“Zahara, where are you going?”
“I just have a feeling that it’s this way, trust me on this!”
Racing across an icy landscape, with a white haze concealing the black, starry skies, a young Twi’lek; a Jedi Padawan fresh out of training, grasped tightly to her brown robe from the inside, trying to keep warm from the piercing wind.
Her shouted assurance was in response to her Master; a Jedi Knight named Jhim Karn, who had decided to trust his pupil’s intuition to find the way back to the Republic base. Following closely, he knew full well that she was taking a roundabout way to get back to their encampment.
Even though Zahara had grown quite skilled in her Force abilities, and could sense her surroundings using her understanding of the Unifying Force, she had a long way to go before being able to defend herself with her lightsaber. Zahara had already visited Ilum some years ago to construct her own, blue bladed weapon. Now, she was to accompany a more experienced Jedi, so that she may become a full-fledged guardian of peace and justice in the Republic. On the other side of the galaxy, far from the Jedi High Temple on Coruscant, the pair had been sent on their first mission.
The icy planet, located in the unknown regions of the galaxy, was well known for its supply of natural blue and green crystals; used in the fabrication of lightsabers. Younglings, the entrance rank of a Jedi (and mostly children), would come to this planet in search of these rare components. Zahara and Jhim had both passed these trials; Jhim long ago and Zahara only recently.
Their duty, a direct order from the council, was to investigate the disappearances of three Younglings on the snowy, desolate planet. Each had disappeared one at a time, consecutively, for the last three times that groups of youngsters had come to find their crystal.
Because there had always been a Jedi Master present to guard the children, a disappearance had not been heard of for several decades. For these disappearances to happen so frequently was unheard of, and when the council had learned of the fact, an entire rescue squad had been dispatched. Soldiers of the Republic were sent in, along with several pairs like Jhim and Zahara; Knights, Masters, and Padawans alike. This was a problem that the whole Jedi Order could not, would not ignore.
As they were, caught out in a ruthless snowstorm, he and his Padawan were chilled to the bone. The storm would make it all the more difficult for the duo to find any sign of the children. Jhim had found it more profitable to their search, and their survival, to head back towards the base, but their retreat from the icy storm had been much too late to avoid it.
Making their return through the wind and snow, the diligent duo was stopped short by a mysterious form, as they saw an ominous silhouette walking towards them.
“What’s that? In the distance,” Zahara asked, trying the keep her voice down but still be heard by Karn.
A mysterious shadow, on its slow approach through the snow, was clearly outfitted with the familiar robe of a Jedi Knight. The outline of the figure was recognizable, but no other features were discernible through the cloud of snow and ice caused by the storm.
“Stay close,” Jhim warned his pupil, cautious to make sure of her safety.
Trusting his intuition, he knew full well that it was no ordinary Jedi. The taint of the Dark side of the Force was clearly apparent, electrifying the air and generating fear and anxiety in the Knight’s intuition. However, as his masters before him, he would protect his charge as best he could under the circumstances. He knew that the Sith had met their demise a thousand years before, so he surmised that it was not a Sith but worse: a fallen, Dark Jedi.
However formidable those feelings of concern were, Jhim could not reach for his lightsaber in time. Before he was able to stand between Zahara and the stranger, his vision began to fail him, as well as the control over his own body. His eyes began to close, and he lost all muscle control, fell to the ground, and lost consciousness…
Unable to realize how much time had passed, Jhim suddenly awoke in a daze; uncertain as to his location, or that of his apprentice, Zahara. He was unable to immediately piece together what had happened, but when the memory of the Dark stranger resurfaced, his eyes opened quickly and he remembered his duty.
“Ugh, where am I?” he asked his captor, hearing the heavy footsteps of boots to stone.
Looking around, Jhim could deduct that he was in a cave, decorated with the natural ice formations that reflected the light of one lamp quite efficiently. He saw the Dark Jedi, so he assumed, sitting across from him, turning Zahara’s grey and gold-colored lightsaber around in his hands.
“Ah, I see you’re finally awake,” the grey clad Force user replied, smiling to his captive from beneath his grey hood, “I’m glad that I have the chance to speak with you Jedi.”
The Knight tried to struggle, to escape, but his body would not follow his commands. Every muscle seemed to remain still on its own accord, except for his facial expressions and his voice. The stranger seemed to have coerced his body to remain static, using a strange, unheard of Force ability. There was no way out for the Knight, which is something he knew full well, and assumed that his captor had used the same ability to thwart their journey out in the snow.
“What are you going to do to me?” Jhim asked, struggling to escape, but unable to move.
“That all depends on you, Jedi.”
