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Andy

Last of the Jedi

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Andy

Title: Last of the Jedi

Year: 19 BY

Main Character:

Name: Raynar Sedri-Rakd

Occupation: Jedi Master, General of the Republic Army.

Brief Bio: Born on Corellia, became a Jedi Knight shortly before Geonosis. Although he did not attend that battle, his good friend and former Master was killed there. He volunteered to serve in the army, and was quickly promoted to the rank of General, and led his troops through the Outer Rim, only returning to the Core several weeks before the Separatist attack on Coruscant. It was during this brief period of relative peace that he was promoted to the Rank of Jedi Master. After aiding in the defense of Coruscant, his unit was re-dispatched to the Outer Rim.

Last of the Jedi

Edited by Andy

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"Onward: for the Republic!" I had cried enthusiastically. My clone troopers obeyed every command without question; we knew each other well and had saved countless lives in the name of peace and justice. I had no reason to suspect that this would ever change.

The conflict on the outer-rim world of Ooriss-9 was to be a great victory for the Galactic Republic?

Jedi Master General Raynar Sedri-Rakd stood on the rocky outcropping looking down upon the separatist base. It was the dead of night, and a light rain saturated his brown Jedi robe as he watched the droid army milling about the base performing seemingly mundane tasks. The huge sphere of a Trade Federation core ship was a dim shadow on the horizon, highlighted by the moonlight, yet obscured by the bleak weather conditions.

"General," a quiet, yet familiar voice of a clone trooper came from behind him, "it appears that they have not yet detected us."

Raynar turned to regard Commander Bryant, who stood in the shadow of a large dark-blue flower that towered above the two men. "No, they know we are here all right."

"I disagree," Bryant's voice predictably replied. Although the clones were capable of creative thought, they did have a tendency to trust simulated missions and underestimate the ingenuity of the separatist's droids.

"Disagree all you want, Commander," Raynar's gaze turned back to the droid base, "over the past few hours they have quietly increased their watch on this side of their base, and have very craftily relocated their ammunitions stockpiles while making it look as though they are running predetermined maintenance procedures."

"Well, sir," Bryant nodded, "you have been watching far longer than I have. Perhaps you are correct."

Raynar returned the nod, "I believe they will wait until dawn to power up the heavy stuff. I am going to retire for the night, but please wake me if anything develops."

"Yes sir," said Bryant, "I shall post a watch to this location immediately, sir."

"Very good," Raynar sighed, then began a slow trek back to his tent. Two months of hiding in this swamp-ridden forest had exhausted more supplies than they had anticipated. The group's Acclamator-class assault ship?the 'lucky' Aurek-13?had been disabled and brought down in one of the early skirmishes between the Republic and the droid army, and the only space-worthy vessel left in action was Raynar's own Jedi-issued single-seat starfighter, which was clearly inadequate for a withdrawal from the planet, and Raynar was not prepared to abandon his troops.

The small tent was a basic structure of waterproof synthetic cloth, with fibres especially created to prevent heat loss. Slight tears were starting to appear at the seams, where they had been hastily erected and repacked a lot more than they were designed to be used. Raynar pushed aside the entrance flap and turned on the interior glow-lamp as he sealed the flap behind him. He flopped down onto the pile of bedding that was to serve as a sleeping area, and felt his fatigue wash over him as he let go of the Force technique he had been relying on for strength. Soon he was in a deep sleep, keeping an open eye in the Force for danger.

"Whatever happens, my love," she told me, "I will never stop loving you".

"I might not ever come back from this awful war," I had insisted, "please, just go somewhere safe, like Alderaan."

She looked into my eyes and I looked back into hers; as beautiful as that fateful night I betrayed the Order on Corellia.

"I will, but there is something you should know," I heard it before she said the words; a whisper through the Force like an echo of the future, "I'm pregnant".

Morning arrived without incident, and Raynar gave a loud yawn as he emerged from the tent. Looking around he spotted Commander Bryant giving orders to a group of scouts, and headed towards them. As he reached Bryant, the scouts were walking away and the trooper nodded a greeting to the Jedi Master.

"Morning sir, the droids began powering up their tanks about ten minutes ago," Bryant said with all the classic no-nonsense mannerisms of the clone army?straight to the point.

