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Project Olympus

Chapter Text

Being on Ossus made it easy to at least temporarily forget the war. It was early in the morning and she was on her way to the masters, the calm of the academy made sure she could replace her nightmare’s images. The last impressions faded as the first sunrays became visible on the horizon, casting a faint glow upon the buildings. This planet was steeped in history and sometimes she felt like sensing the ghosts of Jedi that were killed centuries ago. The last war had mostly spared Ossus, but even now, two years after the Yuuzhan Vong had almost destroyed the galaxy, Reyna could spot their traces and the destruction they had brought.
She stopped in front of the Solusar’s quarters, squared her shoulders and knocked. She knew she wouldn’t be able to completely hide her emotions from the masters, but she still tried.
“Come in.” Tionne’s voice was calm as the door opened without someone touching it. To Reyna’s surprise, it wasn’t just Kam and his wife, next to the heads of the academy stood Cilghal. Will was present, too, cheerful despite the hour. It was astonishing that he was able to be wide awake at this time while Reyna had had trouble to simply braid her hair.
“Masters.” She bowed respectfully before looking up, expecting an explanation. It must be an important matter, considering the time and the Jedi called to this meeting, Cilghal usually spent her time in the infirmary or the council chambers. The Mon Calamari stepped forward, activating a holoprojector. The image’s quality was terrible, but Reyna believed to recognize it as holocrons.
“The objects shown are ancient artefacts,” Tionne stated. “They are supposed to be hidden on a planet close to the deep core, probably for millennia. I found clues in my writings and Cilghal kindly helped to interpret them.”
“Their purpose or the knowledge saved is unknown,” Kam added to that. “But we do have reason to believe they contain information on healing techniques, which is why we summoned you both.”
Reyna nodded. It made sense, she had worked with Will during the war and she knew she could rely on him. He was one of their best healers. “Who else?” They could be travelling as a pair, but from experience they all knew that three was the best number of members for a mission.
“That is up to you,” Cilghal told them. “We don’t have reliable astronav charts, so it might be wise to take an experienced pilot with you. Many routes in the core are unstable.”
Will and Reyna exchanged a look and she knew they had the same idea. The Force Meld wasn’t as strong as it used to be during the war, but they still had similar thoughts.
“Leo,” Will expressed that thought. “When do we leave?”
“As soon as possible.” Tionne disabled the holocron and handed Reyna the datachip. “There aren’t many information, but it’s all we have. May the Force be with you.”
“And you.” She tucked the chip into one of the pockets on her belt, before bowing once again, this time along with Will. They left the quarters to find the academy more awake, the first students enjoyed their morning walks or just wanted to get their breakfast. Some were already occupying the training grounds. The academy was new, at least to this Jedi Order, only rebuilt after the war and the destruction of Coruscant. It had become a home to Reyna, much like the Argo, the ship on which they had lived in the war, always on their way to a new fight or from another ruined planet.
“You think he’s awake?”
“If he’s not, he should be soon.” She smiled, glad to be kept from her thoughts. “You take a look at his room, I check the workshop and we meet the spaceport in half an hour?”
“Got it.”
To her surprise, she didn’t find Leo in his workshop. This probably meant that he spent the night with Frank and Hazel and Reyna really was glad to not have taken the task of checking the bedroom. There were things about her friends she didn’t need to see and Will, being a doctor, didn’t mind as much.
The workshop seemed like chaos incarnated and Reyna didn’t even bother to take a closer look. The only one able to see the order in this chaos was Leo. She knew it would be good to have him along, not just because he was a great pilot and navigator. He was a mechanic and her ship was old, travelling through hyperspace on unstable routes would surely mean they’d need repairs sooner or later.
Will and Leo were waiting for her when she got to the hangar. She’d put a bit of armour over her robes and probably looked more like a Jedi than the other two. Leo had stains on his overall, maybe machine oil, and she doubted it would still be save in a vacuum. She knew how much he liked playing with fire. Will, however, simply wore military pants and a shirt, his pockets certainly full of medpacks.
They weren’t exactly what people had in mind when they heard the word Jedi, but they all had their lightsabers at the ready and Reyna knew what they were capable of. “Alright, let’s go.” She was the first to board the ship, put her bag down in the captain’s quarter and took her place in the cockpit. Scipio was a small vessel, barely big enough for four people, but it could be steered by one person alone and it had proven itself in the war. Reyna let Leo program the course for their first jump into hyperspace while she piloted her ship out of the hangar and the atmosphere. It only took them a few minutes to leave Ossus and make the jump towards the core. Reyna wasn’t sure why, but she felt like this wouldn’t just be a short expedition.

Chapter Text

The beginning of their journey was uneventful. They made way to the core in several, sometimes complex jumps, docked at a few spaceports and otherwise tried to not get onto each other’s nerves. At one spaceport, so tiny that Will had already forgotten its name, street kids had tried to steal from them, but that had been the most exciting part about the trip.
And now they were close to their destination, floating in empty space, around them nothing but distant stars. It reminded him of countless traps they had set for the Yuuzhan Vong. Back then they used to hide in safe distance to not draw any attention towards their ships, sometimes for hours. At least they had other reasons this time.
“We could still turn around and pretend there was nothing there.” Leo’s voice was calm, but Will heard the nervous tapping of his fingers and sensed his emotions. There weren’t many secrets among Jedi.
“Come on, it can’t be that bad.”
Reyna sounded surer than she was. None of them made any attempt to move or make the next jump, even though Leo had calculated it. Navigating the core wasn’t easy and they still had to go further in. Few people had survived to tell their stories and that wasn’t exactly the most calming thought to have in this situation. Will leaned back in the co-pilot’s seat and draped one Arm over his closed eyes. “It’s not like we have a choice, right?”
“Not really. It’s just a short jump to the planet where our target might be hidden, but we don’t have information about it – or a name, to begin with.”
“Great. But we all have a bad feeling about this. Ready for action?”
Will lowered his arm and watched as the stars became familiar lines instead of distant dots after Reyna had made the jump to hyperspace. It only lasted a few minutes and then they were back in realspace, but the cockpit’s tense silence made it seem longer. Will remembered techniques of meditation he had been taught, but even the Force was heavily influenced out here and it was hard to rely on this ally.
The planet didn’t look like much and the scanners couldn’t detect any relevant signs of life, but at least the atmosphere seemed to be fine. They still put on filter masks and protective suits while Reyna brought the ship down close to some ruins. It looked like the only remains of settlement within hundreds of klicks, if they didn’t find anything here, it could become a time consuming search.
The ground was coated in dust; this planet probably didn’t see a lot of rain. He made a mental not to write all that down. The more information on this planet they gathered the easier it might be for possible future missions. The ruins were little more than a few walls supported by rusty durasteel. No chance to tell what this used to be, what it used to look like, what kind of person used to live here. An animal cried in the distance and the darkness came faster than he was accustomed to. Of course they had had the incredible luck to only just land in the last light of day, but none of them had wanted to wait until the next morning. No one knew how long the night would last or if anything might use it for the hunt, they just wanted to leave as soon as possible.
“Ugh.” Leo came to a stop so abruptly Will almost walked right into him. “Please tell me I’m not imagining things.”
He was about to ask what Leo meant when he, too, could feel it. Reyna’s startled presence in the Force confirmed that she sensed it as well. The whole time there hadn’t been the slightest thing to notice, and now, all of a sudden, it was like walking into a wall. Like walking into an airless room on a hot day, except for the fact that it was only noticeable through the Force.
“At least we seem to be in the right place.” It was hard to filter anything from an aura so strong, but it didn’t seem to be a living being. Some of the artefacts were apparently more powerful than they had assumed and they couldn’t tell whether that was good or bad. Will couldn’t even differentiate between the light side and the dark – it was just the Force in itself.
“Let’s go. I don’t sense any threat.”
Will nodded before following Reyna. There really wasn’t any threat to notice, just overwhelming power no one had expected to find. It didn’t mean they became careless, the three of them moved through the ruins looking for the precise source and a possible entrance. Their lightsabers were close at hand and they had formed a light version of their battle mend. It wasn’t necessary to fully rely on it, but it certainly helped navigating in the rapidly darkening night.
It was Leo who found what they had been looking for. They had been able to localize a small area where the artefact’s presence was strongest and much to their surprise the house was mostly intact. Abandoned, of course, and scarred by time, but Will was able to tell what it must’ve looked like. If that was due to the artefact’s aura, they needed to be prepared for some really interesting relics. Through an archway they entered something that used to be something like a parlour, overgrown with local plants, but still distinguishable as such.
Life on this planet seemed to be nocturnal, they kept flinching as animals kept screaming. It was impossible to say if it was out of pain or the simple search for fellow species. That answer would require a longer stay, but not even Will’s interest in biology was big enough to voluntarily return. Maybe Cilghal would send someone or use her contacts when he told her, but most Jedi still fought with the war’s aftermath.
“Over here,” Leo called after a while of searching the room. They didn’t know if the plants were poisonous, so they kept their distance and moved carefully. Their lightsabers were ignited, but not nearly bright enough to really see that much. The entrance Leo had found was barely more than a hole in the wall and Will believed to see stairs leading down.
“I hope this won’t collapse when we’re down there. But it seems to be the only way.”
“It’s our best chance.” Reyna produced a glowrod from one of her pockets and was the first to set foot on the narrow steps. Stair was too nice of a description, it was barely more than hollowed rock and they all had to steady themselves with the Force more than once. They let out sighs of relief when they finally reached the bottom. Reyna lifted her arm with the glowrod to illuminate the basement – or whatever it was.
“Oh.” That was all he was currently capable of. Will had studied the holos the masters had given them, but he would never have expected to find an entire archive. Most of the place was taken up by datacards, ancient and probably full of long lost knowledge. Between them were stacks of Flimsiplast, so fragile they decided to stay away from them.
And then there were the important artefacts, so powerful that it was a wonder no one had found them until now. However, considering the fact that they hadn’t sensed anything before reaching a certain area around them, there probably was some kind of shielding device and that was something he wanted to learn more about.
“We can’t possibly take everything with us.”
“We could, but we’d have to sleep in the cockpit and take all the stuff somewhere before even thinking about going anywhere else.” Leo grinned and looked a little creepy in the glowrod’s dim light. “Take what we need and send someone to pick up the rest?”
He nodded. “I’ll talk to Cilghal. You have the coordinates?”
“Sure. I’ll give them to you once we’re back.”
“Alright.” Will glanced around, not sure where to begin. The room was too big. “What about defences?”
“I deactivated one upstairs, the rest is too old to still function. We shouldn’t get into trouble.”
“Should.” That wasn’t exactly reassuring. If Leo had missed just one mechanism, this mission could end before really starting.
“Even if there’s something left,” Reyna stepped in. “Regarding the architecture, I’d expect poison. That shouldn’t be lethal after all this time.”
“Now, that’s reassuring.” Leo strolled into a random direction, so Will decided to walk the other way, while Reyna checked the center. Whoever built this archive, they must’ve had a sense of order. Will didn’t recognize the alphabet used, but he saw the units made up by characters. He ignored everything that didn’t give off a sense of the Force, someone else could take care of that later, only artefacts and the places they might lead to were important now.
In the end they had surprisingly few artefacts with them. They didn’t have the time to search every corner, that was a job for the scientists, but they had found the greatest source of power. It seemed to be a holocron; they’d be able to find out more once they were back at the ship. Another holocron was there, smaller and not as remarkable and they had almost overlooked it. To this they had added two stones with strange engravings – their purpose wasn’t clear. There was a lot they had to find out, but they’d had enough of ruins for now. With the holocrons safely stowed away in some bags, they made their way back to the ship. Especially the bigger one radiated energy so strongly they didn’t dare to touch it longer than necessary. Even Leo, who handled fire like it was nothing, kept his distance.
Will began to wonder what they had gotten themselves into. They had known how dangerous a journey to the core would be, but they hadn’t expected to discover such a powerful artefact right at the beginning. He really was curious what they’d find out.
~
She didn’t like having these artefacts on her ship. Reyna knew it was necessary, but as long as she couldn’t tell what sort of information was saved in the holocrons, she wouldn’t be able to sleep in peace. Will had stored the items in the Medbay before holding a long talk with Master Cilghal. Leo had just fallen into his bunk, ignoring everything on board, so she and Will had decided to get some rest before trying to open the holocrons.
Reyna sat cross-legged on the floor after tossing and turning in her bed for a while. The presences of Will and Leo, both calm and relaxed, helped her focus and get herself into the meditation. Her breath became even, her heartbeat slow, her thoughts free. It couldn’t replace sleep forever, but it would make sure she was fit enough to extract information from a holocron.
A knock on the door pulled her out of the trance a few hours later. She regained most of her strength and was fit enough to follow Leo to the Medbay where Will handed her a nutrition bar without comment. It tasted like nothing, but it was easy and space-saving to store and during the war they had spent weeks eating nothing else. One got used to it.
“I’d say we start with the smaller one,” she suggested after they had all had their sparse breakfast. “It seems less dangerous and I’m not too keen on accidents.”
“Sounds good.” Will moved skilfully through the room, despite its narrowness, and placed the holocron on the operating table. It was still the biggest room on this ship and they didn’t have to stand on each other’s toes. “Cilghal said she’d get in touch with some people, maybe even send Ella. If there’s someone able to translate those texts, it’s her.” He propped himself up on the edge of the table, eyeing the holocron warily. “She also told me to follow the information, should we discover more clues. If there are more artefacts, the Order should have them.”
Reyna nodded. The Rishii were an extraordinary species, rarely found outside their home planet, but Ella had been aiding the Jedi Order and especially Tionne for a long time now. She certainly was the best choice for a task like this. Reyna suspected their own mission to be a lot more complicated. “Fine.” She probably stared at the holocron the same way Will did. It had no ornaments and wasn’t nearly as strong in the Force as the other one, currently lying on a shelf between the two stones.
She stretched her arms to both sides and took the hands of her companions to make the mending easier. They had done it while one different ships, but they had the chance to use every advantage and it would be stupid to risk anything. As always, she needed a moment to get used to the other presences in her own mind, then they reached out, three people as one.
It was easier than expected to find a way into the structure. Reyna knew of holocrons containing their creator’s spirit, but this one seemed to have been created for nothing but the storage of knowledge. Information poured out of the holocron, but with three people working on it, they had no trouble filtering them to skim the rough contents. The greater part appeared to be medical knowledge and after a short impulse – Reyna didn’t know who had been the origin of that – they retreated. It might prove useful to have, but it was not what they were looking for.
“Well, that confirms Cilghal’s theory.” Will rubbed the back of his neck and viewed the holocron carefully. “Although I doubt we’ll find anything like that in the other holocron. It possibly just a coincidence they were in the same collection.”
“I’ll gladly let you evaluate the rest of it.” Leo squared his shoulders and rolled his to loosen the muscles. “Medicine was never my area.”
“Except for when I need to heal your blisters.”
“Right, I got you for that. I don’t need to do it.” He sighed deeply. “Do we risk the second one? I’d like to have a lead on where to go next.”
The second holocron certainly was a greater challenge. It was harder to control or even to reach and Reyna suspected the stones to have an influence there, maybe some kind of shielding technique. It would also explain why it had only been perceptible in a certain area.
They sank deeper into meditation, their consciousness almost floating and their attention getting closer to the unknown pattern, slowly and carefully as not to destroy anything. This holocron was a lot older than the former and they could easily do harm by accident. Her head began to hurt as they dug deeper and were able to see the first shreds of information. They made no sense, were nothing but names and terms none of them had ever heard of. They felt the shields working against them and had to bypass a lot of invisible walls by pressuring or turning around. That was something they should take care of in the future.
Reyna stumbled a little as they detached themselves from the mend and she was herself again. Will and Leo looked like she felt, exhausted from their permanent fight against the shields. Her throat felt dry and she smiled gratefully while taking the bottle of water Will had taken from one of the closets. She needed a few sips to be able to speak again without coughing.
“Looks like we have our goal.”
“Kampe,” Leo repeated the name they had seen or heard that was hard to tell when working with a holocron through the Force. “Never heard of it, but it’s got to be in the core.” He had collapsed into a chair and didn’t look like he was willing to go to the cockpit and program the jump into hyperspace. They’d have to work together anyway; she doubted they’d be able to find an existing route to this planet.
“What about the rest? I mean, it was completely incoherent, but has anyone ever heard of a Project Olympus?”
Reyna shook her head. “We might find more about it if we keep looking. For now, though, we should focus on Kampe, I have a feeling like we’ll need our strength there. And maybe it’ll hold further clues.”
It was very little information, merely snippets and the name of a project, plus the name and coordinates of a planet, but it was a start. They would find more of it. Reyna retreated to her quarter and began working on a first report for the council on Ossus, to be sent once they left the core again.