“My next course of action will depend on your reaction to my words. You will sit here and listen to my story, held fast by my ability to control those who are Force sensitive.
Please understand that this is no personal attack. These countermeasures are the result of experience, for who is to say when any Jedi may assault one out of protection of his own beliefs.”
The captive accepted that there was no way out and remained calm, knowing that his mettle was to be tested. Respectful and silent, he listened as a Jedi would. He knew his chance to escape would come, that he could find Zahara and the Younglings, if a peaceful solution could be found.
Across the room, a frown could be seen beneath the grey hood, as the captor stood up and paced throughout the room, sighing as he commenced with his tale. Looking down with a sad complexion, at the Padawan’s lightsaber, he briskly tossed it to the side. It hit the floor and rolled into a corner.
“So long since I have needed one of those. I know how you feel, not only by intuition, but also by experience.
Oh yes, I was a Jedi, and once, I believed as you did. I know you better than you think I do, but in my eyes, you are still young, merely a child.
You believe that the Council knows all, and that knowledge of the Force can be achieved through incessant meditation and a persistent vigilance of the mind. Your peace is your safe haven, a place to retreat to when the workings of the Force become too complex and out of your control.”
Jhim replied, intrigued, “This is the way of our Order, yes, but to reach outside of the boundaries of the Light leads only to the darkness. The easy path to power is what corrupts those who wish to use the Force. Every Jedi knows such temptation, and I will not be one of those to succumb to the ideals of passion and greed.”
The grey clad Jedi laughed at Jhim’s verbal defense, then added, “How typical of a Jedi Knight. You believe that the power of passion and the Dark Side corrupts absolutely. Yet, here I stand, and you are neither dead nor dying. It is not always the case, that the Dark Side consumes those who know it well. I have strived my life only to understand the whole mystery, starting my training as a Youngling on Coruscant and quickly becoming a Knight like yourself. Once I knew that the council would not be able to satisfy my curiosity, around the time that I passed my trials, I left.”
Jhim was unhappy hearing that one of his order had gone rogue, but his curiosity grew, as he asked, “So, you know what we learn as Jedi, and yet you still wished to push the boundaries of your knowledge beyond that of the Light. How could you be so eager to betray those who had only sought to share their knowledge with you?”
“It was no betrayal from my perspective. I had never been faithful to the Order. I was only eager to learn. You don’t know the power of the true Force.
Far beyond the understanding that you Jedi strive for, more complex than the chaos which the Sith adore, I have found something extraordinary. I see beauty in the clarity that the light brings, but have come to appreciate that architecture not as a servant to pacifism. Life and freedom, passion and intelligence; they are all linked by the oneness of the Force. To choose merely one side of the great mystery is still an absurdity to me.”
Standing proud before his one man audience, the Grey Jedi removed his hood. He was bald, with a crown of horns protruding from his head. He was a Zabrak, clear as day, but his skin had not gone pale because of the Dark Side’s affliction.
Karn did not recognize him, but with a face to speak to, he felt a bit more at ease. As a Jedi knight raised and trained by the order, utterly respected by the council for his belief in the Light side of the force, Jhim was no stranger to temptations of emotion and passion. He took a moment, a deep breath, and remembered all the students, that had successfully resisted the passionate ways of the Dark Side.
Now curious about the balance which the Grey Jedi had achieved, Jhim inquired, “Even so, did you not feel compelled by the darkness, to submit to its power?”
“The Dark Side of the Force did almost take my mind and corrupt what I had learned from the Jedi Order, but my curiosity was ever stronger than the emotions which lead me during that time. In my travels, I avoided the Jedi by keeping myself hidden from those who can sense all, who use the Unifying Force; the aspect of our craft that which is neither Light or Dark. In my concealment, in my banishment from those who would keep me caged and ignorant, I found peace and freedom intertwined.
I remain constantly in awe of how the Force forms our lives, our galaxy, our existence. That we may wield this awesome power is sublime, and we have even been given perspective, so that we may choose what to make of its mysteries.
We are as brothers; chosen to be sensitive to its power and grace. Is it not that search for knowledge that had led you this far?”
Jhim tried to convince the grey Jedi otherwise, with words he thought never to say again, “Knowledge is what we strive for, but power is far from our goal. Delving into the Dark Side of the Force leads to madness and corruption that are beyond anyone’s control. If it has not driven you mad now, it will.”
“You are quite the difficult one to convince. Such dedication, but in all your assumptions, you are mistaken, Jedi. Once coming to Ilum, I had found the Light again in the beauty and peace of the ice.
