Lord sat down on his bed and leaned forwards. “Isn’t that exactly what the Rebels want to do?” Chopper beeped with surprise. “What? Did you all think I was crazy enough to actually work for that maniac?” Chopper mimicked the act of shrugging, Remnous chuckled. “Fair enough, so will you help me?” The astromech chimed uncertainly, Remnous rolled his eyes. “You can either help me or I can send you back to the engineers and have them take the parts back.” Chopper rolled backwards slightly, then grumbled lowly, Remnous sighed with relief. “Good.” The Sith Lord fiddled with his collar and pulled a small device out of the fabric of his tunic. “Because I have a very important job for you.”
##
Remnous had ordered Cody to leave the Princess in the same cell the Sith Lord had been locked up in the first time he had been on Mustafar, he’d spared her the torture table however. Leia rolled her eyes as she peered at the lock on the door, there was no way to trip the mechanism on her side and the walls were made of solid stone, there was no way to get at the wiring.
“Damn it!” Leia snarled as she slammed her fist into the door. She had to get out of here! The Princess had no idea what Remnous had planned for her and she didn’t want to find out.
“Your anger holds the key…”
“What?” Leia glanced around the cell uncertainly. “Who’s there?” There was a moment of silence, then the voice answered weakly.
“A friend, Young One.” Leia shook her head as she tried to find the source of the voice, it felt like someone was whispering in her ear. “Like you I was abandoned here by Remnous, left powerless and alone.”
“Who are you?”
“The one who can teach you how to get out of that cell and help you get your revenge.” Leia’s eyes narrowed as she considered the silent voice’s words.
“I’m listening.”
##
The door opened, Remnous looked up from Chopper as Tandi walked through the doorway. The redhead blinked with surprise when she saw the astromech.
“Chopper?” The droid spun around at the sound of her voice, until that moment she’d had no idea what a droid looked like when it glared at you. “You’re looking better.” Chopper turned back to Remnous and snatched something out of his hand.
“Thanks Chop.” The Sith Lord patted the top of the astromech’s dome, Chopper quickly rolled out from under Remnous’s arm and barged past Tandi out into the palace.
“Is it a good idea to let him wander about?” Tandi glanced after the droid uncertainly, Remnous chuckled as he slumped backwards onto his bed.
“No one’s going to notice an extra droid and he doesn’t have access to any communication equipment, it’ll be fine.” The Sith Lord frowned with his eyes closed. “What’s up with you?” Tandi cleared her throat.
“My Lord, I was followed to the Naval Intelligence Headquarters.” Remnous raised an eyebrow, his eyes still closed.
“You get a good look at them?” The Sniper shook her head.
“All I got was a flash of scarlet.” Remnous sat up and fixed the Brigadier with an amused smile.
“Ah,” the Sith Lord chuckled. “Mara’s taken a new interest in you.” Tandi frowned.
“Mara?”
“Mara Jade. She’s one of the Emperor’s Hands, Palpatine has had her looking into me for quite a while now.” Remnous rolled his head around on his neck as he got to his feet. “She’ll be lurking around tomorrow, keeping an eye on things. I want you to take care of her.” Tandi raised an eyebrow.
“If she’s Force Sensitive that might be tricky at range.” Remnous smiled dryly.
“Then do it up close, you still have the gift I gave you?” The Sniper nodded nervously and unclipped a shoto lightsaber from her belt, Remnous nodded. “Remember what I taught you, I think you’re just the person to deal with Mara.”
##
The Rebel fleet came out of hyperspace on the edges of the Lothal Sector, the four surviving blockade runners along with a single Hammerhead Corvette and a battered CR-75 transport fell into formation around Home One as the Loth Cat came about. Aboard the Mon Calamarian ship, Hera glanced over at Admiral Ackbar, the last of the Rebel pilots and Commanders were taking their seats in the briefing room, they were ready to begin. The Mon Calamarian nodded and gestured for her to start, the Twi’lek cleared her throat.
“Alright, listen up!” A hush fell over the briefing room, Hera smiled dryly, then nodded to Mon Mothma. The former Senator stepped forward.