Chapter Text

Kampe wasn’t exactly a pretty planet. They had been able to find a little data, most of the surface was taken up by a desert and an imperial base had been here a few years ago, but the planet was abandoned today. Will doubted they’d be able to stock up on supplies here, but at least they had reached their target. More than once they had feared to have found an instable route, more than once they had feared the ship wouldn’t make it.

He sensed the danger just in time. “Careful!” Reyna steered the ship to the side right as he shouted. They barely escaped the hit and he cursed himself for not thinking about possible defences. There were remains of an imperial base on that planet, of course the automatic anti-aircraft guns were still functional. The next minutes were blurry, Reyna followed his directions while Leo worked on some basic repairs, trying the best he could without getting thrown through the cockpit. The alarm sounded the entire time.

All three of them were drenched in sweat when they could finally land below the weapon’s reach. Or maybe the systems had identified them as friendly – whatever it was, they were glad to be alive.
“How bad is it?” Reyna seemed more worried about her ship than about herself, but Will knew she would’ve sensed injuries within the crew. The ship was harder to read.

Leo didn’t look happy. “I can repair most of it and with a little luck I might be able to find the needed parts in the base. If not, we are in trouble. We won’t survive a jump through hyperspace in this condition, maybe not even a flight in the atmosphere.”

“Send a distress signal,” he suggested. “There’s little hope for it to be successful, but at least this planet is not off records. Someone might notice.”

“It’s worth a shot.” Leo busied himself with the consoles and it was a relief to see that at least the communication hadn’t been damaged. “I stay for the repairs,” he suggested. “You two go and take a look around?”

“Got it. Contact us if anyone calls.” Reyna wrapped her cloak around her upper body and Will, despite being human and having grown up on a tropical planet, followed her example. As a Chiss, she was better suited for cold planets. They checked their weapons one last time before leaving Leo to his work. The damage looked even worse on the outside, the hull had taken some pretty bad hits.

Will sent confidence through the Force. He knew how much Scipio meant to her, the ship had saved her life more than once. “Come on, Leo will fix it. Let’s take a look at imperial secrets.”

Not that it was likely to still find any secrets, but it would still be interesting. They hadn’t been alive to witness the Empire, Will had been born shortly after the Battle of Endor, Reyna only after the New Jedi Order had been founded. They still knew the stories and the Imperial Remnants. That, combined with the attacks they had faced, was enough to make them suspicious of what might be waiting for them. The cannons lay still now, placed on the base’s corners and scarred by years in the desert. Maybe they really weren’t able to acquire targets below a certain height.

The door opened with a squeaking sound, but without any problems. The inside of the building was filled with sand and abandoned tools, nothing here radiating power in the Force. Will hadn’t expected to find anything just yet, above the ground, the kind of information they sought wouldn’t have been left behind by the imperials. The base was too modern to hold any ancient information, it was more likely they’d find – or create – a hidden entrance to someplace below these building.

Reyna nudged him towards a staircase at the far end of the corridor they were standing in. The doors had been closed and there were no windows, so it was comparatively clean. The stairwell was dark, all light in the base long lost and the faint glow from outside not strong enough to really see anything. They could rely on the Force, though, and didn’t need to use their glowrods up here.

“Down is good, right?” He had never felt as comfortable underground as Hazel, but he had a feeling like he’d have plenty of time to get used to it during this mission. At least there were proper stairs here where he didn’t have to fear slipping and breaking his bones all the time. Every step blew up dust and he was glad for the coat that protected his face.

“Any idea?” Reyna glanced around as they reached the bottom. It was pleasantly cool down here, the walls kept the heat out.

“Let’s try over there.” He pointed to the respective direction, not for Reyna to see, it was too dark for that, but she could sense his movement. Will hoped that the Imperials had simply sealed any entrance they found while building the base – it would be extremely unpleasant should grave robbers or treasure hunters have taken everything.

~
Will leaned against a wall, drew strength from the Force and drank a little water. They hadn’t been able to take much with them; the supplies had to last for their journey back to civilized planets. It had taken them a long time and all their senses to search every corner and finally stop in front of an unremarkable archway, probably barred for centuries now. They didn’t sense much behind it, just empty space, and maybe that was why the Imperials had never bothered to take a closer look.

“Everything alright?”

He nodded. “I’m fine. We should keep going, it seems to be a good lead.”

“We should’ve brought more equipment.”

“Next time. This won’t be the last place we have to search.” He took a glowrod from his belt and lighted it. “Also generators,” he added as he realized what else they had forgotten. The complex was bigger than expected and he didn’t want to go any further in complete darkness. There was something down here, something that was starting to meddle with his senses.

“Let me tell Leo to write that on the list.” Reyna paused. “Okay, we’ll tell him when we get back. Or is your Komlink working?”

She didn’t sound hopeful and they only needed seconds to find out that it was, in fact, not working. They were on their own now. “It’ll be okay.”

Reyna snorted. “At least we won’t have to expect Vong down here.”

Eventually, he almost wished it had been Vong. He had fought them often enough to know how to handle himself in combat. Instead, they found ancient defence mechanisms and even though most of them were easy to avoid, they both only sensed the upcoming danger when it was too late. The skeletons should have been a warning.

Will wanted to shout something, but the hallway collapsed above them and none of them had the time to make a sound, he only managed to throw himself to one side. Just a moment later, he realized that that hadn’t been the best idea. Instead of hitting the wall, he found a passage, stumbling down a few steps and having trouble to regain his balance.

He got on his feet, activated lightsaber in hand. The glowrod was lost somewhere, in return the ceiling lights flickered and he had to realize that the systems here were completely intact. A grenade rolled towards him and he could shield himself just in time. The blast wave still knocked him back into the wall, his head hurt and he tried to parry the upcoming blaster fire despite barely being able to rely on his senses.

A Force push brought him out of the endangered area and for a second he thought it was Reyna, but the presence was different and the lightsaber yellow instead of blue. In his state, he needed a few moments to notice that it was a double blade. Nico.