Now, I have come to achieve a balance, capable of understanding both aspects of the force, making them one in my mind, and feeling more at ease. I must do what I can to ensure that balance. By any means necessary, and I must make sure that you Jedi do not become powerless against the oncoming storm that is the Sith. The constant struggle between light and dark must continue, for all the wars that have been, and all the wars that will be.”
As mentioned before, the Sith had not been seen in a millennium, so Jhim did not know what to make of this warning. Yet, he agreed partly with his captor’s words. There was much more to the Force than the Jedi’s teachings would reveal. He sought to gain in knowledge and understanding of the Force, much like those who had trained him until that point in his life.
“Jocasta Nu would be curious to hear about you,” Jhim responded, thinking back to his former teacher.
The curiosity that had led him to finish the trials, the constant meditation and understanding he had gained; Karn thought about the years he had spent in training, learning about the Light side of the Force. He thought for a moment about what he could learn from the Grey Jedi, then dismissed it, then thought of it again. Back and forth in his mind, the temptation was thrilling; to know that one could know the whole mystery without becoming insane with power and emotion. Finally, remembering his training, remembering the warnings that he had been given about the Dark Side, he tried to shake his immobile head.
Unable to do so, he could only correct his former statement, retracting his words, “Master Nu also told me that knowledge is not without a price! You cannot control the Dark side, it will consume everything that is good in you! Let me take you back to the High Council on Coruscant, I’m sure they can help you there!”
Jhim was insistent on saving such an intelligent Force user, having gained respect for the courage he had; the ever persistent will to know and understand the full mystery of the Force.
“You still don’t understand, do you?” the Zabrak stated plainly, “And I wanted you to help me with my project. Quite disappointing.”
“What is your project?” Jhim asked, trying again to break free of the Grey Jedi’s control.
“Those Padawan that I have taken from their trials here on Ilum, they followed me willingly. Once I had told them that they would be able to understand the full mystery, they abandoned their trials and joined me, and we are to create a new school here, on Ilum; a new Order, that is free from the boundaries you have laid down for yourselves in the ways of the Light.”
“And what about Zahara? Has she agreed to that yet?”
“Well, no, but she-“
The complexion in the Grey Jedi’s expression changed, as his words were cut short. An electric buzz, the sound of a lightsaber, replaced the words of the Grey Jedi.
Surprised, he looked down and saw the blue light of Zahara’s lightsaber protruding from his chest. Almost immediately, the glowing blade was retracted, leaving a gaping, charred black wound where his heart had been.
An astonished look on his face, the Force user fell to his knees, then face first to the ground, lifeless and murdered. Behind him, stood the young Twi’lek: Zahara.
Jhim noticed right away that his body was once again under his own control, yelling at his pupil “Zahara! What have you done?”
“I saved you, Master! Now we can leave. I’ve found the others…“
Instantly, Jhim Karn stood up and dusted off his robes. He felt shocked, appalled by his student’s sudden urge to kill, and disappointed that the conversation had to end so soon.
Coruscant, decades before the events of Yavin IV, had always been the capitol of the Galactic Republic, and a place where its Senate convened to decide the fates of thousands of star-systems. Working closely together with the Galactic Senate, was the Jedi Order; a group of trained Force-sensitive individuals, who prized peace and understanding far above passion and ignorance; a thorn in the side of the corrupt politicians, and a great help to the just representatives of entire systems. Shortly before the rise of the Empire, when the Jedi Order still preserved peace and justice in the galaxy, many of the issues plaguing their members had been resolved behind closed doors.
Along the awe-inspiring, golden halls of the renowned Jedi Temple, between the three pillars of the entrance hall, two Jedi walked alongside each other, having a conversation about events of the past. In doing so, Jhim Karn; now a Master of the Jedi Order, sought to resolve a matter that had been plaguing him for fifteen years, since Ilum. He had faith that his oldest friend, Master Vi, would be able to help him with the unforeseen circumstance that one of his old pupils; a Knight named Zahara, had been crossing the line between the Light and Dark Sides of the Force, on many of her missions for the Republic.
Master Vi had been one of the only Jedi Masters who had accepted the lost younglings, once they had been returned safely to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. She was, by nature, a gentle soul; a caretaker like no other when it came to children, or those who would wander from the path of the Light. Her methodical and intelligent approach towards compassion had earned her a place on the Jedi High Council, the highest honor that a Jedi could receive. Master Karn had utter trust in his old friend, knowing that her honesty would prove helpful as they discussed the past.
“I can’t be certain, whether her behavior is related to what happened on Ilum. Have you had any progress with the other Jedi that were abducted?” Karn asked his confidant, open to any information that could help.