It was mid-morning, Raynar guessed, as the bluish sun was already fairly high in the sky, "Later than I expected."

"We are still well concealed with this forest," Bryant continued, "but they are sending squads of B1 battle droids into the woodlands either side of us in an attempt to flank us and push us out into the range of their tanks."

"Then we are to pull back?" Raynar had sensed the answer to this question before asking it.

"No, sir," Bryant shook his head and grimaced, "it appears that during the night several units of droids fortified the woods to our rear, so we are effectively surrounded."

"Just another day at the office isn't it, Bryant?" Raynar attempted to smile.

"We have survived worse than this, Master Jedi," clones had an amazing ability to not let a situation get them down. But then war was, after all, their purpose in life.

"Barely," Raynar said as he ran his hand through the unkempt mess of a two-month beard, "if you mean that farce on Helcran VI."

"It was a victory, sir," Commander Bryant stated.

"So was Geonosis," Raynar replied with a grimace just as the all-too familiar whine of STAP-mounted battle droids began to grow in the distance. "I have a bad feeling about this?" He unclipped his lightsaber and readied himself for combat.

The group of about five hundred clonetroopers prepared to defend their poorly equipped base as they hunkered down behind storage crates and other forms of makeshift barrier. The whine of the STAPs seemed to circle around them, as if teasing them. Tree leaves rustled in the slight breeze, and although the rain had stopped overnight, a damp mist lingered in the air, reducing visibility to little more than thirty metres.

Suddenly red blaster fire poured in on the clones, and those that survived the initial onslaught returned fire with their own rifles, firing aimlessly into the forest at their invisible attackers.

In the centre of the chaos stood Raynar, standing serenely in his mud-stained Jedi garb, eyes closed in concentration. He stretched out his hand, palm up, and quickly lifted it up over his head, dragging a portion of the mist with it. Now the clones in front of him had a clear view of the oncoming droids, and they quickly found their targets and dispatched them. Raynar repeated the trick on another part of the mist, and by the time it settled the droids were already visible.

In came the STAPs, and Raynar was in the air; slicing heads from the shoulders of the mechanical cavalry with his azure blade. A call for help came from the eastern 'wall', where a large cluster of droids had broken past the barrier and were pouring into the main clearing of the base and filtering through the tents blasting anything that moved. Although they were easily defeated, the battle droids made up for this shortcoming with sheer numbers. Surveying the area as he rushed to bolster the eastern defence, he estimated roughly two thousand of the cursed things attacking from every possible direction.

Several of the droids saw the threat of a Jedi coming, and turned to aim but, for reasons inexplicable to their tiny droid-brains, went flying backwards before they could fire. The first flurry of bolts was mostly deflected by Raynar's lightsaber, apart from one or two that flew past or singed his cloak.

Raynar leapt into the fray, landing behind a large cargo crate, and carving pieces of droids that were unlucky enough to stumble around it. Through the Force he was keeping track of the unfolding skirmish: That's fifty clones down now, and about two-hundred droids. We are holding.

Holding was a term he used lightly, for the ratio of droids to clones remained 4:1 as it had done at the battles start. And there were an inestimable number of droids?and their tanks and artillery?in reserve. This was not going to be easy. I have a very bad feeling about this, he reminded himself silently.

Suddenly alerts were pouring through from other parts of the wall, where droids had broken through. Raynar could only be in one place at a time, unless of course the separatist army was victorious; which was the kind of situation any Jedi could easily end up in several places at once.

Falling back to where Commander Bryant stood waving for reinforcements to the centre of the base where the droids appeared to be converging, he slashed, diced, and deflected as he back-peddled, holding off the hoard of droids as he went. As he reached the congregating clones he slipped in between them, and pushed his way to Bryant.

"It seems their plan is working, Commander," Raynar shouted over the sounds of battle.

"We have lost forty percent of our manpower, General. We cannot hold this position."

"We can't allow them to push us westward, or else we will fall right into their trap," Raynar said, "We must push either north or south if we want to see nightfall."

Bryant's comlink beeped, "Excuse me, General," he said as he turned away.

Raynar kept an ear open while he directed a few clones to make ready a push to the north. A shiver ran down his spine and the Force screamed danger to him.