“Thank you, General Syndulla. As I’m sure you’re all aware, our former operative Ezra Bridger plans to execute a coup against the Emperor within the next few hours. The resulting confusion will present a perfect opportunity to raid key Imperial targets in this sector to replenish the ships and supplies we have recently lost. We have analysed the data provided by agent Fulcrum and formulated a plan around gaps in the Imperial defences.” Hera shifted uncomfortably; she could feel someone’s eyes on her. The Twi’lek glanced around the briefing room and swiftly noticed Sabine. The Mandalorian was sat in one of the front rows, her eyes fixed on Hera. The Twi’lek shook her head; Sabine’s eyes narrowed.
“Senator?” Mothma paused and frowned uncertainly at Sabine.
“Yes, Lieutenant-Commander Wren?” Hera sighed as Sabine got to her feet.
“With respect, don’t you think it’s past time we were told the identity of agent Fulcrum?” There was a quiet murmur of approval from the other Rebels. “You’re asking us to risk our lives on their words, but we don’t even know who they are. This is a high stakes gamble; how do we know we’re not being bluffed?” Han smiled dryly as the Rebel leaders glanced at each other uncertainly, Hera sighed.
“The identity of agent Fulcrum is one of our most closely guarded secrets, they have been our most reliable source of intel for the past year and a half, many of us owe them our lives.” Mon Mothma nodded.
“We cannot allow their cover within the Empire to be compromised, doing so would leave us blind to the New Regime’s movements in the future. Just know that Agent Fulcrum has given more than their fair share of blood to the fight, and my only regret in this conflict is not being able to bring them home.” Sabine sighed tersely, then nodded once before sitting down. Mon Mothma breathed a sigh of relief before gesturing to Admiral Ackbar. “Now, Admiral Ackbar will begin the tactical briefing.”
##
The streets surrounding the Imperial Palace were packed with people, barges and speeders hung above the crowds, carrying even more spectators. Across the planet and galaxy, the Imperial Broadcast displayed wide tracking shots of the palace and people, captured by the dozens of news droids that flew through the packed space. Eight thousand Stormtroopers stood in formation at the base of the colossal steps to the palace, creating a barrier between the crowd and a clearing large enough to land an LAAT with their bodies.
The two thousand 501st legion clones that had been assigned to the Loth Wolf stood at attention on the steps, the Venator itself hung over the palace, the image of a Loth Wolf on its underbelly staring fiercely down at the crowd. An uneasy tension ran through the packed streets, emotions were still running high after the destruction of Alderaan; the Imperial Military had even been called upon to put down violent protests on Coruscant itself. Every Imperial present knew that the crowd could easily be stirred into a riot.
A hush fell over the crowd as the doors to the palace rumbled open, a small group of people emerged, each flanked by one of the Emperor’s crimson guards, an old man in a heavy black cloak at their head. A quiet murmur of hatred ran through the crowd as the Emperor took his place at a large podium that had been erected at the top of the staircase, two huge screens stood on either side of it, after a moment, Palpatine’s image appeared on either side of him.
“People of the Empire.” A wave of silence ran over the Galaxy at the Emperor’s words. “We are gathered to mourn our losses, and usher in our future.” As Palpatine spoke, his retinue took their places on either side of the podium, the four Grand Admirals stood closet to the Emperor. “A fortnight ago today, Grand Moff Tarkin commandeered an experimental mining platform, against my wishes he resorted to extreme measures and used the mining platform to destroy Alderaan.” A roar of hatred rose from the crowd, none of them believed a word of what Palpatine had said. The Emperor raised a hand and calmly waited for the noise to quieten down before continuing. “This harsh and unnecessary destruction is a crime that can never be forgiven, so here in the sight of all the Empire, I condemn Tarkin’s actions and denounce his memory.” A murmur of disbelief swept through the crowd, none of them had been expecting that, Tarkin’s vision had been a key force in the building the Empire as it stood. Palpatine took a moment to revel in their shock, oh how he’d missed working a crowd. “In these uncertain times, it is best to look to the future rather than dwell on the past. To that end, today I wish to announce the identity of my heir and successor who shall carry on in my name when my time in the Galaxy has come to an end.” A curious silence fell over the crowd as above them, an LAAT gunship was deployed from the lower hanger of the Loth Wolf, the old clone wars ship same in to a graceful landing in the space the Stormtroopers had cleared for it.