That explained why the presence was familiar, they had worked together during the war, but the contact had faded afterwards. A shame, really, Will had always liked him and he was once again fascinated by the ease with which Nico wielded the two blades. It was ancient weapon, unknown to the New Jedi Order until Nico had shown up. Will used the Force to get back up and steady himself. He didn’t dare to stand, but sitting was good for now.

He knew he wouldn’t be of much help, so he took care of himself first, pulling one of the smaller medpacks from his pocket and chose a stimulator to help his natural healing abilities – if he managed to inject it.
“Hold still.” He looked up as Nico knelt down beside him and took the stimulator from him before placing one hand on his thigh and injecting the remedy. He immediately felt better, shaking less and accepting Nico’s help to stand up.

“Thanks,” he muttered, taking a few deep breaths and daring careful steps into room. The stimulator worked, though Will knew it wouldn’t help for long. For the first time, he was able to take a look around. The droids that had attacked him were scrap and the walls decorated with a writing that reminded him of Aurebesh. He didn’t know what Hephaestos meant, but the first letter was to be found on the droid’s hulls as well.

“Why are you here?” Maybe that wasn’t the best question to start this conversation. He just didn’t expect anyone to show up here, much less someone like Nico.
“Your distress signal. Leo told me you had been gone for hours, so I decided to follow.”

Will nodded slowly, ignoring his headache. “Guess we were lucky.” He moved towards the only entrance, realizing that there were fewer steps than he’d thought. The adrenaline had probably made it seem like more. Nico followed him, a small figure in dark robes, not much of a fighter at first sight. However, Will knew what he was capable of and was glad they were on the same side. “Have you seen Reyna?”
Nico shook his head. “The entire corridor collapsed, the way is buried under stone, but there are other paths.”

They didn’t have any glowrods left and the lights didn’t work everywhere, but Nico didn’t seem to be having trouble navigating through this labyrinth. He paused from time to time, to orientate himself, then he proceeded following dark passages, only speaking when he warned Will of the ceiling being lower. Will focused on his presence, not on the surroundings, that was easier than trying to memorize the way.
They stopped in a narrow hallway, unnoticed by the droids. Whatever ways Nico had found, they had allowed them to reach Reyna without being spotted. She lay in the middle of the room ahead, surrounded by battle droids that once again carried the sign they had seen before. Will didn’t know how well their sensors worked, but they seemed to believe she was unconscious. He knew better, could sense that she only pretended as he reached out to her in the Force.

“Distract them.” A quiet voice, almost too close, and then Nico disappeared. Will felt himself shiver before focusing on the task he had been given. Nico’s presence was only detectable when he concentrated on it, and even then he couldn’t determine his position.

Distraction. He could do that. He just had to prevent them from noticing Nico and give his friend a chance to attack. Will felt Reyna sharing her strength with him and stepped into the room, immediately being noticed. He didn’t know why they hadn’t already killed Reyna maybe they just reacted to movement and she lay as still as she could, almost in trance. They did react to him and he likely survived only because of the stimulator and Reyna’s influence. That wasn’t exactly what he’d had in mind, but then again, he hadn’t really thought about how to distract them.

The first wave of attack was the most dangerous, then he was once again able to use Soresu the way he’d learned, using his green lightsaber to deflect the bolts into the walls. It worked, because the sentinels concentrated on him and the whole situation went to chaos as Nico showed up behind the droids, bringing destruction to their ranks. They were confused, didn’t know where to shoot first and began spinning in circles or opening fire on each other. As fast as the system was, it obviously wasn’t made for attacks from various sides – or maybe it was too old to still function correctly. Reyna got up, joined the fight and it didn’t take long for them to dispose of the sentinels.

“We should get back.” Reyna stood in the middle of droid scrap and looked mostly unharmed. “I found a datacard and I’m sure we can extract further information from the holocron if we make a more specific search.”

“Right. We need rest and we need better equipment should we want to find more down here. First, though, back to the ship.”

It was a silent walk. Will hadn’t even realized how much time they had spent underground, but the sun was rising again as they left the imperial base. They had left the previous afternoon – it seemed like they had gone deeper than he’d expected, even though a great part of the time had been spent on the search for an entrance. He had lost his coat somewhere, so he kept his head down and used the Force as he crossed the short field between the base and the ship. Reyna wasn’t better off, maybe even worse, her hair was cobwebbed and her clothes dusty. Will doubted he looked better, but the sun, especially this early, didn’t bother him as much.

Nico’s small starfighter stood next to Scipio, unimpressive and certainly equipped with a cloaking device. It still amazed Will that he’d been close enough to receive their signal, but without him he’d just be another dead body in an abandoned facility.

Leo waited for them with a concerned look on his face, but before he could say anything, Reyna mumbled something about a shower and disappeared in the direction of their only sanisteam. Leo raised an eyebrow and his expression went to confused pretty fast.

“Old battle droids and a few traps.” Will didn’t know what he preferred right now – food, a shower or his bed – but he hurried to get inside the ship. At least it was air-conditioned here. And he got the chance to sit down.

“Did you find anything?”

“Not as much as we hoped for. Reyna has a datacard and there was writing on the walls.” Will sighed. The stimulator wore off and he realized a lot faster how tired he really was. Sleep sounded great, but he also needed that shower, so he had to stay awake. “What about the repairs?”

“Bad news. Most of it is done, but I couldn’t find anything to help us with the engine. If I can’t repair that, we’re stuck.”

Without a functioning engine, their chances really weren’t that good. They wouldn’t even be able to take off right now. Much to his surprise, it was Nico who had solution at hand. “My ship’s working. If you take me with you, you can take what you need.”

Both Will and Leo were too confused to answer for a second. Nico, willingly joining a group of people? Ever since Percy and Annabeth had found him on Belsavis during the war, he’d mostly travelled alone. Will didn’t know the details about his agreement with Master Skywalker, but Nico was a part of the Order in his own way.

“Great!” Leo seemed as if he wanted to clap him on the back, but one look from Nico prevented that. “Get your stuff and I’ll see what I can do.”

A few minutes later, he was alone in the common area, listening to the shower Reyna didn’t want to give up. Will hoped she’d hurry, otherwise he might fall asleep right here and now. Nico returning to the ship at least provided a distraction, Leo had stayed outside to take care of the repairs.

“Here.” He opened the door to the last unoccupied quarter. The rooms were small, containing nothing but a bed and a few drawers, but it was enough. Nico just had a small bag anyway, Jedi usually didn’t own much. “I’m right next to you, just knock if you need anything.”

Chapter Text

They had gathered around the small table, placed in the middle of the ship and barely big enough for four plates. Will had used the food processor to create a meal for them, better than ration bars, but still pre-cooked and deep-frozen. They’d only been away for a few days and he already missed the temple’s food. None of them had any notable appetite; Reyna and Will were still worn out from their journey, even after enjoying a shower and a few hours of sleep. Leo was still busy with the repairs and Nico generally just stared into his food as though he wanted to kill it a second time.

“You should eat,” he advised, resulting in a death glare instead of an answer. Will ignored that. “Seriously, how do you survive? You can’t live off the Force alone!”

“Of course I can.” Nico crossed his arms, deliberately not looking at his plate.

“Yeah, well, not while you’re with us. I’m a doctor; I’m responsible for your health as well, so eat. My cooking skills aren’t that bad.”

Nico didn’t seem excited, but he complied. This time, at least, Will doubted he’d often be successful. They were both to stubborn to just leave it. Leo tried to hide his smile behind a cup of caf – which didn’t work – while Reyna made no attempt of hiding her amusement in the Force. Will ignored both of them.

A little later, they were once again gathered in the Medbay to risk another approach towards the information – hopefully towards something more than fragments. They had Nico and he had agreed to help them, so Will was positive they’d succeed. A Master, one so powerful as well, should make a difference.

Will had never learned the exact circumstances under which Nico had been named Jedi-Master, only that it happened well before the stasis chamber. He didn’t know much about those times, but he doubted that it had been common practice to give that title to a twenty-year-old. Nico’s accomplishments must’ve been incredible and he really wished he knew more about them.

His strength was impressive. Will knew Nico only shared his powers and kept hiding his feelings which the rest of them didn’t do – they’d stopped trying during the war, it took too much of their energy and they didn’t exactly have secrets anyway.

Avoiding the shields was a lot easier this time and that certainly didn’t just happen because three of them already knew this procedure. Nico’s presence helped a lot, though Will could feel that it wasn’t as simple as he pretended. The exhaustion was barely noticeable, but he was a healer, he was trained to sense it. Hephaestos seemed to have been a good keyword, they mostly stumbled upon images and impressions of weapons and armours, but there were also were factories and hyperspace lanes.

Leo seemed to process the data better than anyone else so the rest switched to supporting him, adding their powers to his so it wouldn’t be too much for him. Will still felt the tension, Leo’s fingers were wrapped tightly around his own because he had to hold on to something. Reyna probably had to endure that as well – a stark contrast to Nico, whose hand in Will’s was barely noticeable.

Leo was also the one to resolve their mend and leave the trance, gasping for air. He let go of Will and Reyna, grasping the edge of the table and breathing deeply. “Bad news,” he told them after a few seconds. “We have to go back down.”

Reyna frowned. “Are you sure?”

“Something should be down there. I couldn’t see it clearly, but it looked like blueprints – might be a battle ship, so we shouldn’t leave it lying around. Who knows what kind of people discover it otherwise.”

“You sure it’s not on the datacard?”

“Pretty much. That seems to contain general information about the project if I got that right.”

“Alright,” Will sighed. “You coming with us?”

“Definitely not.” Leo straightened himself and grinned. “I will pass my time with the ship and the datacard, you guys can have fun down there.”

“Then we should get going.”

“Forget it, you need to rest.” For the second time, he had to hold Nico’s glare. Not that it bothered him. “I’m a healer, don’t even try to hide that from me. We’ll leave in a few hours once we’re all rested.” He saw Nico’s gaze flicker to Reyna, but Will knew she wouldn’t object. They were no good as long as they weren’t in full possession of their powers.

~
Night dawned as they regrouped in the common area. Leo had made himself comfortable and studied the datacard, taking notes on flimsiplast and muttering comments.

Will brushed Nico’s hand as he walked by, just briefly, but it was enough to notice how much better he was. He might not be willing to admit that, but the few hours of rest had helped him.

They were actually prepared this time, had glowsticks and scanners at their belts and at least they knew where to go and what to expect. A comfortable silence spread between them as they walked across the desert sand in the last light of Kampe’s sun.

Finding their way was easier now, they just had to follow their previous path instead of wasting time and energy on finding the hidden entrance. He passed the spot where he and Reyna had been forced to part ways with an uneasy feeling, but the trap seemed to have done its duty and was now completely harmless. They didn’t try moving the rubble, instead Nico once again managed to find his way through the labyrinth.

It got more difficult once they reached the chamber where they had found Reyna. Something had removed the droid’s remains and they exchanged a look, displaying shared concern. Something had to be alive or functioning down here.

“Where to? It’s not like the holocron, I can’t sense anything.”

Nico shook his head. “There’re no Force-powered artefacts around. Maybe more datacards or something like that, but if there really are information, they’ll be further down.”

“Still further?” He grimaced, not able to sense distances in this complex. There was nothing but the dim light and the presences of his companions comfortingly close.

“We’re still close to the surface. The building’s huge – too much for us to explore.”

“Let’s find the datacard and leave,” Reyna suggested. ”I don’t want to know what else lurks in these corridors.”

