"My destiny, here it lies." -- Yoda
Nearly 20 hours later, Obi-Wan Kenobi, near exhaustion saw a blip on the radar scopes and alerted Master Yoda.
Dooku’s ship, the Dominance, pursued them relentlessly through space, having knocked out the Jedi fighter’s hyperspace capabilities before Obi-Wan could make no more than a micro-jump away from Coruscant, and giving chase after them since.
The Sith Lord has lost 23 fighters to Obi-Wan’s marksmanship, aided by the Force, and another 12 had been shredded to pieces by Yoda, using his innate power over objects, to slam the Imperial fighters together when they were in close formation.
The Imperial flight leaders had been forced to rethink their formations several times to avoid Force-influenced disasters, and now Dooku was holding back his last flight, instead edging the Dominance ever closer to the long-range fighter as it struggled to keep out of tractor-beam range.
Despite the loud noises and occasional jarring blows, Master Yoda had kept the baby quiet and calm, using his emotional center to keep careful watch over the baby’s fragile mind and nerves.
In a calm moment hours before as Dooku’s forces regrouped, Yoda told Obi-Wan that young Luke’s ripple in the Force was astonishing, even compared to his father’s. Obi-Wan had smiled at that, if they could get out of this, the Jedi way just might live on some day.
But now, he alerted his Master to the small planet appearing on the edge of the starfighter’s screen. Obi-Wan knew if he could just find a landing place that would provide a few hours protection, he could repair the hyperdrive and get Luke to safety somewhere else.
"I’m not picking up any cities or technology, but there’s life all over the place down there, Master. Climate is swamplike, it could provide us protection from Dooku’s searchers while I repair the warp drive."
Yoda closed his eyes and nodded.
"That place, calls to our destiny, Obi-Wan. Land there, we must."
Obi-Wan angled the fighter toward the blue-green world and started his approach for a landing.
The Nubian vessel jumped through hyperspace toward Alderaan, but the beacon call Dasche’ had long ago placed just inside the ship’s navigation computer sounded on board the Dominance, and relays were made to its patrol ships.
They followed the Senator and her daughter through hyperspace, arriving seconds after the Naboo and opening fire.
Windu and Olie sent the Nubian starship on a wild ride toward Alderaan, whisking their way toward the planet’s tiny moon, Aldergo, with the Imperial forces in hot pursuit. Reaching the moon’s terminator, Windu sent the ship diving straight down. Imperial gunners watched the ship plunge, then their attention was redirected.
Coming around the moon were ships the likes of which they had never seen. A long straight middle component was powered by two powerful engines, built out on struts to each side, giving the vessels a Y-shaped appearance.
The two-man fighters were far quicker than the patrolships Dooku had dispersed after Amidala and they were turned tail to escape, but the new ships were everywhere, two dozen of them in all. They launched proton torpedoes and fired away with dual lasers from underneath their cockpits.
Even the two patrolships that managed to get behind their attackers found another surprise waiting, a rear-mounted gun on top of the cockpit that spat lasers courtesy the ship’s co-pilots.
The last battle ever fought over Alderaanian space was over in 15 minutes, a complete rout.
Three of the defending ships broke off of the formation and flew in near the senator’s transport.
"Nubian shuttle, this is Blue Leader, is everyone all right over there?"
Ric Olie answered the call.
"We are, Blue Leader, thanks a million, what the heck are you guys flying?"
"I thought you might like them, pilot, they’re brand-new, we’ve been calling them Y-Wings for lack of a more original term. They’re not as fast as the Empire’s new ships, but we’re durable and the rear laser packs some punch as the Count’s friends just found out."
A new voice came on the channel. "This is Senator Padme Amidala of Naboo. Thank you so much, you’ve saved us, we are in your debt, sir."
"I doubt that, Padme. Obi-Wan Kenobi sent me a message that you were in need. My debt to him is my life, and I would do anything to repay him. Welcome to Alderaan."
Padme had had an emotional day but her voice was heavy again.
"Thank you, Bail."