The screens on either side of Palpatine switched to an image of the gunship’s blast doors rolling open, a tall man wearing jet black mark II clone armour and a heavily augmented Togruta stepped off the ship, two pairs of Inquisitors, led by their noticeably taller Master quickly followed them. The seven force sensitives fell into formation on either side of the blast doors. A few seconds of silence followed, then the final passenger stepped into the light. He was dressed in black durasteel combat armour and cloaked in a heavy black robe, its hood covering his head and hiding his face. The crowd murmured quietly with confusion as the dark apostles closed ranks behind the hooded figure and followed him up the grand staircase. Behind him the Stormtroopers filled in the space they’d left for the LAAT as it too off, with the ranks closed into full marching columns, they began to follow Remnous up the stairs, coming to a halt to join ranks with the 501st clone troopers.
“People of the Empire, it is my pleasure to introduce you, to my Apprentice and Successor. The Hero who risked his life in his attempt to stop Tarkin’s foolish bloodlust and save Alderaan!” The figure and his entourage reached the top of the stairs. Palpatine grinned down at his hooded Apprentice. “Lower your hood, my friend.” After a pause, the figure reached up and slowly pulled the hood down. There was a horrified grasp as Ezra Bridger’s scarred face was revealed.
##
The usually rowdy patrons of the Mos Eisley Cantina had fallen silent as they stared at the holonews, a Defel sat at the bar nudged the Rodian sat next to him.
“Didn’t we try to bring him in to Jabba one time?” The Rodian frowned at the projection.
“I think so.”
##
Mara felt her lip curl back in disgust as she peered out from behind one of the Palace’s columns at the ceremony. Remnous was taking a moment to soak in the crowd’s shock, she could see the faintest hint of a smirk on his face.
“How did you pull this off?” Mara muttered to herself as drew her hood further up her head. Above her, nestled at the top of one of the colossal pillars, Tandi peered down at the Emperor’s Hand through the scope of her rifle.
##
In the cramped living room of a hab-block on the Rings of Kafrene, a small green Twi’lek girl set her toys down and stared in awe at the holonews.
“Mama!” The Twi’lek pointed at the image excitedly. “Mama look!”
“What is it Hera?” Her mother appeared from around a corner, her eyes tired and heavy.
“Look! It’s Remnous!” Her mother frowned at the projection; it was Remnous!
##
A Stormtrooper sat at the bar in Old Jho’s Pit Stop pulled his helmet off and stared perplexedly at the holonews.
“Hey Jho, isn’t that?” The Ithorian behind the bar nodded glumly as he wiped down a glass.
“Yep, that’s Ezra Bridger.”
##
Palpatine slowly descended the steps of his podium down towards Lord Remnous.
“I am sure Lord Remnous is familiar to at least some of you.” Remnous held his head high, the screens cut to a wider shot, capturing the image of both the Master and the Apprentice. “Lord Remnous was once a Jedi and a member of the so-called Rebel Alliance, known across the Galaxy as Ezra Bridger.” A quiet ripple of rage ran across the crowd as Palpatine approached Remnous. “He was betrayed by the Rebellion, and scarred by the woman he loved.” The Emperor pointed at his Apprentice. “Kneel.” Remnous sunk to one knee as Palpatine retrieved one of his lightsabers from his sleeve. “Do you swear to protect and serve the citizens of the Empire?”
“I do.” Like Palpatine, Remnous had a microphone attached to the collar of his cloak and his words echoed across the now silent crowd.
“Do you swear to uphold the Empire’s values and protect its interests from any and all threats?”
“I do.” There was a soft hiss as the Emperor’s lightsaber sprung to life.