“No one does.” Nico looked like he’d already experienced enough things in ancient facilities to be done for a lifetime. Will decided he didn’t want to meet any of those things. The droids had been more than sufficient to make him wary.

“Come on. The sooner we find it the sooner we know where to head. I’ve had enough of this planet.”

They didn’t disagree. Sunlight was nice, but not on Kampe. Hopefully they’d get to see a more pleasant location during the next part of this mission.

For a few minutes, they silently followed hallways, descending stairwells and steep ramps while it got colder and colder. They paused from time to time, defused traps or sprang them through a well-placed piece of rubble. There were no droids or other sentinels and that was as comforting as it was unsettling.

Considering their luck the enemy forces might be gathered in a single room to protect what the Jedi had come for. Sure, they had fought the Yuuzhan Vong without dying, but back then they had been able to rely on the entire Argo crew, sometimes Nico or other Jedi as well. Right now, they were on their own. They couldn’t even contact Leo in a worst case scenario.

The first place where they encountered droids was some kind of outer office with various doors leading to various rooms. They seemed to be getting closer to the administration part of the complex and that could be a good sign. Before they got the chance to think about what else they might find, they had to fend off the droids – too many to make it a quick fight.

He was just about to ask his friends for possible strategies when all of a sudden every droid aimed its weapon at them. So much for going in unnoticed.

“Surrender,” said one of the clinical, artificial voices. One droid came forth, his arm – or, to be precise, the blastercanon that was his arm – pointed at them. “You’ve come far, but this ends now. I watched you and I can have my droids open fire anytime.”

Great. An AI that seemed to have developed an almost human personality over the years was just what they needed.

“You control them? That’s impressive.”

Will frowned as he heard Reyna speak. Even Nico didn’t try hiding his confusion.

“Of course!” Did the droid seriously assume a proud pose or was that just his brain not working correctly? “This entire complex is under my supervision.”

“That has to be a lot of work, considering the importance of this place.”

“That’s why I was chosen.” He actually seemed flattered by Reyna’s words. Will exchanged a look with Nico who appeared to be confident again and who nodded slightly.

“They couldn’t have made a better chose,” he added, having understood Reyna’s plan. Hopefully they’d be able to distract the droid long enough for them to complete the mission. If his last order had been “halt” instead of “kill them once I die” they could get out of here alive. They just had to make sure he was focused on them.

“My masters knew I was the best! I was chosen to guard their secret.”

“And you’re doing an amazing job.” Reyna spoke a little too hasty, but he didn’t seem to notice that there were only two people left standing in the doorway. Will hoped the droid didn’t have cortosis-armouring, that would seriously cause trouble.

“It’s nice to see some appreciation for my work.” Will about to relax a little when the blastercanon was once again raised and aimed at them. “That doesn’t mean I will spare your lives! I can’t allow you to find the plans.”

So there actually were plans and they had gotten close. Will stared at the weapon, trying not to back down and to prepare himself for a fight, but Nico’s timing was perfect and the droid not made of cortosis or any other lightsaber-resistant metal. Instead, there were explosives built into the chassis and Nico’s strike caused them to blow up.

For a moment, he could feel nothing but his and Reyna’s shock while the explosion shook the ground and droids collapsed, not controlled anymore. There had to be a self-destruct mechanism in that damn thing – one that would activate when the droid was cut with a lightsaber, the only weapon able to damage the metal. Will was relieved when he saw Nico mostly unharmed because he’d managed to build up his defence just in time. A shrapnel had caused a wound on his arm and Will didn’t need to understand the language to know Nico was swearing.

“And I thought the I stood for intelligence.” He stared at the center of the explosion before heading into Nico’s direction. “That obviously wasn’t the case anymore.”

“I’m glad that worked. Would’ve been pretty embarrassing otherwise.”

Will nodded. “And we’d be dead. What language was that?”

“Mandaba.” Nico shrugged. “And a few others.”

That sounded like Nico. He still didn’t know how many languages he spoke or at least understood, but he knew that some of them weren’t even spoken anymore. “Let me see,” he pointed to the wounded arm.

Nico hesitated and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth fighting over. He wordlessly turned to the side and let Will inspect the wound. Reyna already busied herself with opening the doors to the offices and looking for anything useful. The cut wasn’t deep, yet Will couldn’t help but notice all the other scars and wonder where they’d come from. He knew better than to ask about them, Nico would just glare at him.

It got a lot easier without the droids. The vaults were no match for their lightsabers and even though most of them only contained useless junk they managed to find some datacards and even a memory card that projected the holo of a battle ship when activated. Will shivered at the thought of this getting into the wrong hands.

They were on their way back, had almost reached the remains of the Imperial base, when Nico suddenly stopped. “We should make sure no one else gets down here.”

“What do you have in mind?” Reyna didn’t get an answer and Will pulled her a few steps back when Nico raised his arms. Great parts of the ceiling came crashing down, whirling up dust and debris and making him cough. Nico didn’t seem to notice, he just smiled thinly as he saw the result. The corridor was barred and anyone who tried to explore would have to clear the rubble – Will doubted he would’ve been able to cause such an effective blockade, but Nico had had no trouble moving the mass of rock.

“Let’s go. We have work to do.”

Chapter Text

Leo was busy creating a hologram when they returned to the ship. Reyna put the datacards on the table and carefully placed the memory card next to them. She didn’t know what was on the cards, but it probably was the memory card that had led the creators to leave an AI as a guardian. They couldn’t have known that the centuries would make the program go crazy.

Reyna was still amazed that her improvised plan had worked out. She wasn’t the best actor and flattery wasn’t like her, but it had gone smoothly, so she wasn’t going to complain.

“Good, you’re back.” Leo pressed a button and the diagram was projected into the air. “I have put together the information we already have,” he began. “Project Olympus is the center of it. It remains a mystery but I’m confident we’ll be getting there. Everything else seems to be built upon these words.” He switched to one of the branches that looked depressingly empty. “Hephaestus. “Kampe belongs to it along with other coordinates, which bring me to our next goal.”

Reyna listened attentively. So he had used the time well. Below the writing Hephaestus were several coordinates, Kampe was already marked.

“Besides, there are plans for weapons and armour and also factory layouts. I even found information on defense mechanisms, but I’m not sure if those really belong there, the signature was different so it may be another part of the project.” He pressed another button and a second line showed up, leading to unknown which was also connected to the center.

“You think it’s made of several parts?”

“I’m pretty sure. There are clues about a list containing the names of all those parts, if we get that, it might be a useful tool.”

“So what’s the catch?” Will sat on the bench across from Leo and stared into the hologram.

“Our goal is in the Unknown Regions. We don’t know much about it, has anyone ever heard of Lehon?”

“Yes.” To her surprise, Nico had spoken. Maybe the planet had been more widely known during his own time. “I can’t give you much, but it’s known as Rakata Prime and I certainly know the Rakata.”

“Great, so we have an expert on board.”

Nico snorted. “Knowing them doesn’t mean I like them. I met one who was okay.”

“That’s reassuring.” Will lifted his gaze from the holo. “So, let’s go to the Unknown Regions! Do we have a location on the planet?”

“A temple, if I got that right. Some kind of important place.”

“Temple of the Ancients?”

It shouldn’t surprise her that Nico knew a lot more than the rest of them. They had never actually gotten the chance to study history, of course he had all the knowledge of the time before his stasis.

“Could be, yeah.”

Nico leaned back and allowed the hood of his cloak fall down for a change. His hair fell loosely into his face and he seemed to be thinking about something. “I don’t know what happened there during the last millennia,” he began. “But the temple has always been an important place. As a child, I was warned about it, people said that it contained a connection to the Star Forge. Revan visited the planet because of it.” He shook his head. “The Rakata used to rule over a powerful empire, their technologies are extraordinary. If we really need to go there, we’ll have to be ready for anything.”

~

Reyna couldn’t sleep. They had set course for Lehon and Nico had promised to gather any information he had on Rakata and their artefacts. They all deserved a little rest and they should use the journey through hyperspace to relax, but her thoughts wouldn’t let her sleep. She sat at the table instead, read Leo’s notes and tried to discover a scheme behind everything.

She was about to put the flimsi aside and grab the datacards, when one of the cabin doors opened with a slight hiss. Nico didn’t even look at her, he just mumbled something about caf and dragged his feet towards the dispenser before he sat down across from her. He looked more walking corpse than human, his hair dishevelled and his clothes crinkled from sleeping in them.

“Nightmare?”

He just nodded and didn’t seem like he wanted to give any details. He must’ve seen a lot and sometimes even Reyna wasn’t sure what to think of him, but he had helped her after the events with her father and she thought of him as a friend.

“Care to help me?”

He gave her a questioning look and she slid the datacards towards him. It was clear that he didn’t care for conversation, but it wouldn’t help her if he just sat there and stared into his caf as if plotting to murder the beverage. He took a big sip and for a moment she wondered if he even felt pain – the caf was still hot, how did he not burn himself?

They worked quietly for a while, put the encrypted datacards on one side for Leo to take care of – slicing was his speciality rather than theirs – and cursed from time to time when they once again found nothing but maintenance orders or shopping lists. Only the card they’d found during their first trip had actually contained information on the project so far. It was tiring to go through endless numbers and lists.

It did support Leo’s theory of a big project – the administration effort was too enormous for the project to only contain a few planets. They also had yet to discover a great part of the Holocron’s data, Reyna had a feeling like they’d only scratched the surface.

“Cleaning rosters.” Nico snorted and threw the datacard on the table. “I bet the interesting stuff is protected,” he guessed before grabbing a few pages flimsiplast and beginning to write something. Reyna couldn’t decipher anything but the word Rakata. It was probably a more useful task than looking at datacards with no relevant information. At least he didn’t look like killing something anymore.

She looked at her chrono and startled when she realized it had almost been two standard hours of sitting here. It wasn’t far to Corellia anymore where they could restock on supplies and fuel. Reyna wasn’t sure what to think of it – last time she’d seen her home, her father had still been alive. It could still be good to see the world where she’d lived before joining the Jedi Order.

The alarm sounded and the ship fell into real space. Reyna hurried to shut down the sound before Will and Leo could wake up. The sun was rising over Coronet City as she brought her ship down and waited for ground control.

“Coronet Spaceport to shuttle Scipio, please state the cause of your stay.”

“This is Scipio, we need supplies and fuel. Transmitting clearance codes.” She hoped the Jedi Order codes wouldn’t instantly mark her as enemy of the state, one could never know with Corellians.

“You have permission to land.” The conversation ended with a clicking sound and Reyna took a deep breath. She followed the coordinates to a small hangar, sensing Nico in her cockpit who thoughtfully stared onto the city.

“Last time I was here, the Empire had just attacked.”

He didn’t seem to want to give any details, despite her curious look. This planet seemed to hold some bad memories for him and even if he hid his feelings behind a wall in the force she could see the pain and the disappointment in his eyes. Whatever he had experienced here, it couldn’t have been pleasant.

~

Coronet was busy this time of the day. People were on their way to work or back from the night shifts, merchants were opening their booths, droids walked through the crowd and speeders barely missed each other. Part of her had missed this rush but mostly she was well aware of the fact that people stared at her.

The Republic’s relation to the Chiss had improved since the war and the support of people like Jagged Fel, yet many citizens backed away when they noticed the red eyes. Reyna didn’t complain, it allowed her to peacefully walk around the market without having to push through the crowd.

Nico had stayed at the ship, watching the workers refilling their fuel tanks. She was sure no one would care to try and cheat them – she’d felt the people’s discomfort even when had just stood there, the hood covering his face and clad in black robes.