“Unfortunately, no,” Master Vi replied, “They all still refuse to share any information about what happened. This matter concerns the whole council, but they take it quite lightly. I believe that the younglings involved might have already forgotten it. It has been fifteen years since you freed them.”
“Yes, of course,” Jhim replied, bashfully, hiding the truth by changing the subject, “That mysterious Fallen Jedi…
After what happened, I could do nothing else but bring them back here; and even though so much time has passed, I still think that he did more to them than keep them locked up.”
“Perhaps we will never know the answer, but you must, as always, keep an open mind, Jhim. Your doubt in them could push many of them, including Zahara, over the edge. I have heard that she has gone to oversee the completion of the Katana Fleet, along with Karae Nalvas. I know he can be trusted.
She is being sent on peaceful missions, to make sure nothing happens like on Vaykaaris, three years ago. She should be returning soon, with the rest of the party. You should go see her.”
Jhim was momentarily distracted when he saw his droid, a small R3 unit, on the approach, and quickly answered Master Vi with, “That’s true, and I believe I am being summoned to her homecoming.”
R3-D7 was a small, militarized unit, presented as a gift to Master Karn; after the resolution of the Ilum crisis. Traveling along with him, the unit was far more intelligent than its R2 predecessor, even though it was only a prototype. At certain times, R3-D7 would malfunction, and require the assistance of its owner, making it more of a nuisance to Karn, than an assistant. On approach, with multiple electronic bleeps and bloops, the droid attempted to warn its master, quite fervently, about the appointment he would be missing quite soon.
“I know, R3, but is it that late already?”
The droid carried on with its electronic language, trying its best to coerce its owner to follow it.
Master Vi had seen R3-D7 on multiple occasions, and had taken a liking to the astromech droid, kneeling down and replying to it, “You still make me smile, R3. I agree, Master Karn should join you.”
The droid replied by rocking back and forth with glee, thanking Master Vi for her understanding.
“All right,” Karn sighed, “I guess I have no choice in the matter. I will take your words to heart, Vi. I hope you are right, and I can trust my old Padawan.”
“Of course, now go! She’s probably looking forward to seeing you,” Master Vi instructed, and with a bow and a small wave, they parted ways.
After leaving Master Vi behind, Master Karn rushed over to where the Republic Corvette would be landing, to meet up with his old apprentice. Walking at a quickened pace, his droid by his side, he hoped to be greeted with open arms and smiles. Jhim, in all his wisdom of the Jedi way of life, knew that his anticipation of her arrival was not fueled only by witnessing her safe return, but also by his curiosity. He wanted, most of all, to be certain that Zahara was not going to fall to the Dark Side of the force; to become a slave to the passion that the Jedi were taught to avoid.
It was a long walk to reach the meeting point where Master Karn and his droid companion would wait for her arrival, at the landing pad X4878H66; one of the many places where ships would dock, and deliver their passengers safely onto the city-planet. As the passengers exited the craft, one by one, he saw that Zahara’s companion for the mission, Karae Nalvas, was the only Jedi Knight present, among the passengers. Karn was uncertain and distraught as to why she would not have joined him, but stayed quiet, hooded, and casual, amidst the crowd of onlookers.
Master Karn would ask no questions, but knew that Zahara’s only option was to report to the council immediately, as all Jedi would do, after returning from even a peaceful mission. Even if she had not taken the same ship back to Coruscant, she would be reprimanded if she did not report her experiences to the council.
He rushed back to the Jedi Temple, R3 struggling behind to keep up, and ran up to the height of the building, proceeding to wait outside the closed doors of the meeting room. It would not be long before his old Padawan would pass through the doors, leaving the council behind, confronted with her old Master and his robotic companion.
Once exiting the High Council Chamber, Zahara did not even look him in the eyes, as the Master interrogated the apprentice, “How did you get back? Did you take a different ship? R3 and I waited for you-”
Jhim stopped his questions right away, as she continued past him, ignoring him completely: eyes straight forward, back straight, hands folded into the sleeves of her robe. He did not want to cause a stir, as the High Council, including his old Master, Jocasta Nu, were on the other side of what suddenly seemed to suddenly become a very thin door.
Karn was not deterred, and still possessed as much fortitude as he’d had in his youth. Without the answers that he so desired, he had no other choice but to follow her. He had recognized the taint of the Dark Side of the Force, feeling a sensation in his intuition that he had not felt in some time. The electrifying energy of the Grey Jedi of Ilum was a stain on his mind, and he could not accept that he had felt that way once more, as his Padawan passed him.
“Zahara!” he beckoned once more, as she left the room and continued down the hallway, slamming the door shut behind her.
Jhim Karn had no idea what was going on.