“Then it is my pleasure,” Palpatine lowered his lightsaber to just above Remnous’s right shoulder, “To declare you here, in the sight of the galaxy.” The crimson blade passed over Remnous’s head and rested above his left shoulder. “As my heir, and sole successor.” The plasma blade hissed as it retracted. “Rise, Lord Remnous.” The kneeling Sith Lord rose to his feet, his eyes shining with fierce pride. “Today we take another step towards a safe, and secure society!” Palpatine turned back to the crowd and spread his arms. “Lord Remnous will be ceaseless in his services, he shall hunt down and destroy, all true enemies of the Empire!” Palpatine felt a hand clasp down on his shoulder, the old man was roughly spun around. Remnous raised his arm, lightsaber in hand, as Palpatine’s eyes widened, Remnous drove the blood red plasma blade into the Emperor’s chest.
“As you wish.” The Sith Lord whispered sinisterly in his master’s ear.
##
“No!” Mara gaped with horror as Palpatine grunted with surprise. “That son of a bitch!” The Hand’s lightsaber flew into her grasp as darted out from behind her pillar. A shiver ran up her spine. A sniper! Mara dived to the side as a laser bolt carved a chunk out of the stone where she had been standing milliseconds earlier. The redhead snarled as her head whipped about, searching for the source of the shot. A second shot flew down towards her from the top of one of the columns on the opposite side of the square. Mara’s lightsaber hissed to life as she batted away the shot.
“Come out and fight me!” She snarled as she raised her lightsaber, a few more shots flew out at her; she easily deflected them and glowered up at the sniper from under her hood. The shots stopped. Mara warily kept her blade up as she stared fixedly upwards.
With a rage filled cry; Tandi leapt down at Mara, a short purple lightsaber springing to life in her left hand, her right was raised, a blaster aimed squarely at Mara’s head. Jade leapt backwards, her lightsaber rising to deflect the string of blaster bolts that flew from the barrel of Tandi’s blaster. The Sniper thrust her arm out and sent a telekinetic push into the ground, breaking her fall and sending her into a somersault over Jade’s head. Mara spun around as Tandi landed behind her, the two redheads clashed back and forth, Tandi firing off shots to break Mara’s guard. The Hand snarled and thrust her arm out, Tandi’s blaster was thrown from her hand. The Sniper snarled and thrust her arm out towards Mara, the other redhead countered with a telekinetic push of her own. They were both flung in opposite directions. Mara grunted as she rolled across the hard stone, her lightsaber slipped from her grasp and she cursed herself as she slid to a halt. Dazedly; she sat up and rubbed her head, her hood had fallen back, her hair blew freely as a gust of wind ran through the columns. Tandi panted as she warily approached the downed Hand, her purple shoto springing back to life.
“Go on then.” Mara snarled, her eyes on her lightsaber. “Kill me.” Tandi frowned.
“Look at me.” Mara let her eyes slip off her lightsaber and settle on Tandi, the Sniper’s eyes widened.
“Niobe?” Mara blinked with surprise, she peered curiously at the Sniper, now more than ever, she knew they had met before. Tandi shook her head and took another look at her. “Is that you?”
“My Lady!” Tandi glanced over her shoulder, Clone Troopers were charging towards them, blasters raised.
“You have to go.” Tandi turned back to Mara, she was gone. The redhead blinked with surprise as the Clone Troopers approached. She glanced around, Mara’s lightsaber had vanished too.
“My Lady, are you alright? Where is she?” Tandi sighed tiredly.
“She got away Locket.”
##
The crowd gaped with shock as Remnous twisted the lightsaber blade in Palpatine’s chest. The Emperor’s guards surged forwards, their lightsabers coming to life, they were quickly halted in their tracks as the Sith Stalker, Remnous’s Assassin and the Sith Lord’s Inquisitorial guard leapt at them, their weapons ready.
Grand Admiral Li-Raz snarled as he drew his blaster.
“Treacherous little worm” Next to him, Grand Admiral Takel grunted and fell to the ground as a laser bolt hit him squarely on the chest. “What?” Il-Raz stared bemusedly around him as members of the Emperor’s entourage were picked off one at a time by sniper fire. “Remnous! You bastard!” Il-Raz raised his blaster.
Remnous glanced over his shoulder just in time to see a laser strike Il-Raz on the chest. The Sith Lord sneered as he yanked his lightsaber out of Palpatine’s chest. The old man murmured weakly with shock as he gaped up at Remnous.