Reyna mentally recalled the shopping list she had saved on her Datapad. Caf was on the top, she felt like they were all going to need a lot of it. Canned foods and ration bars were added to that, plus a lot of other nutritious stuff. It wouldn’t taste good, but it would keep them alive. Scipio didn’t have a big cargo hold, but Reyna knew exactly how much she was able to order without getting a storage problem. She entered a small store, knowing she’d get everything there.

The owner was friendly but tried to bargain for every advantage. Maybe he expected her to accept the first offer, but she was Chiss and Corellian, she knew how to make a satisfying deal for both sides.

“Pleasure doing business with you.” The man smiled, happy after the tough bargaining. “I’ll have the goods delivered to your ship.”

Reyna nodded and let one hand fall on the hilt of her lightsaber. Just a precaution in case he thought about betraying her. “Thank you.”

She left the store and decided to not go back just yet. She could wait for the droids to arrive with her stuff, but she could walk through town as well. Nico would be able to handle himself, same with Will and Leo if they were awake already. Reyna didn’t intend to come here, but she let herself get lost in her thoughts and when she finally paid attention, she found herself standing in front of her childhood home.

She paused and eyed the building, plain and abandoned. Two years had passed since the war, not long enough for someone to care what happened to the belongings of its victims. There still was more important stuff to do.

Reyna took a deep breath and walked towards the house. There was nobody on the streets, even the neighbouring houses seemed empty. Last time she’d been here, shortly before joining the Jedi Order, kids had played outside while their parents had exchanged the latest gossip. It had taken the people some time to accept three Chiss, but they had been happy here and it had always been more of a home than her birthplace Csilla.

It didn’t feel like home anymore. Hylla was on Mandalore or travelling the galaxy, always looking for a new challenge. Her father – her father was dead. Reyna didn’t allow herself any further thoughts on this topic. He was gone and there was no way of changing that.

She stepped closer, reached out and flinched as her fingertips touched the front door. This wasn’t what she really wanted, she wasn’t ready to go back and face the ghosts of her past which was why she never went to Csilla and her mother’s grave. She supressed those thoughts, recalled Jedi meditation techniques and turned to walk away. Her purchases should’ve been delivered by now, it was time to travel to the unknown regions.

A man with a dog-like companion crossed her path and Reyna stopped to watch the animal play on a small field. She smiled internally, keeping her cold expression for the world to see. Her own dogs were still on Ossus, taken care of by Jason and Piper. She missed them more than she was willing to admit.

“Mrs. O’Leary!” called the man. “Come on, girl, it’s time to go home.”

Reyna turned away before he could notice her. She returned to her friends without any other encounters, walking without thinking, the way still present in her mind. Coronet was a place she’d always know.

“Let’s go,” she said, finally allowing herself a light smile as the four of them were back in the common area with all the supplies stored away. They still had a long way to go.

Chapter Text

When he had learned that Rakata Prime was a tropical planet, he’d been excited. Now that he saw it from orbit, his opinion changed rapidly. It wasn’t the look, in fact, the ocean and islands seemed pretty behind the debris field. And still …

“Ugh,” Leo made as they left hyperspace.

Will could understand that. He didn’t comment on anything and just looked to Reyna who sat tensely on the pilot’s seat and didn’t feel well. Even Nico made no attempt of hiding that, they all felt the aura of darkness this planet radiated.

“How close to the temple can we land?”

“Ask me when we’re through there,” Reyna said with a snarl. Will looked outside again and realized that some parts of the rubble were bigger than he’d first thought. They were close together and it wouldn’t be fun navigating through this field.

“What happened?” Some parts seemed like starships, deformed and not functional anymore.

“A battle,” Nico answered. “Darth Malak’s forces fought Revan’s. The Star Forge was destroyed and the explosion so disastrous it caused all this.” He made a vague gesture towards the debris and Will nodded slowly.

“Wasn’t that a long time ago?”

“About three hundred years before I was born.”

He didn’t know how to respond to that. Maybe it was better this way, Reyna seemed to be having some trouble with the navigation, so Will and Leo added their powers to hers. Nico’s presence was detectable on the edges of their mend.

They still needed more than one hour to leave the dangers behind and Will really wished for shower now. He took deep breaths and decided to shower after their trip into the jungle. Up close it still looked pretty, but certainly not harmless.

“Back to your question,” Reyna began after the scans had run and the sensors showed no damage to the ship. “The temple is supposed to be on one of the bigger islands?”

“Right.”

“The beach it is, then. Scanners pick up some big life forms, we’ll have to be careful.”

“Let’s go into a jungle with deathly dangers while the dark side is everywhere. Perfect.”

Will agreed with Leo, but he kept those concerns to himself. It wasn’t like they had a choice, they had taken up the mission, they would finish it. “We can handle the jungle.” He just hoped it was like the one back home – or at least similar. He was born on a tropical planet, he knew jungles. The Force would be a bigger problem, they were all used to relying on it.

Reyna brought the ship down on a beach covered in ancient, rusty shipwrecks and when he left Scipio, the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore reminded him of his childhood. Back then, though, he hadn’t felt a constant threat and now they all stood there with the lightsabers activated before they entered the forest.

He took the lead, being the only one with actual experience. Nico had been on some tropical planets, he’d said, but he had taken the last spot in the line, covering them against attacks from behind. There were passages were they needed their combined strengths to cut through wood and vines and there were holes in the ground they needed to pass. A shower really would’ve been a waste of time.

No one knew how far the temple was, the scanners hadn’t been able to pick up any buildings. They just made their way to the center of the island and stumbled over roots and ruins, ancient Rakata settlements, hoping to find what they were looking for.

Will rolled up the sleeves of his shirt while following a comparably ordinary path. He would’ve been happy about the easy way, but it was probably made by an animal and considering the size, it might well be a rancor. He didn’t know if there were rancors here and he didn’t acutally want to find out. It was warm, more than on Rishi, and it was muggy. His hair stuck to his forehead and he wondered how Nico survived in those robes of his.

A hand, hastily stretched out, saved him from falling. He smiley thankfully at Leo, then took a step back and let him kneel down to examine the ground.

“Pit traps,” he said as he got up again. “We should be careful, I don’t know who or what made them, but they’re hard to see with all the green.”

Their progress got slower during the next hour, every time he wanted to gain strength from the Force, he felt the dark side and retreated. Will was glad for the endless training in the academy, Master Skywalker had made sure they were fit without the Force, too. At least the landscape was nice to look at, the jungle made way for waterfalls and ponds from time to time. It would’ve made a nice vacation under different circumstances.

Leaving the holes in the ground behind only meant temporary relief. A loud roar made them tremble and gather around each other, making sure no one’s back was unguarded. Whatever it was, it wasn’t friendly and it was on the hunt. Time to find out about the local predators.

They managed a battle mend despite the darkness, helping each other and shutting out whatever had soaked the planet. Nico’s presence was clearer this time, deeper in the mend and powerful as ever. He seemed to have found a way to draw strength from darkness as well, without falling, but that was not important now. Will trusted him and he had to focus on the animal coming from the woods. A rancor, of course it had to be one.

Nico’s Force Push, supported by the rest of them, was strong enough to slow the beast down while they split up and gave their enemy more targets. They didn’t need talking to know Nico was the best fighter and in the best shape. He also seemed to have experience in battling rancors and Will decided he didn’t want to know any more.

The ground wasn’t made for fighting, it held too many dangers and they all felt and shared Reyna’s pain before she could suppress it and retreat from the mend. Will and Leo moved to the rancor’s sides – it was female, considering the size, though Will had no idea why he thought about that in this situation – and avoided the claws. Nico played the role of the main target and tried getting through the thick skin, but all the stones and branches just made the beast more aggressive.

He wished for Piper. She was good with animals and that wouldn’t be very useful, but her form of mind control might slow the rancor down long enough for Nico to strike.

In the end, that wasn’t necessary. Will followed Nico’s silent request and moved to his position, taking up the role of the bait and keeping the rancor focused on him while Nico used his Force Stealth and moved away. He jumped on the beast’s back and Will felt his heart pause for a second at this risky manoeuvre. He forgot to dodge, but the rancor was busy with the annoyance on his skin. The arms were too short to reach Nico and Will breathed in relief. The next moment, he grabbed Leo’s arm and pulled them both from the thrashing animal to get out of that area. They couldn’t help Nico right now.

Reyna joined them, limping but otherwise unharmed. She showed her concern for Nico and they all flinched as he made a jump onto the rancor’s head. He managed to shove one blade of his lightsaber deep into the eye before falling hard and rolling away from the body that crashed to the ground.

It was silent for a moment. Will noticed how hard he was breathing and he felt his exhaustion become stronger when they dissolved the mend. The darkness was more present again, too, and he had to pull himself together and calm his breathing before checking the situation. The jungle was now quiet, he was unharmed except for scratches, same with Leo. Reyna’s ankle seemed to hurt a lot, but she motioned for him to go to Nico first who was about to get up.

“Hold still,” Will told him as he went down on one knee. Nico’s robes were torn open on his back and the wound looked painful but not too deep. It would heal soon. “This might not be pleasant,” he warned, putting his hand on Nico’s back and ignoring the darkness. This was about healing, it was what he did best, he had to succeed now.

Nico helped him, he didn’t even curse as much as Will had expected. He just swore when Will touched the grazed skin, then he seemed to shield him from the darkness.

“A few bruises and scratches,” he explained, taking Bactaspray from his medkit. One claw had caused a wound, but the bruises were worse, he couldn’t heal that completely. His skills would speed it up, Nico still would have trouble for a few days.

He didn’t seem to care about his wounds, though, only about the fact that the robes were too torn up to still wear them. It was strange seeing him in a simple shirt and black pants, though it wasn’t a bad sight. He was more muscular than Will had expected. His hair was pulled back and a few lose strands got into his face, not enough for him to hide behind it. Will helped him get up and shot him a reassuring smile before he turned his attention to Reyna.

She had sat down on a fallen tree and already taken off her boot so he had no trouble inspecting the injury. Focusing on the healing was easier now, he still felt Nico’s presence around, and he sighed in relief as he noticed nothing was broken.

“It’s sprained, we should put it in a splint for the rest of the walk.”

Leo nodded and wandered off to find a useful stick while Will looked at Nico again. He was standing now, though he leaned against a tree and his pain was obvious. Reyna cursed as she put her boot back on, she wouldn’t have a chance of doing so with the splint and she didn’t want to leave it behind.

“Can I use your robes?”

Nico just nodded, so he cut the fabric with his lightsaber and wondered why he hadn’t thought of bringing a vibroknife. That would’ve made this task a lot easier. It still worked, though, the splint wasn’t his best work ever, but it would do its job and he could take proper care of everyone once they were back at the ship.

“Let’s go.” Reyna had sat there stoically while he had worked. She now took a few careful steps and nodded. She was too proud to let herself be held back by something as trivial as a sprained ankle and her limp almost vanished with the splint, so he let her go on. He just hoped they wouldn’t encounter any more problems.

The temple was impressive. Whatever had caused the scanners to not pick up this area, it seemed to be hidden in the rubble. Most of the structure had been destroyed and the tower still stood tall against the sky, but he couldn’t really enjoy the view because they all noticed the problem they now faced. There was no entrance. Stairs led up to the building and one of the biggest piles of debris was directly on top of them, as if some force had made the roof collapse. Will had a feeling this hadn’t happened because of the temple’s age.