In an extremely stern tone, he ordered R3-D7, “Stay behind. I need to go check on her.”
Noticing, as much as a droid can notice that he was completely serious, R3 replied in bleeps and bloops a simple “okay.” Out of concern for his old pupil, and out of curiosity for the truth behind the silence, Master Karn followed her secretly, being careful to remain concentrated on hiding his power; an ability inspired long ago, by an old acquaintance.
Along the passageways of the Jedi Temple, further down the streets and alleys of Coruscant, even having to take a speeder closely behind her, Jhim was relentless in his pursuit. His caring nature was balanced by his knowledge of the Force, knowing that one slip-up of his ability could mean that she would turn back, or lead him to a place other than her original intentions would have brought her. Fortunately, Jhim had taken his title of Master to heart, and was certainly able to hide his presence from a Jedi who was far less skilled than him.
Climbing down a ladder to follow Zahara, he realized that they were entering the underworld of Coruscant; a place that was crawling with criminals and night clubs. There was to be no distraction, as Jhim saw her duck behind the corner of one of the clubs, and followed her down an alley, finally ending up at a building that seemed abandoned, old and crumbling.
Jhim surmised that it was wiser to wait until she had gone further inside of the building, before he was to enter. He still sensed the darkness from his old Padawan, as well as other, less powerful Force energies emanating from within. There was no denying it, she was meeting up with other Force users, some perhaps more powerful than she was.
Pulling his hood over his head, Master Karn looked around, and saw that there was no-one that would see him enter the building. At this point, there was no turning back. He opened the door with a wave of his hand, using the Force to break and enter this mysterious stronghold. He saw that, within, there was a long hallway leading to two large, black doors at the end. Left open only a crack, he knew that it would be easy, at the very least, to hear what would be happening on the other side. Still concealing his presence with his ability, he walked down the hall, stood resolute next to the slightly opened doorway, and listened.
The first voice that he heard was Zahara’s.
“I call to order the twelfth meeting of the Grey Order. May our Master rest in the peace that I had brought him, and may his wisdom, passed down to all of us, lead us to know the great mystery; better than the liars and cowards on the upper levels.”
Jhim was astonished and disappointed. How could she had known? Back then, in the ice cavern where he had been trapped, had she been listening the whole time? Was she persuaded by the words of the unknown Force user, like the rest of the children there? Did she hear about his dream, and wish to finish it for him?
“Hold on, I sense an intruder.”
-Oh no,- Jhim thought.
He surmised that the shock of her words had distracted him for that one moment that he did not have to lose; that moment when she would recognize his Force power, and realize that he had been following her all along.
Zahara reached out her hand, gripping the throat of her former master; using Dark Force abilities that he could never have taught her. Slamming him against the door to pull it open, she yanked him into the room with utter strength; power that he had not known that she possessed. He remained floating far from the ground, his feet dangling below him, as she finally revealed to him the truth.
“I see you have found us, Master. I was wondering when you were going to join us,” Zahara began, then turned to the dozens of grey robed Jedi around her, and spoke proudly to the audience, “You see this man? This filth! You all know him very well!”
Murmurs could be heard around the room, as the silence was broken by a ruckus of conjecture and shouting, but Zahara could be heard above all of them.
“You, Jhim Karn, are a traitor to truth, and so are a traitor to the Force! You never understood Master Gorean’s plan for an unbridled knowledge of the Complete Force!
These powerful individuals before you; these are the children you claim to have saved! They had followed him, out of curiosity, but they were still just children! You never took the time to understand them, none of you did!
Killing their Master was the only way I could ensure their freedom, so that they could get away from that dreadful place that Gorean so loved! I let you bring us back, so that we could start anew on this planet, and create a better Order than he ever could! And then, you… you decided to take all of the glory for yourself!
For I was the one that truly freed my brothers and sisters, and you lied to everyone! Now the whole council believes that we are outcasts; tainted by the Dark Side and unable to pass any trials to advance in the Order! Do you have any idea what that feels like; to be cast aside by those whom you trusted the most?”
Jhim tried his best to speak, “I… cannot… know…”
“Of course you can’t know! You were the hero!” she yelled at him, turning her hand to choke him even more, calming her voice and continuing, “but I know you Master,” she laughed, “you are the only one here that is a slave to passion. I know all about your childhood crush on a certain Jedi Master. We all do. And now has come the time for your reckoning.”
The Twi’lek Knight released the terrified Master from her grasp, letting him fall to the ground, gasping. Zahara commanded the members of her Order, “Bring her out!”