“You betray me?”
“There can only be two.” Remnous smirked as he spun his lightsaber in a wide arc, “and I have found my Apprentice!” Palpatine chuckled weakly.
“Fool!” The Emperor raised his hands, lightning began to crackle around his fingertips, Remnous leapt forwards, bringing his lightsaber down in a deadly arc of bloodred light. Palpatine spluttered weakly as he stared at the stumps of his arms.
“You taught me well, my Master.” Remnous smirked kicked Palpatine’s shoulder, sending the old man to the ground. The Sith Lord took a moment to compose himself before he turned back to the crowd. “People of the Empire.” The crowd stared back bemusedly, it had all happened so quickly, in the space of a few seconds, most of the most powerful people in the Empire had been killed right in front of them. Across the galaxy, eyes stared transfixed at the Imperial Broadcast as the News Droids kept rolling the feed. “For years, you have been lied to, swear swindled out of your liberty by this man!” Remnous pointed his lightsaber at the pathetically whimpering Palpatine, a murmur of rage ran through the crowd as heads turned to look at each other. “His dog Tarkin destroyed Alderaan to bring the Galaxy to heel.” Remnous scowled down at the old man, “a fact only brought to his attention after the deed was done.” Remnous raised his boot and brought it down hard on Palpatine’s chest, the old man howled with agony and the crowd broke out with roars of approval. “The ugly truth, my friends, is that his deceptions run further back than any of us could ever imagine, far back beyond the Clone Wars themselves.” A shocked cry of disbelief ran through the crowd. “But you don’t have to take my word for it.” Remnous grinned down at his former Master. “You can take his.”
##
“Three, two, one!” Mel jabbed his thumb down on the detonator his was holding, the doors to the main Imperial broadcast control room were blasted open! “Go! Go! Go!” Mel, Burn and half a dozen other 501st troopers barged through the doorway, their blasters lighting up the cramp control centre. An Astromech rolled through the doorway as the smoke began to clear, Mel nodded to the droid. “Alright Chopper, it’s all you now.” The droid rolled towards the main console, his computer probe extending.
##
Smoke poured into the sky from the Imperial dockyards on Garel. Stormtroopers littered the ground as Rebel agents swarmed about, carts piled high with supplies, fuel, weapons and spare parts were pushed in all directions as Imperial cruisers were hastily made ready for departure. Aboard the bridge of a Raider-Class Corvette Sabine breathlessly brought the engines to life as Allana powered up the navigational drives.
“Main power’s online.” Sabine flipped a few more dials as Allana pulled a lever back.
“Navigational computer is up and running!” The dark-haired girl grinned across the cabin at Kanan who was standing guard at one of the doors, the Jedi smiled back as she began to plot the rendezvous coordinates into the computer. Rex frowned as he pulled on the communications officer’s head set.
“You might want to see this.” The clone dialled a few commands into the console, a holographic projection was cast into the centre of the bridge, Sabine frowned, a three-dimensional projection of the Emperor hung in the air. Palpatine was wearing formal robes and seemed to be sitting in a theatre box.
“How did you enslave the Galaxy?” Sabine’s eyes narrowed; she’d recognize that voice anywhere.
“What are you up to Ezra?” The projection of Palpatine smirked.
“My master, Darth Plagueis laid the foundations, a few well-placed bribes and assassinations secured me the position of Senator of my home world of Naboo, years of manipulation of taxation law and trade routes followed, when the time was right, I convinced the Trade Federation to invade Naboo.” Allana glanced at Sabine out of the corner of her eye and raised an eyebrow. “After that it was a simple matter to convince the newly elected Queen to call for a vote of no confidence in Supreme Chancellor Valorum, the oppression of my home generated a great deal of sympathy, that along with a few more well-placed bribes won me the Supreme Chancellorship.” The Emperor paused, Allana let out of low whistle.
“He had his home planet invaded, just to become the Supreme Chancellor?” Sabine scoffed.
“The Sith will do anything for power.” Kanan chuckled.
“The Sith? My Master met politicians who’d do the same without blinking.” Palpatine smirked as he continued.