“Alright,” he sighed. “Let’s find another way in.”

Chapter Text

Finding another way in was harder than expected, almost impossible. The sun was at the zenith and he had no idea how long it had been since they had left the ship. They had walked around the ancient building, searching for holes in the walls, but it looked like there had never been more than one entrance. Time hadn’t done a lot of damage to the temple itself, confirming his theory of the destruction having been caused willingly.

Right now, they were once again standing in front of the wreckage, none of them looking happy about it. Will guessed that the dark side influenced their way of thinking and he didn’t like the idea. The sooner they got out of here, the better. First, though, they had to find what they had come for. None of them wanted to simply give up, especially not after all the exertions in the jungle.

“I could move the rubble,” Nico suggested and Will abruptly turned towards him.

“Not on your own! You’re already wounded, if you overwork yourself, I won’t hesitate putting you in Bacta tank first chance.”

“It’s just a scratch.”

“And you need to rest.” He crossed his arms, wondering how often he would still need to have this discussion. He probably didn’t want to count. “If that’s the only way of getting you to rest, I won’t hold back.”

He heard Leo laugh, but he ignored that and stared back at Nico. “Alright.”

Will sighed, but followed Nico’s example and turned towards the entrance. Working together, they managed to clear a path for them. Of course, Nico didn’t exactly listen to him, he stumbled and Will had to catch him, putting an arm around his waist to support him. “Idiot,” he mumbled before helping him follow Reyna and Leo inside.

He was glad to find that the forcefield Nico had mentioned didn’t seem to exist anymore. The Rakata were long gone, the Republic’s databases didn’t even information on them these days. They hadn’t actually expected to see their defences working, but it was pleasant to find that theory proven.

The way went up a little, until they stood in an old corridor, its floor covered in dust. There were hallways to both sides, but nothing of importance seemed to be lying ahead, so no one protested as Reyna turned right. Nico seemed a little too eager to move on his own, but he had regained enough of his strength for Will to let him go.

They followed a corridor which seemed to lead along the temple’s outer wall. There were a few open doors to their left, old storage rooms or quarters, but they didn’t pay any closer attention to them. According to Nico’s intel and Leo’s decrypted information there was supposed to be a basement where they should begin their search.

On the far side, they found what they were looking for. A passage, leading towards the building’s center, much like the one on the opposite site, but this one seemed to be intact and Will took that as a good sign. They left the lift’s controls to Leo, Reyna leaned against the wall and shifted her weight to the uninjured leg.

It didn’t take long to reach the lower level and its dark corridors where Leo activated a glow stick, giving them at least a few meters of clear sight. There wasn’t much to see down here, the hallway opened into a room after just a few steps. An ancient terminal was located in the center, otherwise it was empty.

“Access to the starforge.” Nico’s voice sounded a little weak and Will kept a close eye on him as he moved closer to the terminal. “At least to part of it. That probably has nothing to do with our goal.”

Leo nodded and looked around. “We’re searching for a datacard that should be hidden somewhere around here.” He got closer to the wall, moved his hands over the surface and closed his eyes to get a feeling for his surroundings. They went silent while Leo searched for hidden switches and Nico shot the terminal a gaze that was impossible to interpret. There had to be ancient information stored in it, but Will doubted they would still be accessible.

„Ha!“ They had been sitting on the floor for a while, but they raised their heads as they heard Leo. He grinned triumphantly before being serious – as serious as he ever got – again and pulling a lever with the Force. It opened a small panel in the opposite wall and Will jumped up, moving over there and retrieving a small card from the hole.

“Let’s hope we got the right one.“

Leo moved over, took the datacard and nodded slowly. “It fits the rest. I can’t say much, but it feels right, like it belongs to the others.”

“Good.” Reyna got up, cursing quietly and probably in Cheunh. „Let’s get out of here.“

~

The way back was a lot easier than their journey to the temple, but it still took a lot of time. The sun was already setting as they got back to Scipio and Reyna’s ankle hurt. She trusted Will, though, and he’d said nothing was broken. She just needed to relax it, but first, she wanted to get off this damn planet to never return.

Will was the first to take a shower and he was so exhausted he completely regarded every sense of privacy, he just took his shirt off in the corridor and let it fall to the ground. “You’re picking that up!” she called after him before retreating to the cockpit and preparing for takeoff. Scipio had a little trouble, but she gently touched the consoles and brought her ship into Lehon’s atmosphere.

Leo fell down on the navigator’s seat and attached the card to his datapad to begin the decryption while Will was blocking the sani unit. She had to work through the debris field on her own – she didn’t know where Nico currently was, but probably too exhausted to face Will’s stubbornness – but the power of the Dark Side grew weaker and that helped her concentrate. Focussing on the task also dimmed the pain in her ankle.

She could only relax after she had left the ring of debris behind. The other three had showered and changed their clothes, though Nico’s coat was definitely too big for him. Probably one of Will’s. Leo stared at the datapad and then raised his head. He didn’t make a reassuring appearance. “This could be a lot more than we’d thought. I was only able to get a rough overview of the projects, I don’t even know what they were designed for, but this could be too much for just the four of us. We’d be busy for years.”

“What about the Argo?” Will suggested. „We could tell the others to meet us, they might be able to help.“

She nodded. “Do we get a signal out here?”

Leo didn’t answer, he just busied himself with communications, cursed a few times and finally got a flickering holoimage of Annabeth. She seemed tired, but also concerned as she noticed Reyna.

“We found something,” Reyna began, not sure how to talk about this via holo. “Could you guys meet us? The whole crew? We could bring everyone up to speed then.“

“Up to speed with what?”

“It’s about some artefacts. Can you bring the Argo to Coruscant?” She didn’t know why exactly she suggested this planet, but it was the center of the Republic and always a good place to start missions. She also was curious about what had happened there since the war.

“Sure. It might take a day or two, though, until we get there.”

“No problem.” She smiled. „We need a while as well.” She was about to end the transmission when she suddenly remembered something. “Can you tell Jason to bring my dogs?”

“Of course.” Annabeth still seemed curious, but Reyna didn’t want to explain everything twice. Leo was already calculating their hyperspace route and Reyna switched the lever as soon as she ended the conversation. The stars turned to streaks in front of them.

“Wake me up when we get there,” she mumbled and left the cockpit for the sani unit. She just wanted to take a shower and sleep, maybe get rid of the improvised splint.

Chapter Text

Coruscant still was full of life and an impressive sight from orbit. The Vong might‘ve conquered and reformed it, but it wasn‘t that easy to get rid of a trillion inhabitants. From space, he saw a lot of construction sites and even the spaceport itself was a new building, erected shortly after the war‘s end.

They had gotten here surprisingly fast, spending most of the journey asleep. Right now, they were waiting for Annabeth and the others. At least they thought of picking a spaceport with enough space for the hundred meter long Argo.

Will joined Nico who sat on a few boxes next to the ship‘s loading ramp and didn‘t seem so sure about this situation. At least he didn‘t appear to be uncomfortable in Will‘s coat.

„Have you eaten already?“

„Do you want me to get to endure ration packs again?“

He laughed quietly. „Actually, I wanted to invite you.

„You ...“ Nico stared at him for a moment but regained his composure soon enough. „Alright.“

Will smiled brightly before sending a quick message to Reyna and walking to the hangar gates. Nico followed him, not clad in all black anymore but still silent as a shadow. They paused outside, trying to orientate. Will could make out the new Jedi Temple‘s construction at the horizon, but as soon as you looked down, you saw the jungle made by Yuuzhan Vong. It would take time to rebuild the lower levels.

„It looks so different“, Nico mumbled as they waited for a taxi.

„When was your last visit?“ he asked,hoping to start a conversation from it.

„Before the Battle of Ilum. Just shortly … I spent more time here after completing my time as a Padawan. My Master fell ill and I had to find ancient artefacts to heal her.“

Will listened closely. „Heal?“

He got a crooked smile in response that faded again almost immediately. „I learned some tricks but it‘s mostly about keeping the Dark Side at bay.“ Nico looked around as they sat in the taxi, gathering new impressions and Will tried to understand what was going on in him. How could he, though? He hadn‘t spent millennia away from here. „I knew it was bad“, Nico continued. „but I never imagined this.“

He just nodded. They passed the crater where once the Manarai Mountains had stood, passed the new government buildings and the first complete Skyscrapers before they got to a fairly quiet area that hadn‘t taken a lot of damage. The repairs had taken less time here and a few restaurants lined the walkways. Speeders could land and people were already going back to normal.

„When I first returned after childhood“, Nico said, „the Temple was in ruins. Now it‘s the entire planet.“ They had entered a small café and Will shot Nico a curious gaze – he barely knew anything about his past, any information was important to him.

“Where were you in between the visits?“

„We came to Dantooine when i was about nine … my sister and me.“ The last half sentence was quiet and Will didn‘t press on. He knew Nico‘s sister had died, but he didn‘t know how and he didn‘t want to force the topic on his friend. „At the end of our training, we both got sent to Tython where the Order remained after the Sith had attacked.“

He fell silent as a Twi‘lek waiter came to their table. „What can I get you two pretty boys?“

„Nerf-Steak.“ He suppressed a grin as Nico eyed the waiter warily and a little unsecure.

„Same for me“, he mumbled. Will smiled at the Twi‘lek before facing Nico again.

„How‘s your back doing?“

Nico still seemed irritated, but he shrugged and relaxed again. „I barely notice the wound anymore.“

„You tell me if it gets worse, right?“

Nico rolled his eyes but the hint of a smile softened his expression. Will thought he should do that more often – his smile was beuitful. „Sure, Doc.“ He paused before shaking his head. „I shouldn‘t call you that.“

Will raised an eyebrow. „Why not?“

„One of my sister‘s companions had that nickname. He was … strange.“

„How so?“

„Very special sense of humour. Sometimes he tried to flirt with every available woman.“ Nico shrugged again and made a helpless gesture.

„Sounds a bit like Leo.“

„They might‘ve gotten along pretty well. But Doc was more successful in his flirts.“

He laughed. It was great to listen to Nico even though he feared it wouldn‘t last. Maybe it was because his friend wanted a distraction from Coruscant‘s current state. Whatever it was, Will understood and appreciated the silent Nico as well.

„I don‘t know what happened to them“, he continued quietly. „The other Masters offered to search the archives for information, but it doesn‘t matter. They‘re dead now.“

What was the correct response to something like that? He knew Nico wasn‘t a touchy guy and Will respected that. No hugs or touches without medical reasons. Did this qualify as medical? He wasn‘t sure, wasn‘t an expert on mental health. „I can only imagine how hard that must be“, he mumbled, even though it sounded empty. He wanted to help Nico, maybe he could help him, but would never be able to understand.

„Sometimes I think a new beginning could help me.“

Curiously, he raised his head and stared at Nico who seemed lost in his own mind.

„So much happened back then, every planet and every face reminds me of it.“

And then he was freed only to be sent into the next war. No wonder Nico had trouble trusting anyone at all. „What‘s keeping you from it?“ he asked though he could already guess the answer.

„I am.“

Will nodded slowly. He had expected that. „Take all the time you need“, he said. „We can help you once you want that, once you‘re ready.“

The answer was a sound that resembled approval. Other than that, Nico went quiet again.