If Yoda had been underwhelmed by Obi-Wan’s landing on a hill in the swampy environment of the unnanamed planet, the occasionally wry Master had kept it to himself. Yoda now stood several feet from the ship, eyes closed and searching for signs of danger through the Force.
Yoda had searched the carry case prepared by Padme and found a collapsible crib in which Luke was now resting in the open cockpit, covered with a small blanket, eyes wide with wonder as he flitted them around at the sights, sounds and smells of this place. Obi-Wan and R2 worked in unison on the ship’s hyperdrive, cannabalizing non-essential parts of the ship and sorting through R2’s collection of spare parts for the necessary items to get the drive back online, if only for a one-shot jump out of Dooku’s pursuit.
After half an hour, it did not take Yoda’s sense in the Force for either Jedi to hear the roar of a shuttle’s engine passing overhead. Obi-Wan knew they still had time before the Imperials arrived. Dooku wouldn’t risk bombing the area, it was clear he wanted Luke alive.
Yoda pointed a gnarled finger off across the boggy terrain.
"That way, they are. Dispatch of them, I will."
He turned and looked back at Obi-Wan. "When the drive is repaired, you go."
Obi-Wan started, "But Master, what if you’re not back yet, I’ll not abandon you here to ---"
Yoda cut his student off there.
"More than a century before your birth, dreamed of this place did I. My destiny, here it lies. To Luke, is your responsibility, follow it, on him, all may one day depend."
Obi-Wan stared after his Master as the diminutive alien moved quickly away into the swampland. Resolving himself to think positive, Kenobi turned back to R2 and his ship.
Dooku exited his shuttle in knee-high boots made more for entertaining politicians than tromping through swamps. On his belt, under his dark robe, he wore his lightsaber.
"Fan out," he told the clonetroopers who stood in rapt attention. If you see anything not indigenous to this planet, alert me at once via comlink. If you can stun either Jedi, do so. If you try to gun them down, I will not accept responsibility for your deaths."
The troopers moved out, twelve groups of threes into the swamp. For Yoda, the place was full of life, teeming with the essence of the Force. The Master felt more at home here than he ever had in all his decades on Coruscant.
A scant few miles away, Dooku, slipping back into his Sith training, was disgusted by the unbridled excess of life that the marshes held. So many insignifcant creatures flitting around, their small resonances in the Force distracted him, kept him from focusing on the presence of either Jedi or the baby he searched for.
The clonetroopers had a very bad disadvantage, marching through the green and brown swamp in their pristine white polished armor. Even without the Force, Yoda could have picked out any trooper from 500 yards away, while he blended in so well into the vegetation that a normal being may have walked within two feet of him and never realized it.
Commanding his senses and the Force, Yoda would have been more than a match for 1,000 of the troopers, and he easily dispatched of the ones he encountered. The clonetroopers had broken into standard rank and file search procedures, which Yoda used against them, picking them off down the line, using more violence than he normally would condone on non-manufactured beings.
Yoda crushed them with dead branches, smashed their bodies into trees or held them underwater with the invisible hand of the Force until their thrashings ceased. Unlike his Sith counterpart, Yoda had no problem discerning individuals in the Force. He sought to sooth some of the more nervous inhabitants of the planet as their ecosystem was interrupted by both he and the Imperial troops.
Reaching out, he found Dooku’s mind alone remaining on the outskirts of the bog he and Obi-Wan had landed in. Without hesitating, the Jedi Master moved along to meet his destiny.
Tyrannus, as he felt he was now truly a Sith Lord again, not the wheedling politican he had played for far too long, had not been raised on his comlink since sending the troops to search, but it did not surprise him.
While any of the troopers would give his life on Tyrannus’ command, none of them possessed the tracking skills necessary to find the Jedi in the swamp. If anything, dispatching them was to weaken whichever of the two Jedi, likely Yoda, was acting as guard while the other tried to repair their craft.
So lost in thought and still frustrated by the overabundance of creatures in the Force stream, Tyrannus rounded a bend to find Yoda standing on a tree stump barely 10 feet in front of him.