“I spent a decade quietly feeding the corruption at the heart of the Republic, sewing discontent and breathing life into the Separatist movement, I had my Apprentice at the time, Count Dooku, take up the leadership of the movement, he did as he was told.” The Emperor chuckled coldly.
“What?!” Rex glanced back at Kanan; the Jedi grimaced.
“In the end however, my victory was secured by a weak minded Gungan, Jar Jar Binks, he convinced the Senate to grant me Emergency Powers and begin the Clone Wars. The only obstacle left in my way was the Jedi.” Kanan’s grip tightened on his lightsaber. “As the war dragged on, the reputation of the Jedi was slowly destroyed. They were blamed for beginning the war and made the perfect scape goat. Once I had lured Lord Vader to the Dark Side of the Force, I had the perfect weapon to destroy them.” The Emperor smirked coldly. “It was all too easy, I told the Senate the Jedi had attempted to assassinate me, the fools believed me, the Jedi’s attempt on my life was their last hope for liberty. Liberty died to the sound of thunderous applause.” Sabine blinked with horror.
“It was him, all of it, the Clone Wars, the Purge, the Empire, he planned all of this!” Rex shook his head.
“I don’t think he planned this.” The clone pointed at the hologram.
##
The roar of utter hatred from the crowd rocked the very ground, Remnous smirked, it was working!
“He lied to you!” Remnous raised his lightsaber as he pointed at Palpatine. “The Clone Wars, the Separatists, it was all his plan, all so he could seize ultimate power, years of death, misery and destruction all so he could build himself an Empire!” The Sith Lord’s words were almost drowned out by the frenzied cries of the mob. “So as the newly minted Heir to the Empire, sworn to protect and serve its people, what should I do with the most notorious criminal and cheat in Galactic history, when he’s lying here defenceless at my feet? What do the people I serve demand?!”
“Kill him!” A single voice, shrill with excitement broke through the crowd, who’s cheers had quietened for a moment, then another voice rose. “Kill him!” Then another, “Take his head off!” “Execute the scum!” Soon the mob had descended into merciless cries for blood. Remnous smirked down at the former Emperor.
“As the people demand.” Palpatine whimpered as he tried to crawl away from the younger Sith lord as he advanced towards him, lightsaber in hand, “Master?” Remnous seized the Emperor by the back of the collar and hauled him to his knees. “Have you ever heard, of the tragedy of Darth Sidious the Prideful?” Darth Remnous laughed coldly as he raised his lightsaber into the air, the Sith Lord took a moment to bask in the crowd’s cheers.
Then he brought the lightsaber arcing downwards, time seemed to slow down as the searing plasma blade descended on Palpatine. The old man smiled dryly, then let out one last, long breath.
The crowd’s cry rose into hysteric screams as Palpatine’s head came away from his body, Remnous seized the head and held it up for all the Galaxy to see, Palpatine was dead. A wave of frenzied screaming crashed over the Sith Lord as he held the head high, he took one last look at Sidious’s face.
“Thank you, for everything you taught me.” Remnous dropped the head and stepped forwards, he slotted his lightsaber back into its holster with the Force as he raised his arms. “People of the Galaxy!” Now came the real challenge. “Please, hear my words!” The Sith Lords words echoed over the ecstatic mob’s cheers, slowly, the thrum began to die down as eyes turned back to the young man. “Today, marks the end of the Empire!” The crowd burst into thunderous applause at the Sith Lord’s words. “The end of a regime that has subjugated and enslaved the people of the Galaxy!” Remnous lowered his arms and glanced over his left shoulder, Starkiller, The Grand Inquisitor and one of her students had silently moved to his side, the Sith Lord noticed Nyria and the other Inquisitors out of the corner of his right eye as he turned back to the crowd. “As we speak, greater plans have been set into motion. At this very moment, fleets of ships move throughout space, they will not cease until the Imperial presence has been driven from every known world throughout all the rings of the Galaxy!”