"Execute order sixty-six," a low, cold-sounding voice said via hologram to Bryant. Suddenly, for reasons as yet unknown to Raynar, standing in the midst of three-hundred clonetroopers didn't seem like the best place to be.

Bryant turned to face Raynar, and looked him directly in the eye, and suddenly the Jedi Master knew everything. Before the clone Commander could lift his blaster, Raynar had kicked it from his hands; and even as the rest of the clones turned to fire on the Jedi, Raynar was already launching himself up into the trees above.

Edited by Andy

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I lost myself to instinct, barely hearing the sound of a few hundred Jango Fetts? saying, ?stop the Jedi!?

Somehow, I survived. I didn?t rest for what seemed like several hours as I sprinted through the forest; leaves and branches scratching at my skin as I hurled myself through, them: Fuelled by the Force and by a natural instinct to survive. And by fear?

The shadow of the dark side fell upon me.

Yet somehow, I survived.

After two days of hiding in the forest, regaining his strength after his marathon run for his life, Raynar found himself returning to the base. An eerie silence filled the clearing, which was littered with the dismembered parts of forest-camouflage coloured battle droids and approximately five hundred clone trooper corpses. Looking at the trail of destruction he saw that the droids had put up one hell of a fight, and left no chance that the clone army could break through neither north nor south.

Choosing his footing carefully, so as not to disturb the last resting place of his former companions, he made his way to where he had last seen Commander Bryant, and found the familiar face staring back at him. The armour was scorched and his position?slumped awkwardly against the lopsided ruins of the central command post?suggested that a heavy-laser blast had thrown the body several metres.

Surveying the aftermath of the battle?the Last Battle of Ooriss Nine; a complete disaster?he wondered what was to become of the Jedi Order now. Something terrible had happened: reaching out into the Force, he discovered only an almost crippling sensation of death lingering like a dark cloud over the galaxy. He did not know where to go, or what to do. For probably the first time in his career, he was truly afraid. What place did a Jedi have in a galaxy of evil? He idly wondered if he was the only one that had survived? Master Yoda? Master Windu? Kenobi? Skywalker? If anyone could destroy the Sith it would be Skywalker and Kenobi.

Shaking his head, Raynar gently pushed aside the corpse of a clone trooper that lay slumped over a console, and walked round past the command post in the hope that his starfighter was still in one piece. As he neared the craft, he heard the reassuring click and whirr of his astromech waking from standby mode. The dome spun round and let out an excited series of beeps and whistles.

?Arth,? he smiled as he spoke to his droid, ?I?m glad to see you to. Is the ship ready to fly??

Arth, or R3-T19 to give the droid its proper designation, tootled the affirmative, as Raynar inspected a blaster-scorch on the hull. Raynar?s starfighter was an old Delta-7 Aethersprite interceptor; which remained in the diplomatic red and white of the Galactic Republic., the only modification Raynar had installed was a small class 3 hyperdrive.

Raynar climbed into the small pilot-seat and spoke softly to his droid; ?have you found any news??

Arth beeped as text scrolled across Raynar?s viewscreen, and whistled sadly.

?A Jedi rebellion,? Raynar refused to believe that, ?and a call to return to the Temple??

Raynar powered up the boosters and sped away from the small planet while Arth started working on calculations for the jump to hyperspace. As they broke free of the atmosphere Raynar wondered where he was actually going to go. The Jedi Temple on Coruscant would be a risky move. He thought about going to Ossus or Ilum, but even as he mulled it over time was running out. The screen flashed an arrival from hyperspace. ?Star Destroyers, one Victory- and one Venator-class. I?m pretty sure they didn?t come for a chat.?

?In the name of Emperor Palpatine, shut down your engines. You are under arrest, Jedi.?

?Emperor Palpatine?? Raynar echoed in question, as he pushed the thrust to maximum, not really expecting an answer. The capital ships were gaining on the Jedi starfighter, and if it came to a showdown between the vessels, he would be doomed. The Venator-class Star Destroyers were the newest capital ships in the former Republic Starfleet, with a larger hangar for up to 420 starfighters, class 1 hyperdrive, and a higher sublight speed, the Venator was a powerful addition to the fleet, instantly outdating the older but still relatively new Victory-class.