Six of the Grey Jedi left the room for a moment, exiting through a door in the back of the room. Jhim knelt on the ground, gasping for air, trying to make sense of it all, but he knew. He knew that this was the price of trying to protect them from persecution and exile from the Jedi Order. What Master Karn did not know, is that the price was far heavier than he ever could have imagined.
The six Grey Jedi returned to the room, escorting a woman in, dressed in tattered and torn robes, with bruises on every part of her body that could be seen.
Jhim could only speak one syllable, in horror, “Vi…”
Zahara smiled and continued her provocation, “Oh yes, you didn’t think we would let a chance like this slip by, did you?”
Battered and beaten, her robes torn throughout, Vi could barely keep her head up, and seemed dazed. Her graceful presence, as Jhim Karn could remember from just earlier that day, had faded almost completely. She was surrounded by the Grey Jedi that had retrieved her, and stood motionless in the middle of the room, just a small distance from Jhim and Zahara.
In the large, round room with an open roof, surrounded by dozens of Grey robed Jedi, Master Karn was down on his knees, his throat still sore from the grip of his Padawan’s Force ability. He was confused, hurt, but knew well how to keep his inner calm during such moments.
“Why would you do this, Zahara?” he asked, making sure his tone was an even balance between overbearing and helpless.
Zahara smiled an unfamiliar smile, then lent down to speak to her old Master, “I want to show you what it is we wish for. I want to show you our power. Even though you betrayed us, it is only through your ignorance that you have done so. I hope that this will show you, that we have an actual goal; a genuine reason to think outside the boundaries that the Jedi have placed for us.”
Behind Zahara, the six Grey Jedi, who had gone to retrieve Vi from the back room, returned to the crowd. They seemed camouflaged, disappearing among the dozens of other grey robes. They left Jhim, Zahara, and a withered, staggering Vi in the center of the crowded room for all to see.
Out of concern for his own well-being, as well as that of Master Vi, Jhim reached into his robes, ever so gently, and subtly activated the communications device that he always kept with him. The message that he broadcast was sent straight to the Jedi Order; a distress signal, requesting that the others of his Order come to rescue them. Zahara seemed not to notice, and continued her explanation.
“Master, I know that you think that we are cruel, that we are tainted by the Dark Side of the Force, but that is simply not true. Master Gorean only wished for us to continue his work, for to understand the full mystery is the work of miracles. Let me show you.”
Zahara stood up straight, pushing her red and black tentacles back with a swift movement of her head. She looked straight at Vi, and made her approach to the beaten Jedi Master.
Standing next to her subjected superior, Zahara closed her eyes and began to concentrate intensely. Within a moment, before any of them realized, she opened her eyes and laid her hands on Vi, prepared to use an unknown ability.
“Stop!” Jhim commanded, but still choked from beforehand, he was powerless over her actions.
Zahara’s hands began to glow a bright blue, as Force energy could be seen flowing from her, straight through Master Vi’s skin. The bruises started to lose their purple color, eventually fading away into oblivion.
Proficient in the Jedi arts, Karn was taken aback by the scene. He knew that Force Healing was a rare ability, hardly ever seen or used by the Order. Self healing was difficult, and would usually require hours of meditation. Healing someone else was even more difficult, and had only been recorded on occasion. If Zahara had learned this art through her free studies of the Force, it had been an amazing feat, to say the least.
“Vi? Are you alright?” Jhim asked his old friend.
Vi had seemed to be healed, but swayed back and forth for a moment. Foreseeing that she would fall to the ground, Zahara pulled the Master’s arm over her shoulders and set her down safely. The Twi’lek pulled off her robe and laid it over Vi’s body, making sure she was warm and protected.
It seemed that the healing ability had some side effects, which had even surprised Zahara when she blurted out, “Wow, that’s never happened before, maybe we did go a bit rough on her.”
Not fully understanding the situation, Jhim could only pose another question, “Zahara, where did you learn how to do that?”
“The Force can do horrible things, like how we convinced her to come along, but you know that the Force can accelerate regeneration,” she replied in earnest.
Seeing Zahara smile, Jhim quickly recognized the demeanor of the Padawan that he had trained so long ago. He thought to himself, that her mind had not been as vicious and chaotic as he had assumed in the days before. She had just been hiding a secret from him, and from the rest of the council. His fellow Masters would not stand for knowledge of the Dark Side of the Force however, which quickly reminded Jhim about the distress signal that he had broadcast, just moments before.
“Zahara, listen,” he began, his voice tainted with regret, “we have to get out of here. They are already on their way.”
“Who is on their way?” Zahara replied, “Not-”
An immense explosion erupted from the doorway from which Karn had been forced to enter. The few Grey Jedi who stood next to the door were thrown to the ground. The rescue team had arrived, quite a bit sooner than Master Karn had thought or wanted. Before, his distress was pure and real, but now he only wanted to get them all to safety once more.