„I was impressed when I first got here“, he started, not sure why he was telling this now. Nico nodded as if he and Will smiled before continuing. „I was a child, barely eight years old and grown up on a planet in the Outer Rim. Skywalker came and turned my whole life upside down." He paused as the waiter returned and set a plate with a steaming hot meal in front of either of them. They didn't pay any further attention to the Twi'lek. "Suddenly, I was here, on Coruscant, a member of the newly found Jedi Order."

Thinking back now, it seemed like that happened a lifetime ago. Back then they had lived at peace and he had spent almost twelve years training undisturbed. "Hazel was among the first I met … and she promptly beat me in combat training. She was small and looked so fragile, but she was strong." The memory made him smile. This little girl with the untamed locks, calling herself cursed the first years, had now become one of his best friends. "Jason was there, too, but we had a rough start. I don't even remember why, kids find strange reasons", he grinned.

"Annabeth and Chiron showing up was a surprise to everyone. He was a Jedi during the Clone Wars, had stayed underground and hidden for a long time and finally decided his students needed better training than he could give them. Annabeth probably was the most experienced fighter with a lightsaber – except for Luke, of course", he added, though he didn't like thinking about it.

"He fell in the war, right?"

Will nodded and slowly ate his meat. "Fell to the Dark Side and later fell in battle, but Annabeth refuses to talk about the details. Anyway, Reyna joined shortly after her. Her sister had joined the mandalorians, she chose a different path. I think most of us had never seen a Chiss but we were curious and managed to befriend her, as far as you can say that with Reyna. Though I don't think any of us can pronounce her full name." He laughed as he remembered many failed attempts. Reyna had almost been an adult by her people's standards.

"What about the others?"

He tilted his head and focused on the meal for a moment as he thought about the events. "Percy joined us a few years later. We already were an interesting group. The Solo twins were watched by the public eye but we didn't get a lot of attention and often wandered through the underworld without permission."

Even Nico snorted at that and managed to actually sound amused. Will smiled. He was glad to deliver a distraction with his story and he guessed Nico was quite happy with listening.

"I had to treat a lot of injuries so that our Masters wouldn't notice, but I think Cilghal knew. She let us do what we wanted as long as no serious wounds showed up – it got harder when Jason and Percy became friends." He shook his head, still wondering how they had made it through their teen years without accidently dying.

"Leo and Piper were the last to join, just months before the war. Leo had always been quite the mechanic and he was happy when he got the chance to take and remodel the Argo during the early days of the war. I think he's probably always had Buford by his side and we soon had a base for small fighters and operations."

Abruptly, he stopped the story as he realized what point he was getting to. He had wanted to remember better times, not the terrors of the war, not Anakin Solo's death and the fall of Coruscant, not the countless lives that ended and not the devastated galaxy.

"We should head back", he said after taking a look on his chrono. "The others are about to be here soon." He nodded towards the waiter who brought the bill with a bright smile.

"Am I going to see you guys again?"

Will paid and got up with a grin. "Maybe."

Chapter Text

He laughed as Hazel hugged him tightly. The trip had taken more time than he’d planned, Reyna had already brought her ship into the Argo’s hangar and Leo was probably busy checking the systems.

Buford, the ship’s astromech, rolled through the corridor as Will let go of Hazel to greet the rest of his friends. Frank gave him a firm handshake, Jason nodded with a friendly smile, one arm around Piper’s waist. Percy and Annabeth both hugged him shortly and Will sensed how happy they all were to have the group together again.

It didn’t take long to get the ship into hyperspace and gather everyone in the cantina. Leo had modified it to look like the temple’s dining room – including wooden panels and comfortable sitting areas. The bar took up one of the shorter sides and Will knew how well stocked it was. He still guessed Hylla and Thalia had had an influence on that.

“So, what’s up?”

“Project Olympus.” Leo activated the holo projector in the middle of the table. He had spent the time travelling to Coruscant and waiting for the Argo with the diagram, adding names he had deciphered. For now, they had eleven branches and some connections named unknown. “We’re not entirely sure what it is, but it’s big. Hephaestos was where we started.” He switched to the brand, having crossed off Lehon while the connection to the defence systems had been cut. “Weapons and armour, technical data, factories. So far, we’ve only scratched the surface and that’s one of eleven parts. This is why we decided to get you on board. Even now, with all of our awesome talents, it’s gonna take some time to discover everything.” Leo switched to another branch also linked to Kampe. “Hades. It seems to be some kind of virus I don’t know anything about.”

Again, the chart changed to show another branch. “About those defences we encountered. I think Artemis might have something to do with it but I’m not sure yet. Maybe it’s just the protection of something else. But I did find our next goal and I already set the course.”

They leaned forward and Will frowned a little as Leo showed them the branch named Aphrodite “I could decipher it far enough to make out a planet.” He looked at Reyna, Nico and Will and smiled apologetically. “Sorry, but we have to go back to the unknown regions. Aphrodite is some kind of drug that was produced in a hidden lab on Ilum.”

“We should stick to the old tactics,” Reyna interfered. “If possible, groups shouldn’t be more than three or four people.”

Will nodded thankfully. That meant he got to avoid another visit on Ilum. Going there to find a lightsabre crystal had been enough. “I’m out, feel free to go,” he told the others. Deep in thought, he stared at the chart Leo had now focused on the main words again. Seven names were marked with a maybe and he doubted eleven branches would be enough.

“Same here,” Nico said and Will couldn’t supress a grin as Percy and Annabeth jumped a little because they hadn’t noticed him before. He was too good at being stealthy.

“I’m going,” Hazel offered. “Haven’t been there in ages but I might remember something important.”

“I’m in as well.” Will smiled. Hazel and Frank had always been looking out for each other but nor, after the war, their bond was stronger than ever. Sometimes, Will envied them for that.

“I will be joining them.” Reyna had mostly remained quiet. She had grown up on Corellia but she had been born on Csilla, another ice planet. Ilum shouldn’t cause her any trouble. “That’s three. The rest of you gather further information.”

“I would like to take a look at the data.”

Leo nodded at Annabeth, thankfulness in his eyes. “Sure! Maybe we find something before our arrival.”

~

Will retreated to his room as the group slowly dispersed. He had asked Reyna to give him the smaller holocron, the one with the medical data, so that he could deal with it. Now, the unremarkable cube sat on his desk and Will sat down in front of it. It was amazing how fast you got used to Scipio’s small quarters. One the Argo, the space wasn’t just enough for a bed with drawers underneath, he could work properly on a big desk and he even had his own fresher.

This holocron was much easier to access than the other one. Even on his own, he had no trouble activating it. After all the struggle with the greater holocron – probably older, too, considering the hieroglyphs – it was nice to be busy with a simpler task. Ilum was a few hours away and he didn’t long it would take the team to find something. He had a lot of time to figure out the secrets kept in the small cube on his desk.

It was easy to get lost in all the information. He made some notes to see through on another day and let the medical knowledge of long dead Jedi fill his mind. One file, created about a thousand years after the Cold War, explicitly described various methods of healing and he tried to remember as much as possible. Much if this was new, lost when the Emperor had come to power. Cilghal had taught him a lot, but her resources had been scarce as well. This holocron was a discovery that had nothing to do with their original task, but it would be a nice distraction and an important source of new insights.

A knock on the door interrupted him and he almost fell down as he tried to close the holocron and open the door at the same time. Cursing, he kept his balance and paused as he saw Nico standing in the corridor, a questioning look on his face.

“Am I interrupting something?” Nico was wearing black robes again and he had the hood pulled over his face, but at least not far enough to hide his entire face in the shadows.

“Of course not.” He took a step aside. “What’s up?”

“Ilum,” was the cryptic answer he got and now he was the one to look quizzical. He frowned and stared at Nico who passed him to enter the room while the door slid shut again.

“Okay,” he said before letting himself fall onto the small stool he used at his desk. Even after all the time he had spent here during the war, he wasn’t sure if the thing was comfortable or not.

Nico preferred to stand, leaning against the wall with crossed arms and shifting his weight to one leg. “One of the last places Bianca and I visited before …” He didn’t finish the sentence but Will understood. He had heard of the Battle of Ilum, the last battle before the siblings had left for Belsavis. He hadn’t even realized how long he had been working, but they had almost reached Ilum.

“Do you mind if I work?”

Nico shook his head and Will decided to work his way through what he had learned so far. They were still in hyperspace so he couldn’t have gotten an answer to his request about access to the Republic’s medical database. He could still use his training and the years of being a field medic to sort through the information.

“That’s wrong,” he suddenly heard Nico’s voice as he had reached a passage about how to bring patients to sleep with the Force instead of narcotics. This time, he managed not to flinch. Nico was an expert at seemingly disappearing and then suddenly announcing his presence, but Will was starting to get used to it.

“Really?” He probably shouldn’t be giving away false information, he just had to make sure he understood.

“Partly.” Nico leaned towards the screen, placed one hand on the table and the other within the diagram. “If you actually work with the areas of the brain, it often leads to the patient’s death, but there is another way.” It only took a few simple moves to let the areas appear red while others where now marked green. Will couldn’t suppress a surprised sound.

“Are you sure?” It looked dangerous, more than before.

“We were sceptical first. Originally, the Sith developed it and deemed it useless because their victims felt no pain.”

He felt Nico’s shivers and resisted the urge to place a hand on his shoulder. He had known about the thin line between light and dark that Jedi Shadows walked, but using a Sith technique was on a whole different level. He understood Nico not liking it.

“Anyway, we changed it so that it became totally harmless. The patients don’t feel a thing as they are brought into a coma, but it’s still dangerous – especially for the healer. It’s a form of mind control and for some, it was too tempting.”

“Guess I should leave it out of the reports then, right? We don’t want anyone to be careless.” Nico nodded but a tremor went through the entire ship and interrupted any attempt of further conversation. Festus’ voice came from the speakers, telling everyone to gather at the dining hall at once. No one would dare to disobey a YVH-Droid, so Will mumbled “later” and hoped Nico would follow him.

Chapter Text

He laughed as Hazel hugged him tightly. The trip had taken more time than he’d planned, Reyna had already brought her ship into the Argo’s hangar and Leo was probably busy checking the systems.

Buford, the ship’s astromech, rolled through the corridor as Will let go of Hazel to greet the rest of his friends. Frank gave him a firm hadshake, Jason nodded with a friendly smile, one arm around Piper’s waist. Percy and Annabeth both hugged him shortly and Will sensed how happy they all were to have the group together again.

It didn’t take long to get the ship into hyperspace and gather everyone in the cantina. Leo had modified it to look like the temple’s dining room – including wooden panels and comfortable sitting areas. The bar took up one of the shorter sides and Will knew how well stocked it was. He still guessed Hylla and Thalia had had an influence on that.

“So, what’s up?”

“Project Olympus.” Leo activated the holo projector in the middle of the table. He had spent the time travelling to Coruscant and waiting for the Argo with the diagram, adding names he had deciphered. For now, they had eleven branches and some connections named unknown. “We’re not entirely sure what it is, but it’s big. Hephaestos was where we started.” He switched to the brand, having crossed off Lehon while the connection to the defence systems had been cut. “Weapons and armour, technical data, factories. So far, we’ve only scratched the surface and that’s one of eleven parts. This is why we decided to get you on board. Even now, with all of our awesome talents, it’s gonna take some time to discover everything.” Leo switched to another branch also linked to Kampe. “Hades. It seems to be some kind of virus I don’t know anything about.”

Again, the chart changed to show another branch. “About those defences we encountered. I think Artemis might have something to do with it but I’m not sure yet. Maybe it’s just the protection of something else. But I did find our next goal and I already set the course.”