The bow hangar doors opened slowly and a squadron consisting of seven V-wings and five ARC-170 fighters shot from the long flight deck like quarrel from a rapid-fire bowcaster. They arranged into ?V? formation, with the ARC-170s on the inside as they locked on to Raynar with identical expressions of grim determination.

This is going to be bad, Raynar thought as the ships closed in on him. The calculations were almost complete but at this close range they would certainly track his trajectory. An alert from the Force caused him to jerk the control stick to the left as a flurry of laser bolts skimmed past him. Here goes nothing: Raynar jammed the stick in a way he thought previously impossible, and spun the delta-7 into a 180-degree rolling-turn, and accelerated towards the oncoming fighters. The V-wings would be a problem, but the big engines on the ARC-170s presented a nice target if you could get through the shields. As the two sides neared each other, R3 screamed as lasers pummelled the shields.

?Arth, stop that.? Raynar scolded, ?It?s very annoying. And what?s taking so long with those calculations?. The droid retorted with a rather rude spluttering sound. ?I don?t care, just give me them now otherwise we?ll be dead anyway!?

He pulled back the hyperdrive lever, and suddenly realised what Arth was complaining about when they accelerated forward passing by the bridge of one of the Victory-class Star Destroyers with just metres to spare. But less than a fraction of a second later they were safe, for now. Bathed in the blue swirls of hyperspace, Raynar thought of his pregnant wife on Alderaan?

?There is something you should know,? she had said. I heard it before she spoke the words; a whisper through the Force like an echo of the future, ?I?m pregnant?.

?No, this cannot be happening,? my initial reaction was one of dread; this would mean the end of my career as a Jedi. ?I was only just promoted to Master, and now I?ll be expelled for sure!?

?Don?t worry, love,? her voice had been so calming and reassuring that evening. ?The council won?t need to know, and I doubt they would dismiss an experienced General during a war?.

I could not help but agree with her. ?You?re right. We don?t have to let the council know. After the war is over and peace has returned to the galaxy. I will resign my Jedi commission: To be with you.?

I should have left the Order that day.

The ship pulled out of hyperspace, and Raynar streaked towards the nearby planet. He cared little for what it was called; all he needed was to evade the Emperor?s forces.

As he entered the atmosphere, the two capital ships appeared in space behind him. Descending through the pristine clouds revealed a series of small tropical islands in a cerulean sea. It looked like a perfect holiday destination, rather than the deathbed it would probably become.

He landed on one of the larger of the islands, in a forest clearing where a rocky peak jutted up like a monolithic tombstone. The Sun was behind the monumental rock, and thus left the delta-7 covered in shadow. Raynar popped open the cockpit and stood up to stretch his legs. Arth whistled sadly, as his Master sat on a sandy patch of grounds and clutched his head in his hands.

A small lizard scurried by, stopping as it passed, as if it were admiring the sleek form of the dagger-shaped starfighter as its engines cooled down. Raynar stood and looked up at the nearby trees, wondering if the strange blue spherical fruits were edible. Using the Force, he plucked a few down and inspected them. The blue was a hard shell, so he tapped it on the cliff-face to crack it open: Inside was a rich red fleshy fruit that harboured a yellow area laden with blue seeds. It looked tasty enough, and Raynar was starving. Even through his Jedi training he was unable to stave of the feeling of hunger that was seeping over him. He quickly scanned it and was satisfied with the results. Although good-looking, the fruit was almost tasteless, which did not prevent several of them being eaten.

?Execute order sixty-six,? the mysterious robed man had said. There had been something familiar about his voice.

?What was that about, commander?? Is what I would have said, had I been given the chance. The thoughts had been forming in my head when I let go ? hurling myself headlong into the Force. Had I not, I would be dead already. Grasping a vine I was approaching faster than I could see or think, I swung out over the firing clones and landed on the roof of a stationary gunship, and immediately sprung into the air again a fraction of a second before a rocket destroyed the gunship.

?Stop the Jedi! Don?t let him escape!? The voice of the legendary bounty hunter called from behind as I sprinted past the empty crates we had unpacked together only days before.

A laser blast skimmed past my arm, the bolt pierced my tunic and burned my skin?