A cloud of grey dust from the blast filled the room, as lightsabers were activated all around. Blades of blue, green, yellow and purple could be seen all around them, as the hall was invaded by Jedi from the Order. The Grey Jedi’s robes could hardly be seen, but that was no advantage against those who were strong in the ways of the Force.
“Take care of the intruders!” Zahara commanded, then looked towards Master Karn, who was still knelt next to her after the blast, adding, “They must have followed you! You have to leave, I don’t want them to catch you down here. That could be the end of you!”
“No, I’m going to stay right here. My place is with the both of you-”
The Master’s reply was cut short and he was instantly silent, as he saw multiple lightsabers through the dust, in combat or coming closer. A purple blade was closest, surrounded by dozens of battles around them. The clashing of a hundred Jedi weapons permeated what had just before been silent; the buzzing and zooming of clashing blades’ flashing, refracted throughout the dust created by the Order’s entrance.
The Grey Order were not the best trained, nor the oldest or most experienced of Jedi. Before long, the amount of battles had been cut in half, but Karn still remained focused on the purple blade of unknown origin. He sensed a great power wielding it, a power that he had come to know so well.
“Why did they send her? Anyone but her,” he said out loud.
Before Zahara could respond, the buzz of another lightsaber could be heard from behind them. When Zahara and Jhim turned around, they both were shocked to witness that one Grey Jedi, an unknown figure, had stabbed Master Vi’s lifeless body straight through, even through the floor beneath her. She had just been healed, but now, the damage was irreparable. Her life came to an abrupt end, murdered by one of the children that she had so thought to save.
“The Order must die! Our Order will rise!” the young Grey Jedi yelled proudly, contented with his easy kill.
“Vi! NO!” Karn yelled, no longer concerned with his surroundings.
He stretched out his hand and pushed the Grey Jedi to the far wall with such powerful Force, that they could all hear the wall crumble on that side of the room. If he was not dead on impact, he would have surely met his end at the hands of the Order’s onslaught.
For that moment, Jhim had lost his calm, but as a Master of the Jedi Arts, he quickly regained his composure. He turned to the real danger facing them; the holder of the purple lightsaber. Once he had turned around once more, he was terrified that his assumptions were true. A slender, female figure walked towards them, battle ready; a human clothed in the familiar brown, Jedi robe. Her name was An’ya Kuro.
The Order had sent a powerful Jedi known as the Dark Woman; a Jedi Master who was completely dedicated to the Light Side of the Force. She was so committed to the Light, that she had given up her real name in exchange for that very title. This was her way of showing humility, out of respect for the Force itself.
If it had been anyone else; Mace Windu, Master Yoda, Ki-Adi-Mundi, or any of the other Masters of the High Council, the Grey Order might have been spared, or at least captured. The Dark Woman, on the other hand, was only and impartially true to the Light. With her at the helm, anyone with affiliation to the Dark Side, no matter how innocent, would meet their “just” demise.
On her approach, she had the air of brutality and an imposing demeanor.
“Get away from him!” the Dark Woman commanded to Zahara, not privy to the situation at all.
Jhim tried his best to convince her, “It’s not what you think, she’s my old Pada-”
Before Jhim could even utter the words to stop her, the Dark Woman attacked Zahara with immeasurable force. Her purple lightsaber was blocked instantly, and pushed to the side by the younger Twi’lek, wielding her familiar blue-bladed weapon. As they fought, the dust began to settle, and the ground all around them was littered with the bodies of countless Grey Jedi, along with a few from the Order.
Zahara herself had a difficult time keeping the Master Jedi at bay. She lacked the training to defend herself completely, but dodged and ducked away from the Dark Woman’s onslaught. After just a few strikes, the battle was decided.
One opening in Zahara’s defense was all it took, for the Dark Woman to put her to rest. The purple lightsaber went straight through her, cauterizing the wound instantly. The Twi’lek, able to stand for only a moment after being stabbed, fell towards the ground. Master Karn rushed to catch her, before she hit the ground. Silence fell all around them. The battle was over.
“You… see?” Zahara spoke, her last words to her Master, “They can never understand… us. They…*cough*… too… ignorant.”
Zahara’s head fell, as the last bit of life Force left her body. Her corpse went limp, and Jhim sat there, with his lifeless pupil in his arms. Another cold chill ran down his spine; doubling that feeling of loss that he had never felt before. The Dark Woman stood over them, glad to have beaten the leader of, what she thought was, the Fallen Jedi uprising.