Remnous struggled to keep his smirk under control as he soaked in the applause, the Sith lord raised his hand, the crowd quietened again. “Now is a time for celebration my friends, but it is also a time to look ahead to the future.” Remnous closed his eyes and took a deep breath, the watching crowd leaned forwards, listening intently. “Today, it was your word that spurred my actions, it was your order that cut out the root of corruption in the Galaxy.” Remnous pointed to the heap of corpses that was scattered around the now abandoned podium. “It was a service I was happy to render, now I ask you, good people of the Galaxy, who I have fought for since I was little more than a boy. Will you allow me to serve you now? Will you follow me into the future? Together, we can build a New Regime! One worthy of your loyalty, for years a powerless senate has argued fruitlessly for change that never comes, no longer! I will restore the Galaxy to its Just and prosperous former glory, and when a new Senate is strong enough to rule and the last vestiges of the Imperial taint have been wiped from the stars, I will step aside and personally call for the election of a new Supreme Chancellor!” Starkiller smirked under his helmet as the crowd cheered, they were eating this up like ripe Meilooruns. “To the Rebel Alliance, I offer amnesty, join us and together, we will build a better tomorrow.” Remnous raised his arms as he took in the crowd. “Will you join me in The New Regime?”
The Sith Lord kept his expression sombre as his voice boomed out across the crowd like a shockwave, silence fell over the masses as they stared in awe at Remnous. A few seconds of silence slipped by, then a cry came out from the centre of the crowd.
“Remnous!” A smile began to spread across the Sith Lord’s face as a second cry rose up the join the first. “Remnous!” Nyria bowed her head as a cheer ran along the crowd, stirring them back into frenzy. “Remnous!” “Remnous!” “Remnous!” “Remnous!”
The Emperor smirked as he closed his eyes and took in the sound of the mob chanting his name, there was no greater earthly pleasure, no sin or vice that could compare to the satisfaction and exhilaration he felt now.
“All according to plan.”
##
Lux Bonteri emerged from the Royal Palace in Iziz, the former senator squared his shoulders as he descended the first flight of stairs to the raised dais that overlooked the public square. An army of clone troopers, their amour marked with deep green paint, was marching towards the palace. How he and the others had longed to see such a sight during the Clone Wars. Lux came to a stop at the top of the second flight of stairs as the first row of clones reached the palace.
“I am Lux Bonteri, former member of the Imperial Senate, I speak for Onderon.” One of the clones stepped forward, the Trooper thumped his right fist to his chest and held it out to Lux before pulling his helmet off. He had cut his hair in the traditional military style and kept himself clean shaven.
“General Flint of the Salamanders Clone Legion, at your service Sir, we are here to deliver Emperor Remnous’s invitation to Onderon.”
“You’re quite the couriers.” Lux said sarcastically. “What invitation is that?”
“He offers Onderon a place in the New Regime, and offers you, Lux Bonteri, the position of its senator.” Lux ran a wary eye over the Clones, there were ten thousand at least, too many.
“Who am I to refuse the Emperor?”

Chapter Text

The Apprentice

The Rebel fleet reassembled at the edge of the Lothal Sector; the raids had been fruitful. The fleet had over doubled in size thanks to the addition of two Raider class cruisers, three Arquitens class light cruisers and four Gozanti cruisers, all clutching four TIE fighters each. Dozens of Advanced TIE fighters flew about the new acquisitions as their pilots got use to them. The sight put a smile on Hera's face as she set the Ghost down in Home One's main hanger bay.

"Rebel fleet, this is Admiral Ackbar, prepare to make the jump to hyperspace." The Rebel Fleet swung about in the void as they charged their hyperdrives, one by one the Rebel ships blasted into hyperspace. Mon Mothma's voice filled Hera's com as she powered down the Ghost's hyperdrive.

"We need you on the bridge General Syndulla."

"On my way." Hera stretched out her back as she stood up, sooner or later she'd have to tell the Rebel Commanders about her, condition. "Not a conversation I'm looking forward to." The Twi'lek muttered to herself as she let herself out of the cockpit.

Mothma nodded to the Twi'lek as the door to the bridge opened to admit her. Hera nodded back as she took her place next to a holographic projection of Kanan, Sabine and Rex. Mothma cleared her throat.

"I'm sure some of you are already aware of this, but we thought it was best to make sure you were all up to speed." The former senator dialled a few commands into a command console; a holographic projection appeared