Remembering his injury, Raynar removed his shirt to inspect the wound. It was not deep but a bit of bacta would be welcome, so he reached for the first-aid kit from the starfighter, in search of some bacta-enhanced wound dressings. Arth beeped a reassuring tune saying that it would heal up in no time.

?Thanks, Arth,? Raynar looked over at the astromech, ?but I?m very afraid that I don?t even have that much time.?

Arth replied with a note of dismay as the sound of a trio of ARC-170s backed up by five V-wings passed by not too far away. Raynar listened for a moment, then put his shirt and robe back on. The two sat in the shadow of the cliff with all systems on standby for a quick start-up. Waiting for the right moment to take-off: Trust in the Force, and we will prevail.

It was another twenty standard minutes before they passed near enough to act, and when they did Raynar pushed the throttle to maximum and shot directly upwards for half a kilometre, then twisted about and arced in towards the attackers as they whirled about in a momentary confusion brought on be Raynar?s sudden reappearance.

Bearing down on them with his ships twin laser cannons, Raynar forced one V-wing down into the sea, and swooped in to tackle another one. They raced barely a metre from the tropical waters, their velocity throwing a huge streak of spray up into the air as they passed. He was about to fire again, when he felt the ARC-170 tracking him. An image of an explosion flashed in his mind before the laser hit Arth?s dome. The little droid gave half a wail before fizzing out of existence, leaving a long trail of black smoke billowing into the path of the pursuing craft.

Now I am without a navicomp, Raynar sighed, I can still do this.

The ARC fired again, causing Raynar?s instrument panel to light up and furiously signal warnings of shield failure and hull damage. Raynar pulled up and cut power to the thrusters, allowing his larger pursuer to slip underneath him.

Noticing the Jedi?s escape, the clone pilot attempted to pull up also, only to discover to his dismay that the delta-7 had already oriented its laser cannons in the general direction of his starfighter.

Raynar silently apologised as the ARC became so many pieces of debris. This just did not feel right at all. The taint of the dark side still hung in the Force.

The shore was approaching fast as the remaining enemies?still it seemed wrong to refer to them as ?enemies??and was that a small city lining the seaside? Raynar could make out a few tall buildings. If the city had a shuttleport it could well be a ticket out of the outer-rim, at last. Undoubtedly Raynar?s time as a General of the Republic was over, and he so desperately wanted to get home to his wife.

The city approached and Raynar steered towards a large street and headed straight down it. He summoned all the Force he could muster to brace himself for impact, creating a shock-absorbing bubble around himself. Still, less speed was good so he let the craft slow a little as he ploughed into a deserted warehouse.

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Andy

The craft had looked immaculate. I felt honoured to be assigned a Delta-7 of my own, having seen the holovids of Adi Gallia and Saesee Tiin during the test flights.

I reminded myself with regret that this craft had once been assigned to Master Hill; the tutor who had trained me to be the Jedi Knight I had become.

It was then that Master Windu announced that I was to be commended further still for my role in the Battle of Geonosis and given the rank of Master.

After the ceremony I had been given the option of taking on an apprentice, or serving alongside the clone army. Foolishly I chose to serve with the military, in a na?ve hope that I could help bring a swift end to the conflict.

Master Hill?s interceptor had served me well over those difficult years. I think she would have been proud.

Two hours had passed since Raynar?s Jedi starfighter had exploded. A squad of clonetroopers were performing a systematic search of the burnt-out warehouse. They would find no evidence of Raynar of course, as he was three miles away laying low in a tavern of doubtful reputation. At the first opportunity he had discarded his Jedi robes, and was now attired in some sort of old worker?s uniform he had found discarded in an alleyway, with his lightsaber hidden in a deep pocket designed for hydrospanners.

A large vidscreen on the wall behind the bar displayed a special news bulletin on the apparent ?Jedi Rebellion?. ?The remaining Jedi will be hunted down and defeated?? Supreme Chance?no, Emperor Palpatine was saying in a recording from the Galactic Senate. A wave of nausea passed over Raynar as he watched, hoping this was some sort of bad dream induced by his recent lack of sleep.

Raynar downed the last of his mug of local ale and left the bar. The sky had turned a deep purple shade, and orange streetlamps lit the streets. Faintly discernible high in the atmosphere were the tiny silhouettes of two wedge-shaped Star Destroyers.

(( To be continued... Sometime... ))

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