“The Sith must never be allowed to return,” the Dark Woman stated, reaching her hand out to Jhim, “This was for the best, now come on. We must inform the rest of the council, just in case any of these monsters managed to escape.”
Holding Zahara’s lifeless body, Jhim felt the lure of the Dark Side more than he ever had. The pull of desolation and failure were continually stronger and more potent, bringing along grief and despair. He only blamed himself for what had happened; for the distress signal, for the treatment that the children had received from the Council, and for the awful turn of events that he had witnessed.
“You don’t know what you’ve done,” he answered Master Kuro, “they were not Sith, they only wanted to learn. They saw the faults in all of us… in the Jedi way of life.”
“There are no faults in the Jedi way of life,” An’ya retorted, extending her lightsaber alongside Jhim’s neck, “or have you also been tainted?”
With thoughts of beauty; memories of past days of peace and tranquility, Jhim muttered the words he had known and repeated so often:
“There is no death, only the Force.”
He grinned, laughed a bit to himself, then let out a, “Hmm…”
The Jedi Master had finally started to understand more of Zahara and the Grey Jedi’s view of the High Council. Those who stood beside Jhim’s old pupil understood that the order and tranquility of the Jedi was founded on principals that were not unlike the Sith in their bipartisan beliefs in the Force. The Jedi were killers to them, just as the Sith; their respective ideals separated only by their perspective.
He began to realize that the first Grey Jedi; the Zabrak whom he had once met on the planet of Ilum, was not wrong. He had sought to learn the entire mystery, while the Jedi kept themselves secluded and ignorant; partial to only a portion of the knowledge that could save so many lives. He looked down at Zahara’s body that he was holding, then over to his fallen friend, Vi. Master Karn felt, for the first time in his life, pure and utter hopelessness.
-Perhaps Gorean was right- he thought to himself, -Zahara’s curiosity, the will of these Padawans… perhaps it is only natural that those who are sensitive to the Force would wish to understand everything about the power that they possess…-
His thoughts were quickly disturbed by Master Kuro; the Dark Woman. With the purple blade of her lightsaber still glowing; leering over him, she insisted on his answer to her question.
“I am not here to play games. Are you with us, Master Karn?”
Jhim could say little, still holding the motionless body of his defeated Padawan in his arms. He was beyond distressed. No amount of meditation would take away the regret… nor the anger.
“The question is,” Jhim began, looking up, “are you against me?”
Quickly and suddenly, he reached out his hand towards the Dark Woman, using the Force to attract Zahara’s lightsaber, left on the ground behind her. While it flew through the air, Jhim pressed the button on the side of the lightsaber with a touch of Force power, revealing the blue blade. The active, glowing weapon streaked through the air, directly towards the Dark Woman.
Anticipating this attack, the sufficiently trained and level headed Dark Woman jumped, somersaulting and making a corkscrew in the air. In one swift motion, the fight was over before it had even began. The blue lightsaber fell to the ground with a clatter, rolling next to the head of Jhim Karn; defender of the Republic, and loyal Jedi Master.
The Dark Woman retracted her lightsaber instantly, as her feet touched down gracefully. The other Jedi that had accompanied her tried to intervene too late, so she held her hand up to stop them from interfering.
She looked down at her friend, her fellow Jedi Master, beheaded by her hand.
It was to be one of the two warriors who would fall that day, and she knew that well. Karn had been eradicated swiftly, along with the Younglings that he had saved, so long ago. Now that the destruction of this “Dark Order” was complete, she felt a pinch of disappointment. There would be no chance for her to discover the reason behind all of the madness.
What she could never know; what made it all the more unsettling, was that she had no idea how or why the students had arrived at that forsaken temple that day. She would never know exactly why the Padawans had assembled; clad in their grey robes in the Underworld of Coruscant. She would later write in her report that they had all fallen to the Dark Side of the Force, including Master Jhim Karn. Even though this was only conjecture, based on the rumors surrounding the once-lost Younglings, she knew of no other reason why they would have been there.
Master Vi, on the other hand, was mentioned to clearly be a victim of their downfall.
“Master Vi had fallen victim to their profanities,” she concluded after further research; once learning that Vi and Karn had been seen together, in the hall of the Galactic Senate just hours before.
Because of her own lack of evidence and information, the Dark Woman, as well as the rest of the Jedi High Council, would never know what turn of events had caused this tragedy. The report, like so many others, would be buried in the Jedi Library’s datacrons, gathering dust alongside Karn’s old Master, Jocasta Nu.
The mystery of Master Karn’s “fall” to the Dark Side would never be solved, but the Jedi who were a part of the pandemonium that day, would never forget the slaughter of far too young, “fallen” Jedi.