They leaned forward and Will frowned a little as Leo showed them the branch named Aphrodite “I could decipher it far enough to make out a planet.” He looked at Reyna, Nico and Will and smiled apologetically. “Sorry, but we have to go back to the unknown regions. Aphrodite is some kind of drug that was produced in a hidden lab on Ilum.”

“We should stick to the old tactics,” Reyna interfered. “If possible, groups shouldn’t be more than three or four people.”

Will nodded thankfully. That meant he got to avoid another visit on Ilum. Going there to find a lightsabre crystal had been enough. “I’m out, feel free to go,” he told the others. Deep in thought, he stared at the chart Leo had now focused on the main words again. Seven names were marked with a maybe and he doubted eleven branches would be enough.

“Same here,” Nico said and Will couldn’t supress a grin as Percy and Annabeth jumped a little because they hadn’t noticed him before. He was too good at being stealthy.

“I’m going,” Hazel offered. “Haven’t been there in ages but I might remember something important.”

“I’m in as well.” Will smiled. Hazel and Frank had always been looking out for each other but nor, after the war, their bond was stronger than ever. Sometimes, Will envied them for that.

“I will be joining them.” Reyna had mostly remained quiet. She had grown up on Corellia but she had been born on Csilla, another ice planet. Ilum shouldn’t cause her any trouble. “That’s three. The rest of you gather further information.”

“I would like to take a look at the data.”

Leo nodded at Annabeth, thankfulness in his eyes. “Sure! Maybe we find something before our arrival.”

~

Will retreated to his room as the group slowly dispersed. He had asked Reyna to give him the smaller holocron, the one with the medical data, so that he could deal with it. Now, the unremarkable cube sat on his desk and Will sat down in front of it. It was amazing how fast you got used to Scipio’s small quarters. One the Argo, the space wasn’t just enough for a bed with drawers underneath, he could work properly on a big desk and he even had his own fresher.

This holocron was much easier to access than the other one. Even on his own, he had no trouble activating it and accessing the stored information. Judging by the symbols, the other one was a lot older and he welcomes having an easy task for once. Ilum was a few hours away and the team would certainly spend a while on the planet, he had a lot of time for himself.

It was ancient knowledge. Much had been lost after the Emperor had taken control over the galaxy and Cilghal still kept a team busy with the recovery of anything even vaguely helpful. This would certainly help, so he took notes as the gatekeeper talked about medical inventions of the time of the Cold War. This holocron had nothing to do with their actual task, but it was a welcome distraction.

His concentration was disturbed by a knock on the door. As he tried to open it while putting the Holocron away, he almost stumbled over his own feet. Cursing, he regained his posture and met Nico’s questioning gaze.

“Am I interrupting something?” He wore his dark hood again, but this time the shadows didn’t hide his entire face.

“Just my clumsiness.” He stepped aside to let Nico in. “What’s up?”

“Ilum.” This time, he was confused. He frowned but didn’t complain as Nico got into the room while the door shut itself again. He really didn’t know what to do about this answer.

“Okay.” He shrugged, sat down again and grabbed the desk to avoid stumbling again. After all the time he spent in this room during the war, he should know how everything worked and how much energy was too much.

Nico preferred to stand, leaning against the wall and shifting his weight to one leg. “One of the last places I visited with Bianca before …” He didn’t finish the sentence and eh didn’t need to. Will got what he meant. The archives still held information about the Battle of Ilum, the last battle before the siblings had left for Belsavis. They were almost there, of course Nico was upset.

“Is it okay if I keep working?”

There was a nod but he didn’t quite dare to start with something new, so he worked through the former conversation again. They were still in hyperspace, so he couldn’t receive any answer he might have gotten from Cilghal about accessing the Republic’s medical databases. He could use his own knowledge though, he had trained in the Jedi Temple and worked as a field medic in a horrible war. That should be enough to figure out what was new.

“That is wrong,” he suddenly heard Nico’s voice after reaching a part that described a way to put patients into a sort of trance without having to use narcotics. He managed not to flinch. It was still strange that he seemed to disappear despite being there but Will slowly got used to it.

“In which way?” If Nico had valuable information, he could avoid sending false data to Cilghal.

“The brain areas that need stimulation.” Nico leaned forward, pointing to the screen while resting one hand on the table. “Here. If you use this method, you risk killing your patient.” With a swift movement, he changed what the holo was displaying. Will raised an eyebrow.

“Are you sure?”

“I know what it looks like, we were sceptical at first, too. It’s actually taken from the Sith but they disregarded it quickly after realizing their victims felt no pain.”

Will felt Nico shudder and wanted to place a hand on his shoulder. He knew Jedi Shadows walked between light and darkness but using a technique developed by the Sith was a whole different story. He understood Nico struggling with the fact.

“Anyway, we changed the technique a little, making it completely harmless. The patient doesn’t feel anything but still … it’s risky. For the healer as well because it’s a form of mind control and that can corrupt a person.”

Will frowned. “I won’t send it to the Republic, then. Just Cilghal?”

Nico nodded but before any of them could say anything else, the ship left hyperspace and Festus’s voice sounded through the comm systems, telling everyone to gather in the dining hall at once. Nobody would dare to resist a YVH-droid’s orders, so Will gave Nico a brief smile and followed him out of the room.

Chapter Text

It was a quiet day on Ilum and Reyna was thankful for that. Her ship was not made to withstand the blizzards that sometimes raged here. The coordinates Leo had gotten them were close to the old pirate base where Hazel had spent the first few years of her childhood – Reyna started to guess that the base’s destruction had been linked to the drug they were trying to find.

According to Hazel, the pirates had gone crazy one by one. They had hallucinated, had started killing each other. They had blamed her, called her damned child and had not been able to prove anything. In the end, she had been alone, a scared little girl whose force sensitivity had probably saved her life. Luke Skywalker and a few other Jedi had found her and taken her in.

“Land over there.” Despite everything, Hazel’s voice was calm and Reyna followed her lead to a small landing site, barely big enough for their shuttle. No capital ship, not even the Argo with her 100 meters, could hope to land anywhere in the area.

No one bothered them when they got out, even the local Fauna decided to remain hidden and there were no other visitors. Ilum wasn’t exactly what you would call an ideal vacation spot, so nobody came here unless they had to. Reyna felt reminded of home but she couldn’t remember the sky over Csilla ever being so beautiful. Their journey had taken them to the dark side of the planet and when she looked up, she felt like she could see a thousand galaxies.

Reyna hurried to follow her friends into the base. The heavy doors closed behind them, keeping out the cold while a few lights still flickered on. Not that they needed them, with the Force, they were perfectly able to navigate through darkness. It was still nice to be able to see, to not miss something that might be hidden from other senses. If they missed something here, they would have to file a request for an official search and she had talked to Will earlier, who had talked to Cilghal and they all agreed to not tell too many people. Anything official would be passed through too many offices to be kept a secret for long.

Focussing on the task at hand, Reyna sensed the empty space behind the blank wall Hazel was approaching. She could guess there was a secret corridor, but she would’ve needed a long time to find the opening mechanism. Hazel knew what to do even though it had been 21 years since her last visit.

A small section of the wall moved aside, revealing a storage unit and an old staircase. There was no dust, but there was also not sign that anyone had been here recently.

“Those stairs lead into the basement where everything started. I was never allowed to go there but anyone who went, they seemed more affected than the rest.” The lights here did not work and Reyna gave an approving nod as Hazel pulled a glow stick out of her bag.

“How far down does it go?” She did not expect a clear answer, but maybe Hazel had heard some things.

“Someone once talked about having to seal a tunnel.” Hazel scratched the back of her neck. “I don’t think they actually did that because that was just before it all ended and Master Skywalker found me.”

“It’s a lead, right? Let’s go.” Frank started moving and Reyna for Hazel to be second. They knew how to work together should anything come up and she could secure from behind. She sighed. Such a small mission had now turned into something where there was no end in sight.

Reyna hoped the drug wouldn’t effect force users. Or at least not as much as it seemed to do with regular people. They carried respirators and secured cases for transporting the drug but the sooner they had it in Will’s lab, the better. He would know how to study and analyse it, Reyna would gladly hand it over once it was collected.

A steep staircase led them down into the basement and she wondered if people had ever lost their balance while carrying heavy crates. If she had been responsible during construction, this would not have been approved. What sense was there in knowingly endangering the lives of those who worked for you?

The room was empty, plunderers had probably taken everything years ago without settling down. She had hoped to be able to salvage a few things but at least this meant they didn’t have to work their way around mountains of useless stuff. Frank took the lead again, running one hand along the wall while carrying a glowstick. Reyna focused on possible dangers though so far, she didn’t sense any.

“Over there?”

She had to take a step aside to see what Frank meant. It was a small hole, barely more than a ventilation shaft and easy to overlook. Reyna wasn’t surprised that he seemed to know this base, she had always guesses that Hazel had shared her memories with him. She was willing to use that advantage because it saved them time during the search and her only job was to keep them safe.

“It looks good.” Hazel crouched down, taking off one glove to touch the edges of the hole. She had always had a thing for underground pathways. “It’s a long way down so we have to be careful. I think I know this place, one of the leaders mentioned it.” Hazel cocked her head as if searching for memories she had supressed or lost over the years.

“Let’s try it. Hazel goes first, Frank secures us.” Just to be safe, Reyna drew her lightsabre. Part of her was hoping for a fight against droids or sentient beings, even Yuuzhan Vong were better than a possibly invisible drug.

Climbing down in full gear was hard but with the base’s heat regulation not working, it was freezing and the sensor data was enough to keep the gloves on. They were touching bare metal, sometimes so fragile it broke under their feet and made them curse. Despite this, they made it down without any accidents and finally entered a room that was at least warm enough for the ice to melt. Reyna took off her goggles but kept the respirator. Her sensor picked up too much data for her to understand and she would let Will analyse the air quality.

“Where do we need to go?” Frank seemed relieved to be back to his usual form after having shifted into something smaller for the climb.

“Left,” Hazel replied after a pause. “There’s a chasm to the right.”

So whatever was down here didn’t affect her but dulled her senses. She hadn’t even registered the chasm. Without Hazel’s warning, she would’ve gone right, following the path that was easier to defend. The war was over but it hadn’t left her.

They didn’t speak as they followed the corridor, ready for anything and still overwhelmed by the vault they suddenly entered, illuminated by an unknown source. It was occupied by nothing but an altar in the center, a pillar of stone with three steps leading to it. A glass box was on top of that pillar and Reyna focused on calm breaths as she got closer.

“Is that it?” Hazel stared at the three vials inside the box, all of them still sealed. They didn’t know how old the project was, probably older than the Empire, but it was in an amazingly good condition. The lab, if there had ever been one, had vanished. It didn’t matter, they had found what they had come for.

“I think it’d be safer if we took the entire box. The Argo has labs where it can be opened in quarantine.”

“Sounds good. Can we get if off in one piece?”

They could. It took a long time, a lot of slow work and Hazel working with the stone – they all wished for Leo and his tools in this moment – but finally they managed to store the box in some pieces of cloth and one of the containers they had brought along.

“So we have any data?”

“Doesn’t look like it. There’s nothing else here, so let’s get back to the ship so Will can analyse this. Maybe Leo made some progress, too.”

She really wasn’t motivated to go all the way back, to climb while carrying the container, but they had no other choice. The sooner they got away, the sooner she could rest knowing the drugs were safe in Will’s lab.